AMY PORTERFIELD: “For many years, I taught how to identify your ideal-customer avatar. And while it was an effective strategy, it didn't leave much room for diversity, because it prompted my students to focus on one person. It prompted them to visualize what they look like, their financial status, and other non-inclusive-type traits. But what I learned after working with a DEI consultant is that it isn't the best way to go about identifying who you want to serve, because the truth is that it doesn't matter what the people we serve look like; what matters is that they have all the same desires and goals and struggles and the fact that what I have is a solution for them.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: My latest podcast obsession is My First Million, hosted by Sam Parr and Shaan Puri. They discuss how companies made their first million and brainstorm new business ideas based on the hottest trends. They recently released an episode with my friend Nathan Barry from ConvertKit. It was called “How to Become a Billion-Dollar Creator.” And I loved when Nathan talked about some of his biggest failures and what he'd do if he had to start over. You know I'm a sucker for conversations like that. You can check out My First Million wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Hey, welcome back. I am so glad you're joining me today because today's episode is a really fun one. I had a lot of fun creating this for you, and so I can't wait to dive in.
But before we get there, it's the end of quarter one, 2022. I don't know where time is going. It went by so freaking fast. But it's a great time to reassess and if you need to recalibrate. So go back. Look at what worked in quarter one for you, what didn't work in quarter one for you. Did you stick to your goals? Did you get clear about where you wanted to go, and did you get there? And if you say, “Well, I wasn't really clear about my goals,” or “I wasn't really clear what I was going for,” now's the time to do that. You've got three-fourths of the year left, so dive in. What do you want the year to look like? How do you want to feel this year? What do you want to accomplish? If you set goals, go back to those goals, recalibrate, make sure that you've got those goals front and center. I think the end of each quarter is a really great time to do that. I know I do it every end of each quarter, so I want to encourage you to do the same.
All right. So, my team and I got to thinking that it's been a minute since I talked about what I'd do if I had to start from scratch in my business. And this is actually a topic I love talking about. Maybe you've noticed in some of my guest interviews lately that I've also been asking them how they would grow their business if they had to start all over again. And it got me thinking, what would I do? Now that I know what I know and I've experienced what I've experienced, what would I do differently if I started over?
Now, like I said, I did an episode like this almost exactly three years ago, but I'm three years wiser now, and I have different things that I do given what I've learned in the last three years. And let me tell you, I've learned a lot of things over the last three years, especially growing a business during a pandemic and during racial-justice movements and through picking up my life as I knew it and moving it halfway across the country.
So, I'm sharing nine things that I’d do if I were starting from the ground up. My hope is that you can implement some of these things now. And maybe you're not quite starting from scratch, or maybe you are, either way, if you can implement these things and lessons learned earlier than me, that would make my heart very happy for you. So kick back, pour your favorite beverage, get ready with a pen and paper or a Google Doc, and let's go over nine things that I’d do, and you might want to consider implementing, if I were starting my business from scratch. From an entrepreneur thirteen years in to you, wherever you are in your journey, I hope you enjoy this episode.
Number one, I keep better records, but not get worked up over the numbers. So here's what I mean. I wish I had started keeping track of my podcast downloads and what my list growth looked like month after month, like, from the very beginning. If I would have paid more attention to these types of metrics earlier on, it would have made me a lot more intentional as an entrepreneur. But the truth is that I didn't know what to track, because it wasn't something people were really even talking about thirteen years ago, or, at least, I wasn't in the circles where they were talking about these things.
So my advice is to start tracking, whatever that means for your business. If you have a podcast, look at the downloads, the consumption, and things like that. Start tracking your monthly list growth more carefully. Go into Google Analytics and track your website visits or maybe your YouTube views. These things will help you to be more intentional with where you put your time, energy, and money.
One of the things I love about Jasmine Star—because I'm in a mastermind with her, so I see her do this often—is that she's making decisions from the data, as we all should, right? Like, kind of a given. But I don't do that as much, where she literally will look at the data, look at the trends, the patterns, what might be flukes, things that are kind of weird with the data, and she'll make decisions based on that, about going all in or pulling out, and I think that's really fantastic. And although, yes, we do that in my business, absolutely. But for me, sometimes the data will overwhelm me, or I'll get nervous about it, and I won't dive in as deep as I probably should, because I think great decisions are made when you really know your numbers. So that's something that I really push myself because I'm never that great with numbers, so I really push myself to get in there because I like to make decisions based on what I'm seeing in the data.
But one thing I want to share with you that is super important, especially if you're fairly early on in your entrepreneurial journey, is that I wish I had the discernment to know that it's important to track these things, but I can't become obsessed with those numbers. So it's more about having the awareness and giving yourself the room to experiment with the numbers. And I wish I would have allowed for room to play around with the ideas and not freak out if my numbers or list growth didn't budge for a week. That's another thing I've done in the past where I'd get discouraged by the numbers, so I just stopped looking. Yeah, big mistake. Don't do what I did back in the day, because the thing is when you're intentional about tracking stats and metrics, whichever ones make sense to—so if you're like, “Well, what do I track?” well, what do you want to know? What do you think would be important to know? Start there. And you're giving yourself the gift of learning about your audience’s tendencies and learning what's working and what's not.
So for me, one thing I'd change if I had to start from the bare bones again is to find a better balance between actually tracking the numbers, knowing my information, but then not becoming so obsessed or scared of the numbers if the trending is down that I don't want to look. So obviously, it's a balance, and I wish I had figured that out early on.
Now, here's something I've never talked about because it's kind of weird, and it's only for a few of you, but I know a lot of people in my audience, they are marketing experts. You want to teach online marketing or you want to teach memberships or courses or whatever, and if you’re still early on in your journey, track everything, journal everything, because I'd give anything to have a journal of my first two years of business, what the numbers looked like, what I thought, where I saw some growth, where I had some wins. Like, I try to remember all of that, and when I tell you my stories, it’s just my recollection. But if I had it documented, wouldn't it be so cool that I could share what my first few years looked like and what I did to finally make that big, huge shift into making consistent revenue? I want to see the data from back then, and it’s sometimes hard to put together because I didn't track it really well. So anyway, something to think about.
This next one, number two, may not come as a surprise to you, but I still think it's really important to discuss, and that's that I'd start my podcast right away. In hindsight, I wish I would have started my podcast earlier, and more importantly, I wish I would have been more consistent with it. I've definitely talked about this before, so I won't go deep into this. But in my early days of hosting Online Marketing Made Easy, I'd create an episode here or there, had no rhyme or reason about when I was going to post or any kind of content plan, and it just felt like I was constantly running a hamster wheel with the podcast. And then when I did get consistent with the podcast, it felt like it was taking over my business because I didn't have the time to put, or I didn't take the time, to put the systems and plan into place.
So, for you, maybe this is a blog or a weekly video or weekly live video or a daily text or whatever. Maybe it's a podcast. My advice is to start already. Create the content consistently, and as you're creating it, start to implement processes so you can be strategic and efficient with the time you're putting into it. It's never too early to create a plan. It's never too early to create a process for something important in your business. And I'm not going to lie. Creating weekly content does take a little blood, sweat, and tears. But if you approach it in the right way, it doesn't have to be stressful, and I can guarantee it's very rewarding.
And that's the problem I faced early on and probably why I didn't start it earlier. I was intimidated by the thought of having to produce content weekly. So trust me, my friend, I get it. But please don't push it off. Get started now. Write down the steps. You heard me say it a million times: create original content every single week.
Now, to help you create content quickly, go to my episode 409. It's called “From Social Posts to Weekly Content: Create Your 3-Month Content Calendar Step by Step.” Probably one of my most popular podcast episodes. So amyporterfield.com/409.
Number three, I would have moved to a four-day workweek way earlier than I did. Honestly, if I was starting over, that would just be a given. I waited almost twelve years to do it, and I wish I would have done it the first year of my business.
Now, you may be thinking, “Amy, you're joking, right? There's no way I could do this as a newbie entrepreneur.” But I disagree, because here's the thing: if I had learned how to get more done and stay more focused on the most important things in four days versus five, I wouldn't have hit burnout so many times along the way.
So going from a five-day workweek to a four-day workweek has nothing to do with how much work you have. Yeah. Did you hear me on that one? Come back to me if you're multitasking because it's important. Moving from a five-day workweek to a four-day workweek, the deciding factor should not be how much work you have, because I don't care if you have a hundred hours of work or thirty hours of work, I still believe you can change things up, change some processes, systems, some decisions you've made about your business, and move it into a four-day workweek and still be just as profitable, if not more.
So, just know that I am speaking from someone who has a lot of experience now with a four-day workweek and seeing how it unfolded in our business. And I now know. I'm like, “Oh. We could have done this a whole lot earlier.” And it's really habits and practices and being consistent with what you're doing. So I think accomplishing your work in four days is absolutely something you can teach yourself to do. It takes effort, intention, focus. But it's absolutely doable, and it's such an important lesson to learn.
So, when you're your own boss and you have the luxury of creating your own schedule, there is really no reason to stick to a five-day workweek. I don't say that lightly, too. I really do believe in it, and I know there's a lot of weight behind that, so I really believe what I'm saying here.
And that actually brings up an important point about this one: putting boundaries around your workdays, because for many years I worked seven days. I had zero boundaries around how often I worked. You guys, when I think about maybe five or six years ago—it was always just very common—I worked every Saturday. There was never a Saturday that I didn't tell Hobie, “I need a few hours to work today,” and if something was going on on Saturday, it would just be Sunday. I brought work into the weekend like it was my job, because it was. So, just know that I've been the total opposite of this.
But if I were starting from scratch, I'd say, “Okay. I'm going to do a four-day workweek, and I'm not going to work these three days unless I'm in a launch or a promo or something like that,” because when I'm launching Digital Course Academy, I do work more than four days, and that's realistic. But the benefit of gifting yourself a shorter workweek is that you're more focused, you have more white space for creativity and inspiration, and you're filling up your cup because you have more time to spend with the people you love, doing the things you love.
I also believe that it keeps you more inspired when you are working. You're not just going through the motions, because you have a few days each week to reset and refresh, so you come back ready to rock and roll. Plus, it does wonders for your mental health, and you know how I feel about that.
All right. Number four, I wish I would have had the courage to go after some amazing relationships that I wanted to cultivate early on. In the first years, I was really scared to put myself out there in front of people who were doing “bigger” things than me or who were actually really more successful than me. And this kept me playing very small for a very long time, when I could have been cultivating genuine and sincere relationships with other entrepreneurs, whether that meant having them on my podcast or sharing their content on my platform or just being a megaphone for them.
And I truly believe that the strength of our business is directly tied to our relationships. The strength of our business is directly tied to our relationships. And I'm talking about meaningful relationships and also relationships that you can have partnerships with. So not, like, best friends, but people that you can partner with, whether that's some kind of affiliate relationship or you collab on projects together or invite one another to events.
Early on, I don't think I saw the value in creating these types of relationships, because I was head down, funnels, webinars, courses. And then when I came up for air, I found, one, that it felt a little bit lonely. And then, two, I wish I had access to bigger audiences and could cast a wider net. But I didn't really have any of those relationships that could help me, because I was head down, getting the work done, which is so important, I had to work harder to find my place in those worlds.
And to be clear, when I'm talking about these relationships, I'm not just talking about going after big names because they're big names. What I mean here is cultivating those organic relationships that lead to bigger things and feel really good. And that requires some intentionality and effort, and I didn't realize that early on. I wish that I said, “I want to be a great connector of people. I want to be a great networker. I want to be a great friend.” I didn't put value to those things in the early days like I do now. So that's one regret I have. So, if you can do this early on in your entrepreneurial journey, you'll be better because of it, and that’s just definitely something I missed out on.
All right. Number five, I wish I would have adopted a project-management platform from day one, like, the very beginning. And to take this one step further, I wish I would have had discipline around that and made it part of how I run my business. Instead, I played around with various platforms. I used different tools. I didn't use tools. I just was really loosey-goosey about all of my action items and project plans and lack of project plans. And so Asana, which is what I use, was not even part of the picture for many, many, many years. And the thing is, if you flip flop from project-management tool to project-management tool and you just drag it on and on and don't really settle somewhere, you'll end up like I was many years ago. My team didn't know what the heck was going on. Like, are we using this tool or not? And who's using this tool, and who manages this tool of our project planning? And today it is run like a well-oiled machine, and it eliminates so many headaches.
To be really clear, I have a team of eighteen full-time employees and then two, basically, full-time contractors that we use all the time. And every single one of them is in Asana, probably ten times a day. Every single one of them. Like, you're not doing a task unless it's coming out of Asana. So it literally is how we do business, and that is not what was happening for many, many, many years. And the thing is, when I talked about the four-day workweek, and it piqued your curiosity, Asana allowed us to do that. Having a productivity and communication tool like that was huge for us to move into a four-day workweek seamlessly. So get it. Buckle down your project-management tool, whichever one you use.
Now, if you're not sure where to start, I've got you covered. Check out episode 425. So it's called “Project-Planning Mastery: A Step-by-Step for How to Stay Organized.” So I'm going to link that up in the show notes. And in it, I walk you through how we create a project for our business. Plus, I'm including a free resource in that episode, so you have a project-plan template as well, so it makes the episode even better. Episode 425.
And then one more thing. I also wish I would have found a system like the Full Focus Planner, which didn't exist back then. But I wish I would have had taken the time to find a similar system, where I put effort into my daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly goals. I had something to track my progress. I like having a written planner for the day to day and then an online-management tool for the bigger picture. Still, my day-to-day tasks are in there, so I double up, but it's totally worth it. But also to have it all online is a big deal. So I like both.
If you know me, then you know I'm all about providing helpful step-by-step solutions to online businesses, big and small. So whether you're a solopreneur for one or growing your crew, a HubSpot customer-relationship platform is a powerful tool for running a tight ship. Other CRMs can be cobbled together, but HubSpot is carefully crafted in-house for businesses like yours. Its purpose-built suite of ops, sales, and marketing tools work together seamlessly so you and your team can focus on what really matters: your students and customers. With features like team email, you can turn incoming emails into tickets or send them straight into your shared inbox so no more questions slip through the cracks. You can even take your business to go with the HubSpot mobile app. Learn how to grow better by connecting your people, your students, and your business at hubspot.com.
Okay. Moving on. Number six, I would focus more on my mental health. Now, I've never included this on what I would do differently, so this is coming from the year I had in 2021. I've been very honest about 2021 and how I really struggled with depression and anxiety. But thirteen years in, I realized that taking care of your mental health should be in the top three things you do as an entrepreneur, starting from day one. I didn't know that. And it's more important than list building—dare I say it?—or webinars. Gasp. Yeah, it's more important. It's more important than all the conversions in your business, because when your mental health is shaky, unstable, so is everything else in your life and business.
So, what does it look like for me to focus on my mental health, put it first? Well, in my own personal experience, it means getting a therapist. It means that I'm making sure I'm processing my feelings and addressing them instead of squashing them down. Now, if you're multitasking, come back to me because this one's important. I believe that defining what it means for you to take care of your mental health should be something you do within the first week of becoming an entrepreneur. I'm going to repeat that. I believe that defining what it means for you to take care of your mental health should be something you do within the first week of becoming an entrepreneur. And I can guarantee I didn't do that, and I wish I did.
So for me, when I was getting healthier in 2021, I kept asking the question, “Well, what does it mean to take care of your mental health? What does it mean to show up for your mental health? Like, what does that even look like?” I asked my friends, I read books about it, and then I realized it means whatever I need it to mean. And so like I said, to me it means getting a therapist. It means asking for extra help when you need it. It means going to a nutritionist, getting the right supplements. It means moving my body every day, not to lose weight, but to aid in the stability of my mental health. Those are some of the things what it means to me, but what does it mean for you?
So just as you sit down to plan out your promo calendar and you sit down to plan out your launch or whatever it might be, you should sit down and plan out how you're going to take care of yourself, how you're going to respond when things don't go your way, and how you're going to make sure that you are a priority, because being an entrepreneur, at every turn, it is easy to not make yourself a priority, especially as you start to grow your business and start to make more money. Everything else feels very, very important, and all of a sudden, you and your mental health start falling off the top of that list. At least, I know that happened for me. Heck, if I'm being really honest, I never even put myself at the top of that list, mentally, my mental health. So having a plan for how you want to approach the struggles that come along with being an entrepreneur will set you up so well.
Now, again, maybe that's a morning routine or being intentional about your working hours, scheduling time with the people you love in your life, hiring a virtual assistant could be a great way to protect your mental health. So the list goes on and on, but my challenge for you is to sit down and get clear on these things. What does it mean for you to put your mental health as a priority so that you can be the best entrepreneur you can be? Got it? All right.
Speaking of a morning routine, that leads me to number seven, something else I wish I would have done when I was starting from scratch, and that was to have better rituals. Now, for those of you who are very much like me, you're listening to this list and you're like, “Where are the webinars, Amy? What would you do different with webinars?” or “What would you do different with your lead magnet?” or “How about your funnel?” I get it, my friend. I'm all about lead magnets, funnels, webinars, all of those things, and I talk about tons of that stuff on the show.
But I swear to you that the things that I'm talking about here make those things possible, make those things easier to implement, make your mind clearer so that you can be strategic with your webinar, so that you can show up on video totally energized and ready to go. I promise you, the things that I'm sharing today are the things that would have helped me not burn out, feel resentful at times, be less fearful of just, like, every turn in this entrepreneurial journey, and be more confident. And when you're more confident, you go after the relationships you want. You do the webinars you want to do. You kick ass and take names.
So, I promise you, all the other stuff I talk about on my podcast, if you pay attention to these nine things that I’d do differently, all the other really cool strategies I love to talk about—I sleep, breathe, and eat those things—they become so much more strategic and intentional and bigger, like, bigger and better. So stay with me here.
Morning rituals, start-up rituals, shut-down rituals, all these things that go along with the Full Focus Planner, I didn't have any of those starting out. And as many of you know, I sit down on Sunday night and go through my Full Focus Planner, and when I started to do this, I experienced a huge shift in productivity and my overall anxiety over the weekend. And sometimes I'll do this actually on a Thursday evening, which is the end of my workweek, or I'll do this on a Sunday evening, so I get to choose which one feels right. But I don't ever start a Monday morning knowing exactly what's happening that whole week. I don't do it on Monday mornings because I really like a Thursday night so that I have less anxiety over the entire weekend. But if I'm really tired on the end of a Thursday because it was just a really big day, I kind of have to have a little space between it. But anyway, hitting the ground running on a Monday morning, it's a big deal.
So, each day, I'm very clear about what I'm going to be working on, and this has been a huge part of successfully implementing the four-day workweek. Let me tell you something. You can't do a four-day workweek if you don't know what the heck you're doing every single day. There's not a lot of room for kind of guessing on what to work on next. Now, you can absolutely build in white space during your four-day workweek. I told Christine, my EA, I'm like, “I need some more white space just to think and breathe.” So during Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I've got some time to think and breathe and be strategic, but it's planned.
I will say if you hate planning out your day, you're going to have a hard time with a four-day workweek, so you got to get more intentional. And you don't need a Full Focus Planner to do this. You can do this on your own. But I know you guys, and you're much like me, where you like to have the tools to make it happen. And I've got a 10 percent discount on Full Focus Planner, so I'll link to it in my show notes if you want to look into a Full Focus Planner. But regardless if you get one or not, sit down and think back over your previous week. What went well? Where did you struggle? What felt easy? And then look toward the week ahead. What is it going to look like? Know the meetings that you have. Know the projects that you're going to work on before Monday morning. And I also, again, identify the three things I'm going to get done this week, and, then, the three things I'm committed to doing on Monday morning. And then I go in and I just make sure that everything's scheduled, that it's on my calendar, it's in my planner. It's all good to go.
I also plan my workouts. I work out in the morning, and if they're not in my calendar, they're not going to happen, like, at all. So I got to put those in my calendar. And then if I've got date night with Hobie, I put that in there as well. These are all the things that I think about before the week comes up. And then you stay focused and avoid shiny-objects syndrome, which is especially important these days.
So, I know that creating and sticking to rituals, like daily rituals, morning, start-up, or evening rituals so very important. My Sunday night ritual, sometimes Thursday night, that one's really important to me.
So, that's what I would do different. I would have more rituals.
All right. We're coming into the home stretch. Number eight, I’d learn to be a master of consistency. Can I get an amen? Any of you can relate here? I'd make it part of my routine to consistently read and learn new things and do the things I say I'm going to do. In fact, I'd make following through and being consistent one of my top character strengths because it's not. Now, I'm pretty good at it now, but, dang, did I struggle with this for years and years and years. And I think having a team has actually helped this because they watch me. They see what I say I'm going to do and when I don't do it. And maybe it's my ego a little bit—I don't care what it is—but I definitely get more done knowing I have more eyeballs on me. Call it accountability.
However, I wish this was something I took seriously from the start, even when I didn't have a team, when no one was looking. And when I say I’d stay more consistent, this spans from content all the way to how I show up for myself and my team. Obviously, with content, as I shared, I'd be more consistent with creating weekly content on my podcast, in my newsletter, all of that stuff. But I'd also be more consistent about completing tasks or projects when I said I would. Even when I was a solo entrepreneur, creating a deadline and sticking to it would have shown myself a little more respect and kept me on track, like, if I did what I said I was going to do, and many times I didn’t. And then, when I started to grow my team, I would have carried those values with me. I kind of had to learn them and start to implement them when all my team was watching. And as I stumbled, you know, they had to kind of stumble with me. And it's no fun having a leader that doesn't do what she says she's going to do or having a leader that isn't consistent in the things that she's proposing or the vision she cast.
So, think about it. If you can get really good at it without a team, you can show up like a boss when you do have a team. So doing what you say you're going to do, sticking to your word, and consistently showing up in all the things you've committed to makes a big difference. And that's something you can learn and put some discipline behind early on.
And then, number nine, final one, I would make DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion, a top priority in my business and part of everything I do. So for me, that would mean that whenever I'm creating content, I'd create it through the lens of, is this inclusive? For example, for many years, I taught how to identify your ideal-customer avatar. And while it was an effective strategy, it didn't leave much room for diversity, because it prompted my students to focus on one person. It prompted them to visualize what they look like, their financial status, and other non-inclusive-type traits. But what I learned after working with a DEI consultant is that it isn't the best way to go about identifying who you want to serve, because the truth is that it doesn't matter what the people we serve look like; what matters is that they have all the same desires and goals and struggles and the fact that what I have is a solution for them.
And I think another area I could have been more mindful about is how I address my audience. So instead of imagining I'm only speaking to women, be inclusive to all genders and all people, no matter how they identify.
Another way I could have put more of an emphasis in this area is to make sure I'm supporting people of color, whether that be having them on my podcast or using my platform to highlight their work. I'm not proud of this, but for a long time, my podcast didn't feature very many people of color. Obviously, not intentional, but, still, I did it. So when I looked back, I thought, holy cow, like, I really messed up here, and it was something that we intentionally changed and continue to commit to every single batch we do for the podcast.
So, in the last two years, I've made this a priority in my business, and I'm really proud of my team for how seriously we've taken this. But it was not part of my culture from day one, and my business would have been richer, better, more valuable if it were. So, I would have started my DEI work from day one.
So, there you have it, the nine things that I would have done differently if I were starting from scratch.
Are you ready for your action items? So obviously, you're not going to implement all nine of these things right away, or maybe you plan to, but either way, I want you to make a point to commit to a few of these that you've learned today that really spoke to you. So which ones had you nodding your head? Like, yep, got to do those. Which ones did you really lean into? As always, if you create a business that works for you and not the other way around as early as possible, I've done my work here. That’s always my goal for you. Take the lessons I've learned so you can create personal and professional and well-being success far sooner than I did.
All right, my friend. I love that you were here with me today. Thank you so very much. If you'd be so kind, please share this episode with a friend or two, someone that you know would find it really valuable. I’d so appreciate that.
As usual, I'll see you next week for my Shorty episode on Tuesday, same time, same place. Bye for now.