Transcript: Hindsight is 20/20: 3 Things I Wish I Did When I First Started Out

August 2, 2022

AMY PORTERFIELD: “Ask yourself, ‘How can I make money in the short term until I figure out how I want to make money in the long term?’ Whatever you do now does not need to be your forever offer. And if you get a little side hustle going, ideally one that aligns with the business that you want to build, while you're working on building your long-term business, then you can put that money back into the business for Facebook ads, for copywriters and content creators and anybody that you need help, a virtual assistant.  

“So, I like a mini workshop—like, one-hour workshop, where you charge for it. You do it live online. You record it, and give them the recording. I think that's one of the coolest ways to make money fast—but also, group coaching, one-on-one consulting, in the short term, until you've got your digital course created or your membership created, where you can have consistent revenue with more freedom.”  

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: Real quick, I wanted to talk to you about another podcast that I think you might love. It's called Being Boss, and it's hosted by Emily Thompson, and it's really just an exploration of not only what it means but what it takes to be a boss as a creative business owner, freelancer, or side hustler. So Being Boss is an amazing resource for anyone interested in getting inspired and, more importantly, getting started as their own boss.  

So, head to wherever you get your podcast to check out Being Boss. And I recommend starting with her episode on releasing the sense of urgency in business. Especially coming back from my sabbatical, this episode was a great reminder to slow down and be intentional. You're going to love it. 

Hey, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy 

I wanted to check in and see how you're doing. At the time of this recording, we are moving into the second half of the year. I just did a leadership team retreat here in Nashville. We went over everything that's working, everything that's not working. And let me just give you a little insight. If you're a brand-new entrepreneur or you've been at it for a while and you just sometimes feel like everyone else is doing great, everyone else is moving forward, doing big things, but you're not—is it just me, or do you sometimes feel that way, too?—I just want to let you know, if you want to look inside my own business, we're halfway through the year, and the good news is we're on track with revenue and profit. I feel really good about that. But also, we might be on track with revenue and profit, but we've missed many goals. We did some different promotions and campaigns up until this point where we did not hit our goal, revenue goal or profit goal. But we're still on track because other things in our business surprised us, did better than we expected. We kept pushing through. We kept experimenting, doing new things.  

And so, I just want to let you know that everyone's business gets messy. Everyone is off track at one point or another. And even if maybe I'm not off track with revenue and profit, I definitely am off track in other areas of my business. That's just called business.  

And we do this thing at our team retreat where we go over all the issues that happened that quarter and throughout the entire company. So everyone at the table is a leader of their own department, and they bring all their issues. And let me tell you, we've got a lot. It's a day and a half of hashing out issue after issue after issue, from HR and personnel things to conversion rates to broken funnels to a CRM that's not serving us anymore. I mean, there are lots of things to discuss in a three, short-month period, lots of things to discuss. 

So, you are not alone if you've got some issues. I do too, and we can work through them. But the important thing is you actually address them. Sometimes I want to cover my eyes, cover my ears, and just say, “I can't see it; I can't hear it; it's all good.” We just can't do that as leaders, right?, as much as we sometimes want to.  

So, let's get on to today's episode. I'm going to share with you three things I wish I would have done from the get-go, when I was first starting my business. And I'll be real with you: looking back, there are probably a hundred things that I would have done differently, but there are actually three that I'm about to share with you here that I feel would have made a substantial difference in my business and really allowed me to move forward early on faster. And let's be real: they may have even made a difference in what my business looks like today. So, I'm also going to share a couple of things I did do early on that really supported me in growing my business and my confidence.  

So, the first thing I wish I would have done differently from the very beginning is create regular and consistent content. There's that word, right? Consistent. I think, I would guess 99 percent of us that are listening to this podcast right now, if you look back, you probably wish you were more consistent, right?, from the get-go. So I'm talking consistent with a podcast or a blog or a video show.  

When I first got started in 2010, I dabbled in writing blog posts, sometimes publishing twice a month, sometimes once a month. But I struggled to write each one, procrastinating and sometimes giving up altogether. I never really felt like I knew what to write about, and I wasn't really making money from it, so why spend the time doing it? I had bills to pay, right? Occasionally, I would send a standalone newsletter to my email list. More often than not, the newsletter would tell a story or offer some piece of advice rather than linking to a blog or other content on my website. I think offering value in a newsletter is essential, but I also think many of those consistent newsletters you're sending out should link to original content.  

It wasn't until 2013 that I started my podcast and really honed in on my content ecosystem. Yes, my friend, it was three whole years of putting out random blog posts and random emails, without a solid plan and strategy behind it. So three years into my business until I really started to get consistent. I just didn't realize at the time how crucial content is in terms of building an online business, and because of that, I just didn't take it very seriously, and it was hard for me. Creating content was very difficult for me for many, many years, and so I just didn't want to do it.  

And even once I started my Online Marketing Made Easy podcast, I only released one or two episodes a month, at no set schedule, sometimes even skipping a month. But when I started producing my podcasts on a regular weekly schedule two years later, after I launched the podcast, my profits nearly tripled. If I would have just bit the bullet and committed to one podcast episode every single week and one weekly newsletter every single week, I would have had three more years’ worth of momentum and probably a lot less tears. If you know me, you know I'm a crier. You know I'm a worrier. You know I have to really work on my mindset. And starting out, those years were dark and difficult, and they didn't need to be so tough. And that's because I wasn't creating consistent content. 

Now, let's be clear. This isn't me looking back and having regrets, because that's not productive, right?, and I'm very happy with where I'm at today. Everything happens for a reason. Everything happened for me, not against me. But I'm still really aware of where I made things more difficult. So that's why I'm sharing this with you, because, of course, hindsight is 20/20, and when you're just getting started, you're so focused on just surviving as a business owner that taking the time to create content can feel like it's secondary to everything else. I get it. But this is one thing that I, honest to God, feel would have made a big difference: being consistent with my content. 

Okay, moving on to number two, I also wish that I would have made a quick cash injection while I was formulating and working on my long-term revenue goals. Now, I always knew my endgame was in digital courses, but as you know, it takes some time to build a community and nurture your audience so they're ready to make that sort of commitment and buy your course. So while I was doing all of those things and preparing for the business that I envisioned in the long term, I wish I would have had a really simple offer on the table. A simple offer. Not only would it have given me a quick cash injection, which I needed at the time, but it would have helped me start learning from the very beginning what I liked, what I didn't like, and, most importantly, how I could best serve my audience. I would have gotten where I ultimately wanted to be much, much faster, and I just really didn't know at the time what was what, like, what was going on or what it should look like.  

So, for example, one of my students is an attorney, and she decided to create a low-cost product where she sells discounted legal bundle templates designed for entrepreneurs to legally protect their businesses at a fraction of the cost, to hire a lawyer to draw up the legal documents. So she created her templates after hearing from many bloggers and entrepreneurs who didn't know how to legally protect themselves. So she put together a few bundle options that started as low as one ninety-seven. Here's the cool thing: these bundles actually account for 70 percent of her business revenue. She never knew that was even going to be the case.  

So, a quick cash injection, something you can do to make money right away? Uh, yes, please.  

So, that’s number two. And there's a lot of ways that you can make money in the short term. Ask yourself, “How can I make money in the short term until I figure out how I want to make money in the long term?” Whatever you do now does not need to be your forever offer. And if you get a little side hustle going, ideally one that aligns with the business that you want to build, while you're working on building your long-term business, then you can put that money back into the business for Facebook ads, for copywriters and content creators and anybody that you need help, a virtual assistant.  

So, I like a mini workshop—like, one-hour workshop, where you charge for it. You do it live online. You record it, and give them the recording. I think that's one of the coolest ways to make money fast—but also, group coaching, one-on-one consulting, in the short term, until you've got your digital course created or your membership created, where you can have consistent revenue with more freedom.  

So don’t be afraid to make an offer now, even if you don't have a huge thriving business yet. 

Okay. The third thing I wish I would have done, or in this case not done, is say yes to everything. Now, I know you're probably thinking, “But Amy, you have to say yes to most things when you're just getting started in order to be successful.” And I will say there is some truth to that. You do need to get out of your comfort zone, and there needs to be this healthy balance between you feeling safe and secure and also pushing yourself, especially when you're a new entrepreneur. You need to be discerning, though, about how you choose to spend your time and energy from the get-go. I was not. And I really want you to choose to focus on the things that make sense to you and your business and your long-term goals. 

Now, I'm telling you this because early on I said yes to absolutely everything. And while I do think there was some value in getting myself out there, there were definitely a lot of things I could have been choosier about. And by doing things that weren't really serving myself or my business, I only became that much more stressed, overwhelmed, and confused, and sometimes just deflated, like, this isn't working.  

Of course it's not working. You just said yes to fly six hours to speak for a bunch of people that would never buy anything that you were selling because they were not your ideal-customer avatar. Raise your hand if you've ever done that. I am absolutely raising both hands right now.  

And so, yeah, I got a little speaking experience, but I could have gotten that speaking experience if I chose wisely and spoke to an audience that absolutely needed what I had to say, and they would be a good fit in terms of going on this journey with me. And so I said yes to adding bonuses to people's products that I never got anything out of on the back end.  

I remember—it was so cool. I was saying yes to all these things, and nothing was working out. And then my friend Lewis Howes—who I didn't hardly know at the time. He was a much bigger name than me. I looked up to him, but he wasn't really a friend yet—and he said, “Amy, will you add a bonus to one of my digital courses, and I'll pay you for it?” And I thought, what? No one's ever paid me to add a bonus to their course. And I just thought that was so cool of him. Like, such awesome integrity. This was probably ten, eleven years ago, and he was doing that way back then. I thought that was really cool. Now I can say he's a friend, and I love him dearly, and I love the major pivots he's done. It's fun to see where his business has gone. But he was a stand-up guy even way back then.  

So that was something I was glad I said yes to because then Lewis became my first partner in a digital course called FB Influence. It was about Facebook. And so we did that program together, which is really cool. But it all started with because he had a lot of integrity, and I love that.  

But anyway, that's a little off track. What I'm trying to say here is be careful what you say yes to, because when you say yes to something, you know what happens, right? You're saying no to something else. You absolutely can't do everything. And if you say no to an opportunity, even early on, that you're like, I just know it's not a really great fit, I promise you that door just opened up to something that is. Remember that.  

So that's why these days I always look at everything I do and I ask, how is this going to benefit me? How will this benefit my business? How will this serve my audience? And will this support my team as well? Sometimes I say yes to things and fully throw off my team and the goals that they're working on because they were not planning on having to help me with something else. So think about your team as well if you have one. If you don't, think about yourself.  

And just know, it's hard for me to answer these questions because I want to say yes to everything, but if there’s a no, like, “No, this will not benefit me. Yes, this will throw off my team. No, this isn't a good fit for who I serve,” I have to pass on it. So say yes to the things that light you up. Do not think that you're going to miss out if you say no to something. Another door will open. 

So that's it, my friends. Three things I wish I had done early on. To review, first, I wish I would have created consistent, regular, original content from day one. Second, I wish I would have created a short-term offer to bring in some easy money while I worked on my long-term offer opportunities like digital courses and such. And third, I wish I would have been more discerning about my time and my energy.  

And now here's the fun part. I'm going to share a few things that I did early on that made a tremendous impact on my business and my confidence as an entrepreneur. First, I followed a step-by-step framework. For me, that was Marie Forleo’s B-School. And let me tell you, that program is awesome. And it was literally how I got started, and, really, it's why I created Digital Course Academy, because Digital Course Academy is also a step-by-step framework, absolutely starting from scratch all the way to launching your course online. And I never had that kind of framework when I was starting. No one had something like that. But B-School really encouraged me to say, “Okay, this helped me get my business started. Let me help people get their digital courses started.” So I'm really glad I had a framework to model off of in the beginning, and then I moved that right into my Digital Course Academy and used my own framework for that.  

So, to me, following an expert who's gone before you and has a business like the one you want is a sure-fire way to build success quickly. I want to repeat that. It's obvious, I know, but it's a great reminder. Following an expert who's gone before you and—there's an and here—has a business like the one you want is a sure-fire way to build success quickly. 

Let’s be real: when you're coming into the entrepreneurial space, it can be pretty overwhelming. You have a million things going on and even more questions. So having that roadmap and following someone that is willing to guide you is priceless.  

And finally, the other thing that I would highly recommend you do when you're just getting into the game is surrounding yourself with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. My old boss, Tony Robbins, he talks a lot about the power of a peer group. And I took that advice to heart when I first launched my business, and I still take this to heart. And the way that I surround myself with a great peer group usually has been through a mastermind, either one that I've paid for or one that I put together myself with just my friends and peers. It really does so much for your development as an entrepreneur to be around other people who are just as passionate as you are, who are going through the trenches with you, who get all the woes and challenges and setbacks. It’s really priceless.  

This is also something that I encourage and support my students in doing when they're creating their first digital course. Inside my program, Digital Course Academy, I help them find an accountability partner so they don't do it alone, and that's really proven to be valuable. 

So, if you want more information on how to run or create your own mastermind, like with your own peers, I did an episode called “How to DIY Your Own Mastermind (& Do It Right).” So it's episode 414. So just Go check that out. 

So, that's it. The three things I wish I would have done when I was first starting my business and the two things that I feel like I really got right. 

I hope you loved this Shorty episode and found it valuable. And thanks so much for hanging out with me. If you'd be so kind, will you please share this episode or this podcast with a friend, an entrepreneurial friend that you think could really help them? You know, I was talking to a really good girlfriend of mine, who I look up to. I love her business. She's a baller. And she said, “Amy, I want to remind you that before I had this success, I would listen to your podcast as my little baby, now grown little boy, but a little baby was in the backseat of my car. I’d drive around town with your podcast on, and I’d learn how to start a business.” And she said that literally was the catalyst. And when I hear that, I think, “I want this podcast to get in front of as many entrepreneurs as possible, who feel alone or don't know what to do or looking for their next step. I want to be in their ear, to be their guide and to help them.” So if you know someone who could use a little guidance, please do share this episode. I'd really appreciate it.  

All right, my friends. Thank you so much for tuning in. And make sure you follow Online Marketing Made Easy on your favorite listening platform. Leave a review if you love what you're hearing, and you'll get notified when the next one comes out. But it's every Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday's a Shorty episode. Thursday's a longer episode. And so I'll see you Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness, same time, same place. Bye for now. 

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