A few years ago, in 2011, I found myself out of a job. I survived the recession and still had a full-time job even after watching so many people in my office get laid off. Most of those people had much more experience and expertise in my area than I did but were still made redundant.
I later figure out that I was kept on not necessarily because I was preferred over the others but because I was cheaper to employ. I had enough experience and expertise (though not as much as my laid-off colleagues) for my bosses to trust that I would continue to do a good job. At the end of the day, I still got the job done but it cost them less to pay me. The bottom line is they cared more about their bottom line than their human capital. More about this later.
MY 1-YEAR ROUTINE
1 year prior, I had decided to go back to school part-time to pursue my dreams of becoming a teacher. For an entire year I had juggled a full-time job, making about twice the minimum wage as salary, went straight form the office to the classroom for four evenings per week, stayed at school for 3 hours before I head home at 8pm to my husband with my “tired body”, did homework, did house work, barely slept and was back up at the crack of dawn to do it all over again.
You might be wondering what does all this and my personal life have to do with building businesses online! Well, this is the foundation for how those lessons evolved. You’ll see!
THE CONFLICT AND DECISION
After an entire year of that routine, I had to do 3 weeks of summer classes. I couldn’t afford to miss summer classes because that would put me 1 semester behind and when you go to school part-time, 1 semester seems like an entire year. For whatever reason my boss refused to grant the three weeks that I needed to attend summer classes and so I had 1 choice to make.
So here I was. I was faced with a decision that placed me in a very uncomfortable place in my life.
I would either
- not go to summer school which ould literally crush my dreams OR
- resign from my job and do what I really wanted to do
My husband did not like the latter at all because it meant that we would be losing an income. He was already highly underpaid in his first job out of college and we could not afford to live the life that we wanted. We could not even afford to move out of his dorm-style room into a decent apartment where we could at least move around in the space. It meant that we were going backwards.
But I took the leap of faith and quit my job.
STARTING IN BUSINESS
Shortly after that I began exploring entrepreneurship and brainstorming ways that I could build a business. That led me to starting two businesses – 1 in late 2011 and another in mid 2012. In that time I began venturing online and learning all I could about how to earn from the internet. I started 3 businesses online and have learnt so many lessons along the way.
Care more about your human capital than your bottom line.
Every business owner is concerned about how much money that are going to make, if they are going to make their financial target or at least make enough money to keep the business going and pocket a profit. What many business owners miss is the fact that if they take care of their employees, it will automatically reflect in their bottom line. Happy employees are more productive. Simple!
In the online space it is even more difficult to care about the human capital since interactions take place mostly virtually. As an online business owner, you have to make an extra effort to reach out to your staff (freelancer, contracted, hired help or just someone you ask a favour), your clients and potential clients and make a personal connection with them. Build relationships. Relationships build profitable businesses.
When you lose one income, invest your time into figuring our how to make another.
When I lost my income in 2011, I had no idea that that situation would catapult me into earning more money as an entrepreneur. I took the time and invested myself into education. I was educating myself on how I could make money as an entrepreneur rather than an employee. And that led me to a few discoveries that took me to where I am today.
Whether you lose a job or a client, don’t mope about it, invest some time into figuring our how you can fix this by getting another client or make the loss work in your favor. If you can’t, then invest a few minutes in figuring out how you can adjust your attitude to that person or situation to make you still feel positive about it/them.
Discipline comes with practice.
It’s pretty hard to just get up one day and decide to be disciplined. It takes constant dedication to the activity for at least 21 days to develop a habit of discipline in whatever area you desire.
My year of routinely working a full time job and going straight to school in the evenings taught me how to manage my time well. I slacked up a little bit between the end of that year and when I finally came to my own in business in 2014. I never lost those principles though. It has kept me focused since the 1st day I started doing business online.
You have to be disciplined enough to plan out your business, stick to that plan while being be flexible enough so that if something happens and the plan changes you can still run a successful business.
Discipline does not equal perfection. If you fail at keeping true to your plans and schedules, you can snap back into it once you realize and get back into the groove again. The more you practice, the better you become at it.
This principle is even more important now that you are your own boss. You have no supervisor to hold you to deadlines but your pay still depends on your level of commitment and input into your business.
Learn while you earn.
The biggest mistake I made building businesses online was that I waited. I waited 3 whole years to start doing something and then another year and a half to get it right. Had I put much of what I was learning into action from early I would have been much further in my business today.
My advise to you, don’t wait until you think you know enough to get started in your business. Use the knowledge that you have now and start something. You can always tweak and make adjustments as you learn more. You can earn money doing simple things. Learn more while you are still earning and make the adjustments to improve your business with time.
Leverage the power of the internet.
One of the reasons I loooove doing business online so much is that it gives me a lot of leverage. Now, what exactly do I mean by that?.
Imagine you are an instructor, presenter, teacher, coach….and you want to get your business out there to the world. You may need to plan a few seminars, expo…run few ads in the local media…attend a few networking events….and a host of other things to market your business.
In the online space rather that hosting seminars and expos, you can host a webinar or build a course once. This content lives on the internet where persons can access it anytime in the future and from anywhere in the world. This means that you would now free up your time to focus on something else.
Your networking and marketing activities online are archived so you or the other party can refer back to them at any time as well. So you basically have to do an activity once and have it “done” forever.
This sort of leverage gives you so much more time to do the things that matter more to you.
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I’ll see you on the inside.