In today’s world of finding your passion and making that your career, more and more people are starting their own online businesses. However, entrepreneurialism has its challenges, and in this article, we'll give you six online business tips to help you on your journey.
The information age and the digital revolution has meant that starting an online business is an affordable and easy option when starting a business—just think, you don't have to pay rent on a brick-and-mortar store.
It’s this type of discouragement that Regina Anaejionu agonizes over and works tirelessly to prevent. She believes that everyone can build an epic brand and business, and she has the resources and tools that can help.
The path to success is never a straight road
Regina didn’t graduate college assuming she’d someday build a brand to help others launch their businesses, but that’s exactly what she did with her website byRegina. Read on for more online business tips.
Growing up she saw her dad be innovative and creative, and both of her parents teach at the college level. This inspired her from an early age with ideas and she quickly developed a passion for learning.
Yet in her own life, she wasn’t sure at first what she wanted to do. After graduating university, she quickly jumped into starting her own businesses. First a cleaning business, then a t-shirt business, and many more, which all led to others asking her questions about how she built them.
At first, she answered people by meeting for coffee and giving them all the details in person. After awhile, it started snowballing until she realized she could only help so many in a day and still be productive in her own business. This is when she knew that she needed to start charging people.
To ensure she didn’t forget any information, she created a resource workbook that she could give to people that housed all of the steps and methods required to build a brand.
To expand on that resource, she began teaching a continuing education course at the University of Texas in Austin. During this time, Regina went on to write her first book on building an online business. With 150 pages of text and 50 pages of worksheets, she created this resource to share all that she had learned.
It was then she realized that the internet would be the best way to scale up and reach more people. So Regina started her website to teach the same concepts that she’d been teaching in person to a much larger audience.
All of this has led to her building an online education and training company that helps people start an online business or brand from scratch. Regina’s work focuses on people who “want to take their knowledge and/or experience and teach or coach other people, people who want to self-publish, and people who want to produce their own online shows – podcast, webinars, etc, or create groups or communities to help others.”
So how exactly can you create and build your own brand and reach others to share what you know? Regina took time out of her busy schedule to sit down and share her 6 top tips for creating your best online business.
01. Be realistic and stay human
You’ve likely seen the ads on Facebook that claim they can help you ‘Scale Your Business to 6 Figures in 6 Months!’ or that use lots of exclamation points to get their message across.
And if you’ve ever signed up for a marketing resource, you’ve probably seen the email subject lines that USE ALL CAPS or ???? to make their point.
Almost every time, the ad or the email (or both) is meant to get you and other potential entrepreneurs to invest in the products or packages. Since many believe that people won’t want to take the time and effort that goes into building online businesses, they talk about the very small window of time that it takes to accomplish something like earning six figures.
“The problem with all of this is that it makes the online business/entrepreneurship/marketing space rife with frustration and disappointment. One where people who are trying to learn may decide it’s not for them because their only exposure to this world is one with highly unrealistic expectations.”
Usually, they end up feeling disappointed and disheartened and decide to give up.
That’s why Regina calls her method the “human approach to teaching, publishing, and selling online.”
By “human approach to business” she means that her approach isn’t going to shout at you in a sales email.
“Graphics aren’t going to shout at you and interrupt your day. I would rather give you an infographic that explains a concept than just one that highlights how much money I make.”
Her dislike for those types of false promises has much to do with the fact that how much money she makes doesn’t relate to how much someone who takes her course could make. She hopes that when you learn what she has to teach you, you can make even more. It only limits you to set some arbitrary benchmark and deadline.
However, the ‘human approach’ isn’t just about how Regina wants to teach you, but also about who her audience is. If you’re someone who wants to start a business serving others or educating them, or that you would likely do this for free but you’ve decided to make an income from it – then you’re encompassing the ‘human element’ she refers to as well.
It’s for people who want to share what they have learned or experienced, either via a book or a course or something else so that others can learn something from their journey.
“Ultimately, the human approach is the lack of shouting, the lack of unrealistic promises, and the lack of wording that make people believe that things have to happen in a certain way in a certain time frame.”
Being realistic in your goals and your process keeps you from getting frustrated or angry when things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like them.
Having unrealistic expectations about where or how far you should be in the process doesn’t do much other than to hold you back. Remembering that everyone is human and that rough drafts and tossed out ideas are inevitable gives you the ability to stay focused and succeed.
02. Give your career (and life) story a new chapter
Regina loves to teach because it “allows people to re-write their stories.”
Many of us think that we must follow one track in life, or that if we’ve set out on one path we have to remain there.
Or maybe it’s not us at all, but the fact that we come from an area where people aren’t expected to succeed or to make something more of themselves.
For Regina, the best part of helping people build their online business is that “anyone who had such limitations in their past has a way to change that chapter.”
Being able to self-publish or start your own business allows you to rewrite what people expect of you.
The ability to change what others might expect of you, and to create, launch, and grow your business means that people who may never have had a road to success now have one.
And to Regina, that is the most powerful thing that anyone can do because it affects not only you but those that work with you and those surrounding you in terms of what they can envision for themselves.
Don’t let your past or your expectations limit what you think you can do. Though it may sound cheesy, the power to change your future lays squarely on your shoulders. You can write your own story and create the kind of future you’ve dreamed of by working to build your own online business.
03. Try things, even if you’re unsure if they’ll succeed
Just because Regina has managed to build a highly successful brand doesn’t mean she never has doubt about whether some of her ideas and courses might work or not.
A few years ago, she launched monthly lock-ins where people would all be working on the same goal for the same, very short amount of time.
“I love to set an insane goal for myself in a small, set amount of time because the worst thing that can happen is that you get a huge percentage of it done.”
Thinking that this method might work for others as well, she created a program called #3DayCreate.
After she blogged about it and set the lock-in date for people to join her, she began to have doubts.
“I started thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, who is going to register for a time specific event where the value only happens in these three days and it’s based on my crazy work system?’”
She needn’t have worried though, in the end people loved the packed work system and would continue to do it every month as she released them. One of the parts Regina loved most though was seeing how many people were helping each other get through it.
“When you can insert accountability and friends into an area that’s traditionally something you do by yourself at home or in your PJs or in little breaks between your fulltime job, that’s when you succeed.”
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It’s crucial to run with an idea, even if there’s a chance you think it might not succeed. There’s no ‘proven system’ for how to have a specific success in this type of field.
“There are a lot of people who sell ‘proven’ systems for this, that, and the other. And the reality is that the only thing that that person can possibly have a PROVEN system for is how to have their exact life, and how to have made all of their exact same decisions, and to look exactly like them and to experience those exact same successes and steps. That’s the only thing that that person can have a proven system for.”
There’s no way to set a specific formula for how you’ll do because this isn’t a science.
Doing business on the internet is a mix of science, art, emotion, and human connection.
This isn’t to say you can’t learn from other people’s systems, but in the end, you have to find what works best for you. No one can predict exactly what will work and what won’t, so trying new things and putting out new ideas and products even if you’re unsure if they will work is how you grow and succeed.
04. Remember that perfection is an illusion
It’s something that gets said often, but the perfect #blessed life seen on Instagram and Facebook is often never the entire story.
Regina works hard to create her brand and materials in such a way that people aren’t blindsided by all of the challenges that go into creating your own online business.
And though her finished products and courses and workbooks look professional and polished, she says most people don’t realize “how unclear the process of creating can be.”
In the end, her work and graphics are immaculate, but what people don’t see are the “number of rough drafts and the number of ugly graphics even from me, who comes from a design background. If they could see that, they would realize that their own frustrations and confusion are perfectly normal.”
If you’re building your online business, you should understand that it’s going to be rife with revisions and rough drafts. This doesn’t mean you’re falling behind or a failure, it just means that you’re still in the process of creating.
Everyone has taken 932,992 selfies or created 127,721 versions of a presentation before the final product was posted on their blog or social media for the world to see.
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So knowing that perfection and instant, brilliant design “is not a prerequisite for actually creating awesome things” will help you to stay focused on what you’re doing without getting sidetracked.
05. Never underestimate the power of good design
This is the most common issue that Regina sees when helping others build their businesses.
The biggest problem is that people either undervalue, or misunderstand, good design.
In this modern world where you have access to design elements and the ability to create beautiful content and graphics, many people are still missing the mark.
It’s critical to remember that the visuals on your website or blog are the first thing that a potential customer might see of you.
If you have unprofessional graphics or website visuals that don’t inspire confidence in your visitor, then they aren’t going to stick around to find out what you have to say.
Your design is one of the first things that communicates the high level at which you perform in your specific niche. But if the content isn’t organized, looks unpolished, doesn’t flow well or isn’t easy to interact with, then people will be turned off and will walk away.
Design is how a person relates to your brand and how they view you.
You want potential clients to view you as a worthwhile and quality investment of their time, energy, and money and that requires presenting yourself with strong, powerful design.
06. Never get too big to DIY
One of Regina’s favorite phrases is to “stay scrappy” even as your business grows. By this, she means you should be able to perform the needed tasks on your website or blog yourself, even if you can afford to hire others to do it for you.
“It’s great if you grow big enough quickly enough to be able to hire out graphics or copy or whatever it is that you don’t like to do or that doesn’t bring you joy. But at the end of the day, for something that is super crucial to how a business runs – i.e. the copy, graphics, and knowing how to modify their website – you should still know how to do those things yourself to some level.”
There are two reasons for this. First is that you’ll understand conversations that are occurring around any potential issues that arise with things like the graphics or your website. The communication between any contractor hired will also be strengthened because you’ll be able to explain exactly what you’re needing.
The second reason for staying scrappy is because when you’re running a business in a fast paced environment on the internet where things can change in an instant, you’ve got to remain competitive.
“Eventually, you’re going to encounter a situation where you are going to need to release something before the regular business hours of when your graphic designer or copywriter works. And if you don’t have these basic skills to do it yourself, you could limit the growth of your business. That’s why you should stay scrappy with the skills that are most important to your business and learn them.”
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It’s also crucial that someone doesn’t get so overconfident in their abilities that they are unwilling to use things that save them time. Coming from a design background where Regina spent close to five years working in photoshop before she even considered herself good, she still turns to Canva when she is in need of graphics quickly.
“It’s an absolute requirement to save time in online business and Canva does that. There are times when you have to be able to get out a test version of your idea or a portion of your content looking attractive at a moment’s notice to fulfill your clients’ demands. So if you have design experience, Canva saves you time.”
And it’s not just those with design experience that can succeed using Canva, it’s also those with no experience at all.
“Canva provides a framework of how to think about good design. I can’t teach design sense to someone in a short amount of time. That’s something you learn over time. But with Canva, that’s not necessary. Honestly, you have to work really hard to mess up a Canva design.”
Providing a clear communication of what your business does or what you create is critical to convincing people to listen to what you have to say. And even those without a design background can “find templates that allow you to express what you’re trying to do as a brand and then just modify those templates to fit your needs.”
In the same vein of never underestimating the power of design, using the tools available and “never being too big to DIY” ensures that your business can communicate your goals and objectives clearly.
Parting words: Don’t limit your thinking
Lastly, the most important thing that Regina wants anyone that ever touches anything of hers to know is that they should never limit themselves to the heights that others in their field have accomplished.
When we compare or give too much focus to what other people are creating, we limit what we consider possible.
“It applies to income when people think, ‘Oh my gosh, she made $20,000 a month!’ And all of a sudden that’s some kind of marker in your mind, but what’s to stop you from making $200,000? Or more? Why couldn’t you make $5,000 and have the exact lifestyle you want? Even if it’s just an extra $500 a month from a product they released, what’s wrong with that?”
The point is that income is relative and you don’t have to make six figures a month if you don’t have the time and energy to do so. You need to figure out what your own goals are but you also don’t need to limit yourself to a specific marker of success that someone else achieved.
And it’s not just income, Regina says it also applies to creation and how people use platforms and the tools available to us.
“As soon as we see one way someone has done something, we often place so much focus and value on that and then we’ve completely limited ourselves as to what else we could create.”
Even using templates within Canva doesn’t mean you’re confined to follow them exactly. Use them as a guideline, but express your creativity and brand as much as you can.
The biggest thing she wants people to realize is not to “give so much attention to other people’s projects, income, levels of success, or creativity that you limit what’s possible for you.”