When starting a business, it’s sometimes hard to know what to prioritize, and going it alone can be overwhelming. But there are strategies you can use to avoid common pitfalls.
My mission is to teach people how to make money from their passions. That’s what I did: I went from living on food stamps to building two online businesses.
Here’s what I tell my 3,000 clients to think in the first 30 days of starting a business:
Many new business owners I meet only know one thing: how much money they want to make.
While this is a great starting point, it’s incomplete. Your business should serve your life, not the other way around. So make sure it matches your hopes, dreams and goals.
To properly define the type of business and life you want, ask yourself three questions:
- What does a perfect day look like for you? Don’t just think about your typical workday. Consider other life activities that you want to incorporate into your day, such as exercising or spending time with your family.
- How many hours do you want to work per week? You are not required to follow the standard 40-hour work week. Knowing exactly how many hours you want to work will help you prioritize tasks better.
- How important is free time? Some people don’t care much about taking time off, as long as they love what they do. Others enjoy extended holidays. In order to have money flowing when you’re not working, you’ll need to have some sort of passive income stream.
When I started my music education business, people told me I needed to test my sales pages, host launch parties, and pre-register a bunch of ads to grow.
Rather than striving to do things that didn’t make sense to me, I kept it simple and focused on three things: creating weekly content for my blog and YouTube channel, growing my email list at from this audience and promote the paid products that I create in this list.
If you’re just starting out, develop content around your expertise to grow your audience. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can iterate as you go and design new products based on what your customers want most.
Identify daily activities that will help you earn more. Don’t waste time and wear yourself out focusing on unimportant tasks.
Getting to inbox zero or changing the color of buttons on your website can be nice, especially in the early days when you want to feel like you’ve achieved a goal. But none of these things will make you money.
Before starting a new task, ask yourself three questions:
- What is the expected result for doing this task?
- Does it make more money?
- Can I indicate a direct link between performing this task and earning income?
- What is the cost of doing this instead of something else?
People can tell if you’re just doing something for the money or if you really love what you’re doing. This authenticity will connect you more deeply to your customers and support you in the long run.
You don’t want to burn yourself out because you spent all your time doing things that didn’t make sense to you.
I always give my students this framework when they begin their entrepreneurial journey: build a business around something you see yourself doing and enjoying over the next 10 years.
Graham Cochrane is the founder of The Recording Revolution and the author of “How to get paid for what you know.” He’s helped over 3,000 people start and improve their own businesses. Follow him on instagram and Twitter.