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7-figure business coach & course creator helping you build a profitable online biz & become OBSESSED with your life. I'm an Enneagram 3 & love ClickUp, color coded calendars & design. I travel around the world full time and spent most my days in Thailand, Vietnam or Bali.
When it comes to starting an online business, there are plenty of bumps along the road and things I didn’t see coming. I wish someone had been there to guide me!
Well, I’m here to be that someone for you. Today I’m sharing 10 things I wish I’d known before starting an online business, along with what I would do differently this time around.
No matter what stage of business you’re at, hopefully these tips will hope you avoid some mishaps and clarify your priorities.
But first, if you’re considering starting an online business, or want more guidance, check out my FREE 30 day guide, the Laptop Lifestyle Blueprint, which will walk you through everything you need to know step-by-step.
Now let’s dive in.
1. There is no straight path to success.
It might take you a while to land on the perfect business idea, but that’s no excuse not to start. You may have to try several business ideas before you see success.
Before I started my coaching business, I tried running Facebook ads, dropshipping, social media management, and design. I had no clue what I wanted to do or where I would end up, but each step brought me closer to where I needed to be.
The same thing applies when you start to scale your business. As you try out new ideas, you will see what works for you and your audience, and what doesn’t.
Instead of asking yourself if something is right or wrong, try asking: What is one thing I can commit to that will bring me closer to my goals?
For me, when I was just starting out, I decided to move to Thailand and teach English. It wasn’t necessarily my dream to be an English teacher, but it brought me one step closer to where I wanted to be–which was living abroad and traveling the world!
The most important thing is to stop planning and start taking action. You won’t know what opportunities are out there until you dive in!
2. You need to be okay with failing.
Starting an online business is basically a game of trial and error, and you have to get comfortable with failing often and publicly. Easier said than done, right?
I knew this when I started my business–everyone tells you to get comfortable with failure. But I still tried to be perfect for a long time. Looking back, I wish I had known that the benefits of taking risks and messy action far outweigh the potential for failure.
You won’t make it very far if you’re afraid to fail.
If it were easy, everyone would do it. Success doesn’t happen overnight, no matter what anyone tries to tell you. Nothing can replace hard work and persistence.
When you see someone killing it online, you don’t see all of the failures and sacrifices they made along the way. But trust me, they’re there!
If you’re someone who has always had everything in life and school come easily (looking at you, my fellow Enneagram 3s), it can SO hard to let that go and embrace failure. But you need to fail in order to learn. If something knocks you down, get back up and keep trying!
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Always keep moving.
Consistency is key to starting an online business. It can be hard when you don’t see results right away, but just remember that you’re building momentum. Things can and do pick up really fast. One day you’ll wake up and your business will have taken off!
As long as you keep moving, new opportunities will come your way. I didn’t see opportunities until I decided to start my design business. As soon as I made the decision to take action, I saw opportunities everywhere!
You’re building the rest of your life! That’s not something you want to rush.
And if you’re not seeing the results you want, ask yourself “WHY?” and then “HOW?”. Instead of saying, “Ugh, this isn’t working,” think, How can I make this work? How can I get the results I want? Then try something new and keep moving.
4. Investing is part of the journey.
I wish soooo badly someone had told me this early on (or that I had listened, if they did!). The truth is, you don’t know everything–and that’s okay!
Like I mentioned in this post, one of my biggest regrets is not investing in myself and my business sooner. This isn’t a sales tactic to promote my coaching, it’s the truth! I tried to figure everything out on my own, when there was a much easier way.
If your goal is to establish a business and make money ASAP, it makes sense to invest in order to get there as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are roadmaps and shortcuts out there that can help you make 10x the amount of money you’d make without them. Investing is simply a smart business decision.
This isn’t just in the beginning stages of starting an online business. I was stubborn and avoided investing for almost a year, before I finally realized that reinvesting is the key to growing your business.
No one builds a business without investing and eventually hiring a team.
And a related piece of advice: hire before you’re ready! I hired my first VA pretty quickly, but had a hard time outsourcing other parts of my business. I waited too long and ended up working 24/7 until I was finally able to get the help I needed.
Don’t let your pride get in the way. You will reach your goal faster and easier with a little help.
5. Mindset will make you or break you.
I talk a lot about mindset, but for good reason! I was lucky that I started this journey with a pretty solid mindset, but I had no idea how imperative it was to success.
Starting an online business can be daunting. If you don’t believe in yourself and what you are doing, no amount of tactics or strategies will work. Entrepreneurship is a crazy roller coaster of ups and downs, and through it all, you only have yourself.
That’s why working on your personal development and building a strong community are so important to success. Looking back, my entrepreneurship journey has been 80% personal development and 20% business.
6. Your business needs BOTH be profitable and support your lifestyle.
Okay, this one sounds obvious…but if you have a product idea that no one is interested in buying, you don’t have a business–you have a hobby. And chances are, you’re starting an online business to make money so you can do cool amazing things and provide for yourself and your family.
Even if you love your business, it’s unrealistic that you will love every minute of it. That’s why you need to find a happy medium between what you enjoy doing and what people will pay you for.
From the beginning, I knew money was key to achieving the life I wanted. (HINT: Money isn’t bad and being wealthy isn’t either, but that’s another money mindset chat for another day). So I focused on offering services people needed: social media management, design, and eventually coaching. Coaching turned out to be the most in alignment with what I love to do and what the market will pay for.
Now my business allows me to travel the world and do what I love everyday.
7. Marketing is key to starting an online business.
When I look back, marketing is the #1 thing that has made my business so successful. I wish someone had told me to focus on it from day one, because as soon as I did, my business took off.
A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with selling themselves. My comfort zone is definitely behind the scenes and it can be hard to get on camera when you’re drained. But marketing is one of the most important things you can do for your business, so make it a priority!
When I say marketing, for most of us that means social media, Instagram, Facebook, podcasts–anything that gets you showing up and selling. Find a way to be visible online and consistently market yourself, and you will see results.
8. Money is not the only ROI to measure.
Okay yes, money is important. But so are your time, energy, and mental wellbeing. If you’re making millions of dollars, but are miserable, unhealthy and working 24/7, is it really worth it?
Before sinking time or money into your business, ask yourself what the ROI (return on investment) is–not just in dollar value, but in terms of what it can do for you and your business.
Sometimes when you invest in a training program, the best ROI you can get is clarity. You might be filled with energy and confidence, or finally overcome your limiting beliefs. Those things are priceless.
On the flip side, learn to let go of bad purchases. If you make a mistake and spend money on something you shouldn’t have, learn from it and move on. Your success is rooted in your mindset and behaviour more than money.
9. Learn when to say no and when to say yes.
It’s tempting to yes to any and all opportunities that come your way as a new business owner. While it’s good to have an abundance mindset, you need to trust your gut. I’ve had discovery calls where my gut was screaming that the client was not a good fit. Although I really wanted the client and the money, I knew it wasn’t going to be worth it.
Saying no is hard. But there will always be more clients–the online space is BOOMING. And if someone isn’t a good fit, it could harm your business more than it helps. The same goes for opportunities: pay attention to those that are in alignment with your goals, and turn down those that aren’t.
If you say yes to everything, you will have less time for the important things.
I said yes to everything when I was starting out. Yes to speaking events, to new clients, to every project–even to design clients after I was no longer a designer. All those yes’s took my time and energy away from growing my business.
The right opportunities and clients will eventually come your way. Learn who to say yes and no to, and trust the process!
10. Never underestimate the power of an email list.
Growing your email list is one of the most important aspects of starting an online business. In the early stages, you should focus on going deep instead of wide (aka don’t try to start an Instrargam, FB group, podcast and email list all at once).
I waited too long to focus on growing my list and I wish I would have started sooner. If you don’t have the time to devote to a regular newsletter right away, at least set up a freebie and simple email sequence.
Be intentional every week about promoting that freebie to grow your list, and by the time you have something ready to share, you’ll have a list of people ready to hear from you!
There you have it, the 10 things I wish I’d known before becoming an entrepreneur. If you’re just starting an online business, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or maybe you have another lesson to add!
Ready to build your dream online business?
If you’re ready to take the next step, check out Laptop Lifestyle Bootcamp, the program that over 200 women have used to successfully start their online business.
I hope you take these tips to heart and use them to grow an intentional and profitable online business!
Something tells me you belong here and desire something more.
hi, i'm Amanda
Three years ago, I chose to quit my corporate 9-to-5, sold all my belongings, and booked a one-way ticket to Thailand. I had no real plan—just a burning desire to see the world and a bone-deep certainty that there was more to life than my mind-numbing day job.
Since then I have started multiple business ventures including LLCo. which has scaled to over $1 million dollars in 2 years, and has helped hundreds of women from all over the world build profitable online businesses, defy expectations, and create a freedom lifestyle on their terms—no one else’s.
Every day you get to choose again as to how you will live your life - and every defining moment will come down to just that, a choice.
Here’s the thing - your past story, knowledge, and experiences may have shaped you to be where you are now, but they don’t have to define where you go next.
Hey there, I’m Amanda Kolbye. I’m on a mission to help female entrepreneurs acquire business tools & knowledge so they can create generational wealth and a life where you never think “is this it?” In our world, women become unstoppable. In our world, limitless is the only boundary we adhere to.
7-figure international business coach, online educator, and founder of Laptop Lifestyle Co.