So You Want to Start a Internet Biz and/or Coaching Practice? 12 Things

This article is a culmination of experience I've gained over the past 2.5 years in starting the business "Conscious Girlfriend" with my partner. Conscious Girlfriend is a largely online (with some live components) business, geared toward lesbians & queer women, teaching them skills to find the right partners, and be the right partners. This article is geared toward anyone doing an online business that sells coaching or courses in the personal growth realm. This is not* geared toward people doing business coaching or online marketing, and not for people who are in this largely for the money, and think of "6 figures" or "7 figures" as an essential goal. If you are in those categories, there are gazillions of other resources. *

Some of these things are things I wish I'd known, some I'm glad I learned along the way, and wasn't warned about (otherwise, I might not have gone ahead and done this thing.)

  1. It takes time. For everyone. Years of time.  It took us about 1.5 years before the business was sort-of sustainable (that is, would start to pay *our* bills, not just the businesses bills.) It's still a bit touch and go at times, but it's basically working.
  2. Absorb a lot from the big online marketing/enrollment people, but don't pay for it (we did, so you don't have to!) Sign up on the mailing lists of Marisa Murgatroyd, Jeff Walker, Lisa Sasevitch, Bill Baron, etc. Listen to their webinars, read their guides, read their blogs, etc.  There are a lot of great ideas, and there is a lot of useful stuff that they give away (or put in books which are cheap) and a lot you can absorb.  The programs of these folks are geared so strongly in the direction of teaching other business coaches and online marketers (even if they say otherwise,) so don't bother with their programs that cost hundreds or thousands, because they are likely to be a waste of your money, unless you are a biz coach or online marketer yourself (and if so, you shouldn't be reading this!) Save your \$ for item 6.
  3. Get Feedly, and load it up with RSS feeds from online marketers and social media marketers, other people in your niche or related niches (I read a lot of straight relationship blogs,) and research and resources that relate to your practice. Read. A lot. I mean, a lot. And then read some more.
  4. Even when you find your niche, you also have a sub-niche. People who are really, really right for you. It might take you a while to figure out who they are, but here's a clue: they are a lot like you.
  5. Join the mailing lists of other services/coaches in your niche. Figure out how you are different. Figure out the expertise you bring (whether it's educational, spiritual or experience) that sets you apart, and who would be drawn to that difference. Focus your efforts on that. Don't even try to serve everyone in your niche (unless it's extremely tiny.)
  6. Get a business coach (I have one I can suggest, there are many great ones that work with folks in this realm.) One who is affordable (i.e. won't cost more than a couple of hundred for a coaching session, or a couple of thou for a solid coaching package), who groks you and what you're trying to do, who doesn't follow a cookie-cutter system, and who has lots of ideas, and is focused on helping you measure and experiment, to see what works, and what doesn't work. There are all sorts of systems you can find out about, like funnels, launches, etc., but no one (I mean no one) can tell you what exactly will work for you and how, except you, by trial and error.
  7. You'll need a solid tech infrastructure. I'm lucky, I was a web developer for years, and so I have a good solid understanding of how all of this gets put together. But even with that background, it took me a while to get to the tech structure smoothed out. But there will be glitches, and problems, and if you don't know technical stuff, you'll need help. It can be really simple, like weebly + paypal, but it has to be well thought out, solid, and TESTED. We currently use WordPress + MailChimp + WooCommerce + Stripe, and Square for payments live and on the phone. Works like a charm. Oh, and if you use WordPress, pay someone to do the updates and maintenance for you (I have a suggestion for that, too.)
  8. Remember, every day, why you are doing this work. Don't let yourself get lost in the business.
  9. Take lots of time off, you'll be more productive when you're working. I work 4 8-10 hour days per week, with one 5 day weekend a month, and 1 week-long vacation a quarter. That's more than enough work time. Really. More time at work does not equal more things accomplished.
  10. There will be clients that aren't happy. Do your best to be compassionate and fair. Listen to what they tell you is wrong, and be willing to change. Sometimes, refunds are an act of generosity. But also, hold good boundaries.
  11. Commit to being a student. Be willing to always learn new things,  and learn how to serve your clients better. Your clients will notice.
  12. Don't forget to love yourself, and take care of yourself.