- Louisa Zhou has a career teaching people how to start their own six-figure plus business.
- Within a year of starting out on his own, he was making over a million dollars in sales.
- He started off by offering free consultations and slowly built up customers.
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When I decided to start a business with the goal of quitting my job, I made a promise to myself: I was going to make it happen.
Otherwise, I would have given up on the career I had worked for my whole life, for nothing.
Fortunately, the decision paid off. In less than a year, I grew my business to over a million dollars in sales and have continued to grow year after year ever since.
To do this, I took these four most important steps.
1. I found my customers instead of waiting for them to come to me
“Build it and they will come” may have been in the movies, but it certainly isn’t the way to build a successful business.
A common mistake many new entrepreneurs make is to create a gorgeous website, sit back and wait for customers to come to them.
Those are some tricky situations, considering that there are over a billion web pages on the Internet. So instead of waiting, I went out and found my customers.
My first online business was doing digital advertising consulting for business owners using skills from my job.
When small business owners were asked where they spent their time online, I realized that my potential customers were in Facebook groups.
The platform may change over time, but the principle remains the same. Over the years, I’ve helped students find their clients online, including Reddit, Instagram, YouTube, podcasts, industry-specific forums, and more.
Within those groups, I searched for words that my ideal customers might be talking about, such as “advertising” and “campaign”.
Most of the time, they asked questions about things I could help with, so I answered their questions, pro bono and without expecting anything in return.
I didn’t know exactly how this would get customers, but I knew that if I led by providing value, I would at least start to build my online reputation.
Also, I thought there must be some people who want more help than I can provide through my free answers.
When I asked for something in return, it was just a few minutes of their time to ask some market research questions, like “Who are you struggling with?” and “Who do you need help with?” To be able to understand what might ultimately sell.
I kept a running list of about 10 Facebook groups and answered as many questions as I could each day. And that’s how I got my first client.
After going on the market research call, I thanked them by answering some of their questions about advertising.
Afterwards, he continued to email me follow-up questions, which I answered. About two weeks into it, he emailed me to tell me how much he appreciated the help I had already given him, for free, and asked how he could hire me for better results.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw your first payment via PayPal. I was on business! After seeing how well it worked, I continued with it until I got my first clients.
I want to make it clear that the process was not easy. I must have spoken to 50+ people this way to get those clients. Most of the time, I was told it was too expensive, even though I was charging the same amount as my salary.
It was incredibly challenging, and I had to give up. Yet each time, I reminded myself that successful entrepreneurs see rejection as a “stepping stone” and that I need to do that too if I really want to build my business.
2. I was obsessed with making the best possible product
While this was the best way to start my business and sell instead of my salary to teach/ Consulting essentially severely limited my professional potential because I was entirely dependent on my limited time and energy.
That’s why after working with nearly 20 clients, I took everything I’d learned about helping people get the best results and incorporated it into my first digital course.
Use: This is when I made the transition to helping others build their online business, when several people asked me if I would help them do what I had done with my digital advertising consulting business.
While I was able to create a good course the first time and get good testimonials because of my experience working with clients, I was not satisfied. I wanted to create the best course of its kind on the market.
So I took three years to complete it. This did not mean that I would sit in front of a computer and work alone.
No, I had given the course to hundreds of students. Whenever a student had a question or something was not clear in the course, he would go back and update the material.
It was a lot of work, and it could have saved me a few years if I’d been willing to make good stuff instead of great stuff. but I did not.
However, the result is something I can be really proud of. Not only this, the hard work paid off. I now have hundreds of testimonials for my flagship course and it is widely regarded as the best in its class.
3. I took measured risks
As soon as I received the first testimonials from my clients and confirmed that I was doing a great job for my clients, I started trying out ways to grow my business as quickly as possible.
I knew the key was getting in front of more people, which traditionally can be a very slow process. But Facebook ads helped me. Once again, my background in advertising came in handy.
For the launch of my first course, I spent about $1,500 on advertising. As a result, I made $8,000 in sales.
This allowed me to collect enough data to confirm that running paid ads would be profitable and give me an idea of how much each dollar spent on advertising was likely to return in sales.
With that information, I invested about $10,000 a few months later to start my second course. As a result, that launch generated $100,000 in sales.
The results of the first launch may have been tentative, but the second launch confirmed that I had got my advertising, marketing and sales strategies right.
After two successful launches, she was ready to go even bigger. For my third launch, I invested about $80,000 and closed about $800,000 in sales.
Once again, it was not easy.
Each time, it was incredibly scary to do those reversals while wondering if this would be the moment something would “break” and end up in the red.
In addition, each release was a lot of work, involving long hours talking to potential customers and long nights with my operations and support teams to make sure everything ran smoothly.
4. I overdelivered
Without this step, none of the others matter. Because it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, it’s a small world after all.
If you are doing good work then there is discussion. If it gets worse, it spreads even more.
Given how competitive my industry was and how many established players there were, I knew I had to go above and beyond for my clients if I wanted to stand out.
For example, for my first client call, even though I knew what I was doing, I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly. So I spent more than three hours writing down every word I would say for an hour. And I did it again for another.
Once I started selling courses, I continued to be extremely hard on myself. I was working with hundreds of clients, which meant spending several hours every day answering my students’ questions to help them achieve the best possible results.
Doing this meant that I put in a lot more work than my competitors, but it paid off through testimonials and lots of happy customers.
As you can see, none of these processes were easy. However, what I have realized through my entrepreneurial journey and helping thousands of people build their online business since then, is that this is a dream that anyone can achieve… if you put in the work. are willing to do.
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