I don’t know about you, but 2022 was a year of adjusting I’m planning for 2023 to be a year for building.
I remember 2000-02 (dotcom crash) and 2008-09 (GFC). Years of big economic downturns. The years that immediately followed were slow and steady climbs back up.
Growing During A Downturn
During those years, incredible businesses were busy building. They’d survived the turmoil and were doubling down on their core strength. I‘m talking about companies like Google and Amazon during the early 2000s, and Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, and so many other names we know well today; we’re starting or ramping up in 2010 and beyond.
In my case, in the early 2000s, I’d just launched my own Investment Advisory Firm. In 2009-10 I was reaping the benefits from a lot of hard work growing my brand, email list and creating debt and cash management systems.
How your business fares during economic downturns is very much dependent on your industry, location, cost structure, cash flow, capital, and many other things. Thankfully, as business owners without geographic constraints, we can often weather a storm or even grow during these times as people turn to the internet for solutions to problems and entertainment.
Build Build Build
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.
I don’t find big goal setting helpful, except for gauging excitement about an outcome and, thus, whether I should build towards it. What works is to get results — and productivity studies show this to be true — is small, incremental, and repetitive.
- Get in the reps.
- Form the habit.
- Make it feel normal to produce something every day.
- Make it feel uncomfortable NOT to do the work.
We all follow patterns of behavior. Whether you follow the patterns that lead to what you want is the question.
What Should You Build?
Hopefully, you’re sharing my enthusiasm to build something this year or build on something you already started. The question that might have you stumped is what to build.
There are three phases of an online business:
- VALIDATION: Ideas, research, testing, making your first sale
- FOUNDATION: Stabilize cash flow, platform, and team building
- SCALING UP: Reliable growth, leadership hires, systems and automation
Each phase requires a different kind of building from you as the entrepreneur.
- Phase one is building enough to make a sale, and then hopefully a few more, to learn from that process and from those first few customers.
This might include creating a landing page to get your first email subscribers, launching one social media channel or blog to start your audience, running a paid advertising experiment or securing your first partnership.
2. Phase two, you have cash flow from customers. Things are working, but there is so much you still need to do and build to lay the foundation for your business before you can scale up.
This phase requires hiring people, some for temporary projects and some as ongoing team members.
You will do things like overhauling your website design and copy. You may experiment with pricing, new products or services, bundles, and promotions.
You’re refining what already works, but it will feel slow.
During this phase, you’re working hard, as you still do many of the tasks yourself.
You struggle to balance simple things like staying on top of replying to emails while delivering what you sell to existing customers and running marketing campaigns to bring in new customers.
3. Phase three is about taking the foundation you’ve built, expanding, and possibly even taking yourself out of the business.
You’ve created something amazing. You have a team that works largely without you. You’ve refined your offer and your pricing model. New customers come to you. Your marketing and sales process is far more reliable, so you don’t worry about where your next customer will come from or whether they will choose you or a competitor.
You have strengths. You know what your company is good at.
During this phase, you’re likely looking to hire for key leadership positions like a COO (Chief Operating Officer), CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), and even CEO to replace yourself.
You begin testing multiple marketing channels like never before because you have the cash flow to experiment on a scale you previously only dreamed of. You will add automation, apply new technology and ramp up your content creation so you appear everywhere, at least in your industry.
The challenge at this phase is learning to let go, to delegate tasks and decisions that previously you thought only you could do.
Hiring becomes your main ‘building’ task, although you may struggle with this because you didn’t become an entrepreneur to get into the HR department!
You’re Probably At Phase 1, Or Maybe the Start Of Phase 2
Most people who subscribe to my newsletter are still in phase 1, or have made it into phase 2, but are struggling to build a foundation.
The main feeling is frustration due to being unable to get any idea to work or frustration due to lack of resources — never having a budget for marketing or hiring new team members so you can delegate tasks.
It’s awful to feel stuck because you need more cash to hire people so you can free up your time to do more marketing to get more clients to get that cash you need!
It feels like a trap. You’re on a treadmill with no escape.
This new year must be about breaking into the next phase.
No more ‘dreaming’ about having a business, instead, go out there and make a sale.
If you already make sales but are constantly constrained, it’s time to build a stable foundation so your monthly income grows steadily, from $1,000/month to $2,000, $4,000, $8,000, $15,000, $25,000, and beyond.
You Need To
You need a team around you. You need enough cash flow to pay for the team.
You need a consistent flow of customers. One cancellation or refund should not put you into a doom spiral.
You need to build.
Don’t stop building.
You can change what you build, pivot, or stop one business to start another, but don’t give up on the entrepreneur dream. Today is the best time to be a digital business founder. There is an abundance online, so many people are buying things.
You need to sell what people want and know how to reach them.
I’ll, of course, be here with you throughout 2023 as I continue to build.
Now, let’s get busy building…