When it comes to growing your online business, there's no shortage of self-proclaimed experts who will advise you on how to get money...for a fee for them, of course.
But there's really nothing that a self-proclaimed Instagram guru can teach you that you can't teach yourself. And you don't even need an MBA to understand how business works: a study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that 17 percent of all Black women, nationwide, had either started their own business or were in the process of doing so. This made them the most likely demographic for entrepreneurship — more so, even than their white counterparts, male or female.
So, with this in mind, we decided to compile this list of 10 simple, yet actionable, steps to grow your online business. Get money by any means necessary, sis!
1. Stick to what you're good at
You would think that this would be common sense — but you'd also be amazed at how many people just go into business simply because it's "popular" even if they have no experience with it (and, in some cases, they don't even like it). If you're good at what you do, the quality of the work will speak for itself. (You're also less likely to get burned out, so there's that).
2. Manage your money
Most businesses lose money in their first year of operations, so don't expect to turn a crazy profit in the beginning. (Although, if you do, that's amazing — just make sure to put it aside to carry you through during the leaner months.) Also, make sure you set aside money every quarter for your taxes — and if you can't do them yourself, hire someone to do them for you.
3. Don't just rely on social media
While social media can be a great tool for cultivating new leads and building your brand, it shouldn't be your only online presence. Building a website is affordable and easy, and web designers can really make your online presence stand out from the rest.
4. Create, and execute, a marketing plan
There are, quite literally, millions of online businesses — with more cropping up every day. The only way you're going to stand out from the crowd is by creating and executing a marketing plan. Pepper Miller has written an amazing book called What's Black About It? Insights to Increase Your Share of a Changing African-American Market, which has great marketing tips for businesses of all sizes.
5. At a certain point, you have to be a saleswoman
Remember: no one can sell your brand quite like you. Once you define your company's mission, and what you're offering either as a service or as a product, you'll be able to communicate that effectively to others.
6. You can't do it all — so hire the right people
When you're first starting out, you're going to have to wear many hats. But, as you grow your business, you're going to need to hire other people to help you, or you'll risk staying in one place forever. You can't be a lawyer, accountant, CEO, secretary, saleswoman, and social media manager, so don't be afraid to divvy out responsibilities to the appropriate parties.
7. And when you hire the right people, treat them with respect
When you were an employee, you didn't like it when your boss was a power-crazed battle-ax who treated his or her employees with more contempt than one would treat a dollop of dog poop on the bottom of a Louboutin. Now that you're a boss, remember how that horrible boss made you feel, and don't do it to others.
8. Always follow the best practices of your industry
Regardless of what industry your online business is in, there's absolutely no reason to cut corners and/or just not follow the best practices, rules, and regulations. Cutting corners may pay off in the short-term, but it's unsustainable in the long-term.
9. If you're tired, take a break
Though the thought process around prioritizing mental health is changing for the better, there are still some people who believe that #TeamNoSleep is a good entrepreneurial move. The truth is, it isn't — #TeamNoSleep tells people you work harder, but not necessarily smarter, than your contemporaries. (Plus, not taking care of your physical and mental health can be disastrous in the long-term.) If you're tired, take a break. It's that simple.
10. Above all else, have fun!
The entrepreneurship journey is a difficult one, at times — but there's nothing that beats working for yourself, on your own terms, and doing what you love. If you can't have fun doing it, what's the point?