WHEN ALL THAT MATTERS IN BUSINESS IS JUST GETTING STARTED

Did you know one of my first businesses was called Network This and what I did was install Cat5 cables in mouse infested attics?

Yes, I'm serious. 

I did this at night, after my day job, in the dark. Alone. 

I had a website, and a Myspace page and my goal was to become a CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert). I remember thinking yes this is how I'll make big money! The reason I started this biz was I wanted to do something different and to challenge the status quo. Back at that time (wow, around 2002-2004 maybe?) there were zero women doing this type of work. I was in school to be a Network Engineer and was the only woman to graduate in my class. (with honors baby!) 

About a year into the biz I realized I wanted to get out of the attics and back into a desk, but I needed something more creative. I was tired of crawling around attics. It was at that time that I dove into coding for more than just creating ascii middle fingers. You see I never even THOUGHT designing websites was an option for me. I perceived myself as a non-creative set of hands and didn't believe I could do it. 

So I took on a small website gig, with the help of a friend and we made $2200 on a static HTML website for a small law firm. At the time, this was 5X more than I made per hour in my Networking business and I was sold. 

Since that time I've created hundreds of websites ranging from small starter sites to larger ecommerce/corporate ones. I even ran my own multi-designer firm called MageCreates for a bit too!

The point of my story? I want you see that no business starts off perfect and we all evolve. Sometimes we start our business adventures out because we have to pay the bills (or make extra cash to make ends meet), and it looks different for all of us. As we gain more wisdom, our businesses change into something more connected to who we are, and what we want to offer. 

To celebrate the many faces of my business journey I decided to write down some of the things that helped me just get started. 

First up, the website:

  1. When I first started out I used Bluehost because it was cheap and easy. (Psst from Thursday, May 19, through Friday May 20 at 11:59 PM (MT), my readers can enjoy hosting for as low as $2.95/mo for 36 months. That's over 60% off!). They've since been bought out and while I dig them for starters, I tend to lean towards Siteground for beefier sites. If you need help choosing a host, ping me!
  2. My first website was a static HTML site and my second one, for Mage Creates, was built on WordPress.org. I used a free template and basically fumbled my way though it. Doing this helped me learn WordPress.org as a platform and then I was able to build these sites for others! Back then I offered a 'Start me up' offer where I setup a basic template + hosting + domain name for people for $295 and for nostalgia purposes I'm bringing this offer back for a limited time! Click here to learn more. This is for people who just needed a starting place. 
  3. Back then, I wasn't as well versed in Adobe products as I am now, and we didn't have Canva, so I used GIMP which is sort of like a free version of Photoshop. Now a days I'd suggest using Canva or Picmonkey (or any of the upteen million online photo/graphic creation software out there.) or just paying monthly for the Adobe Suite and then using Lynda.com or Youtube to educate yourself. There is also the option of buying graphics from designers on Fiverr, 99Designs, or places like Upwork
  4. In terms of what I offered, again, I had zerooooo people to consult so I literally just threw up a services page and made up a bunch of stuff LOL! I wasn't able to find my old Network This site on Wayback, but I did find the last version of my design business website from 2011. Check out that terrible logo! Proof you don't need a perfect website to pull in the dollars yo. 
  5. I didn't have Leadpages or anything fancy, I literally had a free Mailchimp account that I used to keep in touch with my clients. I didn't do any telsummits, I didn't blog much, and I was rarely interviewed. Ending list #'s in my just getting started phase? 467 people. 

Why the website first? Because people need to FIND YOU. Think of your website as your house. And no you don't need a perfect, $5,000 website to start off with. The visual representation of your business is such a personal thing. Don't let anyone tell you what you need, do the research and decide based on where you are, your budget, and where you are going. At the end of the day YOU have to feel comfortable with what you are doing and spending. 

So while I had a website, I didn't really have a clue as to how to run a business. I mean I had been doing business because I made money but did I really KNOW business. NOPE. I did NOT have a business degree, in fact I slept through most of college (and was a high school dropout). That's when I started googling work from home jobs and found the website Elance (now known as Upwork) and that's where I found my first 'VA' gig. 

Now, I do want to mention that I struggled with some shame in regards to being a virtual assistant.(Incredibly ridiculous looking back) I had a pretty slick day job at the time but I felt like my soul was dying every time I walked into that cube farm. I had began to build a reputation as the go to techie for everything and my family seemed proud. I was a girl from South Florida who pretty much climbed her way out of several hot messes. So imagine the first time I told them that my side business was a combination of IT stuff plus administrative assistant gigs. I got over the shame quickly and realized I could live the life I wanted by balancing these two skills to perfection.

I had a business because I recognized there was a need for both tech and admin help. I've never been a 'put all your eggs in one basket' kind of woman and this was how I survived all of these years of being in business. 

I always had a writing gig or two that I was juggling, usually found on ProBlogger's job board. I even took odd jobs doing customer service/chat part-time when business was slow.  

You see back when I started, there were no Facebook groups, there were only a handful of coaches and the only ones charging $2000 for courses were colleges and Tony Robbins. I never experienced FOMO because I was happy for the adventure and I was able to feel my way through the dark, without much overhead/spending. 

And this, is just part of the story on how I started my entrepreneurial adventure. So tell me, where are you in your journey and how can I help you get to your next destination?

 

 

 

 

 

Ontraport wrecks the competition. And here's why you can't afford to let this go.

No more multi-system drama? Check. 

No more freebie Mailchimp account with zero support? Check. 

No more using the lower end emarketing systems to capacity and duct taping your lists together? Check.

These are my thoughts on Ontraport and a special offer for those who want to switch. 

This week Ontraport released a much anticipated lower cost BASIC version for $79! That's right for just $79 buckaroo's you can have a more beautiful and intelligent way to keep in touch with your subscribers. 

Want an even deeper discount? Pay for the year in advance and get it for just $65.83 per month!

This has been a pretty magical move for them. They have now publicly declared that they want to help those with lists under 1000 and do not intend on leaving them high and dry like their competition. In the past, if you had a list of under 1000 you would have to make due with systems that didn't let you really dig into the psychology of your subscribers. 

For those of you that don't know, Ontraport is an all-in-one system. It's been considered one of the higher end systems for years and is Infusionsoft's direct competition. I've been supporting the system for over five years and started my adventure with them by moving an Australian client from Mailchimp over to their soon to be defunct system Sendpepper. Sendpepper worked well but it just didn't have a ton oomph if you ask me. 

A few years after that migration one of my star clients came to me and asked if I thought she should move to Infusionsoft or Ontraport ( actually called Office AutoPilot at that time). I had been working in Infusionsoft for a few years and really disliked it. I'm highly technical by nature and once I dug in I realized all the illogical setup wasted so much time and decided to no longer support it. I did the research and recommended Ontraport without ever having really using the system. The decision was based on my interactions with their staff and my impression of Send Pepper. 

Hard Truth: Most people who purchase Infusionsoft STAY with Infusionsoft for life because of the amount of cash they've had to put into the system. This makes them afraid to velcro themselves away. The rest, look for a way to have more harmony in their business automation, that's where Ontraport comes in. 

Once I understood the the basis of the technology and I saw how great Landon and his team were, I was in. 

One of my biggest issues with their competitor was always support. They were nice enough but sometimes you just felt like you had to go through so many corporate hoops to get stuff fixed. It was like dealing with the government lol!

Ontraport on the other hand ( or Office AutoPilot back then ) just had a real down to earth feel. If they messed up, they told me, if they knew I was wrong, they were nice about it. I felt like I was dealing with a group that really cared about their customers and their experiences. Down the line they decided to change their name and became a stronger, more streamlined version of what they already were. They became Ontraport and they didn't compromise the heart of their biz, their customers. 

Now with the inclusion of a lower end offering they can scoop up what I call the inbetweeners. Those who are making money but haven't done much list building and could use a leg up. The new basic offering includes up to 1000 contacts and unlimited emails. It also includes their new signature Ontrapages system which takes the place of leadpages! 

I think this was done so that they could knock their other competitor, Simplero out of the water. Simplero is a great system, it's just still in the baby stages and Ontraport is for badasses. 

Scroll to the end of the blog for my special offer!

So if you find yourself feeling like Mailchimp, Aweber, Active Campaign, Campaign Monitor, and Get Reponse really isn't making the grade you may want to have a look at Ontraport. Out of all of those I'd say Active Campaign comes the closest to what Ontraport Basic is minus the beautiful landing pages. 

One of the cons I can see in regards to the basic level is you don't get the full system. The full system includes being able to sell stuff, setup membership sites, an affiliate system and more - it's a true all-in-one. Also if you have more than 1000 contacts you'll need their high end system as there is nothing in between (for now). 

That doesn't mean that you can't sell stuff, it means that you would have to piece together a few tools to get any people on your list via a sale. 

Not ready for Ontraport but really want to have a way better, less expensive option for building landing/lead pages...try Ontrapages!

Additionally this week they released a stand-alone version Ontrapages which is their webpage/landing page builder. They have both a forever free version which will just collect names into a spreadsheet (then you manually add to your system)  or a $15/month paid version that is actually pretty damn awesome. Folks who have Ontraport have been using this tool for a few months and I was happy to see it being released to the public as well. Ontraport is NOT required for Ontrapages!

To use Ontrapages without Ontraport ( as in use it with Mailchimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft etc) you just need the URL of your hosted form from your preferred email provider. There is no code to fudge with, thanks Ontrapages!

Click this link to view an Ontrapage that I sent up in less than 5 minutes using the free version. (Note that it isn't live just a sample to view)

And here is a screenshot. 

 

Here is the pricing info for Ontrapages from their website: 

Free Forever
$0/month
10 Pages
Unlimited Templates
All mobile responsive page templates
10 ONTRApages
2,500 visits per month
Get your leads delivered immediately via email
Unlimited images
Analytics: Visitor and conversion stats

Premium
$15/month (or $99/year)
25 Pages
Use Your Own Domain
Everything in Free Forever, plus...
25 ONTRApages
25,000 visits per month
Send leads to any email service or CRM
Use your own domain
Remove ONTRApages branding
Split testing

Click here to view my complete review of Ontraport.

Bookmark this blog as I'll be updating you on more features soon. 

And now for my special offer.

I don't want you to miss our on all of this Ontraport badassery so I'm offering you a hell of a deal on setting up the system. 

If you want to move your current list building over to the $79 Ontraport Basic and you have 1000 contacts or less, I will perform the installation for FREE if you purchase through my link.  

If you have more contacts and just want to make the switch to Premium Ontraport, I can help with that too! I'm offering special pricing to all my readers. 

Get in touch with me asap for more info. Also feel free to get in touch if you need help deciding if Ontraport or Ontrapages will work for your business model. 

 

Disclaimer: The above blog may contain affiliate links. I only link to products I 100% believe in!

 

 

 

 

 

I'm an Entrepreneur

I'm a cliff jumper.
There is no fear of heights.
As I race towards the edge, I imagine the salty, crisp water, bubbling over my skin.
Tingling up from my toes, to the back of my knees, to the small of my back, then on to my neck and head.
My heart races, I let out a roaring smile.
I leap.
I fly.
I splash.
I swim.
I'm an entrepreneur.

 

We interrupt your business day to talk to you about interruptions.

Today, a badass copywriter that I know reminded me of a simple, but accurate fact about working from home.

"Interruptions: On average it takes you 23 minutes to get back to the original task."

I've also read that it takes up to an additional 30 minutes to return to the flow of productivity.

Are you struggling with interruptions? 

Try this article from the New York Times. It enlightened me on the psychology behind this theory or maybe this one from Inc Magazine about making your workplace a little more private ( works for home offices too ).

Need something with a little more depth? Try 9 Ways to Create Time, Space and Stillness for Meaningful Work from Ernest Barbaric.

Are your interruptions actually people in your house/office?

First, set boundaries. Tell everyone in your home that have set work hours or if you are a creative like me, have a way to notify them that you are working by using a sign or signal. I used to rely on just telling them verbally but we can all guess how well that worked. I would hold conference calls, tell everyone what I was doing, and then 15 minutes later my daughter would bust into the meeting screaming MOM I POOPED. Yes really.

Boundary setting can be tough but it's something every person who works from home has to deal with. This is a great article with practical advice about working from home and setting boundaries. How do I get through this?  I struggle, daily, but I make it work by communicating with everyone in my home about how important it is that I have uninterrupted time to work. In the past I tried getting up early or staying up late, and well my 5 year old and I are in such a rhythm that most of the time she just adapts her sleep schedule to mine and it defeats the purpose. If I got up at 4 am, I'd hear the pitter patter of her feet as she ran into my office to see where I was. We've got creaky wooden floors from 1931, I can't get away with much these days.

What about you? Any tips or are you struggling with interruptions as well?

 

 

 

 

Where business begins...

Business begins at the intersection of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and  being serious. Business begins at the inception of an idea that you can now sell.

Business begins at the moment you realize that comparing your business to another business, is completely useless.

Business begins at half past your bedtime or in the shower, when your best ideas come to you.

Business begins when you realize your reputation is everything.

Business begins when you are present, and make conscious decisions.

@@Business begins when you are able to do what you love not just what you like.@@

Business begins when you accept that you are in the public eye, no matter how much you try and hide.

Business begins when you take care of yourself, and realize you don't have to be overworked to get things done.

Business begins when you invest, carefully, in the things you need for your business and not the things everyone else needs in their business.