HOW I STARTED MY ONLINE BUSINESS WITH LESS THAN $100 (PROFITABLE BUSINESS PLAN)On February 14, 2020 by Raul Dinwiddie
Can you really build a multimillion dollar
business with $100? Yes, you can and I am proof of it. So I wanted to go back to the
beginning of starting my business, which was just a couple years ago when I was starting
from scratch. I had no money in the bank. I was actually a little bit in debt at that
time. I was living in a tiny little shoe box apartment and all I had was a vision for what
I wanted to create, but I didn’t know how I was going to do it, or what the tactics
were going to be, or how I was even going to make money.
So I had to get scrappy and lean and that’s how I started. So I thought it’d be really
valuable to you to understand that I started this business I have today with less than
a hundred dollars. I’m actually going to break down the tools, the things that I used, the
price points of all of that in this video. So if you’re excited about this, give this
a like, hit the subscribe button and be sure to click the bell to be notified every single
time I post a new video, which is on Tuesdays and Fridays and sometimes even more than that.
Be sure to share this out if this is something that resonates with you or you know somebody
who could use the help of watching this video. So I also made this video recently about how
I started my business very lean and this is basically a followup to tell you exactly what
I did step by step and the only things you need to start. Now this applies to a coaching
and consulting business and an online education business because that’s what my business is.
We have a digital course and then we also do consulting with our authority accelerator
program, but that’s it. So we have scaled this business to multiple seven figures a
year and again it started with $100. So how did I use that first $100? Well, I’m
going to show you and tell you exactly how I did it and I have my notes on my phone that’s
why I keep looking at them. But there’s a lot to go through so if you have a note pad
or you’re on your computer, take notes during this video because I know that it will be
so valuable to you in getting started in a really lean way so that you can stay in the
black and you don’t have to go into the red in starting your business.
So if everyone is telling you that you need all of the things to start your business,
and you need all of these tech apps, and you need all these subscriptions and you need
to be paying for X, Y, and Z, it’s just simply not true. Those things will come into play
later as you scale the business, but when you’re first getting started and you just
need to make a couple thousand dollars a month, even more than that, you don’t need much.
Especially in the online space. So I’m going to break this down because there’s
really six pillars of success in business. I talk about this a lot. I’ve talked about
this in a few videos, but I wanted to break it down by those six pillars because in my
experience it’s really all you need to know as far as the categories of being successful
in business. So the six pillars are sales, marketing, finance, operations and fulfillment.
I’m going to make that make a lot more sense as we go. So the biggest thing in the beginning
when you start your business is it’s not so much an investment of your money, it’s an
investment of your time. Now why a coaching, consulting and online education company is
very easy to start with not a lot of money is because generally you’re monetizing your
brain and your intellectual property and you’re not having to get a stock of physical products.
You don’t have a lot of costs up front. That’s why it’s easier to get this started with not
a lot of money up front. So the biggest thing is understanding that
your time, it’s going to take a lot of your time in the beginning as you get the business
up and running. That’s the biggest cost to you. So first and foremost, before we dive
into those six pillars, the biggest thing to know is that I started my business, like
I said with my brain and I started it based off of my own experience and my own story.
So if you’re interested in having an online education program, having a course, being
a coach or being a consultant, it really comes down to knowing that that is based off of
your experience. If you’re trying to figure out what to create your course or your program
around, oftentimes it lies in the thing that you solve for yourself or the problem that
you ran into for yourself or your own story and journey.
For me, I started my business, which now we’ve had thousands of clients all over the world,
I started it because I was struggling as a solopreneur with a tiny little consultancy,
tiny little marketing agency and getting past a ceiling basically with my clients. When
I started using YouTube to share my thoughts, and solve problems, and answer questions for
my clients, things blew up and there was a huge demand to work with me. That’s when I
was able to package my expertise into an online course and that allowed me to scale myself
and to scale the business because people could take my course and learn from me without me
actually having to trade time for dollars. So the first thing is I started with no physical
product. I didn’t have a cost up front on that front. It just came from my brain, my
story, my expertise and that’s the same for you.
So what’s a problem you solved for yourself? What’s the problem you’ve solved for other
people? What is your story, your journey? What’s your experience? Because oftentimes
in those things is where your course idea or your business idea or your coaching idea
lies. The biggest thing is we’re going to start with sales because I say this often,
if you don’t have sales, you don’t have a business. So the first focus in your business,
no matter where you’re starting, you have nothing right now, you don’t even have a business,
you have to focus on sales first because in order to grow the business you have to be
making money so you can put it back into the business.
So the first thing is client acquisition. So how are you going to find your first couple
of clients? Now again, a lot of people will tell you have to have a funnel set up, and
you have to do X, Y, and Z, and you have to sign up for all these different things. No
you don’t. Your first couple of clients are going to come from people you probably already
know and from… Oh, hello, phone. People you already know or they’re going to come
from social networks, they’re going to come from your email list if you have one. Even
if you don’t have an email list though, you have people in your circle.
Your friends and family, you just need to tell everyone what you’re doing and that’s
where you’re going to find your first couple of clients and it also comes through the beauty
of the internet and the day and age that we live in. What a time to be alive truly. I
always say that because I wouldn’t have my business if it weren’t for social media. I
got my first clients using things like Twitter. That was my first platform I really ever touched.
Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram and how I did it was by creating educational content.
We like to call it expert content in our business and the expert content is content that actually
educates your ideal client. You’re not trying to reach everyone, you’re trying to reach
your ideal client on the thing that you can solve and it gives them a call to action to
work with you. That’s how you’re going to get your first couple of clients in the door.
So it’s not having to set up tech or funnels or anything and that’s how I did it.
So I didn’t pay anything to get my first sales to get to $5,000 a month. I paid nothing in
my business. I just used social media, free platforms, free groups to get my first clients
and I told my friends and family and they told their friends and that’s how you get
people in the door. So that’s really important to understand when it comes to sales.
The next thing is your… Also on that note is I had an email list at the time. My email
list was I think less than a hundred when I got my very first client. So you don’t have
to wait for your list to be like 100,000 people. If you have a hundred people or even 50 people,
that’s 50 people who are interested in what you do and your first, second, third client
are most likely going to be in that list. Now, marketing. Free social platforms, big
thing like I talked about and your email list. So the tool that I used when I was setting
up my email list when I first got it started, I actually just used an Excel spreadsheet
to be totally honest with you. When I first built my email list, I didn’t have any tech
set up and then when I wanted to get a little more sophisticated, I used MailChimp.
The reason I love MailChimp, and I always recommend that to start with as your email
marketing housing place is because it’s free up until 2000 subscribers. So it is an amazing
platform to get your business going and like I said, I had less than a hundred people on
my list when I got my very first paying client. So MailChimp is a great option and then they
also have different options for setting up a landing page, et cetera and it’s $14.99
a month. It is $14.99 a month if you want to upgrade your MailChimp account to have
those things set up. So basic funnels, landing pages, et cetera. But again, in the beginning
you don’t even need that so it can stay free. So that’s really, really important to understand.
The next thing was the process I used to get people onto my email list was I used YouTube
to get people onto my email list and then I use Canva to create my opt-ins, my guides,
my freebies, my PDFs. So basically that’s taking somebody from a YouTube video to downloading
some sort of relevant training for them that’s free. That gets them to sign up for your email
list and that’s all I used. Canva is basically your free graphic design tool. It makes you
look like you’re a pro graphic designer. I didn’t have a graphic designer for the first
two years of my business and I just did everything myself and I built basically every visual
asset that I had inside of Canva. So Canva is awesome. They have amazing templates in
their free version, you don’t even need to pay for it. If you want to get a little fancy
with it they do have a paid option, but again, you can start that for free.
So that’s the next thing and then PDFescape is an amazing tool to create your opt-in for
your email list and have links in it. So you can create your opt-in in Canva and then you
add in clickable links to the PDF. You can do it in Canva, but that’s with the paid version,
but for free you can use something called PDFescape. PDFescape allows you to upload
your PDF and add clickable links into it. So those were the things that I used to create
my opt-in to get people onto my email list and start growing my email list really, really
fast. So I would also email that list to get new
clients. I would email them regularly, I would send them my YouTube videos on weekly basis
and I just continued to nurture the list and that’s how the first clients came through.
That’s how my business built momentum because I was positioning myself constantly as the
go to expert. So you have to get scrappy when you’re first getting started to get your first
couple clients. Here’s the cool thing that happens. When you
get your first couple clients who do an amazing job for them and you get them really great
results, they then will be your best ambassadors because word of mouth marketing is real and
they will say, “Oh my gosh, Sunny Lenarduzzi is the best when it comes to YouTube. I just
started working with her, look what she’s done for me.” They’ll go and tell everybody
else. So that’s really how my business started to grow in the beginning. It wasn’t because
of complicated tech or anything else, it was because I was good at what I did and what
I was offering was really, really valuable to people. That’s what you have to remember.
At the end of the day, that’s such a big factor in growing your business because word of mouth
marketing is always the baseline of how you’re going to grow your business.
So the next thing is landing pages. So I didn’t even have a website for the first year of
my business. All I had was a very, very basic landing page, which a landing page is just
basically like a one page website and you have an image of yourself and you have a little
box where people can put in their email address and they can sign up for your email list.
That’s all I had. So like I said, you can build that if you upgrade MailChimp for $14.99.
You can build that inside of MailChimp or you can use something like WordPress which
is what I used back then and there’s tons of free templates that you can use for that.
So there’s the costs associated with that, which again is not a lot and that just basically
collected emails. So I didn’t even have anything fancy setup or a website set up. It was just
a landing page to collect emails because your email list is the most valuable part of an
online business. Now my domain, my sunnylenarduzzi.com, at
the time it was about $3 to buy that domain and I just have it on auto renew every year
and make sure that I just keep a hold of it. Then our hosting, if you go with Bluehost,
which is what I was using in the beginning for the first year, it’s free. They have a
promo that they do where it’s free and then it’s $25 a year after that. They have different
pricing tiers but that’s really the basic way to get started. So none of these are affiliates
to me by the way. They’re just things that I used when I was starting my business and
really didn’t cost me more than a hundred dollars to set up.
So the next thing was camera equipment for marketing. So if I was doing my videos or
creating any kind of content, I started with a stack of books as my tripod. I would put
my computer on top of the stack of books and I would use the webcam in the actual computer.
Then I upgraded to the Logitech C920 webcam, which I still use to this day and I just got
it on Amazon and that was my little setup to create content. I used iMovie, which was
free on my computer to edit my videos for the first year and up until 50,000 subscribers
of starting my YouTube channel. So again, low, low, low costs because all I cared about
was actually being in the black, meaning that I wasn’t in debt in my business. I was actually
making money so that I could reinvest it back into the business to grow it to where it is
today. Now for Instagram photos, we’ve got a funny
little throwback to how I used to do my photos on Instagram. I used to just set up my camera,
keep it rolling, do different poses up against a white wall in my tiny little apartment and
I would choose screenshots and those would be my Instagram photos. So again, I did it
all myself and I kept it very low cost and you absolutely can do the same thing. The
funny thing is today I do basically the same thing. I don’t really do brand photo shoots.
I do them once in a blue moon if I need them for assets, but for the most part, if you
go to my Instagram, all the pictures are pictures I’ve taken myself or I’ve asked a friend or
my fiance to take of me. Then no paid ads. I didn’t even touch paid
ads for the first two years of my business, and a lot of people will be like, “You got
to use Facebook ads, YouTube ads, et cetera.” If you don’t have an offer that people actually
want, if you don’t have any client success stories or any client results, if you’re throwing
money at an offer that has no proven results, you’re throwing money in the trash. I call
it a dumpster fire because you’re literally just burning money. You only want to start
using paid ads when you have an offer that’s actually proven. We already had at least a
thousand people in my program before I started using paid ads at all. So start with your
organic audience, your organic traffic from places like YouTube or Instagram. That’s how
you start selling your program and also to your email list and you have to have an email
list. That’s a really big part of this and I hope I’ve made that super clear here.
So the best thing you can do when you’re starting your business, especially when it comes to
the marketing piece of this, is use social proof. So use client results, screenshot client
results, share them on your social platforms. I do this still to this day because it’s an
amazing way to say I’m good at what I do. I actually transform people and I transform
their businesses. You should work with me over the person over there who might have
a pretty brand but actually doesn’t know how to do the work and doesn’t know how to get
you results. So social proof will scale you so fast in the beginning, because if you can
prove you’re the authority and you’re the best, people want to work with you.
All right. The next thing was for marketing. I would go to free networking events in Vancouver.
I would just Google and search and ask friends if there was networking events in the marketing
space and online business space and I would go to those. I would meet people and that’s
how I started to build my network and I would cross promote content. So I would cross promote
content from people who had a similar size audience to me and I’d work with them to share
their content and they would share my content. That was my free little marketing tactic as
well. All right. The next thing is finance. So for
invoices I would use Google Docs, but I actually started using Microsoft Word. Docs in the
beginning for my invoices, so again, that was a free a service at that time and basically,
as far as taking payments, I used PayPal and of course there’s fees associated with that,
but it was the easiest way to get started. Now we use Stripe in my business, but at that
time I just used PayPal. I would advise obviously for this talk to an accountant but if there’s
one thing I could recommend, read this book as you’re starting to build your business.
Even if you haven’t started one yet, because it’s a game changer when it comes to actually
making money and building wealth inside of your business for years to come. It breaks
down exactly how you should organize your finances in your business. So it’s a really,
really valuable resource. The next thing is operations. So it was me,
myself, and I, so there wasn’t really operations at the time. So to be totally honest, we didn’t
have any operations set up. But what I did do, and I recommend to anyone starting a business
and wish I had done it sooner, is I actually wrote down every process in my business that
I did myself. So whether it was uploading a YouTube video, sending out a tweet, creating
an invoice in Microsoft Word, all of that was documented in a step by step process just
on my desktop and then I would upload it and put it on my hard drive just so I had it stored.
That made it so much easier when I hired people to say, “Okay, here you go. This is the exact
step by step to follow.” So you’re not having to rehire people all the time or retrain people
all the time. The final thing is fulfillment. So this means
that when you get a client, how do you actually deliver to that client? How do you actually
get them the information that they need? So in the beginning, all I did was I would use
Skype to chat with my clients if they weren’t based in Vancouver. If they were based in
Vancouver, I would meet them here in my apartment. It wasn’t this apartment, it was a tiny little
apartment or I would go to a coffee shop to meet with them and consult with them. So again,
free, unless I was paying for coffee, which I usually did.
But all free things that you can use and have at your fingertips right now and I would keep
notes for each client in Microsoft Word documents. So it wasn’t anything fancy. I wasn’t having
to use all these crazy portals and platforms because I was just doing that one-to-one work
in the beginning until I scaled into an online course. At that point I used something called
Thinkific, but that was not in the beginning of my business. I did a lot of one-to-one
work and group work before I ever created an online course because I wanted to prove
my offer actually worked before I packaged it. So again, not a lot of money over there
either. Now the other thing would be Calendly. Calendly
is an amazing tool for scheduling, booking calls and making sure you’re not actually
having to go back and forth with people to get them booked into your calendar. So scheduling
things like sales calls, I use Calendly and I use just the free option for it. Then before
I would get on sales calls with people, I oftentimes would want to get more information
about them, where their business was at, et cetera. So instead of using anything crazy
fancy, I used just Google forms, which if you have a Google account, which is what my
email is set up through and how I communicate with my clients or communicated with my clients.
Now we’re using Slack for most things, but Google, if you have a Google account or a
Gmail account, then you’ll have Google forms free with it.
For my domain and everything, when I wanted to have a professional email address, which
I do recommend having, I just purchased my domain through GoDaddy and then I basically
used that to mask my Gmail account. So it became something more professional than just
[email protected] which is not a real email address. So those are all the things
that I used and here’s the thing, I know this is a lot of information. I also am aware that
I talk fast, but honestly I wished that I had seen this video when I was starting my
business. So what I did is I created a cheat sheet with all of this information and all
of the links that you need for starting your business in a very lean way. So you can click
below this video in the description, there’s a link to go download that and it will have
everything that I just mentioned in this video in that document as well.
So here’s what I will say to you. If I could go back in time and give myself any advice
as a brand new entrepreneur, it would be keep it lean. Don’t spend money on things that
don’t make you money in the beginning, I.e. the aesthetics of your business and how pretty
things look, because the truth is no one cares and the other truth is that if you’re not
good at what you do, your business will not grow regardless of how pretty it is. So I
wish somebody had given me that advice and I wish I knew I could start the business as
lean as I did when I was first starting because I struggled, and I was trying to figure out
how to do things, and where to start and all that. I’m sure some of you are in that position,
but you can start lean with a business like this.
In most businesses too, this applies to everything. So remember that it’s going to be a cost of
your time upfront, but that time will pay off and eventually you’ll be able to scale
your business to a place where you’re not having to work 24 hours a day and that’s a
really beautiful place to be because we’re all in this to create a life on our own terms
and you absolutely will get there. But just know that the beginning can be a little tough,
but I hope this was helpful for you. So grab that cheat sheet and remember that I have
tons of videos on building a business and being your own boss. So go and check out these
videos next. If you liked this video, hit the like button below, share it with your
friends and be sure to subscribe and hit the bell to be notified every single time I post
a new video. Thank you for watching. Let me know if this is helpful and I’ll see you in
the next one. Bye.