012 My VA tells all. Behind the scenes business lessons

012 My VA tells all-18. Behind the scenes business lessons.jpg

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Today’s Special Guest

Today I have a really, really special guest for you! You’ve probably already guessed, given the title of today’s episode, but today’s guest is my former assistant Mary!

Yep. You read that right! Former. I guess my love of all things online business must have rubbed off on Mary, because we just recently hired her replacement, said our sweet goodbyes, and then sent her off to start an amazing online business of her own! (Go, Mary!)

Mary was with me for a full year, so has seen inside my business in a way no one else has. So before I let her go, I just had to have her join me on the show for a kind of Bachelor-esque ‘Women Tell All’ episode…only with my business!

Tune in as Mary spills the beans, sharing what she learned in that year, and what it’s like to work #bts in my business.


Episode Highlights

  • Why the 9-5 just wasn’t cutting it, and how Mary got her start in online business. (3:20)

  • How Mary found herself in my Square Secrets and Square Secrets Business Courses, and the email newsletter that changed it all. (5:00)

  • Mary discovers a love for designing Squarespace templates for health and wellness brands and entrepreneurs, and starts Wellness Site Shop. (6:05)

  • The benefits of owning your own online business, and how Mary plans to take advantage of some of those new freedoms later this fall! (6:57)


Mary’s 9 BTS Business Lessons

1. Online Entrepreneurs actually work. (Like, alot.)

Social media tends to give the impression that success sort of just falls into peoples laps. A few cute selfies and cleverly worded captions, et Voilà! Successful, six-figure online business overnight.

Not so.

Mary was actually surprised to learn how much work and how many hours really went into growing a successful online business.

“…it wasn't until I really got into the behind the scenes…that I was like, "‘Oh, my gosh! Paige is consistently putting in, like 50 or 60 hours a week!…between building online courses, and marketing those, and launching, and writing two blog posts a week….[that] is an insane amount of content…and that stuff doesn't just magically happen….” - Mary

Mary admits to working more hours now, as a new online business owner, than she ever would have at a 9-5. Still, she feels pretty strongly about it’s perks…

“I actually genuinely enjoy what I do, and I get to work from my couch!” - Mary


2. Content Marketing is non-negotiable

We get it. Blogging is not for everyone! But Mary learned the effect that consistent content marketing can have on your business (more on that story around the 12:40 mark).

Hoping to launch an online course or sell a digital product? Mary says to start blogging. Yesterday. (Or You-Tubing, Instagraming, Podcasting etc. You choose. Just do it consistently!)

“I had all these excuses…like, ‘Oh, the website is not done. My photos aren’t taken. You know, all of these things. In reality, my launch went well…it went as well as I absolutely could have hoped for. But if I had started blogging even two or three months before that, I would have had a little bit bigger of an audience to launch to, and I think my launch would have been even more successful.” - Mary

Oh, and BTW, it doesn’t have to be perfect…

“Just start sharing the content, because ultimately, if you are sharing content that is genuinely helping people in what area you’re an expert in…they don't care how pretty your website is. They don't care how pretty your videos are.” - Mary


3. really Listen to your audience

Mary learned that it’s not enough to just listen, but that you must also be willing to pivot your business, if you really want to be successful.

Mary used the example of my recent shift from being hyper-focused on sharing my knowledge of Squarespace through my Square Secrets course, to being able to serve even more people through my Square Secrets Business Course created specifically for those looking to start their own successful web design business. Give the people what they want! Even if it means changing course a little!

Mary has found the same to be true in her own business, Wellness Site Shop! She loved designing custom Squarespace websites, but she knew that the new entrepreneurs and business owners in the health and wellness industry that she knew she wanted to serve didn’t necessarily have the budget to hire her for a completely custom website! That was the moment her (gorgeous) templates were born.

“Don't make the mistake of assuming what they want, and assuming you know what they need…I think intentionally going out there and trying to find people to talk to, whether it's in person or online in Facebook groups…just really talk to them about their lives and what they need help with…and their fears, and why they haven't taking the steps to fix their problems. That is just a gold mine for you and your business.” - Mary


4. Get over the need to have it figured out

Mary learned that you don’t have to have some sort of crazy, in depth, perfect five-year plan in order to get started.

“It's just starting with what you have, helping people with what you know…then let your business just naturally evolve, because it will…your ideal clients will naturally evolve, your interests will naturally evolve, your passions will naturally evolve…you don't have to be an absolute expert in order to provide value for someone.” - Mary

We can come up with 1,000,000 reasons why we are not ready. Just start, and re-evaluate as you go along!


5. Scrap Comparison

Comparison is a cruel task-master, and if we are constantly trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing for their business, we are never going to get anything done! Find what works for you. (Hint: it may look a whole lot different than what people are used to. And that’s ok.)

Mary gives an example of running Facebook groups for your online course students. But Paige, everybody is doing it!! Not this girl.

Facebook groups can be a great resource, but they also require constant monitoring, something we simply didn’t have time for if we were still going to be showing up well for our audience each week. (More on that at around the 31:50 mark, including what we did instead!)

“…we quickly learned that people were still going to be buying the course without the Facebook group, and that's because the courses have so much value in and of themselves, which is the most important thing. If your course is really sucky, a Facebook group is going to help, but it's not gonna save you.” - Mary


6. Outsource from the get-go

Mary’s advice? Outsource for the skills you aren't good at, even before you think you're financially ready to (because some things are just better left to the professionals…like Facebook Ads. Good riddance!)

What about the things you are perfectly capable of doing? If a certain task is becoming a huge time-sucker, or is just plain ol’ no fun for you, should you outsource those? We think so!

Mary uses my inbox as an example:

“…you could train someone who was able to give the exact same level of customer service that you were going to be able to do, and still help these people, but it was going to save your mental sanity to go off and make those courses, make the podcast, make your online shop…that was so worth it!” - Mary


7. The constant highs and lows can be exhausting

I don't care if you know all the marketing strategies. I don't care if you have a banging website. I don't care if your social media is on point. I don't care if you know everything there is to know about marketing and sales funnels. If you do not have a way to ride the mental roller coaster of owning your own business, you are not going to succeed.” - Mary

Let’s face it, when you start your own business, you’re not just investing your time and resources. You are investing you – physically, mentally, and emotionally. You’ve poured everything you’ve got into this dream of yours and, while being all-in in this way can make the highs even more exhilarating, it can also make the lows more devastating. It takes practice to learn how to pick yourself up and get yourself back in the game.


8. Get your systems & Processes Nailed Down

Ahhhh. My all-time favorite topic, as Mary can attest to after working along side me for a whole year.

We use Asana (more on that at around 49:37) to not only assign tasks and to-do’s within my business, but also to create templates for every. single. process. under the paigebrunton.com sun. We have a template for course creation, and course launching, and custom client work, and podcast prep, and blog post prep, and, and, and…we never have to wonder if we’ve missed something because it’s all there in the template!

(Did I mention that all my process templates will soon be available for purchase? Pop in your email below to get on my process template waitlist!)

9. Project Management & CRM Systems are a must

Doing client work? Project management tools help keep all your processes, templates, and timelines all in one place. Think: Asana, Trello, Monday, Basecamp, Dubsado, etc. Your Customer Relations Management systems (or CRMs) like Acuity, Honeybook (those are affiliate links!) help automate the client on-boarding and client handling process, and help to make your business appear that much more professional from the client’s point of view.

“…they're making an investment that they're a little scared to make…they’re probably paying a few $1000 for your services…so they're a little bit nervous. Anything that you can do to reassure them that you’re professional, you know what you're doing, and you're gonna take care of them…that's going to do wonders for them. If you want people to refer other people to you, make sure your processes are on point.” - Mary

My Fave Quote From The Show

“I hate the word like hustle because I don't believe we need to hustle ourselves to burn out in order to make something successful. I do know that I kind of have to pay my dues, and there are going to be some weekends and evenings where I need to be sitting on my computer, maybe cranking out some blog posts, and that's okay! I'm happy to do it in order to build a life that I want.” - Mary

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