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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting An Online Services Business



In this article, I want to share some golden nuggets of wisdom that I wish I knew before starting my online services business 4 years ago, in public speaking.


I helped over 500 people around the world improve their presenting skills through 1:1 coaching and company workshops.


This isn’t just from my own experience but also from what I’ve seen happen with my own clients in the ImagineThat Academy and other new entrepreneurs just getting started.


Here are the top five things you need to know before you start an online services business.


Your website matters — but not as much as you think.


Don’t think if you create a website, everyone will come to you. This is a classic mistake. Just because you have a shiny new website doesn’t mean clients will magically find you. You need to be active, not passive.


Here’s the deal: online services mean online marketing. And that is all about visibility and engagement. Think of your website as your home base, but you need to venture out and bring people back to it.


Ways to do that include:


  • Get on social media platforms where your target audience are. Post valuable content regularly so you are top of mind for people.

  • Join groups and forums related to your niche and participate in conversations.

  • Start building an email list from day one and send out regular newsletters with tips, updates, and offers. There is a direct link between the longer your email list is and the more revenue and sales you’ll make as an online business owner.


Remember a website without action is like hosting a party without invites.

No one will show up.


Make sure you speak to your ideal customers as much as possible early on.


Don’t skip this step. Understanding your target customers’ pain points, wants and needs is crucial.


When I started, I spent hours talking to potential clients, asking them about their struggles with public speaking. These conversations were invaluable. They helped me tailor my services to what people actually needed, not just what I thought they needed.


One effective method is, after you have done your market research, to create customer personas. These are detailed profiles of your ideal clients, including their demographics, interests, challenges, and goals. You can use surveys, market research interviews, and social media polls to gather this information.


The more you understand your audience, the better you can serve them.


And remember, when interviewing, make sure your questions aren’t leading. Why? Because Behavioural Science tells us that what people do and say can be different, so make sure that you also ask questions that uncover their actions, not just their opinions, so you can really gather the best insight possible.


Don’t worry too much about your aesthetics.


It’s tempting to spend weeks or months perfecting your brand colors, logos, and font types. But trust me, these won’t make or break your business in the early stages. I have seen entrepreneurs make this mistake first hand and waste so much time.


Your brand can evolve over time, and you can always tweak the visuals later. What’s more important initially is having a clear and consistent message. Your brand voice and the way you communicate with your audience should be authentic and relatable.


Also, don’t underestimate the power of content. Blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media posts that provide real value will do more for your brand than any shiny logo ever could. Content marketing helps you build trust and authority in your niche.


Instead of obsessing over the perfect shade of blue for your website, invest that energy in creating helpful and engaging content.


Know that your price (and offer) will change overtime.


Know that the price of your service and your offer itself will change over time. And that’s okay! Experiment, test, and iterate.


When I first started my public speaking business, I had no idea what to charge. I tried different pricing models, and over time, I found what worked best for my clients and me. My price also went up the more demand I got and I moved from 1:1 to group classes.


Pricing is tricky, and it often feels like you’re shooting in the dark at first. The key is to start with a price that reflects the value you’re offering, but don’t be afraid to adjust based on feedback and market demand. Start with a couple of options and gain insights into what your customers are willing to pay and where the demand lies.


Regularly review both your pricing strategy and offer and be open to making changes. Remember, neither pricing — nor your offer itself — is set in stone. It will change based on feedback and early signals. Being flexible and willing to adapt will generate more revenue and customer satisfaction in the long term.


Get as many testimonials as possible.


Try to get as many testimonials as possible when starting out. If this means doing your first few client services at a reduced rate or even for free, that’s okay. Those testimonials will be gold for your business.


Testimonials build trust and show potential clients that you deliver results. They act as social proof, which is incredibly powerful in the decision-making process.


To get testimonials, ask your clients for feedback after you’ve completed a service. Make it easy for them by providing a simple form or even guiding them on what to highlight.


And don’t be shy about showcasing these testimonials on your website, social media, and marketing materials. They can significantly boost your credibility and help you attract new clients.


Conclusion


Starting an online service can be hard — these are 5 things I wish I knew before.


To recap: be proactive not passive (don’t create a website and then think people will automatically come!), talk to your customers as much as possible, don’t over-obsess over your aesthetics early on, be flexible with your pricing and offer, and gather those testimonials.


If you find this useful, you can join the free ImagineThat community of 500+ ambitious but bored professionals who want to start an online services business and work from anywhere.


Want to work more closely with me?


Reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn or check out the ImagineThat services.

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