Did you ever know those kids when you were growing up who always just seemed to be an expert at everything from the moment they tried it? The girl who went to the skating rink and within 15 minutes looked like she could compete in the roller skating Olympics? (Is roller skating an Olympic sport? I should look that up.) Or the boy who walked onto the kickball field and sent that silly rubber ball sailing over everyone’s heads on the first kick? Or the kids who could strap on a pair of skis for the first time and be shredding down the mountain before the rest of us were off the bunny hill? I totally always wanted to be one of those kids. Because somehow, being a beginner wasn’t cool. In fact, you may even think that—especially as an adult—you should always magically be good at everything and not look like a beginner.
But how silly is that? I mean, from Beyonce’ to LeBron James to Mark Zuckerberg, everyone has been a beginner at some point, right? They weren’t just born an amazing singer, a 3-point mastermind or a programming genius. Before they made things look so easy, they had to do a lot of hard work.
It’s the same with building an online business or increasing your social media presence. You need to accept that you’re not going to be perfect from day one.
When I started my first online business, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have a mentor and I didn’t have any money. I just had an idea.
So I just kinda did it.
To my surprise, it worked.
So I did it again.
Along the way, I made some mistakes. Oh my heavens–there were some products I chose that were REALLY bad. And even some business decisions that make me shake my head.
But I was a BEGINNER.
I just kept going, kept learning and grew that business. Then I started another one. And another one.
It was the same when I started doing Lives on Facebook and Instagram.
My first Facebook Live (the real one) I deleted because I was so freaked out by it—and no one was there anyway.
But then I did the next one (still with pretty much no one there) and, and the next one. Now I’ve done upwards of 300 of them—and I still feel like I’m learning every single time.
When you start your online business, you need to let yourself be okay with not knowing all of the answers. With making mistakes. Learning as you go. Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and trying it again.
So let's talk about why being a beginner is AWESOME:
1. Nobody is watching you.
Especially when you're starting an e-commerce business, a lot of people aren't going to have a clue what you're doing. That means you get to have the time to create your authentic brand voice without the pressure of worrying about what people think.
2. If you stumble…no one knows.
Have you ever been walking across the floor or a sidewalk and just tripped for no good reason? What's the first thing you do? YOU LOOK TO SEE IF SOMEONE SAW YOU. And isn't it the greatest when you realize that despite your injured pride (or toe) not one other person knows about it? Well, it's the same thing when you're in business. (And even if someone does see you, it's probably your mom and she loves you anyway.)
3. Your motivation is crazy high.
When you're learning new things and starting a new online business, you are so dang motivated! You can't even sleep because you just want to be finding products or writing descriptions or getting your website ready to go. It's like being an adrenaline junkie without having to jump out of a plane. And you get paid for it.
4. You are FULL of ideas.
Now, I happen to be one of those people who is constantly full of ideas, but there was never a time like when I was starting my first business. Remember that “All the Things” meme? Well, that was me. I was ready to start about 8,000 online businesses simultaneously. But that's a fantastic thing to be! When you are constantly coming up with ideas and writing them down, there will be one or five or a dozen that may be business changing! Yay for ideas!
5. You get the chance to build a raving community.
When you're getting started, you might attract five or ten or twenty people to your social media. Then maybe those numbers double. And double again. And keep on doubling. While that's happening, you're getting the chance to talk to them. To share who you are. To let them get to know you and become ambassadors of your brand. I promise. It's the greatest.
All this doesn’t mean, however, that you necessarily need to LOOK like a beginner. There are little things you can do to look professional and to not look like a beginner—even though you’re just getting started:
1. Don't announce it to everyone.
Seriously. You don't have to tell every single person that you're brand new to this. It's not one bit necessary.
2. Have an abundance mentality.
One of the things that I often have to help the people I coach overcome is the fear that there's no room for them in the marketplace. That because someone already did something, they can't do it. What if Henry Ford had said that? Or the Dodge Brothers? Or whoever else started car companies (admittedly, the auto industry is not my field of expertise.) Can you imagine if there was just one car company? Or just one shoe company? Or just one place that sold lipstick? The reality is that people come into the market all the time. There's a place for you too.
3. Always look at your mistakes as an opportunity to learn.
When you've been in business for a while, you know that mistakes are going to get made. And when they do, you need to look at them as a chance to learn. Too often beginners think a single mistake is some sign that they need to give up. Nope. It's just an opportunity to do something a different way.
4. Show your personality.
As you build your online business there are a lot of “stock” tools you can use to get started. Shopify, for example, has great templates that allow you to just plug and play. Take some time to make basic changes that can show your brand personality. Add your brand colors. Choose great photos. Make sure it's your business that's listed at the bottom of the screen. Then get it launched, and continue to look for ways to keep adding more of who you are and what your business is all about into it.
5. Just do it.
No, I'm not infringing on any big-name sports brand. It's just a reminder that you don't need to constantly be “proving” yourself as a beginner. Don't talk about what you're going to do or why you can do it. Just go out there and get it done.
6. Demonstrate confidence in your product.
When you're selling a product–especially one you've manufactured–it's something that you believe in, right? There's a reason you chose it. Be confident in that choice.
7. Use one social media platform at a time.
Social media is awesome…but trying to be on every single platform from day one will stretch you way too thin. Choose the one that will best reach your audience, and be consistent with it. Once you've got that one working well, then try a second one.
8. Be there to make a difference.
Everyone who starts a for-profit business ultimately wants to earn money from it. That's not a secret. But it should never be about a fast-money grab. Have a purpose in your business. Be there to serve your customers first. Then the money will follow.
Listen, there is no faster way to stop being a beginner than to just get your business underway. Makes sense, right? The more you're doing the work, the more you'll know and the more experienced you'll be.
By the way, I’ve made a list of these tips that you can download to help you not look like a beginner even while you enjoy being one. Feel free to print it, tack it up next to your computer and use it to cheer yourself on.