#128 – How To Start An Online Business In 2016

In this episode we’re talking about a great hypothetical situation: what it looks like to start a business from scratch in 2016.

Off The Charts Business PodcastWhen I first started my business in 2009, things were a lot different.

From costs to technology, the business tools we use are under constant change and revision. The more we can adapt, the stronger our businesses will be.

The Plan

So here’s a practical, step by step plan of what it would look like if I were to start my business from scratch in 2016 – without my existing skills, tools, and experiences:

First, I would definitely start with quality website hosting and a domain name. The cheap hosting options are less stable and can allow malware and virus attacks on your website – definitely not worth your time.  Personally, I would still choose my own name in my domain name. Throughout all of the changes in my business model, it’s the one thing that has remained the same.

Secondly, I believe that WordPress is the choice for business owners who are serious about their company. As an open source software with full customization options, you are given complete control over what your online presence looks like.


I’ve taken so many courses throughout the years to help me connect with the resources I need to make my business a success.

It’s really easy to try to learn everything when you’re starting out. It’s really difficult to implement the mass of knowledge that you’re feeding yourself. So there are two courses I’d really recommend taking:

The third training I’d want would be focused on whatever medium I wanted to invest in with my business.  If I wanted to focus on podcasts, for example, I’d want to learn everything there is to know about running a podcast so I could do it well. The same would be true if I decided to mainly do videos, blogging, etc.

If you’re looking for a resource to get kickstarted in these areas, my Heartquarters program offers a wealth of knowledge for you to take advantage of.


Attending conferences is such a powerful way to make new connections that can help you to grow and maintain your passion. In this podcast, I share a few events that I would recommend – as well as the reasons why:

How to Spend Your Time

Here, it’s best to find magic sauce and start offering a service!  A lot of people try to make a company first, but I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to commit to making a service that fits in with your skill set. To find your skill set, take time to reflect and write down everything that comes naturally to you. Then, look for patterns and intersections between what you’re good at and where people might need help.

Don’t start a business that’s based on a passion.  Personally, I can get fired up about something for a long time (months, even years). But eventually, I will lose steam.

After you’ve found your service, it’s time to find people who are looking for your service and willing to pay for it.

Find out where they hang out by using Google keywords to discover websites and by locating the groups and networks on Facebook where they congregate.  At this point, don’t try to sell to them. Just observe and get a feel for their style and needs. When you’re truly a part of their community, you can start connecting with them on a personal level to talk and find out if your service will actually work.

Don’t ever base your business strategy off of what other companies are doing! Their market might not be your market, and the strategies you’re observing might not be converting for them.  Instead, talk to a live human being to find out what you can do for them, instead.

How to Build Your Email List

A webinar is a great opt-in strategy.  To start strong, I’d invite people from my online communities to help build my list and expand from there.

If I still don’t have any people signed up for my service after my webinar and promotions are over, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Gain Momentum in Your Business

A lot of what I’m talking about today comes from Marie Forleo’s B-School program . If you’re looking for more specific details that walk you through this process, she can definitely be a great guide.

Already gone B-School? You are more than welcome to join us in our Heartquarters corner!

i017 Nikki Elledge Brown – The First Pancake Approach To A Dreamy Business

Nikki Elledge Brown - The First Pancake Approach To A Dreamy Business
Welcome! In today’s episode, I get to chat with Nikki Elledge Brown, an awesome lady who created a multi 6-figure business in under 18 months….by helping entrepreneurs in the realm of communication.

One of the first things that Nikki had to let go of in her pursuit of a successful business was the craving for perfection.  She had to learn to truly embrace the phrase that if it’s really good, it’s good enough.

Now, that doesn’t mean letting go of quality; it simply means that you’ve got to find that sweet spot where you feel great about your service, and your clients feel great about it as well.

Nikki likes to take “first pancake approach” to coming up with the amazing services that she offers.  For example, the first pancake you make might be a little too light or maybe it got burned – whatever happens, you quickly learn what you need to tweak for round 2.

At AmbitionAlly, I use a similar concept: the spiral staircase. We can always improve things and come back with a new and improved version. Especially with websites, your work is never done; you’ll come back and make updates again and again. Like a spiral staircase, it might feel like you’re going in circles, but each trip around the spiral staircase does give you valuable experience and insight.

One thing that Nikki had to embrace in order to truly bring her business “Off the Charts” was a quick 3-step process:

  1. Know your value
  2. Know who needs it
  3. Communicate your value to the people who need it in a smart, authentic way.

When you merge clarity with authenticity, you truly begin to discover the magic of being an entrepreneur.  When Nikki made these three steps, she had over 90 people who sign up to work with her one-on-one…in the first 6 weeks of her business.

This happened because she learned to communicate her value.  Entrepreneurs tend to really struggle with this.

For example, because I could put a website up fairly quickly, I undervalued my services. To help solve the problem, I had to figure out what words my clients were using to describe the value of my work.  When I learned to use their words and testimony of saving time, money, and other resources, I was able to start charging a fair, competitive price for the work I was doing.

We absolutely love having Nikki Elledge Brown on the show to share her awesome wisdom and insight.

If you’re ready for more amazing tools to take your business off the charts, check out the resources that we have to offer over at AmbitionAlly.

More About Nikki Elledge Brown

Nikki Elledge Brown HeadshotNikki’s known online as The Communication Stylist® and creator of A Course About Copy®. She’s a proud military spouse, mom, former park ranger and college professor who built a multi-six-figure business in under 18 months by helping entrepreneurs like you and me communicate with more clarity and confidence.

#127 Joint Webinars: How To Find Your Allies

In this episode, we’re talking about joint venture webinars, how to find the right allies, and when it’s best to go solo.

Webinars are incredible when it comes to creating a positive buzz about your business and gaining momentum with your email list.  But if you’re not utilizing the benefits of joint venture webinars, you’re definitely missing out.

What Is A Joint Venture Webinar?

Off The Charts Business Podcast A joint venture webinar is just what it sounds like: a joint endeavor between two business owners who decide to put on a webinar together.

Typically, one of them will host the webinar on their own site, in front of their own audience.  The other will typically make an offer to the viewers at the end.

Although the specifics might vary, the person who is presenting to the other host’s audience typically gives a percentage of any sales income to the host of the webinar.

The benefits?

The host is able to offer an incredible webinar resource to their audience…without having to put a ton of time into creating the content! Any affiliate commissions gained through the webinar are also likely to have a better conversation rate than one obtained through affiliate links to a sales page.

For awesomely enhanced benefits, the two can swap places! The original host can present to the other’s audience, and make an offer for his or her own services at the end.

This is where the success really starts happening.  After a webinar swap, both of the hosts have had a chance to build their email lists – and are able to make some great money in the process.

Finding the Right Webinar Ally

For the joint venture webinar to work, you really have to trust the other person.  A good place to start is to go through your existing business friends with whom you already have established great relationships.

This way, if something negative were to happen during the venture, you are less likely to lose a friend – and more likely to learn from the experience together.

You could also look for a webinar ally among the other experts in your industry who are able to present on stuff that complements your business.

The Software Requirements

Find a webinar platform that lets you have more than one host. Since a follow up after the webinar is often where the sales happen, make sure you can easily record the presentation, as well.

WebinarAlly, our own bit of software, was designed with this functionality in mind.

WebinarAlly allows up to 9 co-hosts for your joint venture webinar (typically, of course, you’d only want 2 hosts and maybe someone to help you monitor everything). It also gives you an instant replay recording of your webinar.

Additionally, WebinarAlly gives you the ability to host the event on any WordPress page, and include a link to your sales page for optimal conversion!  With design flexibility, you can include the appropriate logos and branding to really connect the joint venture webinar with the involved businesses.

As far as affiliate tracking is concerned, I like the capabilities of the WP Affiliate plugin for WordPress. At AmbitionAlly, we use Infusionsoft for our affiliate tracking needs…but if you are an Ontraport fan, you also have access to the features we love.

And of course, you’ll want to have a solid email marketing system to have these new subscribers joining your list, so you can follow up and keep building that relationship.

Other Systems To Make Your Life Easier

In this episode, I also go through some of the other systems that make a joint venture webinar a more seamless process. From choosing the right microphone (We like Yeti by Blue, though any one works) to choosing the right presentation style (on-camera vs. a slideshow), there are a lot of things to consider during the planning stage.

Repurpose the Recording Into a Podcast

Repurposing the audio of your webinar is a great way to expand the reach of your joint venture!  Although using the whole webinar might be a little long (60-90 minutes is a solid range to shoot for, in terms of webinar length), you could definitely pick a 5-10 minute excerpt that you think is super valuable – and turn that bit into a podcast episode.

When repurposing your audio, you still gain list building benefits – but with a wider reach.  Simply download the video and strip the audio … or use software (such as Zencastr) during the recording process to get an audio file right off the bat.

Sometimes It’s Just Better To Go Solo

Joint venture webinars offer incredible benefits to both parties involved – but sometimes, when all is said and done, it is just best to go solo.

If you’re offering untested products and don’t have a proven track record yet, it might be better to wait a bit to have a joint venture webinar.  After all, you want your first impression with a new audience to be a great one.  Proving your product first and then teaming up for a joint venture webinar is a better way to ensure your cross promotion will be a smashing success.

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