Here's what I'd do if I had to START OVER. - Gillian Perkins

Here’s what I’d do if I had to START OVER.

What would I do if I lost my whole business? If my email list got deleted and my YouTube channel was shut down? If my website was erased… and maybe even my professional reputation was lost?

How would I start over from zero? What would I do first? How would I make my first sale? How would I get the momentum I would need to grow a new business into a reliable source of income?

Here’s what I’d do if I had to START OVER.

What Career Path Would I Choose If I Needed Income Quickly?

The first question I’d ask myself is how quickly I needed to make money. There are plenty of businesses out there looking for reliable help – someone who will show up, follow directions, and effectively problem solve and communicate. Because I know I can bring those skills to the table, my first choice would be to get started as a virtual assistant (VA).

How would I snag my first clients?

Finding clients is one of the scariest tasks for new business owners. It’s intimidating putting yourself out there without knowing what the results will be. But what if I told you it doesn’t need to be that hard, and you’re only looking for a few of the RIGHT clients? As a virtual assistant, I would be able to work for a select few clients and create the income and working hours I was looking for. 

I would set up a simple website with Squarespace

Many entrepreneurs choose to go with WordPress initially, but if you’re not tech savvy, you don’t have time to commit to building your site, or you don’t have the budget to hire a web designer to do it for you, then Squarespace is the way to go. It’s intuitive and fairly easy to understand. They have great tutorials, and they’ve become a powerhouse for website building made simple.

On my website, I’d make sure to include:

  1. The results I can get for my clients
  2. My bio and skillset
  3. A contact form 

It can really be that simple.

I’d ask my friends and family for referrals

The first and best place to go to find clients is your current network. If I were starting over, I’d reach out to everyone I know and ask them if they, or someone they know, are looking to hire an assistant. 

What I’m NOT saying here is that I would just reach out with a fleeting post for my friends to see on Facebook – though I WOULD share on my personal social media accounts about the new and exciting venture I was starting. Social media can only take you so far though, so I would actually pick up my phone and personally reach out to my contact list. 

I’d set up my social media and email accounts

If I didn’t have personal social media accounts started yet, I’d set those up and begin connecting with people I already knew and also broaden my network with those I didn’t know. I’d set up a separate business email so I could correspond with prospects and clients in a professional manner.

Landing clients is just a numbers game

Landing clients is a numbers game. The more pitches you make (that are quality), the higher your chances are of landing new clients. Have you ever heard the saying, “Go for no?” When it comes to marketing yourself, that’s the mentality you need to have. 

Can I be honest with you? More people will say no than yes. 

The good news? It is just a numbers game, so the more pitches you make, the higher percentage of leads you gain. 

For example, when you’re just starting out, you may only land about 1-10% of your leads, so you may need to do 10-100 pitches for each client you want. I’d make it my first goal to pitch 100 people and see how many clients I could sign. Then I’d evaluate my pitches, tweak them if I needed to, and continue the process until I reached the number of clients I was comfortable with.

My goal would be to accomplish these first few steps within the first week.

The next step? I’d begin to create valuable content

Over the next few weeks, once I acquired at least half the amount of hired work I wanted, I’d start devoting the other half of my working hours to creating content. 

My goal wouldn’t be to regularly share free content on social media. Rather, I would make it a point to create five to seven high-quality, share-worthy pieces of content that would do three things well:

  1. Rank well in search (SEO) – get found organically
  2. Prompt people to share the content – increase my visibility
  3. Impress prospective clients – gain clients and make money

And I’d create this content within my first month so it can begin to work for me immediately. Once I finish this content project, I’d return to pitching, but I’d divide my working time differently: 

  1. 50% for current client work
  2. 30% for setting up email list, opt-ins, and creating digital products
  3. 10% for pitching new clients
  4. 10% for promoting content on Pinterest

How I’d Start Over if I Didn’t Need an Immediate Income Source 

If I didn’t need to make money quickly, then I’d do things a bit differently…

I’d start by choosing a topic that I’m actually interested in, something I enjoy talking about, and something that really lights me up. It may even be something I used to struggle with that I’m now successful at and enjoy.

For example, maybe I’ve overcome a sugar addiction and now know some ways to cut the craving. I could look into a problem I overcame, a life skill I’ve learned, or a professional skill I’m knowledgeable about. Whatever I choose, I need to be good at teaching it!

I’d set up my website and create content first

I’d still set up a website with Squarespace because I prefer keeping things simple to start. But, rather than begin by pitching clients, I would plan out the five to seven pieces of quality content I wanted to create. I’d focus my content on the mistakes people make most often around my chosen business topic:

  • 5 Mistakes Beginner Weight-Lifters Make that Prevent Gains
  • Common Causes of Eye Fatigue and Pain
  • How to Find Homeschool Curriculum for Kids with Dyslexia
  • 15 Mistakes Beginner Meal Preppers Make when Cooking for the Week

I’d make a video for each piece of content as well as a written article and embed the video into the article to make the content as useful as possible — and make it rank higher on Google.

I’d set up my email marketing software

As I was creating the quality content pieces, I’d set up my email marketing software on my website with the option for my audience to sign up for my newsletter. Next, I’d create a welcome email that would automatically be sent to any new subscribers with the long-form content I just created.

I’d create a product to sell

Once I finished up the five to seven pieces of quality content, I’d transition to creating a product to sell, which would be a live workshop.

Because the workshop would be delivered live, I’d really just need to plan an outline and possibly create a slide presentation to go along with it. Ideally, this shouldn’t take too long to finish. 

Then I’d set up a system to register for workshop

The next thing I’d need to do is set up a system that allows people to register for the live workshop and also pay for it. 

Two options I’d consider:

  1. Use the built-in Squarespace shopping cart
  2. Use a 3rd party software such as Eventbrite

The main thing I’d need to make sure is that the registration process was simple but professional, it was easy for people to sign up and pay, and I had a way to email workshop details to them so they knew the where and when.

How would I promote the workshop?

There are so many ways you can go about promoting a live workshop, but if I were to start my business from scratch, I know exactly how I’d do this. 

I’d add an advertisement for the workshop on my website, big and bold, and I’d share it on my personal social media in the form of a question: “Would anyone be interested if I offered a workshop about…?” Then I’d personally follow up with anyone who responded to the post.

Do you remember when I shared that promotion wasn’t all online? It’s the same for selling a live workshop. I would make a list of everyone I know (yes, I said everyone), and I’d divide it into two different categories:

  1. People who MIGHT be interested
  2. People who probably AREN’T interested

Would I still reach out to those who probably aren’t interested? Yes! But, my messaging would be slightly different from those who might be interested.

I’d tell the people whom I think MIGHT be interested in what I was doing, why I think they may be interested, and invite them to attend. 

For those who I don’t think are interested, I’d still tell them what I’m doing, but rather than inviting them, I’d ask if they know anyone who might be interested in attending.

Where would I host the workshop?

This is an easy answer. I would host the workshop on Zoom. Why? Because it’s a simple way to get started. It’s user friendly, and there’s not too much complicated tech to figure out. 

For my first workshop, I wouldn’t really be able to predict how many people would register and attend, but it wouldn’t matter too much because the point of hosting it live is to record it and turn it into an evergreen selling machine! After the workshop finished, I’d take the recording and add it to my website as a paid product. I could host it live again in the future, but I wouldn’t need to if I didn’t want to.

Then I’d rinse, repeat, and create a larger digital product

If that workshop seemed successful, I’d begin to create a few more similar paid workshops to test out different topic ideas and see what my audience is resonating with the most. Once I test four to six different ideas, I’d pick the one that seemed most popular and create a digital course around the topic.

The first version of this course would NOT be a full-blown, multi-module product. Rather, I’d keep it smaller but high quality and work to create a noticeable and tangible result for my students. I did test this idea through my live workshop, but I still want to test the waters to see if my audience wants a course. I would want to know if my course idea were VALIDATED. My course would include about 10-25 short video lessons.

I’d create a waitlist for the course – even before I recorded it. This would tell me I have an audience for it, and then I could follow up with each person who signed up to learn more.

Engaging personally with my tiny audience would be doable and preferred, so I could build a know, like, and trust factor with them. On the first day they could register for my course, I would want them to be fully confident that I am the right instructor for them. The more connected I am with them, the more opportunity for conversion.

I’d generate traffic and gain visibility

The last step in this whole process would be to generate traffic through all the online sources. Once my course was available, I would add it alongside my paid workshops as an additional paid product. 

Because I don’t need to worry about it being validated – we just did that – I can now focus on gaining the visibility I need to find my superfans and sell more products. At this point, I would have a valid, healthy, and growing business that’s earning me an income!

Now it would be time to double down on generating traffic through Google, Pinterest, YouTube, collaborations, and media features. My goal with this incoming traffic is that it would translate into email subscribers.

What’s happening behind the scenes?

Once everything is set, and I have my first product or two on my website, then I’d be working on creating other products with an end goal not to just have a ton of products to sell, but rather to find just ONE high-quality product that there is a good demand for. 

In the process, I’d be learning about my audience and what they want, and I’d decide on that one product. Then I’d build out an automated sales funnel for that one product. Then, I’d continue to focus a majority of my time generating traffic and driving new traffic into that sales funnel.

As we wrap up, if you want to create income immediately, working as a virtual assistant is one of the best opportunities and the one I would choose if I had to start over. My friend Abbey Ashley has a great FREE training about how to get started and get booked out as a virtual assistant. If you want to learn more about this career path, you can watch the free training here.

If you are in the beginning phases of starting your own online business, then I’m curious – where are you at in the process? Have you decided what business to start? Have you created and VALIDATED your first products? Have you found your first customers or clients?

Gillian Perkins

Hi, I’m Gillian! I’m a marketing strategist who helps online entrepreneurs 10X their sales with FB ads + sales funnels. I love combining tech, analytics, and psychology to create powerful marketing systems. When I’m not helping my clients scale their businesses, I’m spending time with my husband and two little boys, exploring new places, or seeking out choice espresso.