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Editorial,  Featured,  Work & Life

Starting an Online Business: My Steps to Achieving Success

Country of origin: Stana Ferrari,  Italy and Chile 

Have you ever sighed deeply after a mistake or mishap and said to yourself, “If only I knew,” or “I wish someone could have told me…”?

Well, I did. As mindful as we can try to be, I don’t think anyone likes making mistakes. We all wish we could prevent mishaps and unpleasantness. Predicting the future is impossible, but I eventually understood that I can learn from others’ mistakes and lessons. 

I got ahead on taxes and legal stuff

Starting an online business isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. I scaled my coaching business in less than two years, and it was no walk in the park. I did things right, and I did things wrong, but the lessons learned are invaluable. 

Tax and legal bits — definitely the least exciting aspect of starting a business — are super important, and I wished someone had guided me through it all. Especially for a digital nomad, it can be hard to handle the gray areas of the lifestyle that come with it and to keep up with taxes while traveling. Where do I pay taxes? Where should I receive my income? Will my home country have a problem with this? 

These are some of the questions that filled my head. Taxes are much more than just tracking your monthly expenses and income. It’s the things no one tells you about, like organizing your invoices, getting your forms, saving your receipts, and setting up a legal structure.

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Since my business took off so quickly, I needed more legal support, tax advice, and help to get my ducks in a row. I consulted with international tax lawyers because only they could shed light on my very particular situation—double nationality, double residency, etc. My instincts were right; I needed to start sorting my legal aspects early on.

Luckily, I’ve always been good at managing money. I always know how much cash I have and how much to spend today after saving for tomorrow. Being aware and on top of all your finances is a gratifying feeling.

Managing my time and energy has been the most important skill I could master

As a new entrepreneur, I was alone trying to do it all. And as my business started picking up, I soon found myself managing strategy, marketing, funnels, and all that good stuff. 

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I learned the hard way how to prioritize my time and energy at every level. As my business grew, it became more and more challenging to balance everything. Just because you master something at one level does not mean you’ve mastered it for eternity. Business will evolve as we do; shift your priorities as you go. 

Investing in myself is a must-do

When a business starts, it is okay to rely on free advice and resources, thinking that’s enough. Luckily, I realized soon enough that nothing compares to tailored and proper groundwork. You are unique! And so is your business. So why conform to free generic stuff if what you’re trying to put together is something extraordinary?

(Photo Courtesy of Krakenimages via Unsplash)

I did use freebies on and off, but I certainly also invested in coaches, programs, new team members and different ways to support myself. Even outside of my coaching business, I looked for support where I needed it, whether that was mental health, business courses, or outdoor activities — if those things contribute to your time, energy, and momentum, they’re all worth it.

You will only be able to grow a business if you invest in yourself. Period. It’s not if; it’s just when. It will make your business journey much smoother, saving time and money in the long run.

I created a support system by my side

In 2022, I joined a misfit mastermind group. Without a supportive community, I was facing endless headaches and decision fatigue, and this well-suited community was the missing piece that would have made my business journey so much smoother from the start. Let’s just say…a lot of mistakes could have been avoided.

(Photo Courtesy of Wade Austin Ellis via Unsplash)

Having support also means you have someone to discuss things with and bounce ideas off. Making decisions alone can be overwhelming, and all biz owners out there know how many choices you have to make as an entrepreneur. 

I learned that money is important, but it isn’t everything 

Money doesn’t change everything. I learned to keep in mind my health, the health of my business, and the passion that drives us both. These elements are ultimately more important than how much I bring in each month.

Money is just a byproduct of all your other things: marketing, working with clients, and building your biz. Money means nothing unless you assign it a value. What does money mean to you? Honestly. 

Energy is the most important thing at every stage of business

Your audience can feel your energy, I promise you. And I am a real example of it. The #1 reason clients hire me is my energy during workshops, interviews, posts, launches, and meetings. My energy draws people to me, and it’s everything when turning potential clients into real clients.

(Photo Courtesy of Anna Tarazevich via Pexels)

But there’s a flip side: I gave so much energy away in 2021 that I had nothing left. I burned myself out. This happens to a lot of entrepreneurs. We love what we do so much, and we love to hustle. I need to constantly go, go, go

While it’s good to have drive and ambition, you cannot forget to take care of yourself. Aiming for balance, not burnout.

I learned how to make hard decisions

And making them fast and with confidence. When you’re starting an online business, decisive action is crucial; indecision, any prolonged deliberation and agonizing over small things will only stall progress.

(Image courtesy of the writer)

I didn’t fully realize how many hard decisions I had to make as a business owner until this year. I’ve learned that the best way to handle it is to plan and commit, then move forward. The last part is the hardest but most important — make a plan, then lean fully into it.

If you’re having trouble making decisions, get support from a coach or another business owner. Self-trust decision-making is a muscle — the more you practice it, the more natural it becomes.

Starting an online business isn’t just a career decision — it’s a personal one

Becoming an entrepreneur challenges you to grow as both a person and a business owner, so inevitably, you’ll start noticing how much you start discovering about yourself. This is because entrepreneurship is fundamentally different from employment, where everything is set in stone and more predictable, with little room for self-discovery. All of a sudden, you’re in charge of everything, and everything is new: setting up a legal entity, creating a website, brainstorming, and strategy; it’s all new, and it all triggers new emotions and ideas that are rarely felt under the regular employment mode. 

If you want to succeed in business, you must take your personal development seriously. The most important thing is mastering your mindset. You can only make it in this industry with a rock-solid mindset. Mindset is everything in business.

Every day challenges you in new ways, and you have to choose a growth mindset to believe you are capable of more. 

If you’re struggling with this, make sure you’re only managing what you can handle. Take a step back and evaluate how much you’ve taken on, discard what’s too much, and readjust. And make working on your mindset a daily focus. Last but not least, I stopped trying to make everything happen all at once. Being realistic and self-kind should also be a daily focus.

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Accountability gets things done

Part of why starting an online business appealed to me is the freedom it creates. I don’t have to report to a boss or commute to the office. No one will care if I blow off work to go to the beach.

(Photo Courtesy of Aditya Saxena via Unsplash)

On the other hand, working only 1-2 hours per day and spending most of my time at the beach isn’t realistic for my business or my bank account. Some people claim to work only 2-3 hours a day — not true. At least not in their first year of business. I learned I needed to look at my goals and craft a feasible plan. If I want to build a million-dollar empire, most likely, it will take more than a few hours of work to get that business off the ground in the beginning.

People also claim you need discipline. Overrated. Do you know what really worked well for me? Accountability. I feel responsible for something I created myself, which is truly precious. That is the true and most reliable engine. I have never worked 24/7, but I have learned to work smart, not hard. 

I know I will be okay

Everyone goes through hard times in their business, so just know you are not alone. 

If you want to quit or can’t handle it, remind yourself that you’ll be okay. I’ve been there, and I can promise it will all work out if you keep moving forward, as every mistake is a learning opportunity.

(Photo Courtesy of Key Notiz via Pexels)

You have to have persistence, determination, and trust that the process will unfold how it’s meant to. If you believe it can happen, it will. I believed in my success before anyone else did. And I didn’t play small! While dreaming big, I learned to also be patient. 

Everything takes time. Everyone has their own journey. Everyone has their path.

Stana Ferrari, an Italian and Chilean digital nomad, is a multifaceted professional. With a dynamic background in International Business from the UK, she has worked globally with the UN and NGOs, driven by her passion for human rights and rural development. Currently, she thrives as an editor for NGOs and identity/career coach, living in South East Asia.

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