My entrepreneurial journey has been a roller coaster ride.
As someone who doesn’t enjoy not knowing, I say ‘yes’ to almost any opportunity.
In the past 3 years, I made some of my most daring moves.
New achievements were unlocked.
Rock bottom was hit.
In this newsletter, I looked back and sieved out the most important lessons and mindset tweaks.
I hope they help you take one step closer to reaching your goals.
When I just started out, I always shouted in frustration, “I don’t know what I don’t know”.
As you’re trying to start your own business, there’s no guidebook.
There aren’t magic pills or miracle switches.
No matter how many tutorials and videos you watch…
Or how many courses you go through…
The learning process is inevitable.
For example, how many times have you heard of people telling you that you need:
But how do you actually figure out what your offer is, which niche to pick, and who your target customers are?
At the start, I just copied others as much as I possibly could.
I was lazy and I just wanted to get them over and done with, so I could start making money fast.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.
I didn’t make any money.
The biggest difference between my mindset today versus back then is experimentation.
A scientist studies the textbooks and theories, but also spends a ton of time conducting failed experiment after failed experiment before succeeding at one.
Once I switched my mindset and started treating my business as an experiment, I no longer feel like shit when I don’t see results.
It just means that Experiment 1 didn’t work.
Time for Experiment 2.
I hate the word ‘victim’.
It has such a negative connotation to it.
But unfortunately, that was the mentality that I used to have.
When I posted a piece of content and didn’t get views? The algorithm hates me.
When I hopped on a sales call but didn’t close the sale? People don’t want to give me a chance because I’m an Asian woman.
I found any excuse or reason to wallow in self-pity.
In hindsight, I think it was just easier to blame external circumstances than your own inexperience and incompetence.
And when you get sympathy from others, it’s like a bonus of sorts.
My wake up call was when I realized no matter how much I whined and cried, no one is coming to save me.
I now understand what Marcus Aurelius meant when he said, “Don't be overheard complaining… Not even to yourself.”
Of course, I think it’s near impossible to not complain.
We all need a good rant every once in a while.
But I would always follow up with “So what are you going to do about it?”
Sales call not closed? I’ll send 100 more outreach DMs.
Content didn’t get views? I’ll work on improving the next one.
So simple yet so effective.
I hope this helps you too.
At first, you feel an excitement when you have a plan all thought out.
You start out strong, executing left and right.
As weeks pass, the engine starts to lose power because you don’t experience any traction or results that incentivices you to keep going.
Maybe there is a flaw in the plan…
Maybe the strategy will show results once you tweak it somewhere…
You just have to revise and pivot… Right?
As a strategist, even I wasn’t spared from shiny strategy syndrome.
At first it was plan A. But within a month, it changed to plan B.
Then I watched a YouTube video and learned another strategy, so I guess I’m moving on to plan C.
Let’s take a time out.
I realized that it was shiny object syndrome when I started to do end-of-month progress reviews.
I saw how little data I had and how short the timeframe was before I switched to another strategy.
It was ridiculous.
No matter how good the strategy, it takes time for it to generate results.
If you struggle with shiny object syndrome like me, try reviewing your progress once a month.
Set a reminder on your phone.
I promise that it will humble you real quick.
It's not personal. It's just business.
We've heard this line from our favourite Hollywood films, where the intent is to paint capitalism in a bad light.
But here's the thing…
Business is an exchange of value.
It's not evil unless greed and bad intentions are involved.
Well, young Agnes didn't know that.
I knew I wanted to make money and have a business of my own.
But I had no idea how to talk about money…
Or how to show my value since I was just starting out…
It was scary to quote a price.
I was fumbling around during sales calls. Prospective clients saw right through me.
I was “downplaying” my prices and achievements because, as Kendrick Lamar says, be humble.
If this resonates with you, I hope to provide you clarity today.
Here are 2 ways to think about the money conversation:
Earlier on, I said that business is an exchange of value.
Picture an e-commerce website.
The value of an e-commerce website is super high to an e-commerce business owner.
But pretty low to a bespoke design agency owner.
You can ask for something of higher value (a.k.a. more money) from an e-commerce business owner, but not from a bespoke design agency owner.
The pitfall is thinking that everyone equally needs whatever you are offering.
They perceive their problems differently, and hence value your solutions differently as well.
You can either:
I personally prefer value-based pricing.
It allowed me to make $800 from a one-page website and $12,000 for an 8-page website with integrations.
There isn’t a right way or wrong way.
What’s most important is to understand that a successful exchange of value happens when both parties agree that the value they are getting is fair.
Like it or not, a business cannot survive without money.
When I just started out, I was selling bespoke Webflow websites and brand strategy.
My mistake was not selling what my websites and brand strategy can do.
Higher conversion rates, memorability, or more revenue weren’t part of my pitch.
But it was because I truly didn’t know if I could do any of that.
So, I started learning how to measure my results.
The number 1 method for marketing your business is to show how you can turn $1 into $2 or more.
If you are a virtual assistant, show how investing $1,000/month in your services helped clients save time and make an extra $2,000/month.
If you run an SEO agency, show how investing $2,500/month in your services helped clients get more traffic and make $8,000/month.
If you are a career coach, show how investing $3,000 in your programme helped clients progress in their careers and secure a pay rise of $1,500/month.
Having a stack of results makes it undeniable that your services work.
I started becoming less emotionally impacted by the money conversation.
And a lot more confident too.
These mindshifts didn't happen overnight.
In fact, they happened over 3 years of my life of grinding every single day.
Which one surprised you the most? Let me know.