I’ve helped over 1,000 people successfully launch their own businesses. Here are 4 easy steps you can take today to get started even during a time of crisis.

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Luisa Zhou

  • Luisa Zhou is the creator of the Employee to Entrepreneur system, which teaches people how to leave their day job and start their own six-figure-plus business working for themselves.
  • She says that you can start your online business today, despite the novel coronavirus crisis, by explaining what you do, selling a solution, and talking to people about what service you want to provide.
  • Zhou also says to lead with free content to get clients on board, like through a YouTube channel or social media.
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“Is it OK to sell right now?”

I’d just gotten off a coaching call with some clients — men and women building their own online businesses — and this was the top concern on everyone’s mind.

I get it. No one wants to seem insensitive or be called out for being too “salesy” with everything going on in the world right now.

Want to know how I responded?

I said, “The point of a business is to provide a service that others are willing to pay for. Let me emphasize this: You are providing something that people want to pay for to help make their lives better. When you come from that place, you’re being of service. Not exploitative, negative, or insensitive.”

In short: Yes, it’s absolutely OK to sell right now.

If you’ve been wanting to start your own online business but have been holding back because you’re afraid that now might not be the right time, here are four tips to help you get started today:

1. Explain what you do

This is one of the most common mistakes that I see aspiring entrepreneurs make. They come up with a fancy-sounding description that sounds good but doesn’t have much substance.

In other words, it’s not clear what exactly the point of their service is.

No matter what’s going on in the world, this stays the same: If people don’t understand what you’re selling, how will they know whether or not they want to buy it?

Try using this simple statement instead:

I help [describe the people you help] get/have/be [describe the result you help with].

2. Sell a solution

A popular piece of motivational advice is to make sure you “charge your worth” as a new entrepreneur. 

Here’s the unfortunate truth: Your clients don’t care about paying you your worth!

They care about the “worth” of the solution you provide. In other words, what result are they going to get from hiring you? 

If you’re selling a service (like coaching) or an info product (like an online course), as the majority of my students do, what result will a client get from using that service or info product?

For example, if I hire a health coach, I’m not hiring them because I’m so excited about having 12 weekly calls with them. I’m hiring them so that I can lose weight. In this example, that weight loss is what I’m really paying for. 

Instead of trying to sell people on your worth — which is a tough sell at any time, let alone during a pandemic — talk to them about what their life is going to look like after they hire you and get the results you or your product help them with. And what that is worth to them.

3. Talk to people

People like to buy from people and companies that they know, like, and trust. That kind of relationship isn’t formed from you just sharing emails, blogs, and social media posts.

So what does it take to build that kind of relationship?  

Actually talking to people. Helping them. Showing them that you’re someone who knows what you’re talking about (when it comes to your business).

And yes, while this is trickier to do with social distancing, it’s not impossible.

It can be as simple as finding out where your potential clients spend their time online — whether that’s in Facebook groups or on LinkedIn, Instagram, or some other forum — and spending some time there yourself to answer their questions and share helpful advice (related to the service that your business provides).

This has always been important, but is even more relevant right now. No one can say that you’re being “salesy” or “insensitive” when you’re spending time actually talking to people, offering a lot of help for free, and then simply letting those who want to know more about hiring you how they can do so.

Using myself as an example, I’ve been hosting daily weekday Facebook livestreams to help people who want to grow their online business right now. On these livestreams, I teach, answer questions, and talk with attendees (who chat with me through the comments). And if relevant, I will mention a course or program I have that might be helpful.

Luisa Zhou's Facebook

4. Lead with free content

Speaking of being of service, one of the best ways to stand out from your competition and begin building trust with potential clients (especially if you are just starting out) is to share helpful free content.

Again, this in itself is not a new strategy. However, this is a great time to be following this advice, as people who are forced to stay at home right now are spending a lot more time on social media and on Youtube, searching for distractions and entertainment.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated to do this. You can get started today by recording videos on your laptop and sharing posts on your own social media accounts. (That’s exactly how I started and how I advise all of my students nowadays to start as well.) 

Remember the livestream I showed you above? That was recorded with just my laptop. No fancy studio or camera equipment. And because the content was so useful, I also downloaded the video and shared it on my YouTube channel.

Luisa Zhou's YouTube channel

It doesn’t matter that it’s not “perfect.” What’s way more important is that you get started.

If you’ve been thinking that this pandemic is a wake-up call that life is too short to not follow your dreams or that your job isn’t quite providing the security you had envisioned, the good news is: You don’t have to wait until this is over to start your own business.

And if you follow these steps, you’ll be able to leverage the increased interest people have for fresh new digital content right now to connect with more potential clients, drive more engagement for your business, and set your business up for long-term success.

Luisa Zhou is the creator of the Employee to Entrepreneur system, which teaches people how to leave their day job and start their own six-figure-plus business working for themselves. She’s been featured in Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, Success magazine, and more. Get her free blueprint for building a profitable online business that frees you from the 9-to-5.

SEE ALSO: Everyone told us running a venture-backed business with a fully remote team was impossible. We’re now a multimillion-dollar company with 50 employees — here are 4 hard truths today’s leaders must accept about remote work.

NOW READ: 5 small businesses that pivoted to help their communities and customers during the pandemic — and boosted their bottom lines

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