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Advice for Sole Proprietor Online Startups

WordPress Sole Proprietor Online Success

I've been an online consultant for 26 years. A WordPress Consultant since its inception. I knew in my gut where the WordPress train was going and I jumped on board.

Having been doing this longer than most and surviving, I am asked what is my advice for those who want to start their own online business. My initial answer is — find out how you can be you.

The actual best practices will differ depending on your market, scope, niche. But this article is not the typical how-to that covers business practices or recommends what products to use.

Instead, we are going to talk about mindset. I wrote about mindset previously in my post, Vital Mindsets for Online Success.

But, this post is a bit different.


1. an attitude, disposition, or mood.
2. an intention or inclination.

Today, I'm going to talk about your personal approach combined with your mindset. Starting your own business by its very nature requires you to question everything.

Every penny you spend, every choice you make, every decision that can impact your future trajectory. You'll even question your own motives, intent — and even if you are crazy at some point. Happens to everyone! And don't be surprised if you quickly discover that your #1 fan — is you.

Mindsets for Single Owner Startups

Find Your Passion

Successful Online Business Mindsets

Starting any business is hard work, long hours, and requires a never-quit commitment. That's why it is critical that whatever you are selling, whether it be a product or service, that you are passionate about it and will enjoy the process.

I've lost count of the number of folks I've seen who think putting up a me-too site, a site no different than those already online, is the ticket. They really aren't into the product as much as they are into the assumed earning potential.

Believe me, if you are not passionate, onliners won't buy what you are selling. Especially if there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of others already selling the same.

This is where a hobby you've done for years, a special skill, a knowledge base of information that excites you will give you the edge to succeed. Having fun is an ingredient of many successful enterprises.

If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about,
you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.

Mark Zuckerberg

Read, Learn, Apply. Rinse and Repeat.

There are times I have to put myself in check because I spend so much time reading. But doing that all these years has given me my edge.

I read everything that has to do with WordPress, coaching, consulting. I can't get enough of it. I don't agree with all the information I read, nor do I necessarily want to apply it to what I do. But I want to be exposed to all perspectives

What I can emphatically state is that the knowledge and information I gain are invaluable to how I run my business. It is pretty common to read about an approach or practice I never thought of that then in fact, when adjusted for my methodology, makes me and therefore my business better.

When you think you know it all — you will stagnate. Don't fall into that trap. There are always others that know more than you. Learn from them. 25 years and I still learn new things — all the time.

The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

Dr. Seuss

Do Not Choose Services or Products on Price Alone

Sadly, too many make this mistake. They think they can go with the lowest price and still gain the success they desire. That mindset has to go.

Starting on a shoestring budget can be done — but only to an extent. You cut the wrong corners and you could very well be shooting yourself in the foot. Especially when you may not completely understand the value, importance, features or functionality of what you believe to be too expensive.

Do your homework and know what the core products and services are that are critical to your success. Then be willing to spend the money to acquire them.

Make your decisions based on what you need to rely on, not what you are willing to spend. When I run into folks who make decisions based on price alone, I know I cannot help them succeed.

People who are frugal understand the value of a dollar and make informed and thoughtful decisions. People who are cheap try to spend as little money as possible.

Frank Sonnenberg

You Can't be Everything to Everyone

This is where niche comes into play. You've just got to be something special and unique to make any headway in a saturated online marketplace. Trying to be everything to everyone is impossible. So don't even try.

Decide what you want to excel at and the specific type of customer you want to attract and then nail it. For me, I know the type of business person I can work with and the type I cannot. I don't waste either of our time taking on those I know will be a struggle or will not respect and appreciate what I can bring to their program.

The same goes for tangible products. If you are offering hundreds of thousands of items offered by thousands of other sites, you are just a “me-too” site. That's a steep hill to climb.

Find a niche of products, or create a site-wide personality that is reflected in the choice of products you offer. Then laser focus on that.

Very narrow areas of expertise can be very productive.
Develop your own profile. Develop your own niche.

Leigh Steinberg

Haters Gonna Hate

You will run into nightmare clients or customers. It is unavoidable. Some folks are never happy or think they know more than you.

While it is easier said than done, try not to take it personally. It's more about them than you.

I use every nightmare client as a learning opportunity. Not only to better be able to spot the red flags but to prevent and improve how I handle these situations moving forward.

In retail, while you cannot avoid who buys your stuff, you can control how you manage them after they rear their ugly head. In both cases, offer the most efficient and professional disengagement possible. Then move on.

You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

Maya Angelou

Try New Things — All the Time

I'm a note-taker. I never know when a new way of doing something will pop into my head. If I don't write it down, it will never happen.

Or I'll be reading something that sprouts a new approach. When this happens I integrate it. I never hesitate to try new processes, applications, plugins, strategies — you name it.

So, what if it doesn't work? As they say, nothing ventured nothing gained. That's one less thing I have to wonder about.

In the extremely competitive online marketplace, you need to try new things just to remain viable. Who knows what you'll discover in doing so.

If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.

Ray Kroc

Don't be a Lemming

I took three years of Latin in high school and there was one saying that I learned that has always stuck with me: Non ducor, duco — I am not led, I lead.

Not so much that I consider myself a “leader”. I've just never been a follower. In school and even afterward I hated cliques and being in one or being pigeonholed into that demographic.

Instead, I was friends with folks from all cliques while not being part of any single one. That's how I've run my business.

It's easy to get wrapped up in business group think or the “in-crowd” clique. I prefer to be a loner and make decisions based on what works for me and for my business — not what a certain group of folks claim is the way to go. Or what the expert du jour claims as fact.

It's healthy and recommended to question and verify everything and everyone that is within your business purview. You are your own unique circumstance.

Leaders think and talk about the solutions.
Followers think and talk about the problems.

Brian Tracy

Listen to Your Gut

It is never wrong.

Never ignore a gut feeling, but never believe that it's enough.

Robert Heller

I mentioned niche, saturation, hundreds if not thousands if not hundreds of thousands of websites, and online businesses vying for the same customers. That not only speaks to the level of commitment, ingenuity, and mindset you'll have to have, it speaks to the one thing you have that none of your competitors have.


You can take the very same products or services already being promoted by others and attach your unique spin, customization, and personality to them and tap into a market that can make you profitable. Use YOU to your advantage!

Even though starting a business has been made easier with the Web, Internet, and all the great website tools and applications, you are still the decision-maker. You are still the one who has to live or die by the choices you make.

Why not make them based on what makes you happy, what you want to do, what you know will work, and is your vision. That's a plan that works for the long haul.

Having the correct mindset will make all the difference. The hard work and dedication that only you can bring to your new venture are what will sustain you.

Now go get 'em!

At your service,
WordPress Consultant Judith