The Afro Coach Operations Agency

3 Things I Wish I Knew About Running an Online Business Sustainably

(5-Minute Read)


Everyone always talks about how hard it is to start a business, but rarely do I hear how difficult it is to maintain one for the long haul. We are in an age where everyone has access to the tools and education needed to start a business, but when it comes to continually running one long-term, the information gets a bit scattered.

And the priorities that you have when beginning your business, are NOT going to be the priorities you have as you start to grow and mature in your business.

Especially after the last two years we’ve had– depending on what your situation was in building your business, the goal to be profitable may have outweighed the goal to enjoy the newfound freedom of running a business. 

Case and point: My $30k quarter in my first year, only to crash and burn from working every single day 6 months later.

It’s one thing to be profitable; it’s another to be profitable AND sustainable.

As we continue to grow our business, secure more clients, and get into the flow of running and operating as a business (not a side hustle, not a hobby), the way you think, the way you work, and what you tolerate will need to shift in order to move the business into a sustainable model.

Because I know you weren’t building this business to forever stay attached to the hip, having to take care of it for all of eternity. 

The goal of sharing these three lessons is to help you see what shifts need to happen (both mentally and operationally) in order to help you run a sustainable business that won’t burn out. 

1. Working harder doesn’t correlate to making more money

Coming from a corporate background, this shift was the toughest to make. In a traditional 9-5, where your salary was provided based on set hours you work, my approach to business first was set on working as much as I could in order to drive more revenue. 

I was spending so much time juggling MANY hats and it worked for a solid 4 months–until aforementioned crash and burn occured. 

I was working so hard, but my only reward was making every vacation a working vacation, late nights, and very little time to enjoy any freedom in the business I had created.

Unlike a job, entrepreneurship will not immediately reward you just for putting the time in (as important as it is!). If that were the case, working 3 jobs plus your business would have you rich. 

This concept opened my eyes to focus less on how MUCH I was working, and refocus on WHAT I was working on. Which let me tell you–is HARD for a recovering workaholic. 

Oftentimes, entrepreneurs can get hyperactivity confused with efficiency. 

I’ll even put out there that for service based businesses, where so much of our work is wrapped up in client work, this is a harder concept for us to grasp.

You can work so hard, putting in the work to handle every task, opportunity, action and client message–you can lose sight of what is actually progressing you forward, as opposed to wading in the water. 

It’s ALL about delivering on the result, hunkering down on your experience and relationship with your clients, and building a strong ecosystem that continually grows your income. 

And that is going to come down to understanding where your priorities, goals AND capacity is in order to determine where your time will be most impactful. 

That doesn’t always look like being head down in client work, or spending a majority of your time in launch mode. 

It can look like:

  • Standardizing your client processes to reduce manual labor (and prioritize your time)

  • Strategically hiring contractors to open up your schedule with daily tasks

  • Using automated workflows and templates to create a hands off (less energy intensive) onboarding or offboarding process

  • Creating client retention opportunities to extend contracts and reduce the amount of launches

2. What keeps my business afloat isn’t me but my process

As much as our magic is what makes our business DIFFERENT, it’s not the reason our business stays afloat. In fact it can’t be–running this business 24/7 is impossible for us to do given that we are human.

What happens when you need a break and a client message comes through? Or you are finally on vacation, but a new client inquiry comes in?

We have other obligations, relationships, and priorities that will impact how we show up for business. But business must go on!

Instead of me relying on myself to fully provide the experience I want for my clients, I could rely on business processes to 1. Make sure I didn’t forget anything (which happened…a lot) 2. The experience didn’t waver because I was unprepared or caught off guard working elsewhere.

That’s why it’s so important to get the processes that run your business OUT of your head, and into your business so they can continue your processes running consistently.  

This is something we work on a lot inside of the VIP Intensive, where we focus on identifying the processes you are constantly having to cover manually, and how to bake it into your business (whether automated, delegated or otherwise) so that the business isn’t reliant on your memory.

Creating standard operating procedures (also known as SOPs) are incredibly helpful here for when you want how you run your business document, and when you need to hand off to someone else to handle while you prioritize your time elsewhere. 

I like to imagine it like a recipe: Instead of me trying to remember all the ingredients, how to combine certain ingredients (and when, and how much), I can have a recipe that has everything spelled out for me to follow. Or, I can always hand it off to my husband to follow and know we’ll get the same finished dish.

It’s the same for your business: Treat your SOPs like the recipes of what makes your business your business.

3. There’s a difference between productivity and efficiency; priority is key

We can’t do all the things or else we would always miss priority tasks that require. We don’t have unlimited energy y’all–learning to prioritize WHERE that will have the most impact, and what the business can maximize on is a game-changer.

What was such a game-changer for me was recognizing that I could prioritize my time, and it did not mean that my business would crumble without me having my eyes on all the moving parts.

Learning to pick my battles of where my energy will be the most impactful not only led to running the business smoother, I also had more time to focus on business direction, driving more client conversations, and experiencing more in my business.

We also just did a blog about this if you want to check out more of my thoughts around this.

If you need more support in how to deliver an incredible client experience without adding more to your plate, check out my other blogs, and join the email list to get more operations and biz systems advice to help you build your business without sacrificing your creativity or productivity. 

And if you are looking for more 1:1 guidance and customized support, check out my Pimp My Biz  VIP Intensive over on my Services page to get you my eyes and my experience on your business to help you pivot into a more sustainable business practice!

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I’m Elisabeth—
I live in Melbourne, Australia, but I’m from the States (Washingtonian through and through). I’m a cat-mom, wifey, and in love with a good workflow; it gives me that warm, fuzzy, Christmastime feeling. My goal is to help female entrepreneurs stop having to choose between creativity and productivity to build a successful, sustainable business.

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