How I turned self-doubt as a university dropout into a global online business

self-doubt

You’d never know if you met me, but I battled many times with self-doubt. Now, I am an international keynote speaker, running a global social media business working with business owners in 34 countries, but six years ago I was riddled with imposter syndrome – terrified that I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

When I first started my business, one of my biggest concerns was that I didn’t have a degree. I dropped out of marketing at university – how could I walk into a room full of people and expect to be taken seriously?

I decided then and there that although I was battling self-doubt as many entrepreneurs do, I knew that if I could listen intently to my audience, and adopt a “yes” mindset, I could build a successful business by being passionately solution-focused for my customers.

I just went on a bit of a 12-month yes strategy to every opportunity that came up. I figured if people were asking for something, it was a problem that needed to be solved…and they wanted me to solve it. That was the starting point in terms of how I developed my whole offering.

I have since built one of Australia’s most successful membership-based businesses, with over 600 subscribers from all over the world tuning in for my framework on how to leverage the power of social media to increase their brand awareness, and boost their bottom line.

Using Instagram to become aware of the questions my audience had, which were coming in via comments or DM, enabled me to answer them immediately and gauge demand for services that addressed those questions or needs. I love the way Instagram has always enabled business to have that ongoing conversation with their customers, and for me, it was about understanding what business owners were struggling with in terms of building their brands on Instagram.

Six years later, I am still incredibly passionate about engaging with my audience to build trust, connection and value. Here are two of my biggest tips for other business owners looking to do the same.

Engage with your customers online

Smart business owners and brands don’t just use Instagram as a promotional tool – they use it as a research tool. How many platforms give brands the ability to do direct market research with their customer for free? Great communication with your customers is key, no matter how big your brand or business gets, and Instagram allows you to do that – however, it’s not something all business owners take advantage of. I see many business owners that, as they scale, the touchpoint with their customers become further and further apart, and they risk losing touch with their customers’ needs altogether. Even if it’s only half an hour to an hour a day, investing that time in engaging with your online community by reading their comments and reading their messages will reap huge rewards in the short and long term.

Don’t be afraid to pull back to move forward

After my “say yes to everything” strategy, I had about 16 services on the go, was doing everything myself and had one foot in burnout. In order to continue to grow my business, I really needed to pull back – it was a matter of survival! I listed out all my services, highlighted the three that I was most excited to do, and got rid of the rest. Those three services are the Social Club membership, speaking and Instagram audits. Focusing on the things I really loved allowed me to actually scale my business and earn more than ever whilst maintaining and building a highly engaged community.