Ep. 57: 7 Steps to Accelerate Your Small Business Growth - With Amy Porterfield

Learn about mindset, customer avatars, and email lists.

Expanding your business and drawing in more customers may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Just ask Amy Porterfield, New York Times bestselling author of Two Weeks Notice and Host of The Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast, who managed to increase her sales in only a year.

“The people who need you will find you, even if you put a stake in the ground.” Amy says. “If your message resonates with them, but doesn't fit perfectly, that's okay. If they like what you're saying and they find value, they will find you.”

Learn how you can replicate Amy’s growth by managing your mindset, creating a customer avatar, and growing your email list. In this episode you’ll hear:

(00:45) How Amy started her business

(03:02) How negative thoughts can impede growth

(05:57) How to build your customer avatar

(08:11) How content creation helped Amy grow

(09:27) How to grow your email list

(12:16) Common mistakes that might affect your growth

Key takeaways:

1 - Manage your mindset. Amy says that you need to consume inspiring stories and lessons and try your best to avoid negative thoughts.

2 - Define your target audience by crafting a customer avatar. This avatar might represent your past self or someone entirely different. If it's the latter, you'll need to talk to your customers to understand what they expect from you.

3 - Don’t be afraid to get specific with your customer avatar. The people who need you will find you.

4 - Generate original content tailored to your brand. According to Amy, this will establish you and your brand as a reliable source and will attract a larger audience to your business. We go into a lot more detail and touch on how to create content on social media on episode 45 of This is Small Business.

5- Create an email list. Amy says that having an email list means having ownership of your subscribers.

6 - You need to be intentional about growing your email list. Amy suggests having a pre-launch strategy and offering freebies to your subscribers. We dig into how to start and grow your email list on episode 56 of This is Small Business with Amy’s best friend Jenna Kutcher!

7 -  Get laser-focused on your message and keep it clear and consistent. It's easy for entrepreneurs to spread themselves thin, but Amy says that the most successful people stick to a few things and nail them consistently.

Episode Transcript


Amy Porterfield: 80% of being an entrepreneur, like the success of being an entrepreneur is your mindset. 20% is the mechanics. So I quickly learned how to manage my mind because this is going to be a big part of that. So I had to work on myself, but also important is I had to change the strategies. When I first launched that course, I made $267, I had no email list. And I really believe to this day that if you want a thriving online business, you have to be intentional about growing an email list.


Andrea Marquez: I'm Andrea Marquez, and This is Small Business, a podcast brought to you by Amazon. Today we'll figure out how you can grow your business and find new customers with Amy Porterfield, a New York Times bestselling author and the host of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast.


Amy Porterfield: So I often say I am an ex-corporate girl turned accidental entrepreneur. About 15 years ago, I left my last corporate job with Tony Robbins and I was the Director of Content Development for many years with Tony, but I got this desire to want to be my own boss, call my own shots, and so I took a very big risk and went out on my own.


Andrea Marquez: Amy ended up building an online business where she teaches people how to take their knowledge and skill set and turn that into a profitable digital course. And what actually pushed Amy to venture into entrepreneurship was a meeting that Tony Robbins held 17 years ago.


Amy Porterfield: Tony had called in a bunch of internet marketers into the San Diego headquarters to talk about their online businesses. Tony was getting more into the online space, and so he brought in these guys and they sat around this big oak table and I was called in to take notes. So I sat at a little side table to take notes at this really important meeting to learn how these guys were making money online. And so Tony went around and he said, “Tell me about your businesses.”


Andrea Marquez: Everyone in that room had a different niche, but they all had digital courses or memberships and they were all doing business online.


Amy Porterfield: I think I took the worst notes of my life that day because when they went around, they all talked about freedom. Freedom to call the shots, to make as much money as they want, to impact lives the way they want to, to be as creative as they wanted to. And I thought, “I don't even know what these guys are doing or how they're doing it, but I want in.” And so that was that first moment that I thought, “I've got to figure this out.”


Andrea Marquez: And then a year after that meeting, Amy went out on her own. In 2011, she launched her first digital course but it didn't really do well.


Amy Porterfield: I made a whopping $ 267 and then I cried for an entire week because I made it mean in my head, “I'm not cut out to be an entrepreneur. I don't know what I'm doing. Who am I to be doing this? I need to go grovel back for my nine to five job. I've made a mess of this.”


Andrea Marquez: She wallowed in these feelings until her husband was like ...


Amy Porterfield: “You need to get it together because this isn't going to work.”


Andrea Marquez: And then a year later.


Amy Porterfield: I made $30, 000 in a very short period of time with my own digital course.


Andrea Marquez: So how did Amy manage to grow her business in the span of a year? First, she had to manage her mindset.


Amy Porterfield: Now, some people might be rolling their eyes. They're like, “Yeah, give us the strategies, Amy. We know that mindset's important.” But really do we understand how much it plays a part in terms of believing in yourself, fueling your brain every day with inspiring stories and lessons of inspiration to keep you moving forward? I believe the first thought that entered my mind, which was, “You're not cut out to do this, you're a failure.” Now I'm really clear that I cannot believe everything I think, at least not the first thought. So it took me a while to kind of get my head in the game and realize, “Wait a second, I've got to mind my mindset here and be very careful what I think and what I feel, or this is never going to work.”


Andrea Marquez: I love that we're starting out with this. It's such an important aspect of being an entrepreneur and because it can sound very fluffy to some, it's often overlooked. Now Amy has a lot of support to help her manage her mindset. She has a therapist, a business coach, a health and wellness coach, and loads of friends in the industry.


Amy Porterfield: That's a lot of people in my corner. And the reason for that is because I know it's a very dangerous and lonely place inside my mind. I could go to the most wildest places. I could wake up one morning and things don't work in my business, and I could tell myself, “This is a mess. This is falling apart.” It's a really scary place in my mind sometimes. So to have the right support around me is everything.


Andrea Marquez: But 15 years ago when Amy was first starting her business, she didn't have the money to spend on a wellness coach or a business coach. Instead, she relied on free resources to get the support she needed.


Amy Porterfield: I got it all through podcasts and blogs and getting into mastermind groups with other people so that I could surround myself with people that will inspire me and also support me. So I think there's no badge of honor in doing this alone. So if you are just a lone wolf and you just want to build your business online and don't get support or help from anyone, it's going to be a rough road. We need that support in order to make sure that we keep moving forward when it gets tough.


Andrea Marquez: So managing your mindset by staying inspired and surrounding yourself with people that support you can help you grow. But Amy also had to adjust her strategies.


Amy Porterfield: When I first launched that course and made $ 267, I had no email list. It was a really small email list, and I never emailed them. And I really believe to this day that if you want a thriving online business, you have to be intentional about growing an email list. Social media is not enough and social media is fickle. The way you've been doing business on social media could literally change overnight. We saw this years ago when we were all using Facebook for our businesses, it was working great, and then you had to pay to play and everything changed. So I will never again put all my eggs in one basket and only rely on social media.


Andrea Marquez: We'll get into how to grow your email list in a minute. But first, you need to figure out who you're trying to serve.


Amy Porterfield: One of the easiest ways is to first ask yourself, “Am I my customer avatar just like 10 years ago or 5 years ago?” Here's what I mean. I serve mainly women, but there's a lot of men in my audience as well, but women who want to leave behind the nine to five and start making their own money and becoming their own boss.

I was that woman in a cubicle 15 years ago, not making as much money as I wanted, not wanting a boss but I had one, and really struggling to climb the corporate ladder. I know how she feels, I know her pain, her struggles, her self-doubts, her dreams, her wants. I get her because I was her. And sometimes that's the easiest place to start. If you could be your avatar just a few years ago, you'll really understand how to put together your marketing message because you lived their lives, you understand them.


Andrea Marquez: If you've never been your customer avatar, Amy says that you need to start talking to them.


Amy Porterfield: So I encourage my students to get on a Zoom call, ask someone for 15, 20 minutes, ask them the questions.  “What are you struggling with? What have you tried? What do you need? Where do you look online to get the solution?” Start learning from them because that's going to help immensely.


Andrea Marquez: And if you're struggling with figuring out who your avatar is because you don't want to exclude potential customers ...


Amy Porterfield: The people who need you will find you, even if you put a stake in the ground. If your message resonates with them but doesn't fit perfectly, that's okay. If they like what you're saying and they find value, they will find you. So I have a lot of men in my audience. I have a lot of people who already quit their nine to five job, but they find something of value in my messaging, and so they come into my programs. So don't be scared to put that stake in the ground. I promise you it's going to help you get known and seen in a very noisy online world.


Andrea Marquez: So to figure out who you're trying to serve, Amy says that you need to create a customer avatar. You can do this by looking at your past experiences if your old self is your avatar, or by talking to the people you want to reach. And don't be scared of being specific. You won't exclude any potential customers that don't look like your avatar. If they need your services, they'll find you. Another thing that helped Amy grow and gain new customers was content creation.


Amy Porterfield: At the time, it was a blog and then it moved into a podcast. But I really believe that if you create your own original content every week, rain or shine, you become a go-to source. People rely on you. They know you. They want to be in your orbit. Without that weekly original content, you just get lost in the sea of noise online and on social. So I started to create my own content every week, and that changed everything for me as well. And I just want to speak to the people that are listening, they're like, “Amy, I don't want to do TikTok videos. I don't want to do silly dances online. I don't want to do all the trending lip-syncing and all of that. None of that is for me.” That is fine because it's not really for me either. I'll play around with it once in a while, but I kind of hate it.

And so I try to find the trends or what's working that would speak to me and feel good to me because social media is a big part of growing a business, whether you're a personal brand or a company brand, you need it. I think you need an email list a lot more than you need social, but social will help you grow that email list.


Andrea Marquez: We have a whole episode dedicated to content creation and how to leverage social media to grow your business. It's episode 45 of This is Small Business, so if you want to learn more, go ahead and check it out. We mentioned earlier that growing a business is easier if you have an email list. But how do you get people to sign up for your email list? The first thing Amy says you should do is be intentional about growing it.


Amy Porterfield: So that means every single week you're thinking about how am I getting more people on my email list and how am I nurturing them? So remember when I said I have a podcast that comes out every single week, rain or shine? The way I nurture the people already on my email list is when I have a new podcast episode, I email them and I say, “Hey, I've got something new for you today. Here's why you're going to love it. Go take a listen.” So my weekly original content, it supports the audience I already have and then attracts a new audience because the podcast networks will push it out to new people.


Andrea Marquez: Another strategy that Amy says is often overlooked and can help you grow your email list is having a prelaunch strategy.


Amy Porterfield: Let's say you know that you're going to launch a new product on June 1st. So May 1st, I would spend an entire month, 30 days of priming the pump. Now, what does that look like? Well, I'm not talking about the product I'm going to sell. I might hint at it, but I'm talking around it, topics that relate to the product I'm going to sell. I have freebies related to the product I'm going to sell.  

So for example, if I sell a program of how to create and launch a digital course, one of my freebies might be a quiz, How To Know If You're Ready To Add A Digital Course To Your Business. People sign up for the quiz, they take it, they give me their name and email to get the results. So that might be a quiz I do in my prelaunch period.

Or I might have a PDF, How To Choose The Perfect Course Topic When You're Ready To Create Your Course. So now I'm getting, I'm thinking, “What might I create if I ever created a course?” I'm not talking about the fact I'm going to sell something soon. I'm not leading up to it in that way. I'm just giving great amazing free value for an entire month. I'm using it to grow my email list because these are the people I'm going to market it to, but I'm also giving immense value. I'm showing up live on video. I might do some extra podcasts that month, but the month of May will be my prelaunch 30-day runway.

So there's this golden question you can ask yourself during that prelaunch period, and it's, “What does my audience need to believe, understand, be aware of, or just change their mindset around before they're ever ready to buy from me?” So what does my audience need to be aware of, understand, believe before they're ever ready to buy? And you're going to give them that content to have a new understanding, a new idea, a new clarity during the prelaunch period. So when you're ready to sell, they're ready to buy.


Andrea Marquez: That sounds like such a simple yet effective way to get more people to sign up to your email list. We've talked a lot about what you should be doing to attract more customers. So now let's get into some common mistakes that might hinder your growth.


Amy Porterfield: One of them is trying to do too many things, too many offers, too many messages where people are very confused what they need to come to you for in order to get the results they're looking for. So I think that's one thing, honing in on your message and getting clear, this is what I offer and what I'm all about.  

I think another thing is that a lot of business owners, because we're trying to do so much and wear so many hats, we lack consistency. I was absolutely guilty of this for many, many years. I'll do a podcast today and then I won't have another one for three more weeks. I try this new social media thing and say, “I'm going to do it all month.” I do it for a week. It's very normal and human to not be consistent with these things. But I look at the winners, I pay attention to who's winning in this online business game. If they have physical products or online products, it doesn't matter. The people that are winning are consistent with what they're doing, and they do very little, but they do it really well. So I think if you become a person who identifies, I am a consistent person, changes everything.


Andrea Marquez: So staying consistent can be tough when you're doing many things on your own, but that's when evaluating what type of help you need comes into play, and honing in on your messaging is also key to keep customers coming back. I learned so much from talking to Amy.  

If you didn't have a chance to write everything down, don't worry. We've taken notes for you. You can find them at www. smallbusiness. amazon/ podcasts. And if you liked the episode, don't forget to leave us a review like this one from Fernieboy234 who said, “Love this podcast, part of my weekly listen and exciting to hear different types of businesses and how they're succeeding. I like that it's not just interviews all the time.” Thank you, Fernieboy234. I'm glad that This is Small Business is part of your week. I'd love to know what you think. So please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. It's easier to do it through your phone or send us an email at thisissmallbusiness@ amazon. com with your thoughts.

That's it for this episode of This Is Small Business brought to you by Amazon. Make sure to subscribe and tell your friends about us by sending them a link to this episode. Until next time, I'm your host, Andrea Marquez. Hasta luego and thanks for listening.  

This is Small Business is brought to you by Amazon with technical and story production by JAR Audio.


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