Starting An Online Business – What Would You Do Differently Today?

Starting an online business

We’re going way back to 2006… that’s when Tishia Saves Time was born! Fast forward to today and boy oh boy have things changed! When I started, the internet landscape looked a lot different than it does today. But more importantly, I looked a lot different as a person (I don’t mean physically, I’m referring to emotionally/mentally) and virtual assistant. Thank goodness for personal growth 😉

Once in a while, I like to stop and think about what’s working now that I wish I would have done sooner. I thought I would share some of those things with you…

If I had to start an online business today, here are 5 things I would do differently

  1. Hire a coach right away
  2. Start building my list from the get-go
  3. Start building relationships with my list on a consistent basis
  4. Start affiliate marketing
  5. Fire clients that weren’t a fit (or better yet, don’t start working with them in the first place)

Let me explain…

1. Hire a coach sooner

I never believed I could afford to work with a coach. I couldn’t ‘justify’ the expense especially back in the very beginning when making only $8/hr! And back then, I was a broke a** single mom so I couldn’t afford it. But once I finally made the decision to step out of my comfort zone and hire a coach, several years in, I quickly saw the value in it and how I had spent several years missing out on the magic that happens when working with a coach!

2. Start building my list sooner 

I signed up for Aweber back in 2006, not long after launching Tishia Saves Time, and used them up until 2020 when I made the move to Active Campaign. Even though I signed up for the software I didn’t put a whole lot of effort (okay, let’s be real here – I didn’t put ANY effort) into building a list. I’m a little bit embarrassed to tell you that my list is smaller than 100… even now (in 2022)! In my defense, it was larger but I recently went through a big list cleanup. I cleaned out all my unsubscribes, undeliverable, and any that hadn’t opened an email in 6+ months. So that took it from 189 to 58.

On the one hand, it’s embarrassing to admit how small of a list I have, but on the other hand, I love that list! Those are my peeps. They interact and engage with me WHEN I email them. I’m cultivating relationships while offering value, resources, tools, and knowledge to them. It’s time to put some serious effort into not just building my list but being more consistent with emailing them which brings me to the next thing I’d do differently…

3. Email regularly    

I won’t even tell you how long I would go in between mailing this list. Well, okay I’ll tell you… for the longest time (years), I only mailed on holidays.


Do you know how hard it is to build relationships and establish your credibility with people you’re not in touch with on a regular basis? It’s hard! If you’re only connecting with them a couple of times a year they’ll probably forget who you are and unsubscribe when you do email them next.

Sometimes I still struggle with the consistency in emailing on a regular basis, even after all these years. But I have two awesome resources at my fingertips that help if I don’t know what to email:

They both provide something different in their memberships. Angela offers prompts but Liz offers templates. I find myself using Liz’s membership more than Angela’s because I like the templates and having examples of how someone used the template rather than just a prompt to use.

4. Start affiliate marketing sooner 

Another one, if I could go back and do it over again, would be to start affiliate marketing sooner. Sure, I tried it here and there. It was one of those things like throw some spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks type of things. I made it more complicated than it is. I had excuses as to why I couldn’t do it – people on my list have already seen the things I’m mailing about from everyone else, etc.

I’m putting more time and effort into affiliate marketing these days. I still am not getting a huge ROI (return on investment) but I get giddy when I do get those ‘you earned a commission’ affiliate notices!

5. Fire clients that aren’t a fit (or better yet, don’t work with them to begin with) 

I would like to say I learned this lesson early on in my Virtual Assistant journey. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I can’t even remember how many times I had clients that left me crying, frustrated, angry, and everything in between but I continued working with them because I “needed” the money.

Time and time again, my coach, and people in the group coaching mastermind I’ve participated in for years, would tell me to let those clients go and see what doors opened after letting them go. But I’d hang on and hang on and hang on… until I reached a breaking point and let them go.

And guess what happened? EACH. AND. EVERY. TIME?! Yep, the door opened for the “perfect” client to come into my life.

Today, I am thrilled with the handful of VIP clients I work with. I enjoy the creativity I get to use in their business tasks. I love what their businesses represent and what they’re creating more of in the world. It excites me to work with them in their businesses.

The one thing I finally came to realize, several years ago when I let go of a client that was not a good fit, was that by working with someone who isn’t a fit I’m doing a disservice to them (and myself). Meaning, that if they’re not a good fit and I’m not excited to be working on their projects/with them then I’m not giving them my 100% and that isn’t fair to them, myself, or their business. It’s better for them to find the “perfect” VA that will be excited to have them as a client.

All that to say, if I were starting an online business today I would do a lot of things differently!

What about you? If you could do it all over, what would you have done sooner? Leave a comment & let me know 🙂




4 responses to “Starting An Online Business – What Would You Do Differently Today?”

  1. What would I do sooner? Everything you mentioned. I think we all go through that same learning curve.

    “Raise your rates” is another lesson I wish I’d learned sooner. 🙂

    • Yes, raising my rates sooner is one I wish I had learned sooner too 😉 Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Cindy!

  2. That’s a me too on all these.

    I also wish I’d gotten serious about outsourcing sooner and treated my business like a real business and not a personal ATMs sooner.

    Oh and being smart with money, too.

    • Hey Angela! Thanks for leaving a comment. Oooh yeah the being smart with money is one I wish I had started sooner too!