We sat down with online business and Instagram coach Carla Biesinger. Carla shares her secrets for designing an online program, how to prioritize marketing in your business, and how she creates work/life balance as a business owner (and how you can too!).
Healthie: Tell us about yourself and how your business came to be.
Carla: I was born and raised in Germany, but growing up I always felt like I didn’t belong. When I was 19, I moved to Australia, studied marketing and PR, and got a job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. My “corporate career” lasted a total of 12 months. Even though I loved working there, I wanted to move somewhere new. I was ready for a new adventure.
At the age of 24, I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I fell in love with guy from England, and together with his best friend (a chef from Thailand), we opened a restaurant called The Argentine Experience. We started out as a “closed door restaurant” (opening our home and hosting professional dinner parties for strangers). Over the years, we became the number 1 restaurant in Buenos Aires.
It was an amazing experience, but we were “stuck” in Buenos Aires for almost 5 years, working 24/7, years without taking a vacation, growing our team of 3 to over 30, and this “interactive dining concept” to a million dollar company. I eventually left Argentina in 2015 because my goals and dreams no longer aligned with the way the company was going. I wasn’t in it for the money.
I started my business because I wanted to create freedom in my life. Running an online business allows me to work wherever I want. All I need is my laptop and a good internet connection. I now live between NYC, Germany, and Australia. I haven’t had a base in over 3 years – and I love it!
Healthie: How should health and wellness entrepreneurs prioritize marketing in their business?
Carla: Marketing is one of the essential parts of running a successful business. In my opinion, you need 3 things: an irresistible offer, an audience, and a strategy on how to bring that offer to your audience.
I think in the beginning as you’re just starting out you totally can, and should, start by working your network. But most likely, there are only so many people you know who want and need your services.
Eventually, you’ll have to start looking for ways to grow your audience and learn how to market yourself and get complete strangers to pull out their credit cards to pay for your products or services. There are thousands of “ideal clients” for you out there, you just have to know how to find them and how to get them to invest in you! You can’t start learning about marketing early enough, and it’s an ongoing process; I’m still learning about different platforms and new ways of marketing my business.
You need 3 things: an irresistible offer, an audience, and a strategy on how to bring that offer to your audience.
Healthie: In your experience, what’s the biggest obstacle entrepreneurs face when just starting their business?
Carla: I think finding your niche is one of the most challenging parts when you’re starting out.
How can you differentiate yourself from everyone else out there?
What segment of the market can you focus on – instead of trying to talk to “everyone”?
What specific problem can you solve?
What makes you who you are and how can you use your own story to find your gap in the market?
I’m a huge foodie, so when I started out, I knew I wanted to work with people in the food industry. From my own experience of starting a restaurant, I knew how difficult it was to get more clients and grow our brand. That’s how I found my niche.
I started out targeting food bloggers and food photographers, and it organically developed into working with new and aspiring entrepreneurs in the Food, Health, and Fitness industry. I naturally started to attract other women who related to my story and my struggles and so over time my niche developed, I paid attention to whom I was attracting, and I got more specific.
Healthie: What’s the biggest obstacle entrepreneurs face in marketing their businesses?
Carla: Bright shiny object syndrome – for sure! All the different social media platforms, building your list, email marketing, blogging, building your website, podcasts, webinars, which one should you focus on?! It’s so overwhelming, especially when you’re starting out, and you most likely have no experience in any of the above.
I think it’s so important to focus on “money making activities.” During my first year in business I definitely tried to focus on too many things and wasted too much time working on things that didn’t actually make me any money (like re-doing my website over and over again). Define your goals, work out a strategy on how to get there, and then get it done, one baby step at a time!
Define your goals, work out a strategy on how to get there, and then get it done, one baby step at a time!
Healthie: We know you have several successful online courses. What’s the 1st step an entrepreneur should take to increase their passive income by creating an online course?
Carla: I would say it’s getting to know your audience. If you’re spending all that time creating and marketing an online course, you want to make sure it’s something your audience wants and needs, and is willing to pay for! There’s nothing worse than spending months and months working on an idea you’ve built up in your head, just to realize once you launch it that no one wants it!
So get to know your audience, ask them what things they struggle with, find out what their biggest pain points are, find out what they desire, and find out how YOU can help them! Validate your idea. Then start creating.
Healthie: What metrics do you suggest entrepreneurs track to see how well their business is doing?
Carla: I think one of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs (including myself) make is that they don’t give it enough time. When I first started making offers and people didn’t jump on them, I just figured “oh, I guess no one is interested.” Instead of tweaking and testing my offer and my sales strategy, I would just start working on a new offer. You’ve got to give it time. You need to have enough people go through your sales funnels before you decide something is not working.
Research has shown that people need to hear about an offer 7 times before they decide to buy. Understanding this was huge for me. I regularly have new students sign up to my course who’ve been on my list for over a year, who watch all of my live trainings. Eventually the timing is right and they say “yes” to one of my offers.
People buy from people they know, like, and trust. And building trust takes time. So my number 1 piece of advice would be to stay consistent and persistent, to constantly test and tweak, and to give it time.
Healthie: How is technology changing the way entrepreneurs are able to grow their businesses?
Carla: Technology truly is amazing! We’re able to get in front of our ideal client and start up a conversation (through Instagram, for example), even though they’re living in a completely different city, country, or even continent. I currently work with clients who live in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland. I have hosted workshops in Barcelona, NYC, LA, and Brisbane, and I sold tickets without even being in the same country!
There truly are no limits when it comes to growing an online business – you’ve just got to learn how to use the tools available to you and learn how to navigate the online world!
Healthie: What’s the best piece of advice you received when starting your business?
Carla: The best investment you’ll ever make is in yourself. I know how hard it is when you’re starting out and you’re not making much (or any money). However, I can honestly say that every time I invested in myself or my business, whether that’s by taking an online course or working with a coach, it’s helped me grow so much faster than I ever thought possible. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if I had tried to figure everything out on my own.
When I started out I took an online course on how to create online courses. When I started working as a consultant I hired someone who taught me everything about how to make that pivot from selling online products to online services. Right now I’m in a group coaching program for online coaches who want to scale their businesses. In every single stage of my business I have had someone teach me, someone who’s “been there, done that.” I know that this has been “the secret“ to my success, apart from doing the work and being consistent, even on the days I feel like giving up!
The best investment you’ll ever make is in yourself.
Healthie: How do you create work/life balance as an entrepreneur? What tips do you have for business owners who find it hard to create this balance in their lives?
Carla: I love this question, especially since this is something I tend to struggle with. I’m definitely a little workaholic, I tend to work, work, work – to a point where I’m exhausted and physically can’t continue. I love what I do so I can easily work long hours, work though my lunch break, work on the weekend. But I know that that’s not healthy and I know I’d eventually burn out, so I’ve become a lot stricter with myself.
I force myself to take at least one day per week completely off. No Instagram, no emails, no webinars. It was hard in the beginning but I’m starting to get better. (I sometimes even take the whole weekend off these days, I know – crazy, right?! 😉 ) I’ve found when I allow myself to switch off, that’s when I get all of my best ideas, that’s when I feel inspired and creative.
I also started to introduce a “no phone policy” into my morning routine. I realized that the last thing I look at before I go to sleep, and the first thing I look at when I wake up is my phone. Now, I wake up, I exercise, I do my mindset and meditation practice, I get ready for the day, have breakfast and then I start working. It’s been an amazing shift, I love starting my days with a little me-time. The negative side of technology is that we’re always connected, always available. I think it’s so important to find ways to unplug – even if that means just having one “no phone day” per week.
Lastly, I recently joined a co-working space and I absolutely love it! Being able to get out of my apartment (which means forcing myself to take a shower and to get dressed, instead of sitting alone at home in my pjs all day), and coming home to just be “home” is a game changer.
Related: Tips For Finding Office Space
Finding that work-life balance is definitely a challenge, and something I’m still working on. Even being more conscious of the fact that it is something I need to work on, I’ve started to see and feel the difference.