My backstory and business goals (podcast)

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So who am I, and why should you listen to me when it comes to online business?
In the episode, I’m sharing my business backstory, from making and selling cloth nappies online and in-person in 2007, to running huge live online summits and online courses by 2017, to selling and starting fresh in 2023.

While raising and homeschooling 5 children, travelling a LOT, and getting a nursing degree.

I also share my 5 big business goals. These are the goals that shape everything I do in my business, to make sure I build a business that suits me and my life, instead of one that takes over my life.


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Hello, I’m Kelly Kotanidis from Business in Your Backpack, and welcome to the very first episode of Online Business from Scratch. This one has some of my backstory plus the plan and goals for this business that I’m going to start building.

My goal for this podcast is to show you that you can start a fantastic online business that fits with your life because there is nothing particularly special about me yet I managed to build a totally online business that was very profitable and fitted around my busy unpredictable life. It enabled us to spend a lot of time traveling as a family about 6 years total, most of it with all five children.

Now, I’ve sold that business and I’m taking what I’ve learned to build another online business, and this is when I’m going to detail the steps that I take and the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing here so you can follow along.

As backstory for you, I have five children. My oldest is 20 and my youngest is 15. They’ve all always been homeschooled, and I’ve been earning something online most of the time since 2007 when I made cloth nappies and tie-dye, and I sold that in person and online. So google Pepper Place nappies if you want to see what I did way back then.

It was about 2011 when I discovered the concept of online courses and passive or asynchronous income, and I really wanted to do it as soon as I saw it. I’m like, “This is something that I would love to be able to do.” So I was starting to digitize my nappy patterns and sell them, and I was thinking of licensing them. So I was interested in the idea of making something once and selling it many times quite a long time ago, but back then my business was very much a side project and a bit of bonus income because I had five kids in 5 years, I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on it. But it is where I started to hone my skills in prioritizing, productivity, and marketing.

I completely closed that business in 2014 because I was pretty tired of cloth nappies, and I started studying nursing because I thought I needed to be able to get a real job. But studying and placement reminded me that real jobs kind of suck. So in late 2015, I decided to start an online-only business called Fearless Homeschool. I started learning about email marketing and how to run a website and do SEO, but most importantly, I learned about getting to know my customers and what they actually want and then giving them that.

With Fearless Homeschool, I beta tested a course which became Zero to Homeschool, and then turned that evergreen in early 2017. And then I ran the first Australian Homeschooling Summit in mid 2017, and that provided a pretty decent part-time income considering I was doing it around raising and homeschooling five children plus finishing my nursing degree and we were traveling for a lot of that time too.

Now in 2018, we were traveling Europe, and I was really motivated to fund that because we were partly using our savings. So I redid how I ran my summits based on what I knew about my audience. I launched that at the start of 2019, and it went nuts. I sold 300 paid tickets in the first day and over 1,200 for that first summit so that made it a full-time income in that year and from then on the income was pretty consistent with a yearly summit in February and income from summit recordings, courses, and affiliate links year round.

So I probably averaged around 10 to 15 hours of work a week on that business so that would be a lot more at summit time but much less during the rest of the year when most of the stuff was set up on evergreen and automated.

It took me about 3 years to make a full-time income with that business, it won’t take me that long this time because I actually know what I’m doing now and it won’t take you that long either because you’re here you have a roadmap and you can get straight to the things that work.

Business for me has always been about making the most of my pretty limited and often unpredictable time which meant really paying attention to what worked and how to make it work better, to putting a lot of automation and passive income strategies into place and creating things that people really, really wanted because then marketing is really easy and probably most importantly of all not getting stuck doing things with a low return so that meant things like pretty much ignoring social media which is a bit of a controversial approach that I will talk about more in future episodes.

So for years from 2019 onwards Fearless Homeschool and the Australian Homeschooling Summit were making a pretty good income it was all going really well but I sold the business at the end of 2023 because I wasn’t particularly interested in homeschooling anymore. My kids have mostly finished, my brain’s moved on and I felt really guilty about the missed business opportunities. I was basically just doing the bare minimum to maintain what I had but the business had a lot of potential and people wanted so much more from it so I sold it and that was was a great decision.

The new owner, Micarle, is doing a fantastic job she brings so many fresh ideas and lots of energy and I’ve been free to start something that I’m actually excited about. So my new business is this one it’s called Business in your Backpack and I’m teaching homeschoolers and traveling families how to create an online business based on their knowledge and experience that fits their life so basically just how to do what I’ve been doing for years and I’ve already helped many others to do it and that I’m doing again right now.

All right, so that’s a bit of my street cred. Now here are my goals for Business in your Backpack.

First I want as a minimum to build a full-time income which I’m setting at $80,000 per year from 20 hours of work or less per week. So that’s a fairly generous estimate of what I could earn nursing if I upskilled and took advantage of all the perks.

Number two is I want to be able to pick up or put down the business at any time and have it run smoothly and still bring in income even if I’m not actively working on it. This means having great systems in place from search engine optimisation to email automations and passive products. It also means not creating products and services that require my regular input unless I can outsource. I did this in my last business so I’m confident I can do it again.

The third goal, since we’re speaking of outsourcing, is I don’t want a team because then I will have to manage a team and commit to providing enough work and income for them every single week and that sounds like my idea of business hell so I may hire a part-time VA or freelancers for certain tasks but knowing me I’ll probably DIY most of it which means my tasks must be minimized and streamlined as much as possible so I don’t get caught up doing busy work.

Number four is my costs not including tax must be less than 20% of revenue. I don’t want a business with a huge turnover and low profit, I want to keep it streamlined and uncomplicated and very simple to manage. Plus even though I’ll be creating a resilient business with multiple income streams I want to know that if anything catastrophic happens you know like a global pandemic for instance that I can easily cover my costs even if my revenue plummets. My last business was around 10 to 15% cost so again I know it’s doable you definitely don’t need huge overheads to run an online business.

And fifth and finally I need to know that I’m doing it in a way I consider ethical, so that means not using tactics like NLP or pain points to try to coerce people into buying things from me, it means providing a lot of value to people who do buy from me, it means being as inclusive as I can be of diversity and disability and really just creating a business where both me and the customer both feel like we got a really good deal out of whatever transaction just happened. There are a lot of shady tactics out there there’s a lot of people out to take advantage of vulnerable people by over promising and under-delivering and I’ve especially seen that in the travel and the work at home mum areas, there are lots of lots of scammy shady stuff out there, I’ve been burned by all this stuff before and I want to take an active stance against that and show that it’s really not necessary, that you don’t have to be all fake or scammy or make people feel like crap or pressure them to spend more money that they really can’t afford in order to have a profitable business. So you’ll probably get a few mini rants from me about stuff like that too and what I’m choosing to do instead.

So welcome, if that sounds great to you please listen in as I detail all the steps I take to build Business in your Backpack completely from scratch to an online business making a full-time income from very part-time hours. Please subscribe with your favorite podcast app or on YouTube, sign up for my emails and know that you always very welcome to share your comments ask questions or contact me for whatever you need.

Thanks so much for listening and I will be back soon sharing my very first steps in starting my new online business.

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Got any questions? Feel free to to drop them in the comments below.

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