Here’s a question I got asked recently:  Can I set up my business to run itself?

I want to talk to you about what it really takes to run an online business, and to what extent an online business can be a business that runs on its own.

This question came from a lady called Lisa, who wrote to me asking …  “Is it really possible to have an online business that runs on its own?”




So Lisa, let me dive right in and answer your question. Yes, it is absolutely possible, but it all comes down to how you’ve set up your business.

When it comes to delivering the service or the product to the clients, to what extent do you need to be involved?

If you are selling something that involves, let’s say, one-to-one coaching, or even live group coaching, or some level of interaction with you, then clearly, that’s not an entirely scalable business, and you are going to have to be involved to some extent.

I’m not going to give you a rule and say, “So that means never have any offerings where you’re not involved,” because sometimes it’s the right thing. It’s the right thing for you and it’s the right thing for your clients to have that, but if that is going to be built in, you need to factor that time element into your pricing and into your overall business model.


Aside from the service or product delivery to your clients, there are certain things that go into running an online business.

There’s a lot that needs to happen behind the scenes, so it could be taking customer service emails from customers. It could be managing payments or payment issues. For example, emailing a customer if their payment failed. There could be things like making sure that your content is going out in a timely fashion. What happens is often when people are starting a business, the natural tendency is to do all of this yourself.

But the downside to that is that you then end up with a business that’s not really a business at all. It’s a job, because you’re involved in every single piece of running the business, and if you stop doing all of that, the business grinds to a halt. The way to handle that part of your business is to look at what you can automate and what you can delegate.

In fact, there’s one thing you should do before you either automate or delegate, and that’s eliminate. So there might be things that you’re currently spending your time on that are not adding value to your business, that are not essential for the success of your business – it’s just a time waste, and it’s not generating any income. You can strike those off your list straight away.


Then when you look at what’s left, you want to start to look at what you could automate

Are there ways that you could be using software, or tools, or systems to get that same thing done? Or, are there things that you could delegate? Maybe you could hire someone like a virtual assistant, who could handle those things for you. Now this might sound like a lot to take on board all at once, and Rome wasn’t in a day, so I’m not saying you have to do all of this at once, these are things to bear in mind and you can just start with one area.

For me, a big shift happens in my online business the moment I hired my first virtual assistant. Immediately, some of the things that were taking up my time that did not have to be done by me, for example, customer service emails. I was able to pay someone else to handle those and that freed up a lot more of my time, so I could then focus on growing my business.

You don’t have to do it all in a big way. It’s not like you have to go out and hire an entire team tonight. You start where you are.  Remember, Bernadette’s motto is, “You do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”  Those small shifts –  they add up to big changes overall.

So Lisa, in answer to your question, “Can you set up this business to run on its own?” The answer is, “It depends,” and the questions you need to ask are … How much do you want the service delivery to be automated, i.e., are you going to have any interaction with clients? Or, just some interaction with clients? And how much can the running of the business be automated or delegated?”

Please know that if it’s your heart’s desire to have an online business that runs without you, it is absolutely possible. It may not be something that you necessarily want or even need, so you just need to make those decisions so that you get a business model that works for you.

I hope that’s helped you, Lisa. I look forward to hearing your progress.