It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the Internet has changed our lives forever. It is the medium that has propelled countless numbers of people to waste unbelievable amounts of otherwise productive time. I must confess that even though kittens are too awesomely cute, they can be huge time-wasters that do nothing to get you closer to your goal. But I digress.
As the smart dude or dudette you are, you’ve decided to use the Internet for good, hopefully by helping people first (this is important!) and making a little coin along the way. Nothing wrong with that at all.
As a small business entrepreneur the Internet gives you an unbelievable advantage to leverage technology and make a living online by reaching a worldwide audience, with little more than a website. Not only that, the talent pool at your disposal is much larger, as independent contractors can offer their services to you at a great price.
The ranks of the liberated self-styled entrepreneurs are growing by leap and bounds. Along with the economic woes the world is in, it is becoming harder and harder for companies to sustain their old business models and compete with the low-overhead, nimble, and resourceful entrepreneur who chips away at their huge audience. Ahem, that would be you, buddy, the swashbuckling pirate, ready to take on the big slow ships, which while loaded with resources, are slow to adjust course and spot trends.
You have a definite advantage if you have yet decide to move into the online world. The biggest advantage you have right now though, is time. You’re coming along when opportunities have matured and are expanding rapidly. As more and more people realize the advantage of doing business online, the more crowded the market will become. This is NOT AN EXCUSE FOR INACTION. It only means you’ll have to work harder to find your niche audience.
I’ve come across people that have asked me about doing business online. When I explain the opportunities, invariably they will offer the excuses about WHY they are unable to do it themselves. I’ll tell you now that I (and virtually everyone else) have faced these questions myself at one point or another. And I’ll also tell you that I’ve discovered they are just… self-imposed obstacles.
In no particular order of importance, here are the obstacles that I and others have faced, and still face sometimes, along the way:
This is a big hurdle for most. Most people SAY they desire to start an online business yet will offer up the excuse that they don’t have time. This one comes in many flavors, such as: “But I have a full-time job,” “I attend school full-time,” “I have family commitments that keep me busy,” etc. The list is endless. Most of these are valid reasons… up to a point.
Most of these people will freely admit to watching at least two hours of TV or more when at home. Other will surf the Internet and spend hours on Facebook and other social media sites, with no clear purpose in mind. If you want to get serious about about wanting to make money online, you need to make a time commitment. Eliminate distractions with ninja-like skill. Time-management is a learned skill and one that will serve you well as an entrepreneur.
I’ll be addressing time management in upcoming articles, but for now, start paying attention to how your spend your day to learn to eliminate ineffective, time-wasting distractions. As always, I like to include “Action Items”, shorthand for things you can do TODAY to get going. Every day you put it off, is one day less of freedom you enjoy. One of the most common regrets you hear about successful people in the online world is “I wish I would have started sooner…”
Action Item #1: Ask yourself constantly “Is what I’m doing RIGHT NOW getting me any closer to my goals?” Start jotting down those things that are not important to achieving your goal, also known as time-wasters, which do not get you closer to your independence. These are the things you’ll slash away from your daily routine to make some time.
Realize that starting an online business requires FAR LESS capital to start an online business. Most people hear “business” and assume it will take some significant investment of some kind, and something far out of their reach. This is FAR from the truth. In fact, most everything can be done at a very low cost or free.
Of course, money can make things easier and can significantly speed the process in some areas. You could literally outsource everything and pay for others to do what’s needed. But initially, I recommend that you get your hands dirty and sweat a little, as the experience you gain doing it yourself will allow you to spend your money wisely and teach you what to expect to get for what you pay. Learn to do it the hard way and save some money along the way. Call it training and pay yourself a decent wage ;)
Action Item 2: Look at your spending habits and force yourself to classify everything into a NEED or a WANT. Jot down the WANTS and add set aside that money to invest in your business. You might not need that “business fund” now, but it will in come handy later. Take a look at my take on aiming for a Minimalist Lifestyle. It may just be they key to your success.
This is a stumbling block for many. There seem to be so many options, so many things to learn that are foreign to you. Most struggle to come up with a seemingly viable, original idea. That one blockbuster breakthrough that will set the Internet on fire… which you might come up with alright. But this it is not necessary for success.
Think for a moment… Is there only one grocery store in your town? Only one hardware store? Only one bar? Of course not. None of them had to reinvent the wheel and come up with a revolutionary way to be successful. The basics are all there, all they had to do was add their own wrinkle and provide excellent service/product if they wanted people to come back. And that’s your edge.
You are you and no one else can be you. Learning the basics is not hard, but at the end of the day it is your personality and sincerity which will make you connect with your readers. So be yourself, be honest with people, help them, and you’ll find a grateful fanbase.
Put into practice what you’re learning. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Fumbling around, looking to find what works, FOR YOU, is the best knowledge you can acquire. You can have all the street smarts and book knowledge in the world, but it will be useless if you don’t start and put it into practice. Don’t wait to have all the knowledge in the world and your ducks in a row. The stars rarely align, so to speak, and everything lines up just perfectly for you to take a chance. Just by virtue of reading this site alone, and many other excellent ones out there, you are ahead of the curve and have the tools to get you started.
Action Item 3: Think of 3 skills (teaching, writing, etc), 3 strengths (quick-learner, patient, etc), and 3 hobbies or passions (yodeling, mountain climbing, etc) you truly enjoy. Jot these down. By combining all these 9 things, come up with something you’d be delighted to do for a long time that touches on all areas of your skills, strengths, and hobbies or passions.
Based on the examples I gave you, the person with the strengths above could probably make a living online creating videos to teach people to yodel or mountain-climb, for example. I love teaching people what is possible, I’m a geek at heart, so I combined the two and presto! Here I am helping people get started following their passion and desire for location independence.
*FEAR AND DOUBT*
I’ve left these two for last, as they often go hand-in-hand. They are the one barrier that will keep rearing its ugly head at all stages of your life, especially when you’re ready to move out of your comfort zone, which by the way, seems like NO ONE IS EVER READY TO DO SO. Which is why you learn to recognize that you’re moving out of that zone and forge ahead anyway.
Mastering fear will allow you to proceed ahead even if you’re uncertain. Note I didn’t say “eliminate.” Fear can be healthy, under the right circumstances, and will keep you out of doing reckless things. But if you’ve thought things through and developed a proper action plan, doubt and fear is the only thing that will stop you from succeeding. Life is full of “what-ifs.” You could be in an car accident next time you leave the house, but that shouldn’t stop you from leaving the house.
Here is how I deal with it. Whenever I encounter fear about doing something that needs to be done, I apply the “mirror technique.” I place myself in the position of talking to a friend who I know has a good plan and is ready to succeed, only he/she has nagging doubts. I ask my “friend” what is stopping him/her from doing what he needs to do. I use my problem solving techniques to advise my “friend” on what it is he needs to do, or whether it is nothing to worry about. It does seem easier for me to offer advice to a friend, as the issues do seem smaller than I’m making them out to be. There are other techniques to manage fears, which I’ll address later. Feel free to ask me if you’re coming up blank on answers.
Action Item: Take 2 minutes and make a 5-step list of how you’d like to accomplish setting up your online business. How realistic it might be is not relevant to the exercise. Step 1 is the first thing you think you need to do do get started, Step 5 is the last step needed to start running it. Fill in steps 2-4. List ready?
Now, what is stopping you from taking Step 1?
Awesome readers, I would love your input on what obstacles you’ve faced at one time or another on the comments below. It has many a time encouraged me to keep going, knowing that others have faced the same and even BIGGER obstacles, and still made it.
Slay those fears and get to work :)