I have some good news and some bad news about building a successful online business.
First, the bad news – there’s no such thing as a magic pill. I can’t offer you a step-by-step formula that will guarantee your success.
Yes, strategy is important. It makes sense to follow a proven path when creating your first Facebook Ad or writing a book or designing a coaching program. Of course, you should learn the established rules in your field before adapting them to fit your unique business.
But the next time someone promises you a specific result. Pause before hitting the buy button. Ask yourself whether this offering will help you meet your specific goals.
Now, I do have some good news. It’s this – there are only three reasons why your online business might fail. And there’s something you can do about all three.
Avoid these mistakes and you will find success. Let’s look at how.
Failure Reason #1: Not Starting
Now, I realize this sounds obvious. But stick with me because starting is a big problem for many people. And if you’re good at starting, you may still struggle with re-starting when things go wrong.
Every day, I get emails from people saying things like…
I don’t know what to do.
I’m not qualified enough.
I don’t’ have enough time.
I don’t know if my idea will work.
I don’t have enough money.
The same themes keep recurring. People desperately want the result, but they struggle to get started on their dreams.
But here’s the thing – none of these obstacles are the real problem. The reason most of us struggle to start is because of fear or resistance.
Now, fear and resistance are not to be taken lightly. We all have stories we tell ourselves that keep us from achieving our dreams.
So, in this post, I want to share a simple strategy to help you start (or re-start) your next big project. Here’s what I want you to do:
- First, identify one small step you can take to reach your goal. It may be purchasing a domain name for your new blog, jotting down ideas for your book, or emailing someone who is already doing what you want to do. The bigger your resistance to starting, the smaller you need to make this step.
- Now, commit to taking this first step today. Right now. Imagine yourself doing it. Are you feeling some resistance to this idea? Maybe your mind is telling you all the reasons why you shouldn’t take this step. That’s okay. Acknowledge your fears or stories. And then focus on your body. How do you feel? Don’t fight the feelings. Just sit and notice them. Over time, the feelings may even get less.
- Next, ask yourself – what’s the worst thing that can happen? Often, it’s not as bad as you think. This is just one tiny step. You’ll be absolutely fine after taking it.
- Now, go take that small step. Don’t wait. Send the email, buy the domain, write down some ideas in your journal, call a friend. Do something towards meeting your goal.
- And finally, celebrate! You started and that’s an amazing thing. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath, a hot cup of coffee, a walk outside, or something else. You deserve it.
And tomorrow, repeat the process by taking your next small step to success.
Failure Reason #2: Giving Up
You started – that’s fantastic! The next reason why most people fail is because they give up too soon.
It takes a long time to build a successful online business. And by long, I mean years. Yes, you can earn your first $1000 within a few months (though many people don’t). But it takes much longer to generate a predictable, recurring income.
Which is why most of us give up. It’s frustrating to keep at something for little or no results. You wonder whether all the effort is worth your time.
Luckily there are some things you can do to increase your staying power. One of my favorite tools is to systematize the essential tasks.
This means putting systems in place so that the important tasks always get done no matter what obstacles appear along the way.
I love systems – not just because I have a weird passion for organizing things – but because they make life a lot easier.
Creating systems are one of the three habits of successful people. Here are some ideas to help you get started creating systems in your business.
- Find an accountability partner. This is someone who will help you stay on track. Meet regularly with your accountability partner to report progress and brainstorm solutions to problems.
- Outsource tasks to a virtual assistant or contractor. As soon as your budget allows, outsource repetitive tasks, things you don’t enjoy doing, or activities that take too long.
- Plan your time in advance. There are many planning systems, so find the one that fits you and your schedule. You might plan out an entire week on Sunday night. Or you may prefer to plan each day the night before.
- Batch related tasks. This means blocking out an hour or more on your calendar to focus on one type of activity. For example, you might do all your writing on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Or you may reserve one hour each day to answer emails.
- Adopt a morning ritual. This strategy was popularized by Hal Elrod in his best-selling book The Miracle Morning. The purpose of a morning ritual is to make sure you take care of essential activities early in your day (when your willpower is highest).
- Use automation tools. You can automate common, repetitive tasks such as posting on social media, sending email sequences, and sharing sales messages.
- Create financial systems. Finally, make sure you manage your income and expenses to achieve your goals. You can partially automate your book keeping by linking your business bank account(s) to a tool like Mint (which is a free solution) or QuickBooks (which is paid and has more features).
Whatever your business looks like you can create systems. And doing this will make a big difference in sticking through the highs and lows until you find the success you deserve.
Failure Reason #3: Doing the Wrong Thing
Okay, this last reason why most businesses fail is trickier. You see, many folks are doing the wrong thing. They are diligently working hard at something that has little hope of succeeding.
Now, you may be thinking – but you just told me to never give up. Well, yes and no. You need to commit over the long term. But you also need to commit to the right thing.
So, how do you know if you’re moving in the right direction?
The answer is to track your results and be prepared to course correct. If what you’re doing is not getting results, then do something different.
This doesn’t mean taking a U-turn every few months. Instead, you can constantly tweak or pivot your business. Always look to do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.
To start tracking your progress, identify which metrics relate directly to your main goal. For example, if your goal is to earn $X per month, then you want to measure dollars earned each month. Also track a few metrics which drive earnings. This might be page views, new email subscribers, number of sales, operating expenses, etc.
However, please don’t obsess over every number. Always ask yourself, “Does this impact whether I’m achieving my main goal?”
Once you have a handful of metrics to measure, set up a weekly or monthly review process. Take note of any movements and make sure you understand the cause.
Finally, act on the feedback. Tweak your strategy. Try new tactics. Do more of what’s driving the results you want. And stop doing what isn’t.
There are no overnight successes in online business. It takes time and experimentation to uncover your own secret sauce.
How to Build A Successful Online Business
There you have it. My “formula” for success.
It’s not a step-by-step guide telling you exactly what to do in your business. Because we’re all different and what works for me or someone else may not work for you.
However, if you can avoid the three reasons why online businesses fail then your only remaining option is to succeed.
Here’s a summary of what you need to do:
- Start by taking one small step at a time.
- Implement systems so that you don’t give up.
- Track your progress and course correct as needed.
Follow these three steps and I guarantee you’ll succeed. Of course, I don’t know if it will take you six months or six years. But eventually you’ll earn a consistent income from your online business.
If you’d like to learn more about building a successful online business, check out The Essential Habits of Six-Figure Bloggers. You will discover the secrets of 17 six- and seven-figure bloggers, including the specific strategies, habits, and systems that led to their success.