Online business is the new college.
Fueled by incessant encouragement from business coaches, booty-shaking influencers, and Youtube celebrities, everyone now wants to be an online entrepreneur.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Thanks to ever-expanding markets in varied domains, digital self-employment has never been more accessible.
The coin, however, has two sides.
Like in any other sector, most people don’t succeed in building profitable online businesses.
The reasons are manifold, but they often reside in people’s failure to treat their online venture like an old-fashioned brick and mortar business.
In essence, a blog is no different from your local bakery. Both are small enterprises selling their craft to customers.
This is why online entrepreneurs need to adopt the mentality of an earnest craftsman to succeed. In the words of Thomas Edison, “there is no substitute for hard work”.
Online business is not about sharing pictures of your laptop on the beach. Who works on the beach anyway?
It’s about transposing an entrepreneur’s mentality into the online world.
This involves forgoing some of the perks you might expect from a corporate job. On this basis, here are 6 things you need to give up to become a successful online entrepreneur.
1. Paid leave
If you are serious about becoming an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as paid leave.
In the corporate world, you are paid to work for someone else on a fixed number of days every year.
Your contract includes a certain amount of vacation days and these are integrated into the company’s business plan.
As an online entrepreneur, things work differently.
Whether you’re a blogger, a Youtuber, or an app developer, your salary is directly linked to your output.
This means that if you decide to take days off, your output will be zero and your income will suffer accordingly.
This is by no means a reason to avoid holidays. They are, in fact, indispensable for any online entrepreneur. We are not machines. Nobody can work 12 hours a day for 365 days straight.
The challenge lies in organizing your output in such a way that a couple of rest days won’t impact your earnings too much.
In short, you need to incorporate your rest days into your business’ growth strategy. Instead of taking paid leave, you are devising an output strategy with irregular work schedules.
As an example, your blog’s growth system might include 3 articles, 7 social media posts, and 1 podcast per week. To achieve this, you usually work 60 hours per week.
If you decide to take Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off, you’ll have to complete your usual volume of content by Thursday — equalling 60 hours of work stretched over 4 days.
You can obviously reduce your volume for one or two weeks, but if you want to stick to your growth plan, this reduction has to remain temporary.
The same, unfortunately, also applies to sick days and family emergencies.
2. Social confirmation and prestige
Unless your name is Bezos, Page, or Zuckerberg, chances are most people will never know what your online business is actually about.
Yes, times are changing and we are moving toward a higher social acceptance of unconventional life paths. We are, however, not quite there yet.
When I first started blogging in 2016, the vast majority of my friends — people in their early 20s, mind you — didn’t even know that blogs could make money.
Do you think these ads are there to make the site look good? My habitual response would often catch people off guard.
Wait, are Youtubers paid by Youtube? Are Instagram models paid to wear certain clothes?
Even though the general public nowadays knows a bit more about online marketing, there is still a long way to go before online entrepreneurs — no matter how successful — will enjoy the same social prestige as lawyers, doctors, or Wall Street executives.
This is why you need to put your ego aside and accept that 90 % of people won’t know what the hell it is you’re doing.
Tangent to this, they won’t care about your struggles, fears, and accomplishments, let alone admire your arduous endeavors.
3. Comfort and laziness
Netflix and chill tonight? Probably not.
I remember a recent talk with a friend who owns a six-figure online consulting business. So, have you seen The Irishman? I asked.
Who? The bartender from the pub down the road? His response was both comedic and revealing.
The new Scorsese movie.
Well, no. I haven’t had a night off in 2 months. I haven’t been able to watch any movies lately.
This might sound exaggerated, but it’s the story of many successful online entrepreneurs.
Unless you are willing to sacrifice a huge chunk of your free time, you won’t be able to get the required hours in.
Especially in the early days of your venture, the notions of “working hours” and “leisure time” will range from flexible to non-existent.
After a while, you’ll naturally be able to slow down, but in most cases, there will be no shortcuts.
The same goes for comfort. Lazy Sundays on the couch are lovely but impossible if you are a zealous online entrepreneur.
Why? Because until your passive income exceeds your living costs, you’ll always feel a mental obligation to work and advance your quest.
But hey, this is exactly what I want.
At first, it will make you feel invincible, but soon enough, it will form a blockade in your head.
You’ll force yourself to give up comfort and this can lead to increased stress or even burnouts.
4. Instant gratification
Entrepreneurship is a long, windy, and bumpy road. In the world of online business, many ventures demand huge time commitments before yielding any significant return.
Most online entrepreneurs spend years suffering, grinding, and perfecting their craft before being able to “live the dream”.
The first freelance client I had paid me just over 100 dollars for an article that took me 2 hours to write and 1 hour to edit. You might think: wow, that’s a decent hourly rate.
That’s because I failed to mention the fact that I had been blogging for over a year before scoring my first ever freelance client.
If you’re after quick rewards, fast bucks, and instant social approval, online business is certainly the wrong career path.
There are thousands of online entrepreneurs who make well over 10,000 dollars a month.
Knowing quite a few of them, I can only think of one common denominator: consistency.
In this context, always remember that perseverance and continuity will take you farther than talent and creativity.
5. Excessive spending
Whatever you do, managing your finances is of paramount importance and even more so as an entrepreneur.
In a regular job, the next monthly paycheck is always on the horizon. If you rack up too much credit card debt, you’ll pay it off with your next 5 salaries.
As an online business owner, on the other hand, there might not be a big paycheck at the end of this month.
Your income will always fluctuate and you probably won’t enjoy the security of a steadily improving salary for the first 3 years.
Particularly in times of crisis, entrepreneurs are hugely reliant on emergency funds and this precludes excessive spending habits.
In addition to that, especially during the genesis of your entrepreneurial ascent, the line between personal and professional expenses will be very thin.
Everything you spend will impact your business in one way or another. Unless your project has a lot of funding prior to its launch, you’ll face stringent rules when it comes to spending.
In this context, car payments, high rents, and fancy restaurant meals all work to the detriment of your online business.
Whilst it’s possible to indulge yourself from time to time, it will always be an exception, not the norm.
6. Your conformist mentality
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford
Starting at a young age, most of us are conditioned to think that there are certain things we can and cannot do.
We are encouraged to follow an academic path, climb the corporate ladder, and become dutiful members of society.
All well and good, but why do so many people refuse the mere contemplation of a different route?
Are they perfectly content with their “ordinary” life? Maybe. Are they simply not interested? Possibly. Or is it their firm belief that the average corporate career is the only viable life strategy? Most definitely.
If you want to succeed as an online entrepreneur, you have to think outside the box. You cannot entertain the belief that society’s design for your life is the only possible outcome.
This involves eliminating the negatives from your mentality.
Aside from hard work, patience, and consistency, positivity is among the major qualities that will help you succeed as an entrepreneur.
Instead of thinking about the things you can’t do, you have to focus on what you can achieve.
Once you’ve identified those possibilities, you’ll be so obsessed with your projects that every contradicting thought will fade into insignificance.
- All of these aspects shouldn’t discourage you from starting your own online business in any way. They should merely serve as expectation managers.
- Every life path comes with some form of sacrifice and entrepreneurship is no different.
- Always ask yourself: are the things I have to give up more important to me than the potential gains? If the answer is no, you are on the right track.