You hear everywhere that starting an online business is easy. Try with the search terms “how to start an online business” in Google and at once you are bombarded with hundreds of pages, all telling you how easy it is, all giving you almost exactly the same tips. Only 4 simple steps, it takes, they say. Select a niche, create a website, write good content using low-competition keywords, and drive traffic. If it was all that easy, everybody would have been into internet marketing and everybody would be making millions. But this is not the case. The harsh reality is that more than 90 percent of internet start-ups fold up within the first four months itself.
The burden of anxiety for a beginner
As a beginner, you start out all excited with great ideas for setting up an online business but it does not take long to realise that the internet business is not as easy as it seems. Then you froze with the uncertainty looming ahead. The amazing ideas you had have failed to get off the ground. You are not able to implement them effectively because you are overwhelmed with many questions that leave you completely demoralised.
You start battling with self-doubts.
- What would my niche be?
- Should I choose passion over profitability?
- Would I be able to write posts regularly in the niche chosen?
- Is my knowledge of the niche solid?
- Am I confident about my communication (writing) skills?
- What theme should I use for my website?
- How would my layout be?
- How will I get the images I need for my content?
- How will I drive traffic to my site?
- How will I find my customers?
- Do I have to make sales pitch even in my social media handles?
- Is online business as lucrative as people claim it to be?
- Will I make enough money?
- Will I be able to market my business effectively?
- Are there any hidden costs involved?
- Will the market shift in the future and jeopardise my business?
- Can I start with the skills-set I have?
- Will I be able to learn the skills required along the way after the business has been rolled out?
When you are not able to get clear answers to these questions, as a beginner, you could get highly discouraged, and utterly confused about starting the journey even. After all, you are going to invest a lot of your time (and some money) in building up your business and you do not want yourself to be left all high and dry after, say two years down the line. The doubts kill your enthusiasm and the nascent entrepreneurial spirit fizzle out even before your business takes off. Let us examine the most common anxieties and find ways on how to overcome them.
What if I fail?
Nobody likes to fail. And when we are afraid of failure, our first defence against it is not trying at all. A child is not burdened with the anxiety of failure and hence is not afraid to try learning new things. And they do learn and learn fast too. As we become more mature, we leave behind the “child’s mind” because we are burdened with the thought of failing. We stop trying out new things. Learn to play the guitar? What if I look clumsy in front of people and what if I have no musical sense at all? Learn dancing? No way. I don’t want to look like a fool.
It’s so easy to stay in the shadows. Nobody looks at you, nobody points at your clumsiness, nobody laughs at your mistakes. But you also never take a risk to make yourself stand out from the crowd and try something new.
Dealing with the anxiety of failing
The best way to effectively deal with the anxiety of failing is to look at failure as the necessary step to your learning process and for your ultimate success. In an online business, you are bound to make mistakes. But if you could do a proper root cause analysis to understand it fully, you are less likely to repeat the same mistake again. The positive thing about making a mistake in an online business is that we discover so many things in trying to come up with its solution and in the process, learn many new things. Yes, a mistake teaches you so many things. You become more equipped with a mistake having been committed, and since mistakes are mostly technical in nature, you gain solid technical knowledge that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And remember, you will most certainly be using this knowledge somewhere down the line.
What if I’m not an expert?
Many beginners are concerned that they do not have the right credentials or experience required for an online business. Many feel like imposters and being pretentious. “I have a passion in the niche but I’m not an expert. Will it not be difficult to survive then?” Let this be known that you do not have to possess a degree or a certificate in order to succeed in an online business. No formal education is required at all. You do not need to be acknowledged by some expert or an organisation to start. You do not have to wait for anybody’s permission. The most amazing thing about an online business is that with a few simple tools – a website, a little know-how about building an online business, an email list, a few social media handles, you can directly go to your customers without having to, you know, ask for their permission.
Procrastination and the anxiety of completing
We, humans, are strange creatures. You wait for one magical opportunity to knock at your door and when that opportunity arrives, you come up with reasons not to grab it! You find the perfect ways to think that it will not work for you and think that you’ll figure it out properly first. You fail to act and are found to be procrastinating things waiting for that perfect time. Hence, a blog post takes days to get published because you feel that it is not perfect. This becomes a habit and your writing engine sputters ahead instead of roaring at full blast. You become your own harshest critic and feel that your post is not fit for public consumption. You begin rationalising your delaying act. You find good reasons not to complete tasks. But in a fast market as an online business, you cannot afford to stay inactive. You have to be open to both criticisms and praise. You need to accept that people are going to judge you, assess you. You need to assimilate the fact that there will be setbacks and failures. While there’s nothing wrong in striving for perfection, but if it makes you see everything in black and white only and makes you procrastinate on things, you need to reassess your thinking. You need to balance your need for perfection.
The anxiety of being a people-pleaser
As a beginner, you try to impress everyone and seek approval all the time. You are happy as long as people praise your work. But the moment you are criticised, you feel devastated because you think you have disappointed someone. In an online business, you cannot please all the people all the time. It’s perfectly okay if some people do not like your content, the design of your website, or the theme.
The anxiety of promoting your business
Some people get very anxious the moment they try to promote their business. If you are a private person and want your business to evolve on its own on the merit of its content, you begin to have all sorts of anxious thoughts about promoting your product using social media. You shudder at the thought that people will perceive you as a cheap salesman who’s pushing his product in his social network circles. You are worried about your sales persona.
In an online business, you need to understand that in order to drive traffic, leveraging your social media handles is important. Be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or GooglePlus, your business needs to be visible. If you are genuinely interested in letting people know about your business and if you are confident that your product or service will benefit people, there’s no reason why you should be embarrassed about promoting it.
The anxiety of missing out on learning
When you start out with your online venture, as a beginner, you are worried if the skills set you possess will stand you in good stead throughout. The internet is a constantly changing landscape, and these changes could have far-reaching implications for your business if you are not able to adapt to them. New business ideas erupt setting off new waves of changes obliterating the old guard. In such a seemingly volatile market, you are anxious if the new developments would bypass you and if the shifts in business trends would jeopardise your plans completely. You are anxious about missing out on the skills and knowledge required to counter the shifting markets.
The best way to keep up with the latest business trends and new developments is by joining an online group of like-minded entrepreneurs. An online community of internet entrepreneurs. It’s important to share your thoughts and anxieties to people who can relate to them. The advantage of joining a big online community is that you are well abreast with the global market trends and the latest tools in online business. You get the support you need all the time because the members belong to different parts of the globe and hence in different time zones. So, search for these communities or forums and try joining one. There are many out there. The biggest online community of internet entrepreneurs is Wealthy Affiliate with members close to 10 million. It’s even got a Free Starter Membership.
Online business is a serious business and can leave you completely stressed out sometimes. Understand these worry points so that you can devise ways to revitalise yourself every time you are feeling low. Do not try to seek a reassurance that things will turn out the way you have envisioned. Know that things will never align cent percent with what we desire. Let the fears serve as healthy motivators to carry us forward to the success we all have been dreaming of. Do not wait for the perfect time to start for there’ll never be a perfect time.