4 Ways Starting an Online Business Turns Your Life Upside Down

Jethro Solomon • June 4, 2016


I learned the hard way, that starting your own small business is extremely challenging. It's a known fact that most small businesses fail within a few years if they even survive the first three months. Starting an online business, or even moving to a freelancing career will completely change your life. Here's my experience of starting an online venture.

#1 You will likely start with zero income... for a while

Whether it's services or products you're selling, chances are you don't have a 2000 strong newsletter following or hundreds of relevant twitter followers ready to soak up your marketing material. If you're like me, it'll take at least a month to put together a website (with enough content) and scramble together what it is that you are actually trying to charge people for. Suddenly extracting money from other people's pockets seems a lot harder, and scarier.

I was lucky to live at home with my mother at age 20, with shelter, food and internet access. I could afford the months spent in disarray as all my best efforts fell flat. My partner and I (my brother) were earning R3 000 a month at best six months into the game. It was frustrating and slow to get off the ground.

Don't get me wrong; it pays off in the end. You just need to plan ahead and make sure you have a support system when times are tough. I would suggest saving up or borrowing enough money to live off for at least three months before quitting your day job.

#2 You will be confused, getting mixed signals from all directions

It's like this:

Guru: Software as a service is booming, go do that!
Commentator: No, not invoicing, that's overdone. Scratch that and start something new.

And this:

Guru #1: Nobody reads long articles on the internet, stick to short and sweet.
Guru #2: Google will rank you higher for longer articles, and people do read them.

Everybody on the internet has an opinion, and it's extremely hard to sort through the pile to find out what you ‘should' be doing to get your message seen. I suggest looking at the current winners and emulating them, at least for the beginning until you can experiment, tweak and see what works for your business over time.

#3 You will need to do things you have never done before

As a small business owner, everything is handled by you at first. Until you can afford luxuries such as an accountant and outsourcing services, everything is up to you; marketing, finances, project management and whatever it is you thought you were going to be spending all of your time on. It's tough at first. Just keep an open mind to learning and you'll be on the right path.

#4 You will forget what you are doing

Am I supposed to be writing articles for my inbound marketing, or building my product? Wait, am I a writer, developer, designer, or all three? When you get stuck on one important aspect of your online offering, it's easy to get sucked in and neglect the rest. Try to keep a schedule; either daily or weekly. If you need to do content marketing, budget time for, say, three articles a week. Spend the rest of the time working on your main job focus.

At The End Of The Day...

... you are going to be happy. You'll be following your dreams by having taken the leap that puts you in a position envied by most 8-to-5 office workers.