In this post, I’m going to do a reflection about some of my key frustrations with the idealized “online home business” and internet marketing.
I’m also going to tell you how I dealt with those frustrations, why they’re 100% OK to have, and why those frustrations led me to start Don’t Want A Boss in the first place.
Everybody Struggles with Online Business – Even the “Gurus”
The first goal is really just to convey the fact that even people who have been out this a long time, people who really know what they’re doing in the space, and even people who have started to have big successes in the online business industry still struggle with online business and online marketing sometimes.
What I mean by this is that it’s a very frustrating space. As a beginner, I remember thinking that it must be me – I was always thinking:
“This must be something I’m doing wrong. I must not know what I’m doing. I must just be really inexperienced.”
All of these thoughts came to my head all the time, and I would always tell myself that it was me and I was the problem, and I should be doing something differently.
Obviously, these kinds of thoughts were extremely discouraging because I would always come to the conclusion that I couldn’t do it because I was not good enough to figure this stuff out. And it was super frustrating to watch the youtube videos, ads, and marketing pitches where everyone was collectively preaching how “easy it is” – if you just use their strategy of course after paying up a few grand.
Over time I came to realize that it’s not me and I will want to also convey to you that it’s not you. What I came to realize was at its, in fact, it’s just the industry of online business.
It’s really NOT you, it’s Making Money Online
When you’re an online business, nothing is concrete, nothing is set in stone, and you’re doing this all yourself usually.
It’s just you and your computer, and you are trying to build this business from scratch using tools that you find yourself online.
Now, some tools are great online and are extremely user-friendly and easy to use, and no problem. Some tools, however, are not easy to use and are not any problem, and are infuriating and impossible to contact any kind of support for. These generally just make you extremely frustrated.
Then even with the tools that are easy to use or the platforms that are easy to use, there’s usually going to be something that goes wrong at some point and then you’re gonna have to try and figure it out all on your own.
You have no support team usually, especially when you’re just starting.
It’s up to you to figure out this problem.
Support for the tool you’re using is often not really there, or they take 10 years to get back to you, or you have to upgrade your account to a $100/month for support but you’re already up to your ears inexpensive subscriptions. It all gets kind of impossible to deal with that.
Also, when you’re using all of these different software tools to make your business work, you’re also putting a lot of faith into these different places that can go wrong. It’s not just you and whoever you’re selling to or providing to. It’s you, whoever you’re selling in providing two plus all of these other variables that you have very limited control over.
Ultimately, that’s what makes online business so hard.
Not to mention that Google makes it hard. Facebook makes it hard. All of these different social media platforms make it so hard as well.
So all of this to say that it’s not you, it’s what you’re trying to do is actually a lot more difficult than people make it out to be. And when I talk about “difficult”, I am not talking about like solving complex math equations or algorithms. I’m talking about the difficulty in the sense that it’s psychologically challenging. It’s so hard not to get frustrated and give up in this in this space.
The Morning that Inspired this Rant – I Mean Reflection
I’m going to give you an example of something I’ve recently been through because I just want to illustrate my point a little bit more clearly.
I was trying to set up a new Google number and I’m in Canada, so I can’t just set it up right away because Google doesn’t want to give their numbers to anyone outside the US. So, you can’t get a Google number unless you’re inside the US.
Basically, I did some digging and followed some instructions that I found online to try and set this up. The instructions I found were dated to 2013 but there had been updated to 2016, so I figured “okay, that’s fairly recent, that should be fine.“
So I was going through these instructions, and the first thing you ought to set up is a VPN to protect your IP address and show Google that you’re coming from a US IP address so that they are tricked into giving you the number, right?
I was able to use a proxy service to do this easily but then there was a problem because my Google account was already verified using a Canadian phone number (my phone number) so I had to delete the Canadian phone number.
Then I tried again, but you can only get a Google phone number by coming from a US IP address AND ALSO verifying that you have an existing US phone number.
So you have to verify Google Voice with a US number, but you obviously can’t verify the account with a number that is buying from Google because, in order to get the number from Google, you already have to have a US phone number.
Okay, so then after doing some more digging, I went to a site called Twilio, and there you can do a free trial where you can get a US number for free and you can forward calls and text for free to any other verified number – aka your own cell phone no matter where you are in the world.
At this point, I was thinking: “Okay, that’s pretty easy, right? Should be straightforward.“
So I go to Twilio to get my number set up all the forwarding according to the instructions – so forwarding calls and texts to my phone number. That took a lot longer than I expected because the instructions that I found online were way outdated for the recent updates that Twilio had made.
Twilio did not have even close to the same kind of setup as they did even last year so none of the instructions or Youtube videos I found made any sense. They’ve been adding a ton more functionality and beta testing to their platform.
I had to dig deep into their own instructions and support for a few hours actually to even figure out how to forward calls in texts appropriately.
But finally, I figured it out and successfully call and text myself to double-check everything is working as it should.
At that point, I go to Google in order to verify the new phone number.
I try and verify the phone number and Google spits out a message: “you cannot use this phone number to verify your account“.
For some bizarre reason, the phone number that I had been using with Twilio would not let me verify the account. Not because my IP address was wrong or anything like that, but because of the phone number itself. I thought this was so weird because it wasn’t even a 1-800 or 1-888 number, it was just a standard California number.
So great! [laughter] I was in a situation where I had just spent three or four hours going through all these instructions.
(By the way, my transcription service puts in [laughter] whenever I’m actually laughing during my dictation – click here to learn why I dictate all my blog posts – so just thought I’d leave that in there to prove a point.
At that point, I tried to verify my entire Google account with that number because I thought if I verified my Google account after deleting the Canadian number, then maybe that would fix the problem.
There was no error message but I sent verification phone calls and text messages galore but of course, nothing goes through.
When I do it, it’s fine but when Google tries to call or text me, it doesn’t work.
Now I am stuck with a Google Voice account and I can’t verify anything.
Eventually, I ended up with a US number that just forwards directly to my phone using Twilio, which is okay by the whole concept of trying to get this through Google voice did not work.
For those of you who are interesting in getting a business phone number, I will be publishing an article on that but I’m not going to get into it now because it will be too off-topic. I’ll link to the article here when it’s done and if you really need to know how to set it up now, just e-mail me or comment below and I’ll get back to you asap.
The point I really wanted to get across with that story though was that I just spent four or five hours trying to figure this out only to come up empty-handed.
At the same time, at the end of the day, not having a phone number wouldn’t have been the end of the world because I don’t really require a US phone number in order to run my business. I was doing it as part of a checklist of items in the process of setting up my business and I wrongly assumed it would take me 7 minutes (the length of the first instructional Youtube video on how to do it) whereas it actually took the entire day that I had scheduled for work purposes.
Obviously, that’s going to set me back significantly in terms of progress for my business because a lot of the stuff that I wanted to do on that day that I never got to. And this is all coming from a person who owns four websites, and three blogs, and who is been doing this for years now.
People Will Say Anything to Sell you Something Online
Even people in my position still have days where it’s just getting so frustrating. I remember back when I first started, how incredibly frustrating everything was. The biggest reason I found it so frustrating was that it just seems so simple and people online set it up to be so simple.
This could NOT BE further from the truth.
You will see everywhere online “foolproof online business packaged for you, step by step course, guaranteed to make you money, it’s so easy if you take our course, etc., etc.“
You’ll even see some more legitimate sites that tell you it will be a lot of work but as long as you follow their steps, you’ll be making money in 2 or 3 months or whatever.
Again, this is usually WRONG.
I don’t say this to discourage you from going out and doing your own thing and starting your own online business. Not at all! Actually, it’s the opposite.
I just want to acknowledge the fact – and I think it’s better to acknowledge the fact – that it’s difficult because if you don’t acknowledge the fact that it’s difficult when people are like “oh, it looks so easy!“
Then, they start doing it and it’s not easy and it’s so much easier to get discouraged and inappropriately manage expectations. And then after that, it’s kind of like “Whoa, What am I supposed to do now?!“
The Best Online Business is Your Very Own “Magic Strategy”
I want to bring this back to why I decided to start Don’t Want A Boss.
For the longest time, I just really felt super alone in the online business space.
I mean, it really felt like no one else was there with me and I was doing it all alone and on top of all of that nothing was working. So I would just try one thing after another after another. Nothing would work.
Sometimes – okay a lot of the time – I would spend a lot of money and things wouldn’t work out. Sometimes, I would buy a course – okay this happened a lot too – and I just felt like I didn’t understand why the course wasn’t working for me since it was “so easy if you just follow the steps exactly.”
Then when I would try and contact the person who created the course, I found that they couldn’t help me or didn’t want to help me, or didn’t wanna an answer. Over time, that just got so frustrating and as I said before, I was absolutely certain that it was something I was doing wrong.
I would blame myself over and over again and the more that I blamed myself, the more difficult it became to actually make anything work. It became this vicious cycle of me trying to figure things out, things not working, blaming myself for things not working out, and then that made it more difficult when I tried to make new things work.
When you’re in that mindset, you’ll find that you give up a lot easier. You’ll also want more quick fixes.
Gurus online always tell you in their righteous speeches about online business that you shouldn’t want a quick fix and that you have to be willing to work hard for what you’re gonna get. You have to be willing to grind and wake up early and stay up late and worked 5000 hours a day if necessary.
There’s this whole culture around working your ass off to make your online business work. And while I am totally for the working hard and getting what you deserve mentality, that is really not how the world works a lot of the time.
I mean, I know that I work really, really hard for a really long time and things still weren’t working out for me.
To be brutally honest, the reason my story turned around was that there were actually a few people that I met on my journey by happenstance that were really able to help me get from one stage to the next stage of my business.
Without them though, I don’t see myself ever having gotten here. What you have to understand is that an online business, there are a few things that a lot of people really want to do well. Everyone in online business or almost everyone wants to be able to keep up a consistent well written, well-informed blog and wants to be able to rank it really highly in Google so that they can get traffic via organic search.
Everyone an online business wants that but how do you actually do it will. Trust me when I tell you that there are people who have been working on their SEO for years and years and years and still haven’t got gotten their blog’s ranking. Whereas there are people who have been working on it for six months and are ranked.
So what differentiates that second person from the first? Is it because they found some magical course that’s going to tell them exactly step-by-step what you do? Is it because they worked harder than the other person? Is it because they were able to do more research with free online sources?
At the end of the day, it comes down to having someone else (a real live, experienced human being) work with you to find out what works and what doesn’t.
I think you should always be trying to find that one business that works for you and you should make it unique to you. I don’t like copy-pasting “tried and true” entire business plans. But what I do like is copying and pasting “tried and true” strategies for how to rank, how to write a good blog, how to set up an autoresponder, etc.
It’s easy to say just figure out everything yourself, but one person doesn’t have the capacity to do that unless they’re willing to sacrifice a decade and tens of thousands of dollars into testing. Do you know what I mean?
Especially if you have a full-time job, or if you’re in school, or another career, or a family, that’s going to take up a huge chunk of your time. It’s also not easy in your spare time to test things out and deal with that when you are already tired.
When you’ve already been stressed out from school or work or whatever and this is supposed to be a relaxing time, the last thing you want to be doing is testing another batch of Facebook Ads you aren’t even sure is going to work or not.
I’ve seen the bios of a lot of people who claim to have figured it all out themselves and how it took them 10 years to do. Even then, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I believe that. I may not have been in the online business industry for 10 years but I definitely feel like I was not on the trajectory to figure it all out myself by then.
I had so much help along the way with all my businesses. A lot of the people who helped me I met by accident. One of the women who helps me, I don’t even remember exactly how we went into contact but she helped me so much with Facebook and Instagram advertising.
Then I’ve also been fortunate enough to be part of a community where I met some people who have been kind of helpful.
I mean sure, I’ve figured out a lot of things myself but I’ve also relied on people who have figured out other things themselves and so together, it’s just so much more efficient and it creates a bigger picture that allows for a successful business when put together.
And the people who have taught me also learned from other people before them.
The internet didn’t just magically appear one day, it evolved over years and years and years, and the knowledge of how to run an online business correctly evolved with it. The knowledge is definitely somewhere online because people are doing it right now.
Generally, that knowledge is not within the $10000 courses you see online because that is a money-making strategy in itself. It’s also not within gurus who charge thousands of dollars per hour. And that knowledge is not even necessarily within books even though I’m a huge advocate for books and you guys know that (and I definitely would recommend a book over an online course any day).
At the end of the day, the knowledge is with real people who are doing real online businesses that is where the knowledge is you need. You need to connect with people who have done it and are doing it, and who can help you one-on-one.
I don’t think it’s even a bad idea to reach out to some of the people in your niche – maybe not direct competitors, but reach out and tell them you’re willing to pay you a hundred bucks per hour if they wouldn’t mind mentoring you. Of course, you need to be sure that they are making money so as part of the agreement, you can ask them to show you some sort of proof of how much money they’re making. You can also usually tell by the type of advertising they’re doing too how much they’re bringing in but not always.
I mean, who doesn’t wanna make an extra hundred bucks per hour and help somebody by becoming a mentor? I can tell you that a lot of people want to do that.
I know it may seem really scary to reach out to someone – I remember when I was first starting out and I think I heard this same advice from somebody else and I was like thinking to myself: “No, I’m never going to do that, I can figure it out myself – I don’t need anyone else. I’ll just do the research myself on things I don’t know.”
If that’s the mindset you’re in, no one is going to change that of course. You control yourself and you “gotta do you” but my point is that from someone who has literally been in your shoes, I cannot tell you how valuable it is to have someone on Skype with you and help you and give you instructions on what to do next.
3 Take-aways to Remember
Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that:
1) Online business is very frustrating and the people who would tell you that super easy and that you can do it in 1, 2, or 3 are trying to sell you something.
2) Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
I just think that it’s better to be aware and prepared for the fact that it’s going to be hard and frustrating than to have people tell you how easy it is, and then find out the hard way that it’s not. Then you constantly think that it’s you who’s doing something wrong when you’re just trying to do something that’s insanely difficult.
3) I highly recommend that you find yourself a mentor.
I can’t tell you exactly how to do it because it’s not something that has a cut-and-dry approach. There’s no database somewhere of mentors that I know of (although that’s not a bad business idea for those of you who are looking for one).
This isn’t business school – this is a real-life business and finding a mentor is difficult just like making a business work. What I recommend is to start reaching out to people who are running very small mentorship operations already. Even better if they have some experience in your niche but that’s not a requirement because you want their tactics – you don’t want to copy-paste their business.
You can ask them questions to make sure that their legitimate of course, but just make sure you find yourself a mentor. Also, just to be clear, I don’t mean buy a $10000 course where you are never going to actually speak one on one with the person.
I mean get yourself somebody who has the time, who’s happy to help and to be paid a hundred bucks an hour. They don’t need to be the most successful person online either. They just need to be more successful in the field of online business than you, especially in the areas where you really need to make money.
Examples of good topics to get mentored in are Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Product selection/creation, Email list building & marketing, etc.
Back to Don’t Want A Boss
What I’ve been talking about here is literally the main reason that I started don’t want a boss.
And if you look in the main menu, you’ll notice there is a link to “Hire Me” if you are really struggling to find a mentor. I’m not saying that you need to choose me as your mentor because I think that’s a very personal decision and it depends heavily on what you’re looking for. I may be not suited to do what you’re doing in your niche or the things you’re struggling with.
If you are doing something similar to me, however, then maybe I can help out and you can of course reach out to me!
The button will take you to another site that my team and I run. You can either follow the instructions on the sight to get a free consult if you’re looking for something very specific or just go ahead and e-mail me if you want to chat more.
I am a small operation – I don’t have a bazillion people I’m answering to and I like keeping it that way. I’ve never wanted to be that kind of person. My goal was always to have enough money coming in through my online businesses to support my family and my animals (aka my dogs and horses). Now that I’ve achieved that, I want to be able to help other people achieve their goals, whatever that means to them without getting sucked into the scams, frustrations, and debt cycles that online business can bring.
Hope you enjoyed this post! More reflections to come 🙂