online business failure

5 Things to Do If You Want to Fail at Online Business

by Blaine Wilkerson


Strange feeling, isn’t it?

Both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

But that’s what it’s like, starting an online business.

On the one hand, you know you were meant to do more with your life than being stuck in a job you hate.

On the other, starting a new business is risky — and the thought of failing and crawling to your boss to beg for your old job back paralyzes you with fear.

You yearn to take control of your destiny and see where your passion leads you. But passion is not enough, and you know it. To make it work, you need to create a source of self-sustaining income.

For most people, though, starting a business doesn’t sound like fun. At least not compared to “following your dream.”

But if you really want to gain your freedom while making your mark on the world, you have to make the leap. You have to start your online business.

And honestly, you couldn’t have picked a better time to do it. The Online Revolution is here and in full swing, ready to scoop courageous entrepreneurs into its warm, multi-billion-dollar embrace.

And that’s frickin’ exhilarating!

But the possibility of embarrassing, crippling failure is still very real.

So what’s a would-be online entrepreneur to do?

If You’re Not Scared Witless, You’re Probably Being Reckless

Let’s be honest, the insane number of moving parts required for a successful online business are intimidating enough to make even the most determined entrepreneur freeze like a deer in the headlights.

Getting started feels like jumping on a merry-go-round that’s spinning 1,000 miles per hour.

And that’s when the reality of failure sneaks in and threatens to smack that revolutionary opportunity right out of your hands.

But wait…

What about “taking action,” “failing fast” and “pivoting?” Aren’t they the true path to entrepreneurial success?

Well… kinda.

Because there’s a huge difference between failing while doing something the right way, and failing because you jumped in unprepared for the challenges ahead.

Online Business Failure - Quote 1

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Nobody can be 100% prepared for an uncertain journey like entrepreneurship. And you’re right.

But ironically, it’s our fear of failure that drives us to make some pretty silly mistakes.

In a mad dash to take action, make progress, and draw ourselves closer to the finish line, we forget, overlook, or flat-out ignore vital steps in the business building process.

Well, the good news is that many of the most common reasons why online businesses fail are completely avoidable — if you know what they are.

But here are five things to do if you’re still hell-bent on failure (and some practical advice for dodging each bullet just in case you aren’t):

#1 Create a Horrific Franken-Strategy

It seems like someone launches a new tactic, strategy or business model every week — if not every day.

The outcomes they promise are so tempting that it’s damn near impossible to resist trying them.

I mean, how can you turn your back on strategies that offer to “10x” your content, traffic, profits, and email list?

Here are just a few of the tantalizing offers that could drop into your inbox any week of the year:

  • Get 100,000 Instagram Followers
  • Get 10,000 email subs with Facebook ads
  • Build a 6-figure online course
  • Become a popular guest blogger

It never ends…

So you get scatterbrained and decide to try a little bit of everything. You take bits and pieces of powerful strategies and tactics from multiple mentors and coaches and blindly mix them together.

But in doing so, you inadvertently create a monster.  A monster that’s destined to wreak havoc and destroy your business, your time, and your pocketbook.

I like to call this monster a Franken-Strategy.

Here are some examples of what this powerful beast looks like:

  • As you work on growing your email list with guest blogging, you decide to take a shortcut and mix in a couple of quick Facebook ads.  And for good measure, you add a few Instagram marketing tactics.
  • As you work on building your blog traffic, you decide to try a little bit of everything: social media, random list building hacks, and what the heck… toss in some SEO stuff too.
  • As you work on getting your online coaching business off the ground, you decide to tinker with Pinterest marketing, and perhaps a webinar or two. While you’re at it, you stitch a few surveys to that bad boy.

The sneaky part about these crazy combos is you see popular online business gurus mixing it up all the time. And it seems to work great for them — after all, they’re gazillionaires.

Well, here are two problems with that:

  1. An effective strategy is put together a certain way for a reason. You usually can’t omit or change key steps without breaking it. (Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a strategy, just a collection of ideas.)
  2. You know those experts you follow? Yeah, they’re pros at this strategy mixing stuff. They probably tried it the “pure” way initially, tweaking it based on their results to make it work even better for them.

Sure, you’re a pro at being a life coach, nutritionist, writer or something else, but those passion-based skills differ considerably compared to those required to run and market a business.

So resist the temptation to pick and choose your tactics like you just reached the front of the queue at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Online Business Failure - Quote 2

Now at this stage, you might think:

Hey, it’s my business. I can do whatever I want!

And you’re right.

But what if doing whatever you want with your strategy stops you from getting what you actually want from your business?

I know it’s not easy to hear. But it’s true.

So pick a mentor with a strategy that feels doable for you — and stick to it. Give that one strategy a chance to shine on its own.

#2 Insist on Doing Every Damn Thing Yourself

We’ve all been there. Your car needs servicing, so you decide to train as an auto mechanic and do the work yourself.

Except, of course, you don’t.

But that’s the approach many people take to key tasks in their online businesses.

When our business requires a specialist’s skill, we’ll happily spend hundreds of hours immersed in “how to” posts — or thousands of dollars on books and courses.

But if I’ve learned anything from my four failed online businesses it’s this:

You can’t do it all and expect to keep your head above water.

Tackling every aspect of your business all by yourself simply will not work.

Now, what about you? Do you recognize any of these business-crushing mistakes:

  • You bury yourself in tutorials and knowledge bases for months so you can customize a complicated Wordpress plugin or theme instead of using a more user-friendly theme that works right out of the box.
  • You need some compelling copy for your website so you decide to spend $2K on a 3-month master copywriting course instead of hiring a copywriter who can complete it in a week for half the cost (or less).
  • You want better Google rankings, so you bust your brain trying to apply complicated SEO tactics to your blog posts instead of hiring an agency to do it for you.
  • You waste time trying to personally handle administrative tasks like basic customer support emails instead of hiring a VA to assist you.

The list goes on and on…

Here Are 3 Common Reasons You Try to Do Everything Yourself:

1) Control

You not only want it done the right way,  but you also want it done your way. You believe depending on someone else to help you only adds more risk to the equation.

However, having the ability to attend to every single task for your business is not only an illusion; it’s impossible. There simply isn’t enough time or energy to play a significant role in every aspect of your business.

At some point, every successful entrepreneur has to let go of some of the reins and delegate responsibilities to others. If you can’t, you’ll never scale your business.

2) Budget

Whether you truly lack the funds or you’re just a tightwad, the money isn’t there, and you can’t afford to pay anyone else to do the work for you.

It might be tough to accept, but most online businesses need an upfront investment, which means you may not be financially ready to start one yet.

However, if you have a small budget, you can stretch it by compromising on certain things. For example: be satisfied with an out-of-the-box theme with no customizations, use a wordmark instead of a designed logo, and use free software and plugins.

3) Procrastination

It’s only natural to protect yourself from failure by attempting to prepare yourself for success. You don’t want to look like a fool, right? So you tell yourself that you need to learn this “one last thing… and then you’ll be ready to launch.

However, there’s no such thing as the right time to start. And delaying will not lessen any of the exposure or life changes that are holding you back.

Even though it’s scary as hell, you’ll likely discover that once you jump in, getting started and being exposed isn’t as bad as it seems.

Look, I Get It…

In the beginning, it may seem as though a new entrepreneur has to wear all the hats. But remember, you’re only one person, and you can’t assume the roles of CEO, marketing manager, content creator and customer service provider if you want to succeed.

Because if you think it’s tough to do everything in the beginning, it only gets worse as your business starts to take off.

So the next time you’re tempted to enroll in a $2,000 course or spend months learning a new skill or marketing technique, ask yourself if you could more wisely spend your time and money delegating tasks or making compromises while continuing to grow your business.

#3 Make It All About You (Even Though You Know You Shouldn’t)

Quick question: Who should be the focus of your blog and online business: you, or your audience?

Your likely response: “My audience. Duh!!”

“Is this a joke? Am I being punked?”

I mean, every smart blogger knows this. It’s Blogging 101, right?

The funny thing is, when the time comes to develop and execute their business’s content and design, I have yet to find a single freelancer or entrepreneur who doesn’t buck against this advice. They always let their personal preferences and hunches take center stage.

Even stranger: when I confront them, attempting to educate and warn them of the perils, they admit that many of their choices cater more to themselves than their audience, brand, conversions or their business.

It’s like warning someone that a hot stove will burn them, and their response is “Oh I know that, but I’m gonna touch it anyway. Thanks!”

My point?

You know your business should focus unwaveringly on your audience. You hear it all the time.

You get it. But you don’t practice it.

So why is that?

Well, building your business to cater to other people is a painful and counter-intuitive process. After all, it’s your business, and you want it to represent you and your knowledge.

You want to look at your site and see a reflection of yourself. Something friends and family will say “Oh, that’s totally you.”

The problem is — none of that matters.

What does matter is what your audience expects to see. And even more importantly, that your audience sees a reflection of themselves — not you.

The first step is to stop thinking of your online business as a personal project. It’s not a scrapbooking session. And it’s not a mysterious bottom-of-the-pantry casserole either.

Online Business Failure - Quote 3

Instead, think of it for what it is:

It’s a business designed for a specific audience.

Here’s a case in point:

A food blogger creates a site that looks like a food blog. And even though she doesn’t like how most food blogs look, she goes with it because it works… it’s what her audience expects to see. And she also has content and recipes that her audience craves. Not just a collection of what she likes (or even worse — what she thinks her audience should like).

There’s a reason why Mexican restaurants look like Mexican restaurants and serve Mexican food. There’s a reason why social media sites look like social media sites and offer social interaction tools. There’s a reason why minimalist blogs look minimal and offer minimalist content.

And that reason is: that’s what the audience expects and wants.

Don’t get me wrong. I strongly encourage you to apply your own personal twist in your writing and design. But if you twist too far, so much so that your audience can’t recognize their expectations in your offer, you’ll break your business for sure.

If you’re struggling with design, pick a proven template or hire a designer with a track record in your niche. Not sure which of several options works best? Ask your audience. It doesn’t matter which you prefer. (But try telling your ego that.)

As for content, you already know the answer:

  • Do your research (e.g., blog comments, forums, social media).
  • Pick topics your audience craves (not just ones you find interesting).
  • Engage with your readers and use their feedback to refine your focus.

Always keep your sights on your audience and don’t let those self-centered choices get in the way.

Because you must wrap your head around this:

Your audience doesn’t care about you. They only care what you can do for them.

Fail to make that connection, and you’ll fail to deliver what they want.

And that means your business will fail.

Every time.

#4 Try to Be a Second-Rate Someone Else

You’re smart. You know that the quickest way to building an online business is to tap into the wealth spring of a profitable market that already exists.

And let’s face it, the best sign of a healthy market is that other businesses are already thriving there.

In fact, some of those businesses are probably your role models — influential bloggers with hordes of raving fans who make money blogging with their enviable online empire full of million-dollar products.

Talk about a proven market!

But while it’s only natural to aspire to a similar level of success, there’s a real danger in copying your role models too closely. You’ll end up creating a “me too” business, one that fails to differentiate itself from the others already established in the market.

Let’s say you’re a huge fan of Jon Morrow. So you decide to target the same audience as Jon. You try to write headlines like Jon. You do your best to tell stories like Jon. You even imagine creating products like Jon.

But the thing is, you’re not Jon. Try as you might, you’ll always be a pale imitation.

So you have to ask yourself: why would readers who resonate with Jon’s content and style read your blog instead of — or even as well as — his?

In other words, why would anyone choose the imitation when they can have the original?

Online Business Failure - Quote 4

Of course, that’s not to say you couldn’t build a blog as popular as Jon’s, but you’ll never be able to out-Jon, Jon. So if you want to appeal to the same audience, you need to do it in a different way.

But let’s say you want to appeal to an entirely different audience. Let’s say you want to be the Jon Morrow of technology, parenting or even… interior design?

Well then, my friend, you could be onto something. Because then you have a differentiator. You’re bringing a distinctive blogging and online business style into a niche where it doesn’t exist yet.

(Just better hope Jon doesn’t start blogging on those topics!)

So never forget that you need a strong differentiator. Something about you, your business or your product that sets you apart.

In other words, you need a strong answer to the question:

“Why would people read my blog, buy my product or service, or recommend my affiliates to them instead of the already established alternatives?”

But how can you do that?

The possibilities are numerous, however, here are few ways to stand out in a sea of sameness:

  1. Have a strong attitude. Take a stand for your worldview… and don’t ever back down. You don’t have to name names and call people out. Rather, you can pick a fight with the status quo. Be bold. Be daring. Yell it from the rooftops!
  2. Pick a different format. If your role models tend to publish long-form blog posts, then try publishing in a video or audio format. If your niche is already swamped with good content, become a curator instead of a creator (just as Brian Clark did with his Further newsletter).
  3. Revitalize a classic. Find a tired method, strategy or mindset that still works and give it a useful upgrade. Seth Godin did this with his book Purple Cow. He took the classic teaching of developing a unique selling proposition (USP) and gave it a modern-day upgrade. What if you applied minimalism to parenting? Or the 80/20 rule to career development?

Next time you’re tempted to follow your heroes too closely, just ask yourself what kind of entrepreneur you want to be: a passable forgery or a true artist?

#5 Refuse to Make Real Sacrifices

You see it on every online course sales page, launch email, and money-back guarantee. Like the big list of side-effects at the end of a drug commercial, it’s always there. You can’t miss it.

“You gotta put in the work. If you aren’t willing to put forth an honest effort, then this course is not for you.”

It’s become such a common statement that you tend to blaze right past it while thinking “Yeah, Yeah, I get it. I’ll do the work. Now where’s the damn buy button?”

But here’s the thing…

Nobody tells you what “putting in the work” actually means.

Well I’m going to expose that sneaky little phrase for what it really means:

You must be willing to make sacrifices.

Building a business takes time, money, and energy. If you’re serious, then something must give. Extra time doesn’t just magically appear the moment you hand over your PayPal details.

No successful business owner got where she is without making numerous sacrifices in exchange (at least at first).

Here are the kinds of sacrifices I’m talking about:

  • Watching less TV (and that includes the latest must-see Netflix series)
  • Giving up on some of your hobbies
  • Working in the evenings & on the weekends (even if you don’t feel like it)
  • Declining invites from family and friends (and maybe getting into trouble for it)
  • Being less dedicated to your day job (which could affect your offline career)

Look, your sacrifices don’t have to be sudden and brutal — they can be methodical and gradual.

I’m not asking you to abandon your family, destroy your career, reject all forms of enjoyment, and become a maniacal, business-obsessed hermit.

However, you must take a long, hard look at what you do with your time. And figure out how you’re going to make room for your business.

Some people find it helpful to write down daily routines over the course of a week. Be honest and specific. Make a list of everything you spend time doing, as well as how much time it takes. Then go through your time inventory and make as many cuts and adjustments as you need.

For each item ask: is this more important than getting my online business off the ground? If not, consider cutting it.

Others find it easier to make sacrifices on the fly. They decide from week to week as their business commitments fluctuate.

And a few brave souls take huge plunges like quitting their day jobs. That way they’re forced to make their business a top priority. It’s a high-risk strategy but for certain people the lack of a safety net is the best motivator they know.

I can’t tell you exactly what to sacrifice. It’s up to you to decide what to cut and how much.

But I can tell you that without sacrifices, without shifting your priorities, you’ll never create the business of your dreams.

Online Business Failure - Quote 5

Stop Inviting Failure and Get on the Path to Success

Starting an online business is risky, no doubt about it.

And going into something feeling like the deck is already stacked against you is discouraging, even downright depressing.

But not all risks are created equal. In practice, you can slash the chances of your business flopping by opening your eyes to how and where failure most often occurs.

So study the lessons above and make sure you’re not cruising towards failure along one of these misguided paths.

Will this ensure you completely from defeat? Of course not.

But armed with a knowledge of the most common pitfalls, I have a feeling you’re not going to let that stop you.

Because even though you know that the road to online success is paved with a million failed dreams, there’s something special about us entrepreneurs.

Despite improbable odds, immeasurable fear, and the toughest of sacrifices, we refuse to be defeated.

And that’s the secret to it all:

When you’ve eliminated the risks you can control, you must dive in and start clearing a path to success. And if you hit a road bump or make a mistake, brush yourself off, learn something useful from it… and then pick your ass back up for another round.

Because that’s what real entrepreneurs do.

So, are you ready to make that leap?

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Blaine Wilkerson

Blaine Wilkerson helps scatterbrained entrepreneurs launch their online businesses.


A "cheat sheet" to making 2-5K per month as a writer, even if you're a total beginner.
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Written by Blaine Wilkerson

Blaine Wilkerson helps scatterbrained entrepreneurs launch their online businesses.

127 thoughts on “5 Things to Do If You Want to Fail at Online Business”

  1. Hey Blaine,

    In the past few years, I have learned that the best thing is to be myself. I like what you have mentioned about the fear.

    And the difference between the fear when you enter without any preparation and with the fullest power.

    Starting a business seems easy but there are many things involved. You should analyze the market and build your strategy.

    Bringing something out from you is something favorable. You know with the passing of the time, people learn about their business.

    You’re right, people can be smart but there are others whose business is thriving.
    You should learn more and give your business a new path.

    Thanks for providing such a wonderful article.
    Have a great day.

  2. Hey Blaine,thanks for this comprehensive piece.The title alone is scary and i know why: many of us are guilty of, or have at some time being guilty of, some of the points raised here. I have now come to realize that the only way to really do a thing is simply to get up and do it.

    There can never be an end to new tactics, information on” How Tos” and all that stuff. Getting off is the hardest part but along the way, one learns.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Chidi,

      So true. Getting started is tough. Very tough. There’s a fine line between preparing and stalling. Don’t rush in blindly, but you cant take forever either 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Hi Blaine –

    Great post! I get trapped in #2 quite often. Finding quality help is extremely difficult. I found that finding others that are willing to learn and grow is key.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Hey Dario –

      You aren’t alone, my friend. Everyone gets caught up in trying to do it all.

      I like your comment about finding others who are willing to learn & grow.

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Blaine,

    Great post! I got to the point where I had to figure out what was working for me and run with that. It didn’t matter what the gurus were saying because their secret sauce wasn’t mine. I tuned out the noise and focused on the results I could clearly see were working for me.

    And yes, all of it is an INSANE amount of work. I would not be able to do this if my kids weren’t grown.

    I am the queen of procrastination. Horrible. The thing that has made all of the difference for me is the word


    Once I’ve told several thousand people I’m going to do something, it’s the kind of motivation that propelled me into getting it done– even if I often felt like I was going to throw up.

    I’ve had three product launches in the last 14 months and each time was like giving birth; very difficult, but sooo worthwhile!

    And yes, I could not have done any of it without a lot of help!

    • Nice to see you again Laurel.

      While I can’t relate to giving birth, I’ve had plenty of barf-worthy moments while “pulling the trigger” 🙂

      Congrats on your product launches. Everybody here could learn a lot from your triumphs. Thanks for sharing !

  5. Hey Blaine,

    Thanks for the post!

    The headline : made me smile… that’s my first 2 seconds reaction. Good one!

    The opening: it could be me but I had a slight disconnect from the headline to the opening.

    It came across as a different idea in the opening though I understood the intention of the post via the headline.

    I have been reading the posts from Jon and had developed an understanding that opening eases the reader into reading the post to its end by continuing the idea from the headline.

    Your post taught me the variation that’s allowed and how it feels to present a different idea in the opening from the headline.

    I felt the first few sentences in closing was more appropriate for the opening!
    I could be dead wrong!
    Please bear with me I am still learning the ropes of writing.

    The 5 bullets: The nuggets of wisdom sprinkled is totally worth the attention to stay on right track.

    The closing made me ask myself a question : “how much of real sacrifices I am doing now?”

    As this is my 8th week in the blogging world, Officially!

    I am following the courses from Jon to the letter and your post revalidates the message from Jon that I am indeed on the right path.

    Making real sacrifices to build something credible.

    I’ll come back to this article time and again to stay on track.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Best Regards,

    • Hi Chetan,

      Thanks for your thoughtful feedback.

      This post is a hybrid of two (maybe three) different writing “recipes”. I had to mix a lot of empathy with the hard-to-swallow messages contained in the points.

      Happy you found several helpful nuggets in here. I’m one of Jon’s students too. Stick with him –he’ll get you there.

      Never give up, my friend!

      • Hey Blaine,

        Thanks for your understanding and encouragement.

        Either get it or die getting it -I am living by these words for the last 4 weeks.

        giving up is not an option now.


  6. We always have to follow through things that make sense for us.

    But here is the thing,it is totally
    difficult to know you are going to make it happen or not.

    However again all you have to do is fallow what seems to work for you and also probably that has worked for others instead of trying to create totolly a new strategy whose you can not approve the end.

  7. Thank you so much for this! Good solid == simple (i.e. brilliant!) == advice. Things to be reminded of and things to learn. This is just what I needed to read today to boost my spirits, get off the “crazy”, get back on the path of my vision … and my sanity.

    Thank you! Your article hit the spot and is deeply appreciated!

  8. Love this post — I get so many emails from bloggers who’re doing one of Jon’s marketing strategies, exactly the way he did it. And I’m like, “You get that YOU are not Jon Morrow, right?”

    And they don’t. Really, people. Folks need to learn to adapt what they see working for others and ask, “Could something LIKE that work for me?” And not think simply duplicating someone else’s effort will get the same result.

    • Hi Carol,

      Sounds like your experience echos mine. 🙂

      I think most folks who copy mentors too closely fail to realize there’s a lot of “secret sauce” being applied behind the curtain.

      I totally agree with you: one should ask if a mentor’s strategy or tactic is truly appropriate for their objectives…and not just assume that it’ll always work for them.

      Heck, I think a lot of mentors fail to realize this as well.

      Thanks so much for dropping by !

  9. Doing everything yourself is a challenge for me. The real struggle is knowing when to spend your limited budget to hire a service and when you can cut a corner and do it yourself. Being a tightwad doesn’t necessarily help either at times.

    • I hear ya, Josh!

      Sometimes it’s as cut and dry as asking yourself if you have more time than money. But as your business grows, and your time becomes more valuable, it becomes a question of :

      “Will my clients, my business, and my health be better off by passing this on to someone else”?

      Thanks for dropping by

  10. Hi Blaine,
    Welcome and congrats on a great post! Over the many years of being an entrepreneur (online or off), I’ve been mostly guilty of #1 and #2. Live and hopefully learn. 😉

    • Hey Leanne,

      Thanks! Glad you like it.

      Wanna know a little secret? I’m guilty of all 5 points –plus the other 12 points we had to cut while editing 😉

      But you nailed the secret: “Learn and keep on living”.

  11. Information packed…Great online business guide that could be applied to every business. No shortcuts to hardwork. You’ll just have to face it.

  12. Hi Blaine,

    That Franken-Strategy is clever 😉 Instead of doing a few things really well ya try to do 10 or 20 things well. Pay folks to handle other areas, then do 1 or 2 things really well, practicing your craft, honing your skills. I love writing and creating videos, so those are 2 things I do daily, to both enjoy the ride and to improve my craft every day…..and to drift from a Franken-approach to my online businesses 😉

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Hey Ryan —

      I’m the not-so-proud owner of a few Franken-Strategies myself.

      When you see pros like Jon Morrow, Ryan Levesque, Amy Porterfield, and Jeff Walker implement 4-5 simultaneous strategies… it’s so damn tempting to wanna try it out too.

      Sounds like you’re heading in the right direction, man. Keep it up!

  13. Love your comments on the Franken-strategy, which is 100% something I am guilty of. So many things I want to gorge on, buffet-style, and then I wonder why it’s a disaster… 🙂 Looking forward to reading more from you!

    • Thanks Nicki

      You’re not alone. I’m just as guilty 🙂

      The Franken-Strategy probably deserves it own book. You see it wreak havoc in all types of small businesses –both online and off.

      Glad you stopped by!

  14. Oh. My. Goddess. (ok God too)
    This has given me much pause to ponder …. and integrate into my business planning.
    Regarding #2 – my reasons often for not out-sourcing is that I
    1) don’t know where to find people to do that and
    2) not sure even what I’m asking for – it is a combo of tech/ design , or are they separate?
    With regards to #5 / Sacrifices – That I am working on. I’m willing to work, but not to stress myself to misery. Also, I love my “other work” (I’m an alchemical acupuncturist) but I do not want to do it full time (and I don’t). The guestblogging and the eventual launching of other offerings, including coaching, is a work in progress. I want to balance full and joyous work with my life. Work fully (not hard) with ease and gratification.
    Thanks – your article has opened up avenues to explore (but I’ll stop going on about it all now!)

    • Hi Therese,

      Glad to hear you found some useful takeaways.

      One of my problems is that I sacrifice too much. Lately I’ve had to dial back my intensity and start paying attention to life outside my laptop.

      The elusive “work-life balance” is beginning to feel like a unicorn. Not sure that it exists. Especially when you’re uber-passionate about you do.

      Always happy to give you more stuff to think about 😉

      Thank you for sharing. Keep pushing forward!

  15. Hello Blaine,
    This article is for me! It is so full of the many things that I was doing to ensure my failure online.
    Mercifully, I have smartened up began following a proven strategy that is already
    showing a marked improvement from where I was.
    One of my biggest challenge was my tendency to want to do it all myself.
    I actually do love learning new things but time is finite, so if my goal is
    to make money then since no one is paying me to learn I had to get others
    to help me with what I don’t know.
    You wrote an informative and very help article!
    Thank you
    Yvonne Finn

  16. Hi Blaine,

    I have no words to express your writing skill, you have nailed it. It’s just an amazing piece of content that I read this morning.

    The title of the post grabbed me and I immediately landed here to read the full content.

    I never do the thing that you have listed in #5 as I would like to give up anything for my online business. But I admit that I’m doing the stuff that you have mentioned under #2. I’m realizing my mistake. It’s really hectic as I wish to do everything on my own.

    Thanks for the eye-opening blog post, have a good day!

  17. Having a successful business takes time. It also takes a lot of trial and error. Don’t even think that you are exempted from the process. You have to learn in order to succeed.

    • I hear ya Ivan.

      Be careful. Make sure your “creative judgement” is based on experience and education. Otherwise it’s just a fancy code word for “taking a stab in the dark”.

  18. Hello Blaine,
    2 things have been teasing me since I read this article. One, you can’t do everything yourself and two, you need to sacrifice to find that extra time.
    The first one will take some more time for me due to financial constraints but I think I am going to start working on the second one right away. It’s winter time here and so I’m lazy getting up early in the morning. No more of that….Thanks for literally giving me that wake up call.
    Great post!!

  19. some people are too afraid to start an online business because they don’t know what topic to pick us for is their niche. They’re also afraid because they don’t know how to operate an online server and possibly afraid to pay monthly fees for web hosting. Some people are still under the false assumption that they can start a business online for free when that’s certainly not the case. A person who has no education on how to start an online business blog can use free services such as Google’s blogspot to start a free blog and get their feet wet in effectively writing and monetizing their content with ads around it so they can gain valuable freelance marketing experience to be their own boss in their spare time. But truthfully, one needs to have their domain name and a dedicated server in order to be taken seriously by site viewers and earn their respect. No one’s good or really buy anything from ads on a blogspot blog because it’s hosted on someone else’s content platform. And most importantly, if a person is really determined to succeed online, regardless of the time it takes, they’ll fail time and time and time and time and time again and learn from their mistakes when least expected. This is the beauty of making mistakes online as an amateur online marketer and gaining valuable experience without feeling “openly humiliated.”

  20. I would add that people commonly go into business because they like solving a particular problem , but don’t realize that at least half of their time will be spent working on letting people know their business even exists.

    • Thanks Milly,

      I agree. Marketing is often overlooked. From my experience, many new businesses simply don’t know how to use it. While others will make a killer product, then settle for half-ass marketing efforts.

      Unfortunately, We had to cut that section.

  21. Good one! Thank you for sharing this amazing content.
    Check out the list of tools as per marketing, advertising, SEO, CRO, Saas, web development, etc. available at BetaPage, for the purpose of making your business a successful one.

  22. Hey bro, your title is awesome. I rather miss the dinner than missing to get your message using this ironical title.

    Everyone wants to succeed in online business – like me, Hahahaha.

    Thanks for this great guide. Do have a nice day

  23. I admit I am guilty of “Insist on Doing Every Damn Thing Yourself”, which really what make by business fail before, because of the overwhelm and finally giving up. But now, I know better and outsource things I am not good at, like writing article for my website and instead focus on what I like doing researching and doing seo ( aside from writing the content my self) Thanks for this.

  24. When I first came into online business world, I thought, it all free and no financial investment is required. Things doesn’t go well, until I understood the logic.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Yep. If you’re serious, there’s always a minimal financial investment.

      I haven’t done the math, but most folks can expect to invest about $100-$200USD per month get started.

      Thanks uthman!

  25. Hi Blaine, Thanks for a great post. I have a feeling there is lots more you could say; I’ll check out your site right now to see what else I can find out. 🙂

  26. Hi Blaine.

    “You can’t do it all and expect to keep your head above water.”

    I think you are talking to me here. I actually like doing most things myself. Reason being that I want to learn them so that I can be able to teach others.

    Recently while trying to install my premium theme, I ran into a big challenge that if God didn’t intervene, I would have lost my blog I spend months building to an enviable height.

    However, I scaled through and learnt the lesson. Now I’m in a better position to teach others.

    But it doesn’t always end well with most folks. That makes me agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Emenike Emmanuel

    • Hi Emenike —

      Sounds like we’re a lot alike. We like to learn new things in an effort to directly benefit our business, satisfy our curiosity, and to eventually share with our audience.

      However, it’s all too easy to get blind-sighted and spend most your time learning (and juggling) instead of doing.

      Here’s something else you might find useful:

      I decided to apply a “night class” mentality to my supplemental learning — Work on my business during my peak hours, and restrict learning/experimenting new things to my downtime.

      The line of separation isn’t rigid. But that mentality has greatly improved my focus and productivity. It makes me think twice and double check priorities.

      Thank you and have a great week!

  27. Online business success are tough stairs to climb but not impossible. There are so many things you need and have to learn to fare in the competition, and I thank you for your blog because this is an eye opener to all that online marketing success is a process.

  28. I love this post. People think it is so easy to build an online business. It requires extremely hard work, due dilligence and sacrifices like any other major project. Thank you for sharing this. It’s not only true but reassuring too.

  29. Hi Blaine,

    The title of this post was irresistible & caught my attention.

    Knowing how to fail can teach you how to be successful just by doing the opposite.

    In this regard, your post is a nice piece which every ontrepreneur should go through.

    I loved it & appreciated your hard work crafting it.

    Thanks. See you,

  30. Great, honest post. I had my start in online business with an e-commerce store. I found it incredibly satisfying. Every one of your points is essential. Leave one of these out and you will struggle.

    • But we have to admit this too, that when someone is facing failure there is lack of experience which become cause.
      Thanks for your precious words. Am keep looking for a great piece of content from you.

  31. SUPERB post, Blaine!

    Must admit I’ve been guilty of all these at some point – particularly #2.

    Fortunately, after several years of failing at online business, I think I’m starting to get my head around all the moving parts. It’s tough, no doubt about it.

    With that said, 2017 will be my year. No question 🙂

    • Thanks Lewis!

      Yeah, #2 is painful. After 3 years of working from home, I sank my marketing consultancy because I tried to do it all.

      My business hit a growth spurt and I couldn’t keep up with the demand (that was due to yet another problem: saying “yes” to everyone). And I didn’t ask for help until I was already drowning. No bueno.

      What changes are you planning for the new year?

  32. Finally, I know that I’m not the only one! :p Thank you for the great post and yes I have done exact same mistakes and my failure was because I jumped in unprepared. And you’re right failing because you’re not prepared for the fight is totally different from failing at doing something right and giving your 101%.

    • Hi Anam —

      Yeah, that paragraph about “failing the right way” is somewhat controversial.

      Here comes another analogy:

      Hollywood Stunt Doubles make it look easy to jump a Ferrari through the open doors of a moving train.

      Stunt experts have to follow detailed plans with umpteen backup safety measures. So if they fail, they make a tweak and try the jump again.

      Unfortunately, most of us aren’t stunt doubles.

      So rushing in and “taking action” by trying to replicate the jump using your Honda = certain death.

      Same is true for online businesses. You don’t have to be an expert to experiment. But you definitely need to know and follow the right steps before you waste your time and money.

      Thanks for contributing:)

  33. Thanks for sharing such a knowledgeable article.. It is very helpful. I am about to start my own business and doing R&D before start it to make it hit. The lessons here are the honest and direct tips.

  34. Hey Blaine,

    Glad to read your post and I agree with your whole points. Many people out there are interested to be an online Marketer, but most of them failed within first months and get nothings in their pockets. I think the easiest start for anyone when jump into online business, is by joining an affiliate marketing program. The key to marketing success— even on social media— lies in creating and producing quality content from our own website. These are the obstacles that plague online business. Eventually, thanks for sharing your valuable thought with us.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

    • Hey Amar —

      I agree. Affiliate marketing is a fantastic place to start. Especially for learning intermediate to advanced strategies for online sales, marketing, and audience interaction.

      Another beginner’s model I like: selling products on done-for-you platforms like Etsy, EBay, Udemy, etc. It’s one of the fastest ways to start making money online while you learn about business. You don’t want to build your “empire” on these platforms. But they present a low risk, low investment way to test your product and learn about your market.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  35. Damn Blaine….just damn! This was gangsta. This was a REALLY, REALLY good writeup. I especially liked the Franken-strategy. That made me laugh because I’ve unfortunately have done it before (a few times…whomp, whomp!)

    You touched on all the right stuff and it was funny as hell. Great writeup man!

  36. Great article. I’m considering starting an online blog but realise there re many pitfalls and how easy it could be to get it wrong. I’m still at research stage so this is invaluable reading. Thank you, well done.

  37. Hi Blaine,

    You are right. An online entrepreneur who thinks he can do everything all by himself will never achieve much. The place of synergy and at times delegation helps us increase productivity. Why will I refuse to delegate certain responsibility when I know it will save me time, energy and money? Or because I want to be in control? I can’t do such. Unfortunately, most online entrepreneurs don’t think that way; they just look only at the money that will be saved, not at the money that will be made when productivity is increased.

    Next point you mentioned worthy of note is trying to implement all the strategies at the same time. It’s very bad and unprofessional. How can such a blogger measure the growth each of the strategies contributed to their business? One step at a time should be the guide on this.

    Thank you for sharing from the wealth of your knowledge.

    Emenike Emmanuel

  38. Thanks for sharing such an insightful article. But why do you make it seem like people who have no money at the initial stage cannot succeed in an online business.

    • Hey James,

      This post is grounded by the probable, not the possible.

      However, in many ways, having little to no money in the initial stage of business is an advantage.

      When you’re hungry and choices are limited, your creativity, flexibility, and drive can lead to exponential explosions of growth and industrial disruption.

      Success is a constant –it’s measured and obtained by achieving an objective. Objectives are the true variables here.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Stay Rad!

  39. #2 Insist on Doing Every Damn Thing Yourself – there’re some important advices for every business, not only online one. Especially – “there’s no such thing as the right time to start”. I experienced something similar myself while creating content for my own site – it was never good enough 🙂

    • Yes, we are our own worst critic, huh?

      Sounds like you’re learning from your mistakes. And that’s one of the secrets to success (shhh…don’t tell anyone) 😉

      Thanks Widoczni !

  40. Choose a business model with a higher cost of entry. Don’t choose something anyone can do. The cost of entry might be the knowledge you’ve learned through experience or education. It might be a monetary investment.

  41. Thanks, well explained and in an easy to follow. I feel anyone serious about making it online has to sacrifice quite a lot, time out with friends, weekend bar nights spending money one does not have in the first place lol.
    On things like outsourcing this is a must, one can not be good at everything, what`s the point trying to create a logo when l know I`ll not produce one even if I tried.
    Really enjoyed your post,thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks roamy!

      Outsourcing is tough on so many levels. We have this internal script that says “It’s too difficult to teach someone to do what I do. It’s easier if I just do it myself”.

      Glad you enjoyed it.

  42. I never comment on post ever but I just have to say this has by far been one of the most well written articles with very very very good content. I have just started my website and consider myself that scattered brain entreupreuner unsure of the direction she should go in getting her business/blog off the ground. Constantly tempted by the variety of information out there I can’t help but feel the need to build a franken-strategy. Pointing out why this is so wrong touched a nerve and kind of calmed me down and brought me back to reality.

    I think the most important piece of information that I have gotten from this article is “Your audience doesn’t care about you. They only care what you can do for them.” and the paragraph referring to our desire to make our business about us. You Are Right!

    Again, thanks for the article.

    • Hi Keandra!

      I just love comments like this. I’m so very happy that you found some “Ah-Ha’s”.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind and helpful feedback. I love it!

      You’re gonna be just fine. Keep learning and keep pushing forward. 🙂

  43. Hi Keandra,

    Thanks for leaving thoughtful comment here. Blaine made so much sense in this article too awesome to ignore. I was personally blessed with this. I think it’s impossible for my blog to fail after reading this.

  44. Franken-Strategy! I love it haha.

    That was my strategy for awhile before I came to the same conclusion that all these little things added up to getting nothing done. I started to focus on a couple things that complemented each other and that’s when things started to grow.


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