Focusing on just one goal at a time is one of the biggest challenges nowadays. It is even harder when you are a starting entrepreneur. Your entire business and revenue depend on it. More than ever, I am now convinced that:
your success depends less on the choice you make than on whether you stick to your decision once you pick one direction.
This is particularly true in the world of online business. If you are writing a blog, shooting videos for YouTube, or anything else. Consistency and keeping at it are key. Of course, you have to keep perfecting and re-adjusting the direction. But most of the times, the broad goal and direction are totally fine! The major problem is that you lose faith in yourself and quit.
1. Why A Lack of Focus Eventually Killed my First Online Business
In late 2015, I decided to try building an online business. Back then, something really CLICKED IN MY MIND. A friend of mine, who wanted to discuss a potential startup idea with me, invited me to a webinar platform. This webinar platform was advertising Udemy. I was intrigued and decided to give it a look. I instantly saw the potential of online courses. A few sleepless nights followed. And I came up with the idea to…
…blog about how I tried making money from scratch. Of course, it was a very common topic and I was aware of it. But I was quite passionate about the topic and thought that it was always good for people to know what it really is like RIGHT NOW to try to make money online… I also so this time investment as a substitute for additional education in the field of online business and marketing. Worst case, I would learn a lot!
Use Your First Momentum…
I was SOOOOO MOTIVATED. It took me only two weeks of full-time work to launch my first online class. There it was! Funnily enough, I did not even think the topic would work. At all. I just wanted my first online class out there, so I would know how to do it!
When you are doing something for the first time, it is important to use the momentum and get it done. Do NOT worry too much about the topic at first!
This way, you can overcome the first hurdle easily! And if you have a great topic, you can now easily apply what you have learned and get this one done. My first course was about How to Get an Internship at the United Nations. You can find the overview of my profile and online courses on Udemy here if you feel like having a look.
… But Don’t Stretch It
Believe it or not, to my big surprise, my first sale happened 2 weeks later. A whopping $4! This was a MAGICAL and really unexpected moment! If I was able to earn money when even I did not believe it could happen, how great were the chances on topics I really believed in! So I threw myself at it. Getting up at 5 a.m., working, working, working. Going to sleep at 11 p.m. I created more online courses. I had a small gaming app created in under one month for only $140. And I managed a Facebook Page to about 40,000 likes… All of this in 4 or 5 months. But then, MY BODY STOPPED ME.
In my late 20s, I had underestimated my need for rest and social interaction.
I thought it to be a brilliant idea to spend the winter at my grandpa’s place. I would be able to enjoy the mountains, do some snowboarding every now and then, and spare myself a rent. BUT constantly facing my grandpa losing his memory and changing into someone I did not know was too tough to take on by myself. I also did not try to build up a friends’ circle around me.
After all, this was only temporary.
After the winter season, I would move on and go somewhere else. Who needs the physical presence of friends and family for just 4 months? (***irony***) Well, I do. My mind, my heart and my body ALL do!
It’s Game Over Once You Let Doubts In…
Adopting the SPRINT MENTALITY INSTEAD OF THE MARATHON MENTALITY was my biggest mistake. I ended up at the hospital with a heavy case of shingles. 7 days laying there, in a hospital bed. Even though I did not want to accept it at first, I later had to admit that I had been putting a huge amount of stress and pressure on myself.
Who was taking care of the business now?
I started building up fears. How unsafe this entrepreneur thing was! Unfortunately, my health issues did not end there. Most probably because I was not willing to relax yet and admit that SELF-INDUCED STRESS is AS BAD AS ANY in the long run. There could be weeks when I was barely able to work due to strange belly pains. The doctors were truly worried and had me checked several times. All this time laying in bed. I started overthinking it. And that’s when it happened. I LOST MY FOCUS OUT OF FEAR.
The Safe Way Is Not Always The Best Way
I started thinking of safer alternatives. What about programming? I could learn to code and try to code an app that I thought could work. At least, if my app would not work, I would be employable or able to freelance online quite quickly due to my acquired skills. A friend of mine was kind enough to mentor me. And so I started learning Ruby. Coding was really interesting and felt very nice to me. It probably was quite a natural fit.
I had always loved learning languages and modelling on Excel. This felt like a mix of both worlds. But the problem was: this was not my true mission. My true mission, i.e. what I REALLY REALLY WANTED, was to build an online business based on informational content. Then automatise most of it, and move on to the next project. That was my vision! Not to become a programmer. So I started losing myself and losing focus.
… Because Life Will Lead You If You Do Not Lead Life
Then life happened.
It is always in the face of external factors that one can see how strong their chosen path is.
The family company started having problems. And I could not stand there, watching. I had to jump in and help. I HAD DILUTED MY MISSION AND VISION. And since my path was not clear anymore, it felt much less important compared to what was happening around me.
2. Why It Took Me Almost 3 Years To Try Again
In the end, it all added up. A couple of months struggling to get healthy again, not knowing why my body had quit for me. One or two months learning to code and actually losing track of my actual self and mission. A planned 6 months of help at the family company. But the project was certainly not one that could be done in just 6 months. So I stayed until it was successfully implemented. It took about 18 months.
After that, I was ready to get back on track! But unfortunately, insidious fears had been building up. After all, I had already FAILED at my goal once. Now was my second attempt, and I had lost faith in myself. On top of that, a strange psychological factor wasn’t helping. When I started the first time, I was about 29 years old. Now, I was well past the 30s. SOCIAL PRESSURE to live a normal life felt stronger. Especially as a woman. You only have so much time left before it is too late to have children.
Another Detour Before Getting Back on Track
I was strongly determined to start a business again. But a few things were in my way. 1. I did not trust myself enough anymore to do it on my own. So it felt like I had to find someone to start the business with. This made me entirely dependent on someone else. 2. I was afraid of what others would think of me. So I decided to keep following a more technical path. I started learning to code again and dived into the new tech world. Of course, all of this was interesting. But I now would have to admit that it simply was reassuring to me to follow a path that seems more difficult to others.
It SEEMS safer. You do not need to achieve much to have recognition. And it feels like overall competition will be less fierce. The barrier to entry is simply higher than in other areas. Precisely those other areas that were my passion. I later realised that it is quite paradoxical to be willing to “play it safe” as an entrepreneur. It really can be counterproductive and lead you to take big detours on the way to your goal… 3. I was somehow waiting for that “click” again. Only this time, I was expecting it to come mostly from my business partner…
The “Click” Is Great But Should Not be Overestimated
What I realised now is that having a “click” is great, but it should not be overestimated. The biggest advantage is that it gives you FAITH and MOMENTUM. Two factors most of us desperately need to start a business. FAITH will help you staying on track long enough for the business to develop. MOMENTUM will help you seeing results quicker, thereby fuelling your FAITH.
This is exactly what happened to me the first time. Without this “click”, I probably would not even have attempted to build a business in the first place. And after that, it helped me put so much energy into it that I very quickly saw the results! But you DO NOT NEED to have this magical “click” to get started. It is a mistake to wait for it for too long.
Anyways, a “click” is far from a guarantee that your idea is a good one!
It Is Really, Really Important to Do Something You Love
One of our big problems, as a society, is that we are constantly faced with too many choices, too many opportunities. As a starting entrepreneur, this means that the POSSIBILITIES are ENDLESS. You can easily get distracted. So, in my opinion, your success does NOT DEPEND on having a magical “click” for a brilliant idea. It depends on whether you have everything in place to help you stay on ONE TRACK once you have started! Having a TRUE PASSION for what you are doing is a great and easy way to make sure you will stay at it in the long run.
What happened in my case?
I sure wanted to apply my vision of the online business to this new venture I started with my partner in new tech. But I stumbled upon a few obstacles…
- The technology and field we chose were very, very new. And extremely specific. So it was harder for me to understand who our potential target audience could be.
- My business partner was the one with expert knowledge. He was busy enough with the regular technical part of the business. And I was not able to create the needed content myself. At least not with massive time investment.
- I myself had to pick up on the skills that were lacking for my first venture: SEO and online marketing.
It felt very confusing. So at some point, I just decided to build a side-hustle. On a topic that I love. Using the skills that I was learning first hand. And this is how www.simplicityforfreedom.com was born. I did not have a particular “click”. I picked this subject amongst a long list of interests and passions. And I started this new venture with huge doubts. I chose two online courses that really helped me regain FAITH and feel like I was on the right track: Project24 from Income School* and the Pro Blogger Bundle from CreateAndGo*. At this point, I am still following these courses and taking a step by step approach for this blog. After I had written a handful of articles, my doubts caused me to pause again. Those are the sentences that were going on in my mind:
- It is never going to work!
- The topic does not interest anyone.
- It would take ages to ever see any results…
- What if another topic would do much better?
And here I was, after ONLY 3 WEEKS OF WORK, considering starting another website with another topic! I even bought another domain name: www.ageinggreatly.com which I intended to build up with my mom. Luckily enough, when making my new plan for the month, I realised that having one main business and two side-hustles was just too much.
Pick ONE, seriously. Just ONE.
I HAD TO PICK JUST ONE SIDE-HUSTLE. It felt overwhelming to make a choice. I started reading The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results* and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less*, both really great books in that situation. This is when I realised that it was NOT ABOUT THE TOPIC. It was all about my FEARS. If I started a new topic, it would take time again. I would become impatient and lose faith again. So I decided to stick to it. I had chosen www.simplicityforfreedom.com and it was all up to me to rekindle my faith! I re-examined the topic. It was so broad and could include so many aspects that I feel passionate about. It was just a matter of MINDSET.
I FELL IN LOVE again with the IDEA. I invested some more time for the DESIGN to be more APPEALING to ME. And I wrote down all the GREAT TOPICS I could write or teach about… And all of a sudden, I saw the potential of it again! More than that, I was ready to put in the LOVE again. That part is important. Because when you are a starting entrepreneur, you often fear not earning the money you need to keep working on what you love. While it is important to keep an eye on the finances, it can distract you from YOUR ACTUAL MISSION: SERVING YOUR AUDIENCE. And ultimately, it is your LOVE for your AUDIENCE that will make you successful. I know truly have internalised this thought!
What Else to Help Me Stay Focused On That ONE Goal?
Of course, there are other things that can help you stay focused on ONE GOAL. Here are the ones that I have used or am about to consider using:
- Finding one or several co-founders. That is what I did for my main business, the one in new tech for which we have received some funding. I have tried to virtually co-found the side-hustle as well, but it would have slowed me down too much. The good thing is that my new tech business partner also has his side-hustle and we decided to fully support each other in those businesses as well…
- Surrounding yourself with people who support you.
- Being in a mastermind group. That’s something I am currently looking into, as I finally understand the POWER of STAYING on track and committed via a small community.
- Using the Law of Attraction techniques to “re-program” your brain to stay on track. Every morning, I write a few sentences down and that helps me stay on track. I meditate towards my goals. And this helps me keep the eyes on the prize!
Be cleverer than I was. Know your limits. Physically and mentally. Put everything in place to stay healthy, happy and focused!
The 2 Courses That Helped Me Stay On Track With My Website Project
The following 2 courses helped me keep faith in my project and stay on track.
Full disclosure though: I DO receive a commission if you buy one of their courses through my affiliate link. But I wouldn’t be mentioning them here if they didn’t truly add value in my opinion. However, I urge you to do your own proper due diligence in order to find out whether these are the right fit FOR YOU at this stage of your project.
1. Income School’s Project 24
This course bundle is there to help you replace your current income with passive income from a niche website in about 24 months (or quicker). Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler help you take the 60 steps in 60 days and really guide you from start to finish.
This course is the reason I even started my website project.
And Project 24 keeps surpassing my expectations. As a project 24 member, you receive any new courses as part of the package. Since I purchased the 1-year membership, very valuable new courses about Pinterest and YouTube have been added.
It really feels like Income School wants its members to succeed and that they’re more in it for us than for their own success.
2. Alex and Lauren’s Create And Go
These guys gave me a new wave of inspiration when I really needed one. They made me believe that it was possible to succeed no matter what topic I was writing about.
Books That I Love… To Help You Out: