The Hard Truth You Need to Know Before Becoming an Online Entrepreneur
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Like every other person who stumbled into online entrepreneurship, I also fell for the surreal promises of working from a beach and traveling to a different city every other day. You know the drill. There are tons and tons of people selling courses that are supposed to make you rich in a month with some magic internet formula.
If you have spent any reasonable amount of time trying out an online business, you already know that most of them are crap. The major reason I haven't started selling courses on making money through freelance writing is that I wonder if anyone would flip if they knew what was really involved.
The internet offers us tremendous ability to do great things with a bit more ease, but the fact remains that business isn't easy either way. If you are considering dropping your job and living the laptop lifestyle, let me stop you for a bit and show you my lessons, scars and all. This is not to discourage you, it's meant to prepare you. Ready to hear the truth? Let's go then.
Like every other business, you have to put in the time.
I started couch mentality in 2015 with a flimsy idea of growing a website as big as Entrepreneur.com, in my own special niche, and in record time of only two years. That dream hasn't died, I just paused it when I realized how much time I needed to put in to make it come true. I didn't have the funding to employ staff or to initiate half the ideas I had. So I decided to start running a freelance writing service with a few talented friends using the platform. I still had to work more than 40 hours a week.
Strange thing is, I had worked 30 hour weeks in my day job prior to becoming a full time internet entrepreneur. This isn't bad news, but it is true. I don't work a crazy amount of hours today but, I needed to put in that much effort to get it going, just like in any other business.
Online entrepreneurship does give you the ability to work from anywhere, but don't think for a second that you will be snacking on a beach somewhere. If you ever find yourself on a beach, you would be staring down at your laptop.
You must put in the time.
Like every other business, you are prone to crisis.
About a year ago, I had been working hard on a client's project. He had wanted me to write an entire blog series for his textile website, and I was all but halfway through. One day, I sat down in front of my computer and clicked on his project and here is what greeted me. “Your file has been locked, to open it, visit www ...” My computer had been infected with the deadly CRAB 2 ransomware and it had encrypted all my files.
I had more than 1,800 articles saved on that PC, and I probably had only 500 backed up to the cloud. The cyber terrorists asked me to pay $500 to get the decryption key. I didn't.
The pricey courses I had bought before making the leap had promised me crisis-free environments, but I was soon to learn the opposite was true. Losing your laptop alone can be as deadly as a brick and mortar business burning to the ground. Gladly, Google has made tremendous steps in making sure your work is safer. Working with apps like Google docs, replacing your txt apps with cloud compatible apps and organizers like Google Keep and Cortana, and using teamwork software like Trello have since become my saving grace.
Still, the internet is crawling with perils of its own kind, and you have to come in with a system for crisis management.
Like every other business, there is stress. But it's a different kind.
I soon found out the benefits of my long walks to the bus stops every morning while I worked in my regular job. As an online entrepreneur, my diet went downhill, and my general health declined. I was at grave risk of getting sugar-related ailments. The strain on the eyes from staring at a computer system for such lengths of time is equally devastating.
Physical stress is one thing, but research has shown that mental stress, which this line of work demands, is far more dangerous to the heart. People in our line of work are more prone to cardiac events ranging from heart attacks, bypass surgery and angioplasty. The blame is not squarely at the foot of online entrepreneurship. The heart problems usually occur because many online entrepreneurs get into the online business believing a lethal sentiment -- "If I can get an online business running, I can have a lot of time to myself to meet all these other demands I can't seem to meet with my 9-5.”
In the end, they find themselves saddled with the mental strain required to run a profitable internet company coupled with great physical strain from meeting many other demands. How do we combat this?
Related: Surprising Ways to Reduce Stress
I often advise monthly or bi-monthly breaks. Set your mail to vacation mode, and just rest. I also advise the use of mild relaxants and stress medication. You must consult a doctor here, so you don't use something addicting. A great deal of internet entrepreneurs are addicted to stress medication and to substances containing cannabis. However, with the recent innovations, doctors are beginning to prescribe CBD oil as a great alternative to coventional pot especially for it's enhanced functions for improving sleep and dealing with stress. It also doesn't get you high, which has to count for something.
Don't get me wrong, there are tons of benefits to being your own boss, travelling as much as you want, and earning a bit more money. However, it's not all roses, and it's every bit a job as any other. So while you pursue the perks, just make sure you have your head screwed on right.