I started tinkering with the internet at the start of 2003, then finished my property maintenance business towards the end of that year and went full time online.
In the two years since then I've hit 'the wall' about once a week. What do I mean when I say 'hitting the wall'? I'm referring to that point where you get so frustrated that you feel like throwing your hands in the air and packing it all in.
I've seen it in action on eBay when I was starting out selling eBooks and software. I found this guy on there and he was selling all of his information products for one pence each. Within the listing he gave a link where you could download all of his products for free.
He sent everyone to his 'about me' page where he proceeded to tell his life story - how he was trying to stop his wife leaving him because all of his dreams of online success had failed and she was no longer prepared to accept him sitting in front of the PC all day while there was no money coming in!
I felt really sorry for him for a while until I hit the wall myself later that week and started to feel sorry for myself! Don't be fooled - this is no easy business to be in.
There are many reasons why working online/being self employed can be very challenging but here are two that I have identified as regular 'frustrators' -
You can do wonderful things with technology - when it works! In other words EXPECT things to go wrong regularly. So you've got a mailing list script, multiple email addresses, multiple websites, auction accounts, autoresponders etc. Do you really expect all of these to integrate perfectly? Forget it.
As an example, the other week I was experiencing difficulties with my broadband connection - it was very slow. The first problem was that I needed to identify whether the problem was due to my broadband connection or whether it was the router (for my wireless laptop) or whether it was the PC that was slow.
The second problem was that because my connection/router/PC was slow about 70% of the web based solutions that I use to run my business were unaccessible. I could log in but they would crash and I would sit there staring at the blue bar, cursing my PC and wanting to smash it to pieces! This took three days to resolve. That's about a 1/100th of my working year ruined because of one single problem.
Everybody talks BIG on the internet. A tiny minority of people have rapidly achieved great wealth on the internet. If you had just arrived from another planet and you decided to surf the internet you would get the impression that millions of us are now retired with huge wealth while a tiny minority of blithering idiots still struggle to make money.
The truth is the opposite. The amount of people who have found wealth very quickly on the internet is so tiny that in reality their stories are hardly worth considering. It's almost better to put them entirely out of your mind.
Unfortunately though we need to study and learn. We need to surf the internet to do this. Consequently we are going to be bombarded with stories of massive success, of people working for five minutes a day to maintain their multiple streams of income which flow like rivers into their bank accounts.
How many times have I read of the joy of these people who sit in front of their PC's - never touching the keyboard, just watching their paypal email account going "Ping!Ping!Ping!"
Then they explain how all that we have to do is to copy their proven, secret system and buy their software for $50 and we too can enjoy a stress free life. Seriously, even though it's plain utter BS, after being subjected to this monologue day after day it has an effect.
It makes it easier for us to give up. When we hit the wall and look at our PC that never seems to work properly and add up the crazy hours that we have slogged away for and realise just how different our lives are from these imaginary Gods who are so blessed then it becomes really easy to tell ourselves that we will NEVER be like those people.
They must have perfect computers that never fail - and if they do then due to their success they just buy a new one and then....
STOP! STOP! STOP!
Reality check - those people don't exist. They were made up to try and motivate us to buy a product. There is NO easy money. NOONE is finding it easy to make a living. If you know someone who says they are then there are only two reasons that you need to consider.
1. They are lying - many people do.
2. They are the exception that proves the rule. In other words there may just be someone, somewhere who actually finds it easy to make money - now. But have they always been in that position? It is possible (but not very common) to work really hard and do all of the groundwork and then find yourself in a position where it seems easy to make money. But I've never met anyone in that position.
I read in one of Robert Kiyosaki's (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) books that out of 100 business start ups 99 will fail and 1 will succeed. These are the sort of statistics that we need to be studying regularly to remind us of just how difficult self employment really is. We need to get these motivational items and fill our lives with them JUST to combat what the internet will shower us with.
If you randomly surf the internet you will find overblown success stories that will eventually tear you apart and help you to fail. To find positive, helpful encouragement you have to seek it out. It takes a commitment and it takes hard work. But it's an important resource that we need to pursue.
I currently work alone (except for the company of my loyal assistant - my dog, Scooby Doo) and consequently there is noone around to -
1. Bounce my ideas off 2. Pat me on the back 3. Lift me up by my coat tails when I'm down 4. Tell me I'm still doing the right thing even when the bills are piling up and everything is going wrong. 5. Do all of the domestic tasks involved in surviving when I decide to work for 22 hours solid.
I could continue this list but I hope that you get the point. To summarize, if you find that you are hitting the wall and questioning whether to quit and go back and get a J.O.B. - ask yourself these questions first -
1. Have you really given yourself a fair chance or have you (understandably) allowed frustration to get the better of you?
2. Have you gotten so determined and so involved in your work that you have secretly and subconsciously said to yourself,"I'm going to put everything into this one last time and if THIS doesn't work......." - what could be referred to as the s*** or bust syndrome?
Solution - Stop yourself in your tracks. You need three things now - some time, a pen and some paper. Write down everything about what you were trying to achieve up until today. List goals, action plans and anything else that you have been using up until this point. Next decide that you are going to rewrite the whole thing based on everything that you have learnt.
As you try to work out what it is that you want to achieve today (note - not yesterday, today) bare in mind one particular thing that can help. As you have come to a crossroads and may be at the point where you come up with a really good revised plan - try to find the areas in the old plan where you followed the herd and did what you thought was right because OTHERS were doing it. Then take those areas and redesign them to suit exactly what YOU would do. Make it YOUR plan, not someone elses.
Go back through the list marking which areas are still suitable for your NEW plan and which ideas need to be changed and which ideas were non starters. If necessary take some time over this and even do something else unconnected with work and then come back to it - (this will allow your subconscious to do some of the work for you.)
While you are looking at where you may have made mistakes it is now a lot easier to see if you were beating yourself up for making these errors. If so simply make a list of all the things that you got right and all of the things that you have achieved - however small.
If you do this in the right way you will quickly realise just how far you have come. Just how much information that you have absorbed and utilised. Just how much closer to your goals you have become - the hardest parts are the early steps and you may have gone way past that point already. Hopefully, if this is working you will end up shocked and embarrassed that you even considered giving up.
So many times in my life I have walked away from something that was the equivalent of a house that was 99% completed. It just required one last brick to be laid but I walked away. Maybe I just like the 'starting from scratch' feeling. Maybe I'm scared of success. But one thing I have learnt is that the more I make this mistake the less likely I am to do it again.
Therefore if every time you look at your current situation you just see failures - then you should be pleased at how far you have come. The more failures you can see that you have made then the closer you are to achieving success. It may sound back to front but many times life works like that.
You can either try and turn the world inside out so that it suits your view of 'the way things should be' or you can take the easier path and accept that failure now, means increased possibility of success in the future.
Of course, there is one 'get out' that you can use if you really are determined to quit. To be really successful it has been said many times that you must love what you do. Ideally, you would do it anyway even if there was no money in it because you love it so much. This is true.
If you get this far and decide that you don't really like working online then please don't let me encourage you to stay in a dead end. Just be careful that the frustration isn't making you feel like you don't like online work. Try to imagine how you would feel if things were going a little smoother.
Remember to think outside of the box. This is important when you are trying to brainstorm new ideas but is also useful for other things. For example, recently I hit the wall and was questioning whether this actually was the dream career I had been searching for and for so long had believed it was.
In the back of my mind I knew that I had been working so hard that I had neglected all of the other things that were important. But due to my immense determination I simply couldn't get this thought to the front of my mind so that I could accept it and act accordingly. I kept pushing it further back in my mind hoping that it would go away.
So there wasn't much chance of me doing less work and relaxing to solve the problem - I was far too 'wired' and desperate for some success. So I did some reading which encouraged me to approach it from outside the box.
Do you know what solution I eventually found? I tidied up my house! I had been working flat out on some projects and at that point in time I could not see any way that I could slow down. By cleaning and tidying my office, my kitchen and my bedroom (all of the areas I use while working) I got on top of the clutter and mess.
This led to a 'mental' environment where I could clearly think about the tasks at hand. Without me realising it while I had been working away my mind was secretly stressing about all of the things that I was neglecting which were starting to get in my way. Without really knowing it, every time I used the bathroom and noticed all the cleaning that was required this was bringing me down and stopping me from concentrating on the work task at hand.
I tried thinking outside of the box. Instead of looking to the computer to find answers to my computer related problems I looked to the vacuum cleaner - and it worked! A greater example of thinking outside the box I have yet to hear. And boy did I pat myself on the back that night!
I was studying some old sayings and quotes online the other day (a great way I find to motivate and rejuvenate myself - if the saying 'hits home' then it gives you the comfort of knowing that someone, somewhere back in time was struggling the very same struggle as you) and I'd like to close this article by leaving three quotes to emphasize what I have been trying to get across. Here they are -
'Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.'
'All my life I've wanted to be somebody. But I see now I should have been more specific.'
'To have striven, to have made an effort, to have been true to certain ideals -- this alone is worth the struggle. We are here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from, life.'
Sir William Osler Canadian Physician and Teacher
About the author:
I'm not an internet 'guru'. I'm just an average 'Joe' who likes to write. If you want to learn more about Roger Davis and my growing list of websites please visit http://www.rogerdavis.name