It’s only natural for those who care about you to give their two cents about the path you should take. But sometimes that advice is not the guidance you actually need to get your online business off the ground. For that kind of advice you need to go to the someone who understands.
What you need is advice from actual online entrepreneurs who know exactly what it’s like to be where you are. Because let’s face it, business is hard to get into. With the advent of the Internet, now more people than ever can build a business for a global audience, and that’s just more competition for you.
But even with all the competition, you can still do this. You just need to know how.
While we can’t give you all the guidelines you’ll need to start your online empire, here are 3 essential pieces of advice from entrepreneurs with their own successful online businesses. Check back next week for even more advice on how to create an online business that succeeds.
Embrace Feeling Uncomfortable
Heidi Zak started with a dream to fit the perfect fit. She is now the CEO and founder of the fast-growing company ThirdLove. Her website and app helps women find their perfect bra size right from home. Users can also shop ThirdLove’s line of undergarments for well-tailored and fine quality underclothes.
But Zak didn’t start off as an online retail mogul. She worked a great-paying corporate job before leaving to start her company. She saw a need, custom-fit bras, and went after it. Once Zak hired on the designers to make her vision possible, the rest was history. Within 4 years, Zak’s business has garnered over $13 million in revenue and continues to grow a loyal following.
Zak started with a desire to help more women feel comfortable in her clothes, but the advice she shares for fellow entrepreneurs is to, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Often we think that if something doesn’t feel right or uncomfortable we must have made a wrong decision. We fall into the trap of thinking that everything has to feel “right” before we can move forward.
But more often than not starting a business will be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Zak says, “When you start your own company you have to get used to learning how to do things that you don’t know how to do.” She adds that this also means embracing uncertainty: “learn how to take risks and be okay with not knowing what the next stage is going to bring.”
This may feel unnatural and terrifying, but the most successful businesses take the leap, even if they are uncomfortable doing so at first. As Zak puts it, “Most regrets come from not seizing an opportunity or not doing something. A lot more comes out of saying yes than saying no.”
See the Possibilities
When one door closed for Tim Chen another one opened. Chen lost his job as a hedge fund analyst when he decided to create NerdWallet. Friends and family would come to Chen for financial advice, so why not monetize what he had to share?
Chen’s platform gives its users several helpful resources for financial planning, right from their phone or desktop. NerdWallet is centered around the idea that no financial situation is the same as the other. That’s why financial advice and management needs to be tailored to each individual, which is exactly what NerdWallet does.
Years after its initial launch, NerdWallet’s earned more than $69 million, quite a change after its first year when Chen only earned $75 from the business. Luckily he stuck with the idea, imagine what he would be missing out on if he quit that first year.
But Chen continually makes the decision to see potential and possibilities around him and to help others do so as well. He says, “I’m really inspired by the possibility of change and how to seize that.” From his experience, accomplishing that change starts “with a combination of proving something is possible, telling the right people about it and then pick up the torch and carry it on from there.”
While Chen was the one who started NerdWallet, he knows that its potential wasn’t possible without others. Change requires one person to start the ball rolling, but needs more and more people to keep it moving forward. For Chen, that means, “planting the seeds of what is possible and enabling a lot of people to go after it.”
Get Outside of Yourself
Founder of the popular online content site, Brit + Co, CEO Brit Morin created her digital empire after she decided she needed a change in her life. She knew she wanted to start a company of her own rather than work under someone else. But doing what?
Morin hardly knew where to begin, until she noticed just how much women around her thought they weren’t creative people. Creativity had always been a passion for Morin, and she knew she could empower other women in the same way if they had a space to learn unique ways they could be creative.
Now, Morin’s site for creativity has over 130 million users, with traffic and new content coming in daily. But she knows that her success is not just about her. Morin lives by the first line in Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book she always recommends to people. The line reads, “It’s not about you.” For Morin, that philosophy is key to how she runs her business.
When the focus is on herself, then it’s more easy for Morin to get “caught up in the ups and downs of every day,” she explains. Morin says that at these times, “It’s easy to take criticism personally or to feel responsible when anything goes badly.” This behavior drains Morin’s energy and makes her less able to run her business effectively.
But on those days, Morin’s done progressively better to follow Carnegie’s advice and put the focus outside of herself. “I’ve learned to stay focused on our mission of igniting creativity in women, and empowering them to use it to shape their lives,” she says. “That keeps me both focused and motivated.”
When your business is taking hard hits, turn your focus elsewhere. Remember why you are doing this, and who you are doing it for. Focusing just on yourself isn’t going to make a worthwhile business. But focusing on others will.
When the Going Gets Tough…
Even when you live by these words of advice, each day you run a business will bring with it setbacks and new challenges. Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. It never was and unfortunately it never will be.
But somewhere along the way to where you are now, you felt a drive to make a change in your life. Just like these entrepreneurs, you felt a desire to do something great, to change people’s lives and to change your own.
Remember that it’s okay to feel a little uncomfortable and insecure. You’re stepping out of your comfort zone, it’s to be expected. Remember that the power of possibility lies within you, with help from others. Remember that this journey isn’t just about you. You’re going to have a greater impact than you can even imagine. But it all begins by having faith that you can.