The 3 Things You Must Do to Succeed in Online Business

  • June 16, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 42 Comments

Note: this is the first post leading up to the launch of my new Affiliate Marketing for Beginners course. Read on for details of the launch coming next Tuesday.

My journey from wandering bum on a sabbatical to where I am today has taken lots of twists and turns and frankly has taken longer than I initially planned.

Shortly after starting Free Pursuits, I stumbled on to the whole location independent and lifestyle design movements and happily went along for the ride. Those two overlapping groups gave me a lot in the inspiration department. They helped me construct a vision of what I wanted my life to look like.

I knew right away that I wanted to build a location independent lifestyle business, that I wanted to be able to live and work where and when I felt like it. I knew that I wanted to be able to work on projects that fulfilled me and helped people at the same time.

The problem was, in the beginning I didn’t pay enough attention to doing the things that really mattered to achieve those goals. Now that has changed, and I don’t plan on looking back.

When you start a journey like this, to radically transform your lifestyle and become an independent small business owner (solopreneur, if you will), it’s easy to get lost. There is so much information and mis-information out there about what’s possible and how you should proceed that it’s easy to get caught in analysis paralysis or to bounce from possibility to possibility without really making much progress or finishing anything.

The Ferriss to Guillebeau Ratio

Books like the 4-Hour Workweek are great for inspiration, but honestly it can make it all sound just a little too easy. You have to understand that 4-hour workweeks aren’t possible until you’ve paid your dues and found a repeatable way for you to earn a living.

I guess if I were advising someone starting out today, I would tell you to listen to a little less Tim Ferriss and a little more Chris Guillebeau. Then mix in some Third Tribe. Dreaming is important, but you can’t afford to gloss over the details.

Thankfully, I persevered and have a very understanding spouse who has been there to support me along the way. Of course, living in Mexico for 9 of the last 18 months has been a great motivator (if a little distracting at the same time). That support, perseverance and motivation has finally given way to doing something I love and nearly supporting us from it. Hopefully this upcoming product launch will push me over the edge 😉

Figuring Out What it Takes

As I’ve been putting together this new course on affiliate marketing over the past few months, I’ve reflected a lot on what has led to my breakthrough, and the common traits other people who are succeeding in online business share.

What I’ve noticed might surprise you. It’s not about getting lucky, or being featured by some a-list blogger or exploiting a loophole or short-term opportunity.

Succeeding online has little to do with external factors. Sure, luck can make things happen faster, but luck can’t do everything. Most of what determines whether you’ll succeed or fail is actually internal. It’s a struggle you have to fight against yourself.

In the end, I’ve narrowed it down to three undeniable things you must do to succeed in online business. Many other things are important (please share in the comments), but these to me are at the most important:

  1. Suspend Disbelief
  2. We live in a very cynical world. Think about your typical reaction to hearing about something that you didn’t know was possible. You’re probably tempted to dismiss those new things as luck or hype or by thinking something might have been possible in the past, but isn’t now.

    That’s what I long thought about affiliate marketing. It seemed like a vague scam, or something that people were able to do back when the search engines were more lenient.

    Fast forward about 9-12 months, and I’m now making a respectable sum every month from affiliate marketing. It isn’t my biggest income source, but it’s enough to pay my rent in San Francisco.

    What did it take to get here? First I had to suspend my disbelief long enough to really look at things. Cynicism isn’t a useful mindset. It actually keeps us from exploring and finding out for ourselves.

    To succeed in online business, you have to suspend disbelief. You have to let yourself believe that what you want to achieve is possible. You have to believe that what other people say might actually be the truth. At least what some people say. Just because someone has something to sell doesn’t mean he or she isn’t legitimately trying to help you.

  3. Choose a Method and Stick With It
  4. The truth is, there are nearly unlimited paths you can take to achieve your online business goals. It’s tempting to research every potential option. And once you finally commit to learning something fully, it’s tempting to jump onto the next “shiny new thing” and bail on what you started.

    Sound familiar? I know that’s what I did for far too long. Look at me here, now, a week from releasing my first product through this blog that I started 15 months ago. What took so long? It was that internal struggle I mentioned earlier. My own fears, insecurities, disbelief and short attention span have all done their part in keeping me from getting where I want to be.

    Maybe you’ve experienced what I’m talking about.

    To get where you want to go, you have to pick something and run with it. You have to give a method or business idea or process enough of a chance to prove itself out. If you know a system has worked for lots of other people, put faith in that fact and keep yourself from getting distracted until you’ve learned and applied the entire system.

  5. Actually “Ship” Something
  6. Finally, and maybe most importantly, you can’t expect to succeed in online business unless you have something for sale. You have to provide some value people can pay you money for.

    That may sound simple or obvious, but so many of us get caught up in blogging and networking and talking about “revenue models” or technologies that we forget the most important part of business.

    You have to “ship” a product (or a service or sell someone else’s product). Your business has to have a reason and mechanism for your customers to pay for something, either directly or indirectly.

    Until you have that, you’re not really a business. Period.

Coming Tuesday, June 22nd, The Launch of my New Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Course

After suspending disbelief and choosing a method and sticking with it, I’m finally ready to “ship” a product! If you’ve been curious about affiliate marketing, I hope you’ll see if this course is right for you. It will explain, step-by-step how to build a web-based business around affiliate marketing.

I’m launching the course on Tuesday, June 22nd, starting at 9am PDT. The course will only be for sale initially for 24 hours, and here’s why.

Being my first course (and a in-depth one), I want to start with a small and manageable group of initial members. The course format is a member’s only website. I want to let in a limited number of people who can help me refine the materials by providing feedback. I’ll reopen the course at some point to a wider audience after refining it.

In exchange for your early participation in the course, and your valuable feedback, I’ll be releasing the course next Tuesday at a steeply discounted price for this first group. Subsequent members will have to pay full price.

If all of this interests you, sign up to be notified when the course is released. If you sign up for this list, I’ll even throw in an additional discount on launch day as thanks.

Also, if you liked this article, I would really appreciate if you shared it with someone who might also get value from it. Thanks for reading.

photo by Isolino