Successful Solopreneurs Share Their Best Real-World Online Business Advice
Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.Richard Branson
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.Dale Carnegie
Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.Zig Ziglar
Great quotes, right?
But when was the last time a motivational quote got you all pumped up, and then…
Nada. Zilch. Nothing happens.
Quotes are like potato chips. They taste great. And it’s hard to eat just one. But they don’t seem to be good for you. No one actually does anything, except get fat, physically (from the chips) or mentally (from too many quotes).
Let’s change that!
Instead of looking to legends who spout inspirational zingers, let’s consider people who are just like you and me. These are solopreneurs who simply wanted to build their very own online businesses with income and equity, something that would deliver a higher goal (e.g., self-sufficiency or freedom or simply to add to the kids’ college funds).
That‘s much closer to home. You know… Real people who “succeed small but big enough.”
Fortunately, we talk to people like that all the time.
We asked these successful solopreneurs, “What’s the best advice you can give to any solopreneur who is building an online business?”
The answers aren’t sexy. Unlike “potato chip quotes,” though, they will fill you with really healthful (organic, even!) nutrients. Here’s what they had to say:
If I had to pick one thing, I would say, over and over as I’ve met successful website owners, no matter what their niche, the thing they all have in common is putting in the time and work, consistently. Building an online business is hard work — it isn’t quick and easy.
It will most likely take you several years to really get in the groove and begin to make serious money, although you can begin to see some more modest results sooner.
Don’t compare yourself to those farther ahead of you. You can’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. If you focus, put in the time daily, and hustle, you can do it too.
Bottom line: Patience, persistence and consistency. You can do that!
Read more from Taylor: How to Get Rid of Your Boring Day Job
Go for it! Don’t put it off! What is your passion? Do you notice that your friends call you about a specific problem or for advice on a specific topic? Perhaps it’s budgeting or gardening, or painting! If you have a passion that you’d like to share, look into it and begin the journey!
A journey begins with a single step. You don’t have to put 30 hours a week into a website. You need to put in the time YOU decide. When I started in 2010, I was working full time at a preschool. Some weeks I worked 2-3 hours on my website, some weeks not at all.
As a Mom, your children will see your passion, learn from your entrepreneurial journey and, you will be modeling how to pursue a passion and how to start a business. They will notice. They will observe. They will benefit from your journey.
Let me show you what I mean: Our oldest daughter loves to ride her bike, even now as an adult. In 2009, she once rode her bicycle from college in the Boston area to New Hampshire to spend Thanksgiving with us. She didn’t want to be picked up. She mapped out the route, rode with a friend and checked in often…and loved it!
This month, she went on a trip to France with her band. This meant she would not be home for Mother’s Day. Instead, I received this in the mail for Mother’s Day:
As I said—they will notice, observe, benefit and grow because of your journey! Go for it!
Bottom line: Read the note again! There’s nothing to add.
Read more from Cheryl: From Preschool Teacher to Work-at-Home Mom
The Action Guide itself is worth its weight in gold, and the SBI! tools — like Brainstormer — are the only tools I know that will be able to tell you right off the bat if your niche is a viable one and worth pursuing.
You will never know how much that is worth until you spend hours, days, weeks, months, or even years trying to profit from a niche with little or no demand.
Bottom line: Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Avoid fatal mistakes in the early days.
Read more from Michelle: How this Solopreneur Quit Her Day Job at the Age of 23
I would probably just say, it’s really the beginning, and it all comes down to the Action Guide. Get your business up and running, and in the right direction, and properly so. I have not been doing it for very long, but for me the SBI! Action Guide is the core.
Even looking back, you understand the importance of following and doing what it says. Even more so the parts that you struggle with, so you have to be diligent and stick with it. It’s not there to beat you, but really help guide you. Furthermore, if you really do get stuck then you go to the SBI! community forums and the help will be there.
Even now I go back to the Action Guide and go, OK, I remember this, it’s in the back of my mind, and reminds me of ideas that I haven’t implemented yet. If you are starting, just stick to the Action Guide — it really does work. I was really surprised with the quality of this document. And it is always improving. When I go back now, it looks different, it’s worded differently. It’s always been correct, but still it’s constantly evolving.
Bottom line: Don’t wing it. Follow a proven process diligently.
Read more from David: Veteran Finds Renewed Vigor and Focus as a Solopreneur
You know there are a lot of business builders who say … find something that’s going to make you money. Don’t do that, because in website-building, product development, everything you do, the passion for your topic is what’s going to set you apart from everybody else.
Pick something you are passionate about, something you love… something that won’t matter if things get bad; you’re still going to want to go talk about it every day. So that’s the main thing: to be passionate about your topic. That’s going to be what serves you best.
Bottom line: OK, you’ve read this one before. But passion really does drive success.
Read more from Carl: 5 Discoveries Set This Solopreneur Free
Be honest with yourself. Choose an area you are fired up about. Pick something with an economic future but that you really enjoy and will enjoy for the long term. I started with a guitar site/product. I love guitar to this day but will never be a guitar authority. So that is not my long-term play.
I loved building from a young age and always will. That was my long-term play. You must figure that out before you spend precious time and money on something that won’t work. Ken has said it takes as much time and effort thinking about how to build a small site or business as it does to plan and create a business in a bigger market. The difference is, a business in a bigger market has room to grow and evolve.
Bottom line: Go with what you really know. Think long-term.
Read more from Richard: How to Market Your Products, Beat the Big Guys, and Build an Authentic Life for Yourself
Have some ideas about how you plan to monetize right off the bat, but also keep yourself open to new ideas. I never even considered info products until my site was nearly two years old, and I wish I would’ve started sooner.
Once you monetize, learn everything you can about how that form of monetization works. I didn’t become a full student of info products and self-publishing until three+ years after putting out 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts. I’d be much farther along now if I would’ve started learning early instead of just cashing the checks and being happy with what I had.
Also, keep working. You’ll get to the end of the tunnel soon enough!
Bottom line: You’re not building a site. You’re building a business. How will you monetize?
Read more from Bryan: How to Turn Writer’s Block Into a Writer’s Career
The advice I would give is this:
If you have any entrepreneurial spirit at all — even just a tiny spark — then go for it.
Or, in the words of Virgin Airline’s founder Sir Richard Branson: “Screw It, Just Do It!!!” Seriously, all of us have one topic we know quite a lot about. See if you can put it into words, and follow Richard’s advice. Oh, and go with SBI! for all your business-building needs. You won’t regret it.
A second important piece of advice: proofread your work. Please have someone other than you proofread your work. It’s so hard to read your own prose because you just tend to see what you want to see — and not exactly what you think you’ve written.
Ask a trusted friend or your spouse, or other family member, to give it “the once over.” At the very least, compose your pages in MSWord or the like and run a spell- and grammar-check before copying and pasting your text into your web page.
Bottom line: Screw it! Just proof-read. 😉
Read more from Susan: How On Earth Was I Going to Start a Website?
I just had this conversation recently with friends who were looking to launch an online business. It was very easy advice to give. Buy SBI!, read everything very carefully, go through the steps slowly, and ask for help when needed.
It is often a very exciting time, and the tendency is to rush through. You have to resist that urge and pace yourself because building any kind of business takes a lot of time, patience, and careful deliberation. Where did I learn that advice? From SBI! of course!
Bottom line: Good things come to the patient and persistent!
The best advice I could give anybody starting out as an entrepreneur is this…
Really really find out what you truly love to do and just do it. Pour your heart into it. Build your one-of-a-kind website around your passion. Visitors to your site will pick up on your passion and reward you in ways you cannot imagine. Let them know you are there for them. Money will follow.
My second bit of advice is to learn all you can about social media; Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter. I have had my site for a long time and have learned a lot using SBI!. Google search was where it was at for a lot of us and probably still is for most, but when I learned about Facebook and how it worked, and how to use it, my sales increased dramatically.
I sell shed plans on my site that I have developed and written all by myself. These plans are my main stream of income and I put every ounce of my learning into them, to make them easy for buyers to use.
I also provide email support to anyone who buys my plans so they don’t feel left out on a limb with nowhere to go when they don’t understand something about building a shed. I have had to learn a lot of software programs to write my plans, but I wouldn’t trade the time I have had to spend on this.
I am so proud of the fact that I have been able to learn and use SBI! for my website. So, find out what you love to do and are good at it, build your website around this, and share everything you know on social media. You can’t go wrong. Keep the dream alive and keep plugging away.
Bottom line: Search + Social = Success. It’s all about the user — mean that!
Read more from John: How to Build Retirement Income and Have Fun Along the Way
Back yourself. You can do this.
Be excited about the possibilities of creating your space and business on the web.
Work hard at it and persevere.
Does that count as one piece of advice?
Bottom line: Believe in yourself and stick to it.
Read more from Antoinette: How Pushing Your Boundaries Can Pay Off Big
My one piece of advice is to never give up.
Choose a subject you are passionate about, as it takes time to create a successful business whether online or offline. If you are passionate about what you do, you are more likely to continue when the going gets tough. And it does get tough every now and then. No matter how hard it seems or how many setbacks you have… never, ever give up and you will get there eventually!
Bottom line: It ain’t easy. Passion and persistence win the day.
Read more from Maria: How a Single Mom Turned Crafting Into Profit
My biggest advice is to start now. Don’t wait for the best idea and don’t wait for perfection. Do what you are passionate about, and do it now. The sooner you can get things off the ground the sooner you see the results.
Bottom line: The average SBIer takes 11 months to start an SBI! business.
They were serious, but too much investigation led them to 1 or more sexy-sounding failures.
Read more from Darlene: How Decorating Cakes Became My Ticket to Freedom
Assuming that you already decided that you want to be an online entrepreneur, I can give you this simple advice. When you create a new page, imagine that you are the visitor who is looking for information online — and give them everything you would want to know about this subject.
When writing a page, do not leave any stones unturned and any potential questions unanswered — give people the information they want, and then some more. Then your website will be useful and will bring traffic and income.
Bottom line: Imagine you are your visitor/customer every step of the way!
Read more from Svetlana: A Solopreneur Earns Amazingly Good Money From Las Vegas… Without Gambling
You absolutely need tons of determination and “stickability,” a low frustration threshold, expert knowledge of your particular subject, a willingness to put in lots of time learning on the job for the ultimate gain, patience, and problem-solving skills, and not have a desperate need to supplement your income now.
I can’t tell you how much time I spent reading, learning and “trying,” deleting and starting over again, before I ever got anywhere.
You also need to know what you are going to sell beyond affiliate products and whether there’s indeed a market for your product –— before you start building your site.
Bottom line: Have a fire in your belly and an ice in your veins.
Read more from Elly: A Counsellor Turned Web-Nerd
Milly Frances and Paula Fitzpatrick
Milly: This is the same advice that I ignored — along with countless others before me — and doesn’t just relate to the online business world:
Don’t spend years perfecting a product which you then present with a Big Bang only to find that you haven’t actually asked what your subscribers want, but whatever it is, it isn’t your product! The result of this is exhaustion, high levels of anxiety and burnout.
Far better to start tentatively, with a beta product that you put in front of a small group of advocates to test and feed back on and continue to develop the product with their input and help. This is far less terrifying and more satisfying for everyone. You make friends and you find that you have a product or service that people are prepared to pay for.
Paula: Think carefully about the monetization options of your niche before you start. The word “passion” is a bit hackneyed but you will be eating, dreaming and living your niche, so you must love it or your enthusiasm will soon drain away.
Bottom line: Sell your own product, but sell one that folks actually need. Ask them.
Read more from Milly & Paula: How to Marry Audience and Product for Profit
Research, research, research. And be honest about what that research tells you.
We all talk about passion, but blind passion can lead you straight down blind alleys. Cultivate being dispassionate some of the time, long enough that you can fully test your ideas — all of them — and go in the direction that the research tells you.
It’s often not the one you think…
Initially I really thought that Salsa and Latin dancing would be the most commercial of all the dance styles. Nope. 15 years later, the Salsa program has sold the least (by far) and the Ballet program sells more than all my other titles put together. Nor did I ever imagine that the success my whole company hinges on would be courtesy of YouTube!
So there you go. Be prepared to go in a direction that you weren’t expecting.
Oh, and one last thing, if that’s OK? If you can, reach out to other SBIers who are near you. The London SBI! group I meet up with is an absolute blast. We’re a bit noisy and a bit messy, but the whole thing works like a charm. If you ever want to hear what an exchange of ideas really sounds like, sit in a room with 20 SBIers!
Bottom line: Temper passion with research. “Solo” does not have to mean “alone.”
Read more from Suzanne: Meet the World’s Only Dance Class Critic
Allow yourself to be excited about what you’re creating… or don’t bother.
You’ll also need what SiteSell can give you:
- An online business system that steers you towards the most effective business building activities
- A flourishing community support system where you can get answers and inspiration
Bottom line: If you’re not excited about your business, don’t bother.
Read more from Nancy: Being Excited Each Day
Well, I have three pieces of advice, if that’s alright.
First, trust your gut instincts. Don’t second guess yourself. If the time is right, if the topic is right, you’ll know it.
Second, don’t give up. Just like anything worth doing, learning and creating a successful online business takes time and effort, but in the end it’s worth it.
Third, enjoy yourself! If you’re not loving what you’re doing, then you’re not doing what you love. Examine your life until you find what you love and then go and do it!
Not only do I love both my Kindle Fire and my website, but I also love SiteSell because it made my business possible! Thanks SBI!!
Bottom line: Love it!
Read more from Rachel: Loving My Fire
Choose a topic that you love and that you enjoy. Too many people start websites because they feel the topic will make them money, but then they get bored and work on it less and less until the whole thing dries up on them.
When you choose a topic that really resonates with you, and that is a real part of your life that you can speak to from experience, you will never run out of things to talk about. As you learn and grow in your topic, you can share this with your audience who appreciate it because it can help with their learning curve.
As an added bonus, if you choose to teach about a topic you basically live and breathe, just about everything you buy can be a tax write-off!
Bottom line: Use your passion, combine it with your experience to help your audience, and reap rich rewards!
Read more from Patty: Vegan Coaching and Cooking
I would say not to be defined by your starting point to building an income. You might find that you make a bad choice at first and run out of steam, but that has still advanced you along a huge learning curve.
Failure sets you up for the next part of your journey. If you want to make a go of it you will, but you may end up in a totally different place to where you expected. That is certainly the case for me.
Bottom line: You may not succeed on your first try. Learn from failure —
win on your next shot.
Read more from David: Connecting the Dots
Stephanie and Tobias Locsei
Our top piece of advice is to be “relentlessly resourceful,” which is a phrase coined by entrepreneur Paul Graham. I think it’s a wonderful summary of the mindset of successful business owners.
So what does it mean? It’s actually two pieces of advice hidden in one.
Relentless means don’t give up. Keep pushing, keep going, persevere with all your energy. There are going to be plenty of times that you feel like giving up, but you’ve just gotta keep going. It’s a cliche but it’s true.
But being relentless isn’t enough. You need to be resourceful too.
Resourceful means that you keep learning new things, keep trying new things, exploring new approaches when the old one doesn’t work. Instead of banging your head against an obstacle, look for ways around it, over it, under it, or in a different direction altogether.
It means not being fixated on your first idea for a business (a mistake we often see!) and instead having the flexibility to be open to other ideas and opportunities, and to seize new opportunities as they arise. There’s a statistic that two thirds of successful businesses have drastically changed direction from the initial idea, which tells you how important it is to be flexible.
That was a long answer to a short question, but we hope it’s useful to people starting out!
Bottom line: Be relentless, resourceful and ready to change direction if necessary.
Read more from Stephanie and Tobias: Homemade Gifts
Achieving Success in Your Own Online Business
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve just read about and learned from 23 members of our wonderful community. And they’re not alone.
Take a look at the hundreds of other SBIers who have used our process and tools to turn their passions and ideas into thriving businesses.
And here’s where things get interesting.
Did you know that someone who chooses to start building an online business using SBI! is 100x more likely to succeed? There are dozens of website-building platforms and tools out there, but none provide the means to making those websites into actual businesses.
Sure, all the people above gave a lot of credit to SBI! — too much, actually. We did not ask them to. SBI! enabled these folks to succeed, but it took what we call “BAM” to make it happen…
Brain — do something you know and love. You don’t need to be brainy, just knowledgeable.
Attitude — positive, ready to succeed.
Motivated — these folks are determined, persistent.
Re-read the 23 “bottom lines” quickly. The themes all spring from BAM. There’s nothing brilliant in there, nothing quotable. Success does not come from brilliant quotes or the latest cool social media technique.
Building a profitable business that changes your life is far more basic, more profound than that. It comes from the qualities that you possess.
I know it’s not unusual for a brand to get excited and passionate about their service. Heck, you probably wouldn’t buy from someone who wasn’t, right?
But how many other brands, especially a relatively small one like ours (compared to Wix, GoDaddy, etc.) can demonstrate such a high level of success through stories, case studies and measurable results?
None. The failure rate is dismal. All that noise out there hides that. So let’s simplify down to one bottom line…
If you have “BAM” and if you’ve ever thought about starting your own online business, or have an online business that’s struggling, SBI! can will help you.