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The Long, Winding, Sometimes Rocky Trail to Business Success, and How to Get There Faster

A man walking up a hiking trail of a mountain

Wouldn’t it be nice if business success was easy? If there was a formula for success, like all the self-help gurus would have us believe?

My answer to those questions is no. I think it’s good that business is challenging and difficult at times.

It’s only through fighting past the tough times — and puzzling through the online business challenges — that we learn. And once we’ve put the effort in, we appreciate the success we’re able to create more than if it was handed to us.

“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”
–Ralph Nader

There’s a trick to enjoying the process of building and running your own business. Expect the ups and downs, and the twists and turns. Welcome them. Embrace them. And take full advantage of what they’ll teach you.

Here’s what to look for, and how to meet your online business challenges:

Economic ups and downs

A changing economy is to be expected. Over the life of your business, you’ll see the economic climate go through times when it favors your business, and times when it squeezes your opportunities to a bare minimum.

Meet the challenge — think outside the box

There are ways to navigate the squeeze and continue building your business success.

Want to learn how to recession proof your online business? Watch the video below.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all my latest online business advice!

Income that disappears

You’re humming along, and things are going well, when suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you. Whether it’s losing your biggest client, a sudden turn in the demand for your product, or a health problem that means you have to dial back your hours, your income will dip from time to time.

Solution — plan ahead

Smart planning will help you achieve business success faster. Take stock of your current assets and plan your future to build resilience into your business.

If you’re ready to ditch your day job and build a profitable online business, I have something for you.

Yours Free: Revenue Revolution

A Guide to Large-Scale Revenue from a Small-Scale Audience. Ready for real online business success? Register below:

An inadvertent hit product or service

Sometimes the products or services you least expect to do well turn into sleeper “hits” that sell beyond your wildest expectations. This is not a bad problem to have, of course, but to continue with your business success path, something you may need to make adjustments around.

Related: Minimum Viable Product Examples: Build the Core of Your Online Business This Month

Make the most of unexpected success

When your business hits an unexpected period of growth, you might feel overwhelmed. The solution? Prepare for business success! When you create and follow a roadmap, you can conquer the #1 challenge many online entrepreneurs encounter.

Potential projects that fall through

You’ve been working on reeling in a new client for months. Or you’ve been talking to a potential partner. The new source of income is so close, you can taste it. You’re on the threshold of new business success! And (you’re embarrassed to admit) you’ve even started planning how you’ll spend your new income.

And suddenly — it’s gone. Plans change, and you won’t be able to count on that source of income in the future.

Solution: meet online business challenges with powerful tools

Leverage your content marketing to keep potential clients in your sales pipeline. Your website can help you make money from “Hello.”

And make the most of your email list.

Email marketing is still one of the most powerful digital marketing tools available to online entrepreneurs.

You can connect, deliver content, and generate profit with a smart email strategy.

Sales that fall flat

A service or product you offer has been a reliable source of income for months and years, and sales have begun to taper off. You know you need to make a change: will you keep it and update it? Pull it and replace it?

Meet online business challenges with data, not drama

When sales drop, don’t be discouraged. Data is your friend.

Planning is one way to get to business success faster.

Analyzing results isn’t sexy, but it’s one of the smartest things you can do to meet the challenge of disappointing sales.

Whether you have an online course or service-based business, sometimes a small tweak in your offer or the way you talk about it will give you a boost.

Realted: Why is My Course Not Selling? Smart Solutions to 4 Common Problems

If sales drop, don’t hide — analyze. Within problems there are opportunities.

Make sure you position yourself and your offer to resonate with your ideal customers. Claim your authority, price your offer to reflect its value. If you want help with that, grab my free resource below.

Yours Free: Revenue Revolution

A Guide to Large-Scale Revenue from a Small-Scale Audience. Ready for real online business success? Register below:

Potential partners come out of nowhere

Sometimes — when you least expect it — you’ll meet someone who will change the course of your business. Oftentimes you don’t realize it at the time, but looking back, you’ll see that change started to happen when you and that person crossed paths.

They may become a business partner, a brainstorming partner, or simply a source of inspiration. Once you find them, your business changes for the better.

Make the most of partnership opportunities

Joint ventures can boost your email list and profits.

In the best joint venture partnerships, both partners benefit. They leverage the goodwill and good name of both people or businesses.

But be cautious when entering into a partnership. Make sure you have a contract.

Do your due diligence and find out how the person you want to partner with runs their business and treats their customers. Their brand will impact your brand.

A partnership can be a huge opportunity — when you do it right.

You’ll get discouraged — and that’s okay

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a long and winding trail to walk as you build your business over the years. There will be ups and downs, and in the down moments, you may feel discouraged. Expect this: it’s natural. The road to business success is never straight.

“Success is never so interesting as struggle—not even to the successful.”
–Willa Cather

Someone in a light blue shirt counting coins - business success sometimes comes in small steps.

You’ll celebrate small victories

There will be many small moments of victory, and you’ll be a happier business owner if you find a way to celebrate them. Mark them on the calendar, keep a journal, report your successes to your business colleagues and family members. Every small business success deserves recognition, even if you’re the only person celebrating.

Guaranteed: your business will shape shift

Businesses evolve. Try to go into your business with a strong vision of what you want to accomplish, and a weak vision of how exactly you’ll accomplish it.

Because as time goes on, the tools and techniques you’ll use will change. You’ll respond to your customers, you’ll learn new skills, and you’ll have more opportunities at your disposal.

Don’t get attached to exactly how you’ll get to your destination.

Related: Should You Build a Personal Brand or a Business Brand?

What should you pack for the journey?

Pack your bags with plenty of persistence. You’ll need it for the trip. Remember, business success is about the journey, not the destination.

“Achieving a goal is nothing. The getting there is everything.”
–Jules Michelet

Take along your flashlight. Your business journey will feel like walking through the woods on a dark night. The flashlight in your hand will show you where to place your feet in the space directly ahead of you, but you won’t be able to see beyond that. And that’s OK: that’s how it works!

Use your listening ears. This is how you can “see” ahead of you. By listening to what your customers need, you can stay ahead of the game. So when that client bails out, or the big job falls through, or the partner loses interest, or sales fall flat … you have a plan B.

Here’s what business success boils down to …

The process is what it’s all about, not the goal. The goal is just what you’re pointing toward.

Human nature dictates that as soon as we accomplish one goal, we set a new one for ourselves. So you see, it’s not about the goal. It’s about the trail we travel to get there.

Let go of your goals. Embrace the process you’ll use to get there.

That’s where the learning happens, that’s where the adventure lives, and that’s where business gets done.

How to run the trail to business success faster

You can turn your heard-earned expertise into a profitable online business. And you don’t need a massive audience to do it.

Yours Free: Revenue Revolution

A Guide to Large-Scale Revenue from a Small-Scale Audience. Ready for real online business success? Register below:

Editor’s note: This article was originally published n November 5, 2014 and has been updated with new information.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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