The only way around is through ~ Robert Frost (tweet this)
From May to December 2011 I worked fulltime as a property manager and parttime on my key to freedom (otherwise known as my fledgling online business). When I quit my job at the end of that year and was able to dedicate all of my time to my business, it was a truly liberating (and frightening) experience.
But I still remember how difficult it was to find time to apply myself effectively when I was still in a job. It often felt like I simply didn’t have enough time to achieve what I had planned. I also didn’t have a clue what I was doing — my ideas kept failing and at times I felt like I was getting nowhere.
However, it all came good in the end and I attribute my success to the steps below. Without them I don’t know if I would have succeeded.
Step 1: Believe
So many people find excuses to abandon their dreams. It can be a lack of available time, not having a good idea, or any other number of reasons. But in actuality you have no excuse — I am 99.9% sure that there is no reason why you cannot establish a successful online business in your particular unique circumstances.
How I can I say that with such confidence? Quite easily, because I know that all human beings are capable of extraordinary things. To put it bluntly, the barriers you face pale in comparison to the kind of hardships that other people have overcome throughout the course of history.
I was reminded of this just the other day when I watched Lincoln — a story of men seeking to achieve something extraordinary in the face of incredible adversity:
Please understand that I do not intend to belittle the challenges you face or make you feel downhearted — quite the opposite. I want you to believe in yourself and your innate human capabilities. I want you to use the fact that people have overcome worse than what you face as a galvanizing force — a shining beacon for you to follow. Be inspired and motivated by what you know you are capable of achieving.
If you are going to succeed then there needs to be a voice in your head that believes you will. There may be other dissenting voices in there too (as there was for me) but that belief will carry you.
Step 2: Commit
It is all too easy to be paralyzed into inaction by the scale of what you plan to do. I remember only too well the doubt that I grappled with — the voice in my head that told me what I was trying to achieve was nothing more than a pipe dream.
However, if you understand that any major accomplishment is merely a series of smaller steps when broken down, handling the scale of your plans is far easier. My point is this: in order to succeed you must commit. I don’t care if you don’t even have what you consider to be a good idea. Don’t wait for that great idea to pop into your head — start with something. Anything.
It took me nearly half a year of complete failure (which was incidentally accompanied by valuable lessons) before I made a penny from my efforts. It was my belief that I would eventually hit upon a profitable venture — my belief that I was following a process that couldn’t fail if I persisted — that kept me going.
Mark this moment down as the point at which you committed wholeheartedly to your online business. From this point onwards success is determined only by your commitment. If you stick with it you will succeed — whether it takes a month, a year, or longer. Your destiny is in your own hands.
Step 3: Set Goals
Now you need to figure out two things:
- What you’re going to do
- Why you’re going to do it
At this stage you may not know what you’re going to do. You may feel that you are bereft of good ideas. My response to that quandary is to do something. Apply yourself to an endeavor that will bring you closer to achieving your goals — even if your steps are only minute.
Create a blog. Launch an eCommerce store. Submit some pitches for freelance writing jobs. Start your own web design business. Consult. Design a premium WordPress plugin. Find graphic design work. The list is endless.
I don’t want to hear that you have nothing to offer; that you have no skills. I don’t want to hear, “Well it’s easy for so-and-so because they’re a programmer/graphic designer/photographer/writer/etc.” You have skills. You have abilities that people will pay for (either directly or indirectly). Unless you have been unemployed your entire life there is already proof of that. Stop making excuses and start making goals.
To learn how to set goals effectively, read the following two posts:
- How to Set Goals and Motivate Yourself to Actually Achieve Them
- The Benefits of Goal Setting (Why I Disagree with Leo Babauta)
Step 4: Find Time
Based upon the emails I receive from LWB readers, this is probably the biggest issue that people run into when still in fulltime employment and seeking to create a profitable online business. A lot of people will make things really easy for themselves and simply claim that they don’t have enough time. So they never try. People with a little more presence of mind will be aware that they could make time, but that they need a little push in the right direction.
Either way, I have a number of recommendations as to how you can make extra time — seventeen of them in fact. My number one recommendation is essentially to extend your working day by an hour or two. This may seem like a tough call but tell me this — if your boss demanded it of you would you say no? Perhaps it’s time to discipline yourself in the same way that an employer would.
If you can’t face up to the prospect of working into the evening then I would suggest going to sleep an hour or two earlier and getting up with enough time before you punch in to get some work done on your business. Personally speaking, I am most productive in the morning (come the afternoon I tend to get a little restless).
Above all else remember this: everyone has time — it’s just a case of how desperately you want to succeed. Sacrifices may be necessary but no one said this was going to be easy. You do not have some unique set of circumstances which means that you cannot create an online business while you’re in a full time job. Your circumstances will make your task easier or harder than the next person’s, but either way, it is still possible.
Step 5: Hold Yourself Accountable
This final step is a direct extension to the previous one — once you have determined that you have time available, you must commit to your set times and hold yourself accountable to them.
I do this by creating a spreadsheet in which I have a number of “blocks” available. Each block represents a period of time (90 minutes in my case) and is filled with a particular task. In this way I can effectively plan out an entire week of work, figure out exactly what I can achieve in the available time, and hold myself entirely accountable if for some reason I do not manage to achieve what I set out to do.
The key to this system is to write it down in advance. You have the available time, so make sure that there is a very clear connection between that time and what you set out to achieve. Here’s a screenshot of my coming week:
Each number represents a particular task. As you can see I currently have two available slots on Thursday and Friday that I can fill them with whatever task I deem most suitable. Your spreadsheet might only have one block of time per day but make sure that you have written down what you plan to do in that time.
This method of planning makes it easy to carefully consider the most potentially lucrative tasks for you to work on. The scant availability of time being made so clear is a great motivator for respecting the hours you have to work on your business.
The Time is Now
Let’s recap my process for building a successful online business while you are still in your job:
- Believe in yourself
- Commit to your endeavour
- Set goals that help you to establish a profitable online business
- Find time to meet those goals
- Hold yourself accountable to ensure that you do meet those goals
Most things in life — even the most extraordinary of accomplishments — are achieved by following a process. And in the grand scheme of things (and with the greatest of respect for your efforts) we’re not discussing a monumental achievement; we’re looking for to establish a relatively successful online business. There is nothing to stop you from doing just that — at least, nothing that exists in reality. You just need to follow the process until it gets you to where you need to be.
Photo Credit: onesevenone