Overwhelmed by the Complexity of Online Business? This May Help

image of Keep Calm and Carry On sign

Know one of the most common issues we see from each year’s new crop of Teaching Sells students?

“I’m worried because …”

“I’m getting a little freaked out because …”

“I feel like everyone has already beaten me to the finish line …”

“When I look around, I feel overwhelmed and behind …”

“Everyone else seems to have it figured out and I feel kind of lost …”

Chris Garrett and I teach a series of group coaching sessions when we bring in new Teaching Sells students. It’s our job to get our folks out of that overwhelmed state, and moving forward. And as each new group gets settled in and starts to approach the material, we hear a lot of versions on this theme …

“I’m scared.”

Well here’s the good news.

If you aren’t at least a little freaked out about your business (whether it’s a thriving concern or something you’re just getting off the ground), you may not be paying enough attention.

It’s ok to be nervous, worried, anxious, or just … confused.

Guess what? It’s overwhelming

Website design, content marketing, social media networking, product design, audience development, the global market, payment gateways, security, sales letters, launch plans, evolving technology …

Overwhelmed yet? Well, of course you are.

Because if you try to tackle all of these things at once, you’ll choke. No human being can process all of that.

But the good news is, each of those complex topics can be broken into relatively simple best practices.

Challenges can be overcome. Problems can be solved. Solutions get put into place. One at a time, just in time to tackle the next one.

You know (because you’re smart) that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. All overnight success, at least in business, is built on a not-so-glamourous foundation of learning and work.

In order to make it all add up to something, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re actually on a viable path. Chasing down rabbit trails gets old fast.

And the second thing you need to do is …

Do a little today, do a little more tomorrow

Know what’s important to work on this week to move your business forward. Work on that. It may not be particularly comfortable or sexy or appealing. That’s ok.

(It could even be really fun. Even better.)

When you get lonely and frustrated, find a community of fellow lunatics business owners who can help get you over the rough spots. You may find some partners who are good at the stuff you would love to quit doing. A coach is great too, someone who cares about your success and will help keep you focused and accountable.

Work on today’s task today. Work on tomorrow’s task tomorrow. When you get a little bit off the path (you will, everyone does), forgive yourself and get back to doing today’s task today.

“If you can move it an inch, you can move it a mile”

We had a wonderful Teaching Sells student who said this in the forums in the early days, and ever since she did, I’ve repeated it pretty much every year to our new students.

Don’t try to figure out how to get 10,000 subscribers. Figure out how to get 10. That will show you how you get 100, which will give you some important insights to how you get 1000. From there you’re off to the races.

A lot of the teaching Chris and I have been doing for the past couple of years has revolved around the principles of “Lean” development.

You’ve probably heard of the Minimum Viable Product. Chris created a module on it for us in Teaching Sells … how to focus your efforts on a small, well-focused product that will test your market and teach you what you need to move forward.

This year, we’ll be adding new modules on the Minimum Viable Audience, Minimum Viable Website, and Minimum Viable Launch.

Why? Because those are the tricky spots where people tend to stumble, or freeze up, or get scared.

Do it once, do it small, and you’ll learn things you never would have imagined.

Then look at what works, and do more of that.

Observe. Implement. Observe some more.

This is almost the exact opposite of what most people think entrepreneurs do. This is the opposite of Shark Tank, the opposite of raising millions of dollars (and giving your dreams away) to fund an unprofitable idea.

Teaching Sells is coming …

What’s Teaching Sells? It’s Copyblogger’s comprehensive course on how to build an online-based business from scratch. There’s no “one size fits all” — in fact, we have 10 different business models that can be mixed and matched to find the right fit for you.

It’s that “viable path” I talked about earlier … the shortest distance that we’ve found to build a real business online.

You can get a more complete description here: What is Teaching Sells?

We launch Teaching Sells about once a year, and we’ll be opening it up for new students a few weeks from now.

If this kind of “viable path” sounds interesting to you, go sign up for the Teaching Sells email list now.

Whether or not you decide to join us for the full course, we’ll be sending you a bunch of good free stuff, including:

  • Our free report on The Online Education Revolution: Will You Lead or Watch?
  • New case studies from people who have built or grown businesses using the Teaching Sells methods
  • A downloadable 20-Part “Process Map” that gives you all of the points on that path I mentioned
  • A seminar with me and Brian Clark on How to Solve the Traffic Problem
  • And a whole bunch of articles on how you can ride the current trends and create something epic

I think you know by now that we want you to be successful. If you’re successful using our products, well, that’s even cooler.

All you need to do to join us is drop your primary email address at the Teaching Sells page, and we’ll get you rolling.

Look forward to seeing you there. :)

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Reader Comments (38)

  1. says

    Sonia this sound interesting I have signed up at teachingsells.com looking forward to reading the various topics you have mentioned above especially the “How to Solve the Traffic Problem” thanks

  2. says

    Sonia, I’ve listened to the stuff you Chris recorded about getting through overwhelm over, and over. Dozens of times, I’m sure. It’s helped me to make tremendous progress, and get unstuck – thank you!

    • says

      That’s so awesome to hear, Hashim, thanks. :)

      I think it may be helpful that Chris and I both went through periods of struggling with it ourselves, so we know how it feels and we’ve developed very concrete techniques for getting out from under it.

  3. says

    I belong to the most recent intake of Teaching Sells students. Chris and Sonia’s coaching sessions have been incredibly valuable to me (they actually make time to answer your questions, never mind how “stupid” they seem). They help you get unstuck and move forward. Think of it as a car in winter. It’s tough to get it started, but once in motion it’s easier to keep the momentum going. That’s definitely been the case for me. At first, I was afraid to join because I thought I wasn’t advanced enough. What I’ve learned is that you must compare your business (and yourself) to yourself. It’s simple, but rarely easy. Since I’ve joined, I’ve started a free 10-part ecourse and improved my blog. I’m moving slowly but surely in the direction I want. How about you?

    Regards from Olle in Australia

    P.S. Yes, the time difference between the US and Oz is annoying. But I still went up at 5am to listen to the session. Yes, it’s nuts but I guess you’ve gotta be a liitle bit crazy to run your own business online :)

    • says

      We love having you in the sessions, Olle. :)

      “You must compare your business (and yourself) to yourself.” I wish more people would learn this! It saves a lot of heartache.

  4. says

    So very true. It’s easy to find yourself trying to do and accomplish everything at once. It’s important to remember that this rarely works! Mountains are climbed a step at a time, not in one giant step to the top!

  5. Mary says

    God bless you for this post :))). Today I found out that I got stuck. I don’t move at all in my business. I thought it’s because of my stupidity and lack of talent. But, yes, you’re right. It’s because of overwhelming. I need to do so many thing, so I prefer to freeze. And now I see way out. I feel relief. I can relax and just do my today’s task.

    • says

      Mary, stick this on your wall, courtesy of the Heath brothers’ book “Switch”:

      “What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. Change accelerates when people understand — in specific, behavioral terms — how to reach their goals.”

  6. Shantini says

    I missed the earlier intake for Teaching Sells. I’ve been waiting for the next launch and it’s almost here!!! Believe it or not, I just finished figuring out the type of online business I’d like to start, checked my inbox and noticed this blog post. Coincidence? I think not!

    Thank you for the best news ever, Sonia! Can’t wait for the launch :-)

  7. says

    Oh, man – you nailed exactly how I feel. I feel like I can’t take steps forward unless I have mastered each realm. But I’ve made small progress – due in no small part to the INVALUABLE advice I get from Copyblogger emails – and that gives me steam to carry forward.

    Seriously, Copyblogger emails are the only ones I actually look forward to, because I know they’re going to contain USEFUL insights and suggestions. Thank you for existing!

    • says

      Oh, that’s lovely, thank you Paul!

      At this point I’ve talked with many hundreds of folks in exactly the same spot. It’s why I wrote this post, even though it might seem gloomy to someone who’s not trying to build a business. But it’s just part of the process, and the more we realize that, the less we need to panic over it!

  8. says

    Hi Sonia,

    Overwhelmed is a mere understatement as I’m finding out as we speak. I’m new to the blogging world and was even gonna write something about how difficult it is to get started which is something most gurus/experts don’t divulge.

    Glad you wrote it because you hit the nail on the head ever so well and I will be using your points to keep focused. Great advice!

  9. says

    Thanks for the encouragement. I just signed up for Fizzle with the guys at Think Traffic. I hope that the next course of Teaching Sells will be even more successful than the last.

    All The Best

  10. George nosa says

    Nice one Sonia, this is a lot help, especially for newbies…talking about overwhelming .Use to have trouble going against my grain back in the day. For newbies struggling here’s an effervescent quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson ‘what lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us’…if you believe that then you’re ready to face the world! And that’s if only you believe.

  11. says

    Really great post as this is a big big problem when working online: you want to be everywhere doing everything.
    You try something it doesn’t work right away and immediatly you switch to something else…

    I apply a strict rule to my online business: try one srtategy/tactic/method and stick to it until it works!
    For exemple lead generation. I test a tactic that suits me and stick to it till I get some good results.
    Then and only then I’ll go on to the next tactic…

    Thanks a lot for this valuable informations 😉

  12. says

    After a rough month of not seeing things work out too well, this was just the article I needed to help me rest easier tonight.

    Too often, we let our impatience to succeed kill our determination and self-esteem…and also our ability to appreciate and reflect on our experiences.

    I’m so glad I often drop by Copyblogger before I go to sleep. You folks always return some of my sanity and faith in myself. :)

  13. says

    This is very encouraging. Complexity is overcome step by step and not through taking rush decisions. You cannot go further until you are acquainted with each area and this is accomplished with time. This milestone can easily be overcome step by step.

  14. says

    Thanks for putting up this post. I have to confess that at times I feel like I am lost and there is nothing I can do to help myself out. Normally, I just let it go and I proceed to do something else. This is indeed encouraging. Thanks Sonia!

  15. says

    Awesome writing Sonia! You always sounds a great savior to me! Like the quote; ‘keep calm and carry on!” It seems you got me right on act and helped me. Your coaching sessions have been unbelievable valuable to me and I have to confess that you have really helped me get unstuck and move forward in my business. I look forward for more!

  16. says

    Amazing work Sonia! I always like the way you give out your contents, very encouraging! Was more influence by the quote above: “if you aren’t at least a little freaked out about your business, you may not be paying enough attention.” It sounds really true and without at least being made to sweat, that means we aren’t then working on how business that much and heading to our successful target! Very inspiring site, keep up!

  17. says

    It’s really good to read information like this just when you really need it. Business or not, whatever we do we tend to get overwhelmed. So you’re right – “do a little today, do a little more tomorrow” and before you know it you’ve reached your goal.

    Don’t forget to write down your to do list and keep track of your progress. This helps me get organized better than I expected.

    • says

      Me too — and I like to make sure I track my “tasks finished” as well. It helps remind me that I am getting a lot done, even when there’s a lot still to do!

  18. says

    It’s important not to get discouraged by those who ‘brag’ about how they were already profiting on their second day, or they were making a full time income within a year. It’s motivating when you haven’t started yet or you haven’t got to that point yet, but once you’ve passed the 4 month, 1 year, whatever point it can be a bit discouraging to think that others were able to make it work this early and you haven’t. I know of someone whose online business took 6 whole years to work. It took a long time, but she got there, she clearly didn’t give up and now she’s killing it. So start small and don’t worry about making it work on a big scale early on.

  19. says

    Sonia, well put. Yes it is all overwhelming and when something breaks down, it feels as if the whole business has fallen apart. As online marketers, we need to deal with tech, security and “other” tasks that are not really just writing and publishing blog posts. Tackling them in small steps is really a must since overwhelm can only kill our progress!

  20. says

    Man, Sonia … you are the most practical, logical, “regular folk” I know on line! Brian is one lucky blogger to have found you! Okay, maybe he was smart, not lucky. But still!

    Anyway, it’s to our benefit. We’ll get through the overwhelm and frustration but it just helps to be told that everyone goes through it. It’s normal. It’s temporary (until the next new thing.) And I’ve noticed each new thing causes less overwhelm than the previous once you get moving and advancing along the path.


  21. says

    Thanks for your Teaching Sells program Sonia.

    You really nailed it on this post. When newbies enter online business, especially that involves Blog/Website, they will automatically face many obstacles, mostly technical stuff, just like you’ve said here, such as: web designing, content marketing, newsletter list, and so on. Those obstacles actually can be solved more quickly by hiring people, but that’s only if you already have bunch of cash to spend.

    But i still think that if people want to enter to this internet business, they will need to learn or at least know the technical stuff of this business, even though later on, they can just hire other people to design their blogs, writing the contents, promoting the blogs, and etc.

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