13 limiting beliefs keeping you from starting your online business

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You’re tired of researching online businesses and passive income. You’ve watched #allofthevideos and purchased #allofthecourses, but you haven’t started that blog or that YouTube channel that you think could be successful.

If you dig a little deeper you might find you are carrying some, if not all the limiting beliefs I’ve listed below. Does this mean that you need psychological help in order to get rid of these beliefs and finally start your online business or side hustle you’ve been dreaming about? No, but with a little introspection and some action, you can start clearing the path to your future success.

Here are some common limiting beliefs about yourself.

I’m not smart enough

This belief could stem from having bad grades in school to not having a higher education. Some people learn their trade by doing the job but they don’t have the degree to show for it. That doesn’t take away from what they have learned.

But let’s analyze this for a minute. How smart do you need to be to run a successful business? Do you need to know what a doctor does? Or what a mathematician knows? No, you need a few basic things in addition to what you will be offering in your business. For example, you need to know if you are making a profit or losing money. But other things like bookkeeping and marketing or even business management, you can self-study. 

It’s not about being smart or not, it’s about having the pieces of information you need as your business progresses and knowing how to use them.

I’m not an expert

There is something known as the 10,000 hour rule which can be found in Malcom Gladwell’s book “Outliers”. This basically means that you will reach a level of expertise in a subject matter after you have spent around 10,000 hours learning and practicing that subject.

I have taken a lot of online courses about blogging and teaching an online course and opinions differ on this matter. Some say you only need to be two steps ahead of what your student knows, others say you must be an expert or at least have been working in the field you are teaching for several years.

The trouble with the “expert” premise is that, in my experience, you might never feel you have mastered a subject. Why, because each person measures expertise differently.

Either way, if you don’t know enough about the subject matter you want to start an online business on, you can start today. Keep a time log if you want of your study and practice time and add to those religiously. If you work consistently on this you will eventually rack up the hours. Always test to see if you are improving, because you can fall in the trap of just viewing tutorials and never putting into practice what you learn.

I don’t have the resources

A lot of people will tell you that you can start an online business for FREE. And I’m certain that after you sign up to their email list and read the welcoming emails you will get an offer for something you have to pay for.

I’ve read of young men in Africa that learn programming from their phones because they don’t have access to a computer. In the US there are public libraries where you can use a computer for free, but not everyone in the world has this advantage.

What you need is resourcefulness.  Take a minute and search inside yourself to find it. It’s a valuable skill and it can be learned and honed with practice.

If you have a phone, you most likely have the internet at your fingertips.  You can google things and teach yourself what your starting costs will be by reading blogs like this one that help you take those first steps in creating and running an online business that will be profitable.

You might have to stick to a budget for a time and save what you need for your startup costs (for a blog, you might need around $300 or less for that first year).

The one thing I will not suggest is that you borrow to start your online business. This means you will start your business with a stressor (something that keeps you worried and tense) already in place and that might hurt you in the long term.

Save, save, save! Then invest in your new business. 

I don’t have time

As early as my college years I was aware of the value of time. Back then one of my classmates said to me “You and your time”, like it was a dirty word. 

I don’t know your situation right now, you could be working one or more jobs to support yourself or need the off time to be there for your family with house chores. You might be low energy like I am and need recovery time after running errands so extra time in the day is hard to find.

Finding time to dedicate to an online business takes planning and sometimes sacrifice.  You will need to have a strong reason (your “Why”) to make those sacrifices and push yourself when things get tough.

Here are some tips to extract time from your busy days:

  1. Start small
    5 minutes a day. Then 10 minutes a day. Then increase. If 10 minutes is all you can do, then take that time for yourself. What can you do in 10 minutes a day? Read an article about your field of expertise. Brainstorm new content ideas for your blog. Sketch a rough draft of a printable you’d like to make and sell.
    I wrote part of my second book in 10 minute intervals. I was supposed to start increasing the time over as time went on, but going for more than 10 minutes stressed me out. Those 10 minute sessions, however, added up and I was able to finish and publish my book.
  2. Block your time in a calendar
    A lot of people are really successful at blocking out part of their day in their calendar to dedicate to a specific goal they want to achieve. Whether you are scheduling those 5 minutes or a 2 hour block, mark it in your calendar, giving it the importance it has in your life.
    This technique can be a bit hard for some. For years I’ve tried to use a planner and failed. Even when I started on the digital planner kick and made my Romantic Chick Digital Life Planner (see the planner here) to sell, I had trouble writing in it consistently.
  3. Give up a time consuming activity
    Oh you know I’m going to tell you to stop binge watching Netflix? No, not completely. Perhaps instead of giving it up completely, you can steal an hour of your video watching time and dedicate it to your online business.
    There are a lot of things I want to watch on Netflix and Hulu but the only thing I make time for is General Hospital. The other time I spend either working on my business or reading.
    Other time consuming activities that can you cut short could be playing video games or reading time (gasp!).
  4. Get up early or stay up late
    As a writer you read a lot about how to find time in your day to sneak in some writing time.  One technique is to get up one or two hours earlier than usual when everything is quiet and use that time for your business endeavors. I rather like this option because it feels like the morning is longer and more productive.
    Or you can choose to stay up late one or two hours and use that time for some side hustle activities.
    Whichever way you choose to make time for yourself and your business you will have to make some sacrifices.Notice I didn’t say anything about cutting time with family and friends. You need that time as it balances your life.

I’m too old/young

As someone who lives with depression I find myself having to “start over” quite a bit.As the years go by and you are getting up in years you start wondering if you can learn or do xyz at this point in your life.

I could be glib and simply say that you can change your life at any age and change the subject, but the truth is, when you are older some things can be more difficult to learn. When you are too young you might lack the wisdom to fully understand all repercussions of what you are learning. 

Either way, you should hold on tightly to your “Why” to get you through those doubts.

I’ve failed every time I’ve tried in the past

You’ve probably heard what Einstein said about insanity, that it’s doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Perseverance is an amazing trait but it needs to be coupled by the ability to be flexible and allow for a change in strategy when things don’t go the way you expect them to.

Sometimes pride makes us stick to our guns and not give an inch. But you need to sit down after a failure and examine what happened.  Why did that first course sell and the second one didn’t? Did you need more marketing help? Should you have tweaked the pricing? Did you listen to the feedback the students of the first course gave you?

You should be reexamining your outcomes whether you win or lose. It will guide you and help you improve on what you are doing.

I could never compete with [famous person] 

When researching your desired online business you come to a point where you have to figure out who your competitors are and sometimes you’ll be surprised at who they are. 

They might be celebrities or people that have achieved a crazy amount of success in their lives.This can be scary and might be the thing that keeps you from going forward. 

I’d like to invite you to look at things in a different way.  Instead of dwelling on that big gap formed by the place between where you are at and where they are at, use it to be inspired.  Know that they have worked hard to get to where they are and success comes hand in hand with that.

Find out what they have done to gain success in their industry and mimic those processes. The most important thing, however, is what you bring into your business. Every human being is unique and your difference is what will make you succeed.

So the next time you find a competitor with an extraordinary track record, ask yourself, what can I learn from them?

I’m not good at…

The last part of that sentence is blank because you can and will fill it with whatever skill or talent you think you are lacking. We are not perfect, as much as we’d like to be. Continuous learning helps and doing tasks and perfecting them will start to give you confidence.

Here is a thought, if you don’t know how to do something you can:

  • Take a course
  • Talk to a mentor
  • Ask a friend who knows how to do it to help you
  • Hire someone to do it for you

For my first book, I didn’t know how to format it so that it would be accepted by Amazon, so I hired someone on Fiverr.  I did the same with the cover.  The next year I had more experience and had found some software to do the formatting for me so I was able to do it myself. The cover I still hire out because I’m not a graphic artist, but even then I do modifications in Photoshop once they deliver a concept I like.

In an ideal world, you could be the Super Solopreneur of the year and do absolutely EVERYTHING in your online business yourself. But is it really necessary or even efficient? As you gather more expertise in your field the value of your work increases and eventually doing small tasks that take up your valuable time is not worth it anymore. This is part of growing your business and it’s completely natural.

I can’t start a business until I’ve…

In my book This Way to Happiness I talk about having rules that we need to fulfill in order to allow ourselves to be happy. This applies to many other endeavors especially starting and running a business.

What is it that you think is necessary for you to start a business? Let’s fill in the blanks. 

I can’t start a business until…

  • I know bookkeeping 
  • I learn how to use Google Docs 
  • I Understand business management basics 
  • I have saved up enough money
  • I’ve graduated from school/college
  • I’ve retired 
  • I have free time in my schedule
  • I make $X in my current job
  • I’m an expert in my field

People will find out I’m a fraud

Have you ever been given a new position in your job where the title was fancy and you felt you didn’t deserve it? Why do you think you feel that way? It stems from the requirements (again rules) that you have in your head regarding what that title means.

I’ve built websites for over 25 years but never in a million years would I call myself a web developer. Yes, I have a degree in informatics. Yes, I know how to code small programs, but can I build a Netflix clone? No! Maybe. So I call myself a web development consultant or a WordPress professional, because I’m terrified someone will think I have superpowers that I don’t actually have.

The key point here is this.  If you can help your customer solve their problem successfully you are doing your job. No need to have countless certificates or accolades all over your office wall.

If I succeed people will expect things from me

The more your business grows, the more word will get out about what you do and who you help on a daily basis.  This will attract new customers and more business. This can get overwhelming and you might soon have a waiting list. Having a “pending” list of people to do business with fills some with glee, but to others it’s a nightmare of never ending work. What’s the point of having money if you are working 24/7?

Then there’s the dreaded “you helped this person, I expect success as well”. When success follows you, there’s the constant pressure of having continued wins.

In the end, a successful business will attract different types of energies to you. Whether you decide they are positive or negative depends on you and how you choose to interpret them.

Those are a few of the personal limiting beliefs you might be suffering from that keep you from starting your business but there are some limiting beliefs about online businesses as well. Here are a few that are worth mentioning:

Online businesses are scams

While the internet has been around for decades it still has a reputation for being shady.  Do you put your credit card information in a badly designed website? I certainly don’t. Do you believe you’ll lose 30 pounds in 10 days with that pill they are offering?

This is the reason Google is so tough regarding the authority of people’s sites. You can claim you are an expert when you have no clue what you are doing.

When you build your online business you will need to be relentless in getting reviews from your customers. Each review will add to your credibility and expertise

It is important, though, that you watch out for things that are too good to be true.

Passive income doesn’t exist

Passive income is real. However, it’s not as easy to achieve as you might think. When you think “passive” you think effortless, but it isn’t. There is a lot of effort in the beginning when you create that digital product and launch it. 

Writing a book, creating a course or making that digital planner you want to sell take time and commitment. Even if you use ready made commercial templates to help you create your product you will still have to put in the work or hire someone to do it for you.

You need to adjust your expectations regarding passive income. Then you’ll be able to succeed knowing you created something that now makes money while you sleep.

Running a business is too much work

Is this really a limiting belief? It is because giving up your free time to do something that will take a lot of effort and won’t become profitable for months or even years is really intimidating and that will keep you from taking action.

I have a friend with a wonderful domain that doesn’t have any articles in it anymore but he still has the traffic. He could do so many things with that website but he doesn’t have the energy to put all the work that’s needed to make the site work for him.

So now that we know what some possible limiting beliefs that might get in your way we need a solution! Let’s start with the definition of limiting beliefs and then move on to some action steps we can take to move forward with our dreams.

What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are beliefs that feed your negative self-talk and keep you from taking action. For the most part they’re negative and it’s possible you’ve been carrying them with you since childhood. 

Manage your limiting beliefs

You won’t be able to eradicate all your limiting beliefs all at once but here are some ways you can manage them:

  1. Identify the belief
    First go through the list I’ve given in this post and see if any of those limiting beliefs resonate with you. Write them down in a piece of paper or in the free worksheet (form below).
    Then ask yourself why you think you can’t start an online business. Like a child, keep asking yourself “why” with each answer. This will help you unearth some beliefs that might be hidden in your psyche.
  2. Challenge the belief
    Take one belief and start asking questions. 
    -“I’m not smart enough”. 
    -Why do I think that? Because I got all C’s in high school. 
    -What can I do to change that? Read books, take courses, improve my mind.
    -What qualifications do I have that can make up for being smart?
    -I’m precise with my work. I constantly find ways to become more efficient. I have a good work ethic.
  3. Find an alternate belief to replace it
    -I can become smarter if I improve my mind.
    -I can make time for my online business by scheduling small bits of time every day.
    -I don’t have to be an expert to teach a subject, all I have to be is two steps ahead of my students.
    -I don’t have to compete with X personality, all I need is to be my best self and give value to my customers.

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