Falling into fear and doubt as you build your business is normal, but there are many things you can do to catch yourself before you fall into what I call the Well of Despair. The Well of Despair is that cold, dark, spinning place filled with fear and doubt like:
- “Can I really do this?”
- “Is this really going to work?”
- “I’m putting in so much effort and it feels like I’m not getting anything in return.”
- “I’m uncomfortable talking about my business because I’m not where others think I should be and I feel like a failure.”
First, take heart. We’ve all been there, and back again. And while there are many things you can do to climb out of the Well of Despair or keep from falling into it in the first place, one of the most effective is to simply manage your own expectations about your rate of success. I’m defining success in this case as ‘consistent cash flow’ so here’s a time-tested (over 10 years) timeline to cash flow for your online business.
Knowing this timeline will allow you to manage your expectations, relieving fear and doubt that you’re doing things wrong or that you’re not doing enough. It also allows you to plan ahead so you can move faster through each of the phases OR pace yourself as best fits your lifestyle. The timeline also tells you what to focus on now or what to focus on next.
If you’re implementing the relationship model of building your business, it’s important to be prepared for the time it takes to build your business (this is not a get-rich-quick model, but a potentially highly profitable one with sustainability) and to set realistic expectations of when you’ll start to see a profit from your offerings.
Phase 1: Market and Message
You’ll move through Phase 1 typically within the first 3 months in your building your business. This is when you’re focusing on the problems you solve for your market. This includes discovering and defining the biggest challenges your market struggles with, and researching and/or creating the solutions.
Phase 2: Building Your List
Once you’re clear on who your market is and what solutions you offer to them, you’ll move into Phase 2, which is all about building your list. Currently, we’re striving to attract 500-1500 people to our email list by offering them a free sample of what we do. We start this process right after Phase 1 and focus on building the list as part of our on-going marketing efforts.
Phase 3. Making Offers
This is when you start focusing on how to generate an income with your multiple streams. This is typically done from month 7 onward.
This timeline will give you a sense of how long it can take to get to consistent (or even any) cash flow in your business, as well as stave off any frustration and overwhelm you may feel as you get your online business off the ground or continue to build it. Remember, it takes twice as much fuel for a jet to take off as it does to cruise at altitude. It’s the same in your business. You’re putting in more effort in the beginning but you’ll be cruising later.
Of course this is just a typical timeline. You can always move through it faster or slower, depending on your time and efforts. Where are you in the timeline and what’s your next step?