Stop Trying So Hard: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#17)

I was on the phone with Jack.

“I just don't think I can make a living online,” said Jack.

I was on the phone with Jack because he's one of my subscribers. He sent me an email saying his back was to the wall.

He had been trying and trying to make this “online business thing” work, and had spent thousands of dollars over the last year or so.

He had only made about $200 to show for all his efforts.

Jack was ready to give up.

“Jack,” I said, “if you're willing to listen, I think I can help.”

“I'm ready to try anything,” he said.

I smiled.

“And that is your first problem,” I answered…

Which leads me to the reason for writing this article.

Maybe you're not in Jack's situation. Maybe you're not desperate.

But I know that a lot of people are asking the same questions as Jack. Among those questions:

  • Can I really make a living online and quit my day job?
  • If I put in all this effort and work, will I make money?
  • Am I being ripped off by people who sell me all this “make money” stuff on the Internet?
  • Are there secrets being held back that I don't know about?

My best answer is the same one I gave to Jack (not his real name, by the way): yes, you can make a living online…and yes, you are probably wasting some money right now.

The good news is, if you'd start taking the right actions, you could turn it all around in just a day or two.

Here's what I mean:

Most people struggling to build an online business are too busy buying the latest “system” or “course” or “software” or “service”…too busy BUYING stuff to ever MAKE any money.

For these people, their primary online “business” activity consists of evaluating their next purchase!

Think about it.

How much time do you spend reading salesletters, or reviews of products, courses, and seminars?

How much time do you spend reading and posting in online forums, discussing the merits of this or that new program?

And once you buy that new “thing” – whatever it is – how far do you get with it?

Do you have any big courses sitting on a shelf that you haven't finished yet? Haven't watched all the DVDs or listened to all the audios?

Have you any courses that you DID watch all the stuff, and got all excited by it…but didn't follow through with all the STEPS?

Be honest.

It's just you and me here.

My guess is that this line of thinking leaves you a bit uncomfortable.

Don't worry – I think we're all at least a little bit “guilty” of this syndrome.

But there is a solution – and I'm going to offer you three steps that may help you finally get your business “off the ground”.

The same three suggestions I offered to Jack.

Action Step 1: Set an Achievable Short-Term Goal

We spend too much time trying to figure out how to achieve some huge goal, like “make $10,000 a month”.

Set a more achievable, short-range goal.

For instance, why not just shoot for $500?

Once you make $500 online, you can work on increasing it, right?

The power in this is simple: once you MAKE that $500, you have a lot more BELIEF that you can do it again…and again…and again.

And there is REAL power in that belief.

And if $500 seems out of reach for you, then just set a goal you CAN believe in. Even if it's only $100.

On the other hand, there are those reading this letter who are already making $10,000 or $20,000 per month…you'll need a bigger goal, but the principle is the same no matter where you are.

Action Step 2: Pick a Tactic For Achieving That Goal

Notice I didn't say pick a “Strategy”.

That's because if you're struggling to get your business off the ground, “Strategy” may be too big for you to tackle right now.

What you need is one effective “tactic”: a specific set of actions you can take to achieve your objective.

For instance, if you want to build a list of subscribers, one tactic to use is: post in forums to drive traffic to your “squeeze page” (a forced opt-in page used to get subscribers). Make your posts helpful and informative, and put the link to your “squeeze page” in the signature block.

If you work at the above tactic diligently, you WILL start seeing subsribers signing up for your list within a few short days.

There are many other tactics you might choose, I only offer this one as an example.

There a lots of tactics that do in fact work.

Your problem is likely not a lack of good ideas for tactics. It's that you have too many good ideas and can't focus on any one of them! Which leads us to…

Action Step 3: Stick With It Until You Achieve The Goal

Too often, I see people get started with a tactic they're excited about – only to watch them give up on it too early.

Stay with your tactic.

Notice what works.

Notice what doesn't.

Adjust your approach accordingly – but stick it out until you've made your $500 (or whatever your goal was).

Until that time, keep blinders on.

Ignore all the other offers, emails, and attractive “tactics of the week” that come along.

Just focus on YOUR chosen tactic until you have that $500!

And Then What Do You Do?

Once you've achieved your goal, you'll be faced with a decision: what do you do next?

Do you keep at it, employ the same tactic for the next $500? Maybe.

That choice will be up to you, and is beyond the scope of this article.

But keep this in mind: what you will have learned from this exercise is vital.

You will have proven to yourself that:

  1. You can make money with your online business.
  2. You can achieve a goal you set for yourself.
  3. And you know at least one tactic for doing it.

Don't you think the next step will seem just a little bit easier now?

I hope that if you, like Jack, have been wondering whether you can “really” make it in your online business, you will take this message to heart and at least give my suggestions a shot.

And if you do, I hope you'll let me know about your success story!

It doesn't have to take long. In fact, it can be done in as little as one weekend.

Have a great weekend.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at