If you want to become an entrepreneur, your mind plays tricks on you. Can I compete against or successfully leverage the Facebooks, Googles and Amazons of the world? What happens if I can’t make enough money? Am I even capable of this?
There will also be unforeseen issues. Google slaps, Facebook penalties, Amazon account suspensions, lack of self-esteem, overwork, stress…
These problems arise within all entrepreneurs, not just at first, but at every stage of their journey.
If you have a website, there is always something to do. It’s like a house that always needs cleaning. There’s always something to improve upon and always more content to create.
And that’s just the website. Entrepreneurs work long and varied hours. And these days with smartphones, laptops and wifi, there is the opportunity to work at virtually every moment of the day.
How to overcome overwork: Develop routines of healthy eating, socialising, family downtime and exercise into your daily and weekly schedule. Be ruthless with your time. Pleasure is just as important as business. Read more: how to work from home.Pleasure is just as important as business Click To Tweet
2. Google algorithm changes
I’ve seen this happen many times every year for the last decade: Someone builds their business on Google traffic, Google tweaks their algorithm, and suddenly, their website’s income stream dries up to a trickle. They can stamp their feet, blame Google, blame the world but it’s unlikely to come back.
This happened to me (all of these things have happened to me) during one of Google’s infamous “Penguin” updates in 2012. Google was trying to punish websites that were attempting to game the search results by manipulating the links pointing to their sites. I hadn’t done this but it didn’t matter. I still got hit.
How to overcome Google’s algorithm changes: Vary your traffic sources. Vary your income streams. Collect the emails of your visitors. Build out a presence on different platforms other than your site.
3. Google banning your Adsense account
This happened to Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits who’d built out hundreds of websites targeting low-trafficked keywords and was making a bit of money on each with Google Adsense ads. Then one day, BAM! They banned his account. No explanation, no discussion, no recourse. That’s the way it happens. If your Adsense account is disabled after approval, you cannot apply for another.
Spencer circumvented this by setting up a new company with a friend and starting a new Adsense account under another name. He has since branched out into Amazon FBA and selling digital products. So he’s varied his income streams.
I had my Adsense account disabled before I’d even run an ad. This was the case for years and years. I posted in Google’s AdSense Help Forum. I eventually got an answer from a Google employee in the YouTube Product Forum and the account mysteriously became active again.
How to overcome an Adsense account disabling: Google’s Product Forums are the only place you can go when Google negatively impacts your business. It’s worth a try. Or you can set up a new business with a 3rd party to get a new account. However, shit happens, so vary your income streams. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (This will be a recurring theme).
4. Decrease in organic reach in Facebook’s News Feed
Facebook is constantly tweaking its News Feed Algorithm and in 2014 Facebook Business Page owners noticed a dramatic decrease in organic reach for their posts. Cue rage and fury from businesses which had already spent thousands (or more) building an audience on Facebook and now had to pay even more to reach them. Some brands were so upset by the situation that they publicly ‘broke up’ with the social network.
How to overcome a decrease in Facebook organic reach: fortunately, there’s much you can do. I explain here how to increase Likes and engagement on your Facebook page by regularly posting image quotes. You can also use Facebook ads and target people to click on links to your site and like your page.
5. Amazon account suspensions
Many entrepreneurs are selling on Amazon. It’s a huge organization that can sell 400+ items a second. Occasionally things go wrong. Amazon can suspend a seller’s account if they get complaints from customers. This leads to a sudden loss of earnings for the entrepreneur.
What to do when your Amazon account is suspended: here’s a great story of a suspension that was resolved within a couple of days. The seller suggests you take complete responsibility for the problem, acknowledge the harm done to the Amazon customer and create an action plan to ensure that this will not happen again.
6. Copyright trolls
A copyright troll is a company who buys or owns copyrights with the sole purpose of suing people for infringement. A good example of a copyright troll is Getty who troll the internet for small sites that have unwittingly used one of their images from a Google search and try to extort hugely inflated damages. It’s estimated that over 200,000 people are victims of copyright trolls.
What to do when a copyright troll demands damages from you: Don’t ignore it, don’t answer it. Lawyer up and fight! Copyright trolls never go to court, they just harass a large number of individuals knowing that a few will pay up. A good lawyer will either force the troll to give up or accept significantly smaller damages. If you pay the inflated fee the troll demands you’ll be encouraging other large companies to go after solo entrepreneurs. Don’t do that!
Oh, and don’t use copyrighted images. But you knew that, didn’t you?
7. Email app (Aweber, Mailchimp) kicks you off for supposed spam
Email marketing companies (Entreport, Drip, Aweber, ConstantContact, etc.) send millions of emails everyday. These companies are in trouble if one of their servers gets blacklisted for sending out spam. That’s why they ask you questions when you unsubscribe: why are you unsubscribing? If “too many people” complain (0.1%, that’s one-tenth of one percent, that’s 1 complaint in a list of less than 1000) they can suspend your account.
What to do when an email app kicks you off: This happened to me at Mailchimp. I’d grown my list to a massive 500 subscribers without emailing them once. I tried to sell them an e-book and BAM! I got banned (maybe because one person complained!)
The solution was fairly simple. I downloaded a CSV of my subscribers and started at another email marketing company (VirtualResponse). I was able to upload them there and continue emailing without having to get them to opt-in again. I stayed with VirtualResponse for a while before I moved again to Aweber.
8. Lack of self-esteem, loneliness and isolation
It’s great when everything’s working for you and you’re making money but there will be low points. Your mind will play tricks on you and you may feel as if the world’s against you.
When you fall foul of a large online company (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) it seems like there’s nothing you can do. There’s no discussion, no recourse and no explanation. It can leave you feeling desperate, hurt and vulnerable.
But that’s not the case. There is always something you can do.
What to do to stop feeling a lack of self-esteem, loneliness and isolation: well, I could write I whole post on this subject alone. In fact, I have. Several.
I’m a meditator. Meditation teaches you to observe the present moment without judgment. Often business issues seem to be overwhelming and immediate. However, they are (when viewed from afar) just minimal blips along the journey.
Meditation allows you to free your thoughts and adds space around the issues so they can be observed from a different perspective. Ask yourself: “what is harming me at this present moment?” I can guarantee you that nothing is. Just your mind.
The other main antidote to entrepreneurial lack of self-esteem, loneliness and isolation is to meet with other entrepreneurs. Go to meetups, conferences and liaise and set up masterminds with other like-minded business-people. Talk to them. They will understand. This is huge.Meeting other entrepreneurs is an antidote to entrepreneurial lack of self-esteem and loneliness Click To Tweet
9. And, why you should be a solo entrepreneur
The last thing I want to do is to put anyone off being an entrepreneur.
I’m really proud of independent entrepreneurs. We go out there and make ourselves vulnerable everyday to the large corporations and we still succeed – no matter what they throw at us. Because of our determination to help others, we prosper because we are trusted within our communities.
I’m really proud of myself as someone who has helped people for nothing. Everyday for the last 10 years I’ve helped people online, built businesses, employed people and provided actionable content that has inspired thousands. Sure as hell there are easier ways of making a living. But this has to be one of the most rewarding.
You can do it, you can become an entrepreneur
You can beat the large corporates and the multitude of pitfalls dominating the online space. There are countless thousands of individuals doing just that. Just go out there and help people.
We are independent, nimble, authentic and ethical. That’s why we succeed.