How long will it take to build a successful online business? How long it takes to achieve success will vary from person to person. There are a lot of factors that will impact how long it takes for your new business to be successful. I would like to look at five that I have found to have the most impact. The five factors are: What you know, your skills, how hard you work, how much time you spend, and how much money you spend. There are other factors, but knowing these 5 can help you form reasonable expectations for your business.
A little bit of myth-busting before I start. Success never happens overnight. It takes time to succeed in online business and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying! Someone might get “lucky” and have some early success, but this is usually not sustainable. To build a real sustainable business takes time. Usually a lot of time. Do not get impatient. Success will come if you put in the work, but it will never come if you get impatient and give up.
WHAT YOU KNOW
Knowledge is power. What you know will play a large role in how long it will take you to be successful in any online business. Do you know how to create a website? Do you know what email marketing is and how it works? The internet is very visual, so how good are you at creating visually appealing content? Do you have expertise in fields related to your online business or are you still learning it?
Someone who has a lot of experience building websites will have an easier time creating their business website. This does not mean that the more experienced website builder will get to success faster than anyone else. It simply gives them an advantage. If you know little about the type of business you are starting it will take longer. If you have little experience in internet marketing then it will likely take you longer. Someone who is an expert in their field and has experience in doing business online can probably do it faster. This doesn’t mean a beginner can’t reach success, but it will take them more time.
It took me several months to build my very first website. I was learning on my own without any prior training and very little online experience. I made a lot of mistakes and had to redo most of it more than once. Learning how to turn a picture into a link took me hours the first time I tried it. Today, I can throw together a basic, but fully functional, website in minutes. I am not an expert but after building many websites, I am experienced. Experience means that it will take me less time to build a website than it will take the person who is starting out.
One of my first websites was for a friend. He does motivational speaking and team building seminars. I have never been a motivational speaker. I had a lot to learn about this field to make an effective website. This website took much longer than some of my own because I didn’t know what was important and what was not. I didn’t know the language of team building so I had to learn it. This website did rather well in the end. It just took me longer than it would have if I had known more about what I was creating the website for.
Everyone has to start at the beginning at some point. You may not have created a website yet. This doesn’t mean you can’t. Never let a lack of knowledge or experience keep you from pursuing your dreams. It may take you longer but you can still get there.
Skills are what make a master craftsman. I do not type very well. I have tried to learn it but it doesn’t stick. I do quite well for not typing “properly” but it still slows me down. It takes me more time to type a long blog post than it does someone who types well, or even marginally well. I have never let this stop me from succeeding but it does mean it takes me a bit longer than if I could learn to type. Your skills and the skills you still need to learn will impact how fast you can succeed.
I’m also not very good at visual design. I don’t seem to have the eye for it. Creating good looking websites requires visual design. I have to take the time to get it right or I have to rely on others to help me in this area. It slows me down. It means that my websites might not always perform as well as they could, which slows down my success. I have the knowledge of good design, but I have had trouble building those skills.
The type of online business you create will dictate what skills are most important for you. Your skill set might even influence what type of online business you start. Do not let a lack of skills keep you from starting the type of business that is best for you.
Skills can generally be learned. When they can’t there are other people who will be happy to partner with you or work for you to fill in the gaps. This may not be possible when you are first starting. Keep looking to expand your skill set and find the people who can fill in those gaps. Overcoming your skill gaps may slow you down at first but it should never keep you from starting.
HOW HARD YOU WORK
If I had to pick one of these five as the most important it would be this one. How hard you work will affect how long it takes. Building a business is work – hard work. There is no free lunch. If you are not willing to put in the work, you might as well stop wasting your time. How hard you have to work will depend a lot on the other factors we are looking at here.
I am lazy. I do not like to work, especially physical work. This laziness was one of the hardest things to overcome when I started out as an entrepreneur.
I always envisioned being a truck driver would be easy, but it isn’t. Driving a flatbed means strapping and tarping your loads. This can be very physically demanding work. I hated this part of the job at first. I wanted to sit in the driver’s seat and watch the country slide past my window. As I gained more experience and skill these tasks became easier and quicker. I had put in the work and was reaping the rewards. I am still lazy and do not like hard work, but I have learned to put that aside and get the work done so that I can succeed.
How hard you are willing or able to work is up to you. The harder you work the faster you will succeed and the greater your success will be.
HOW MUCH TIME YOU HAVE TO SPEND
Every business requires money and time. The more money you spend the less time it usually takes. The more time you are willing to spend the less money you will need to spend. This formula has proven true for me on many occasions. How much time can you spend on building your business?
My friend, Pat, first started building his online business before I did. He was working two full-time jobs and had a young family. This meant that he had very little time available. He was lucky to get an hour a night after everyone else was in bed. He did not have any weekends off so he used a few vacation days when he needed more time to tackle larger projects. His business progressed very slowly at first. After about a year of this, his business was earning enough money to cut back some hours at one of his jobs. He could now spend more time on his business. A few months later He was able to leave that job altogether. Today he works on his business full-time, but it took a lot longer than he wanted it to.
When I started my online business, I had just sold my trucking business and had a lot more time to spend than Pat did. I had my own time challenges to face, like catching up on my honey-do lists and spending time with my family. I tried to balance my time so that I could maximize my business growth and my family time. This is never an easy balance to maintain but it is a very important one. In the end, I was able to start earning money sooner than Pat, even though Pat had more experience than I did.
How much time can you spend on building your business? If all you can manage is an hour a week that is fine, but it will take you a long time to succeed. Spend that hour as best you can and look for ways to increase your time. If you can spend 40 hours per week that is great, but it is up to you to spend that time wisely and make it count. More is better so long as it well spent.
HOW MUCH MONEY YOU SPEND
Creating a successful online business will cost some money. There is no way that I am aware of that does not involve some kind of monetary investment. How much money is up to you and what you are able to spend. It is possible to buy fast success. It will also cost more to maintain and grow that business than one that starts out balancing time and money. Work on your personal finances to maximize the amount of money you can invest. Spend this investment wisely and you will see much faster growth in your business.
In the money vs time equation, I prefer to spend more time than money. By spending the time I am also learning my business better. By knowing my business better I can spend less money later if something breaks or needs fixing. I still spend money, but less of it.
Training can improve my skills and knowledge but usually costs money. There are tools that will save time and work, but they usually cost money. Buying nice looking website themes means I can overcome my visual design challenges. There are always essentials like bookkeeping, web site hosting, electricity. The list goes on and on.
How much money do you have to invest in building your online business? Ten dollars a month won’t be enough. Fifty dollars a month can get you started. You will need to be willing to put in a lot of time working very hard and it will take you longer to reach success. Five hundred dollars a month will buy you more time and easier work but it will still take a while to reach success. Five thousand dollars a month means that you could spend little time doing the work yourself. You should be able to reach monetary success in a short period of time. This is not the way I prefer to start a business but it can work.
Much like balancing your family time and your work time, balancing your investments of time and money are very important. Everbody’s goals and desires are different so you will need to decide what is the right balance for you. I prefer to spend a little less money and a little more time but you may see that differently. The cumulative investment of time and money will have a big impact on how fast your business grows.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
As I said in the beginning, how long it takes to achieve success will vary quite a bit from person to person. These five factors are not the only factors that will impact this. Look at each of these five and be honest with yourself. How much do you know? What are your skills like? How hard are you willing or able to work? How much time and money are you able and willing to spend? The final piece to all of this is what type of online business you are starting. You can find a general timeline to success in each of my articles for the various types of online business I write about.
How long will it take you to build a successful online business? As a very general rule, I would plan to spend as much as two years and maybe longer. It is possible to have some early success in the first few months. This is often not a sustainable success and may well fall off again before you reach stable success. Can it happen in less than a year? Yes. Can it take 3-5 years? Yes. It depends a lot on the five factors above and many others. Try to be realistic in your expectations. The most important thing is to not quit – because quitting will never bring success.
As always, thank you for reading my ramblings. If you have any questions please use the comments section below or my Contact Form. I also welcome your feedback and suggestions. I always like hearing different perspectives and I enjoy helping other people succeed. Have a wonderful day.