5 Ways to Overcome FEAR in Building Your Online Business


overcoming fear in building OB

Image by NDMFortunes

If you read my post on the challenges facing internet marketing newbies, you know that I’ve been digging through the results of the KeywordsBlogger survey lately.

The survey results have generated a great discussion about what’s really holding people back from making money online.

One of the things that has really struck me about this conversation is how common FEAR is in the minds if budding Internet marketers:

– Fear of making mistakes

– Fear of losing money

– Fear of looking foolish in the eyes of their family

– Fear of FAILURE

Here are some comments that people made on the post:

“The biggest challenge facing me in making money online is, well, me… I know I have the potential and I usually at least start taking some action. But I hold myself back with thoughts like I want to do it, but can I do it?”

“My biggest challenge has been working around fears of inadequacy that, ironically, have been fed by some of the gurus themselves in order to secure their places as the “go-to-guys.”

All of these comments resonated with me personally, because I’ve faced them all in building my online business. The worst? The mixture of disbelief and annoyance on my wife’s face every time I would tell her, “I just know this site is going to be THE one!”

But that was then, and this is now. Over the past year my online income has increased significantly, through sales of my own information products, affiliate sales, and Adsense.

But I still remember (vividly) those days when nothing seemed to work – when traffic and revenue were as rare as a sunny day in Seattle.

In reflecting on my experience, I’ve concluded that there are a handful of things that have kept me going – things that have seen me through the moments when:

– I lost hundreds of dollars on pay-per-click campaigns

– I paid an outsourcer $1,200 to optimize one of my sites for the search engines, only to get a trickle of visitors in the following months.

– I paid hundreds of dollars for courses that were nothing but fluff (and outdated fluff, at that)

Now, I’m not trying to take on a Tony Robbins persona here. Motivational speaking is certainly not my “core competence” 😉 But there are a handful of things that, upon reflection, I sincerely believe pulled me through the early days – and can help you, too.

Overcoming Fear: 5 Ways to Cope

Here they are, for your consideration:

(1) Take Confidence in Small Successes

I’ve heard many IM gurus say that in order to succeed you need to set outrageous goals, because only huge goals will motivate you. Well, that’s easy for them to say, isn’t it? If you’re already making $5 million a year, why not shoot for $10 million?

I don’t agree with this AT ALL. I think we need to set REALISTIC goals with ACHIEVABLE timeframes.


Because it is largely through your successes that you gain confidence, the confidence to keep moving forward. If your goal is to go from 0 to $10 million in one year, and 11 months into it you’ve made $1.53 in Adsense earnings, how much confidence do you think you’re going to derive from that?

Not much!

Your confidence will actually diminish, and the year will register as a big fat failure.

And, reflecting in your failure, you’ll become disillusioned again.

And in your disillusionment you’ll go out and buy another flavour-of-the-month, “Cash Will Be Flying Into Your Pockets In Your Sleep!!!!” make-money-online information product.

Here’s are two small things you can do each day to take confidence in small successes:

  • At the beginning of each day (or even better, the night before), identify ONE thing you’d like to achieve for your business before the end of the day. For example: spend 30 minutes brainstorming your interests; take 30 minutes to research the needs of your audience on two forums; get one backlink for your website; spend 15 minutes reviewing one module of the Niche Sherpa Video Coaching Course (oops! I snuck that last one in there 😉
  • At the end of each day, take a minute to reflect on any success(es) you made in moving your business forward. No matter how small, remember that small steps add up over the long term. Which leads to the next point:

(2) Take a Long-Term View of Your Online Business

Remember the $1,200 I mentioned above – the $1,200 that I paid an outsourcer to optimize one of my sites for the search engines? Well, after six months that trickle of visitors turned into over 12,000 organic visitors per month. I now earn $800 per month in Adsense revenue from that site, not to mention info product sales.

What if I had given up on that site, and sold it on Flippa.com? Somebody else would be making that $800+ per month – off my dime!

A great analogy I’ve heard Amit Mehta use is that of a college degree. Nobody expects a college degree to take three weeks and cost nothing, and yet many IM newbies expect the money to start rolling in over night.

An online business is one of the very few opportunities in which a person can earn a full-time income in a relatively short period of time and with relatively little money invested (think of how much time and money is required to get a college degree, or start a bricks-and-mortar store).

But it still takes time, effort, and (yes) some money. Remember to always think of the resources you’re putting into this as a long-term investment that will pay off for years to come, through the passive income that you will (eventually) earn from your sites.

(3) Focus on What’s Working AND What You Enjoy Doing

If you’re completely new to IM, here’s my advice: experiment with a bunch of different ways to make money online, then settle on one, and stick to it. It’s only with focus that you will start to see small successes. If you continue to play affiliate pinball, you’re doomed to never see even the slightest success.

After several years of scratching around, I finally understand what makes money AND what I enjoy: finding gaps in markets and having products developed to fill those gaps. I DON’T enjoy building websites, building backlinks for search engine optimization, or writing health articles for my sites (no offense to those who do).

Have I structured my business perfectly so I only need to work on the things I enjoy, and others take care of the rest? No. But I’m working toward that goal, and every day I’m a little bit closer.

(4) Get a support network

Blogs (like this one) are okay, but in order to develop the thick skin you need to push forward in business, you really need the regular support of both people who are in your situation AND of people who have “made it”.

Whether you gain that support through face-to-face meetings like those offered by Meetup.com, through good online forums, or through some other medium – that’s up to you. But I firmly believe the saying “you are who you associate with” is true. (And lots of research on peer influence proves this.)

(5) Be aware of “illusory inferiority”

Illusory inferiority is a little known psychological phenomenon in which highly-skilled people under-rate their abilities. Why? Because they falsely assume that everyone else has the same level of knowledge and skill as them (which is often not true). The opposite of illusory inferiority is “illusory superiority”, in which – you guessed it – unskilled people feel that they’re better than everyone else.

Remind you of any gurus you know?

Let me leave you with the following quote, worthy of the best motivational speaker:

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

Bertrand Russell

Your thoughts?

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    • Moe says

      Awesome link, Jimmy – thanks for that.

      Coincidentally, I just finished reading Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” last month. The book is Frankl’s recounting of his time in concentration camps during WWII, and his theories of what motivates humans. Anyone who thinks they have a rough life should read the first half of this book – the pages where he describe day-to-day living in the camps.

      There’s one statement from Frankl’s book that has really stuck with me. He says that a person can have everything taken away from them, but they will always have control over one thing: the attitude they choose to take in life.


  1. Jimmy says

    Moe, do I see a sequel – “60 page” report in the offing? It would (could) be about ‘EMBRACING one’s fears, self doubts, etc’ Hmmmmm, worth finding out if there are hungry buyers. (Ooops, got side tracked a little bit :))

  2. says

    Doing just one thing and having a support network has been the two biggest impacts on my life and business over the last few months.

    I used to pile up the work because I thought I needed to get everything done but what I did was do all the easy stuff and never get around to those big items. I now have switched to doing no more than 2 – 3 tasks each day and each of them are the higher end (big win) items.

    Additionally, I tell my friends what I’m up to so they always bust my butt if I’m not getting them done – can’t disappoint the crowd!

    • Moe says

      I also used to do a lot of little unproductive things, Murlu – and still find myself wanting to check my Clickbank account a few times a day, and email 10 times a day!. As you say, focusing on a few crucial things, having a support network, and making public commitments are some key ways to force productivity.


  3. says

    Great post Moe. I agree with what you’re saying about fear – a lot people experience it. I started my first business with no college, no experience, and no money. I worked my ass off, burned out a number of times, and got deep into debt. It took a lot to not see that as a total failure but a “what not to do” experience, which is the attitude I have to projects that don’t meet my expectations or goals.

    Outside factors do feed those fears, but we can’t let them be greater than our own voices that know we can do it. Just have to keep moving forward, and we will find the site that is “the one” that proves we can do it.

    • Moe says

      Thanks for your thoughts, Robert. Finding “the one” successful site is definitely a confidence-booster. The challenge is maintaining the momentum – and being stubborn enough – to make it to that point.


  4. says

    What I find helps me is having the moment by moment awareness of what my mind is focusing on. As soon as I notice that I am focusing on what I am afraid of, I immediately shift my focus onto what I DO want. This can be a laborious process to constantly monitor your thoughts but it gets easier with time and practice. The key then, is to always focus on what you want and have sufficient awareness to know when you are focusing on what you don’t want, are afraid of or are worried about.

    • Moe says

      True – being “in the moment” can help us pinpoint our fears – but it’s so hard to always be in the moment. Guess it’s back to the Buddhism 101 books!

  5. says

    Great post Moe!

    Each time I come back here to digest something I need to have starved myself for longer periods, otherwise I fill up mid post and have to go and vomit up the crap I read earlier so Ican fit more of this good stuff in!

    I think fear is a huge motivator for me, and that is the key. I took the fear I had of failure (which was holding me back more than I cared to ackowledge) and turned it into a fear of how I would feel about myself as a Person and as a father if I did not put in 100% each and every day!?!

    I suppose that throws a layer of guilt into the equation, but as a married man I have learned to live with a layer of guilt on everything. Like salt, or maybe chilli is more adequate a metaphor – certainly fires me up AND gives me the shits all at the same time 😉

    Thanks again for putting so much thought into your posts.
    From your no. 1 fan (LOL that was so groupie of me)

    • Moe says

      Alex, if it wasn’t for the vivid imagery in your comments, this blog would be a lot more boring! Keep it coming…


  6. says

    Great to hear that I’m not the only one having doubts and struggles…Thanks for some insight into traps not to fall into; the term “affiliate pinball” was perfect! Gotta make sure I keep my quarter out of that game!

    • Moe says

      Good advice, Chelley (but too late for me – I spent thousands on affiliate pinball in my first two years online!)

      I took a look at your site. You have a great domain name, and a lot of potential for your site, I think.


  7. says

    Great Moe!! This post is very useful for a newbie like me, Thank You for sharing this wonderful article with all of us….
    Fear is certainly a great offender to Success!


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