Toby Nwazor

When I made the decision to leave the 9-5 life for entrepreneurship, I had my hopes high. I had a lot of expectations about how things would turn out. The future looked beautiful and I couldn’t wait. I had read so many stories of entrepreneurs who were hitting the headlines and cashing out every other day, and that was what I wanted.

When my first brick and mortar business packed up, I diverted into the online world. Of course, I equally had high hopes too. But there were so many things I didn’t know.

My first website (which has closed down now, unfortunately), was started in October 2014. It’s been almost five years, of trying to build a business online. If I could turn back the hands of time, there are a few things I would have done differently.

If you are starting out, then this will do you a world of good. It is a list of things  I wish I knew when I was starting out. It would have made my journey as an online entrepreneur easier.

1.      You need more than passion to succeed

When I started out, I wasn’t just passionate. I was obsessed as it were. All I could think of was the services I could render. I talked about it ceaselessly. My ideas were burning in my head. I am sure you have had those kinds of ideas that could change the world.

But one thing that is equally as important, if not more important than having passionate ideas is executing them. Almost five years later, I had to learn that although passion was important, it could only take me so far. I needed skills, I needed to build quality relationships, I needed to have a good financial plan, I also needed to know how to meet deadlines and equally manage customer expectations.

2.      You don’t have to do everything

If you are like I was five years ago, you’d feel you must have to do everything yourself if it would turn out perfect. News flash: that’s a recipe for failure. It took me almost breaking down at a point, to learn that.

And when I learned that lesson, I started outsourcing tasks and delegating responsibilities as much as possible. For instance, as a content marketer, rather than work alone, I got a team of content developers, editors and even SEO experts to work with me.

3.      Tech isn’t so scary

To create my own website, I had to ask a friend for help. In fact, he had to manage it for me because I felt I wasn’t a tech guy. I knew nothing about SEO and something as simple as getting wordpress plugins for my site was considered a herculean task. Because of that unfounded “fear of tech”, I didn’t even bother to do anything on my website except to write articles.

It took me a lot of time to see that Tech isn’t as scary as it seemed. The backend of a website isn’t that geeky anymore too. So when it was time to start my newest website, I was ready to do it myself.

4.      You will work harder than you think

One of the misconceptions about online businesses is the concept of “soft work”. This phrase is used as slang to describe the phenomenon of doing minimal work and flexing for the rest of the week.

Experience taught me better. The night before writing this article, I stayed awake until almost 2 am working on a project, and I still had to wake up a little past six to continue.

Is every day like that? No. There are days when I can afford to go swimming depending on my work schedule. But don’t be fooled by that, a lot of work is usually done in the background beforehand.

5.      How much you know determines how much you will earn

It is almost a cliché to say that your learning ability determines your earning ability. Many people start their businesses thinking that being an entrepreneur means going against the rules. In this case, it is not. To be successful in the online business world, you must update your knowledge regularly.

Quick example. As a content marketer, I make it a duty to read far and wide and be updated on the trends in the industry. That way, I can have a conversation with the CTO of a VOIP company and still talk with the CFO of a big financial management firm. That way, I leave no money on the table.