What Are Your Top 5 Challenges in an Online Business?

I remember the first time I began to realise that making money online without having any boss to answer to was a real possibility and that I could do it. I was so excited and so fascinated by the idea. Imagine any ordinary guy like me being able to simply turn on a laptop and use it to bring in money!

Good news is, it can be done. The bad news? Well, it might be a more rocky road than you had originally anticipated.

My name is Dominic and here I want to share with you 5 serious online business challenges I faced as an aspiring affiliate marketer and what I (eventually) did to overcame them.

These challenges are common problems that most of us online entrepreneurs face at some point on our journey.

Be assured, I’m someone who has been there before. You’ll find Action Points after each challenge which are designed to help you out in dealing with each challenge.

I talk about online business mostly within the affiliate marketing category which is what I’m most familiar with, but there are of course many types of online business. Affiliate marketing is one of them and I’m guessing don’t need to tell you that it’s legit and can be highly lucrative.

What I’m getting at here is that what I say in posts like this should still be relatable to those of you who might be struggling with another type of online business such as dropshipping or some form of eCommerce.

Let’s dive in shall we?

My 5 Answers to: ‘What are your Top Challenges in an Online Business?’

Here we go. I’m going to talk about each of these challenges listed below in detail:

  1. Realising the process, although simple, isn’t easy
  2. Doubting yourself
  3. Being tempted to spend money where you shouldn’t
  4. Staying Consistent
  5. Being patient in waiting for results

#1 The Process Can be Simple But It’s Not Easy!

One of the first challenges that can catch us off guard and that a lot of us face as newbies is falling for the idea that because the business model (in my case affiliate marketing) is actually a simple (4 step) process, it must therefore be pretty easy to implement.

Being disillusioned in this way is challenging for anyone.

To illustrate, here is a popular and legit process that shows how affiliate marketing works in 4 steps:

  1. You pick a niche
  2. You create a blog centered on that niche
  3. You produce related content that will attract organic traffic
  4. You promote products on that site and earn affiliate commissions

Now this is a way that works but many vendors of MMO products out there teach people the wrong method altogether – nearly always something that follows a get-rich-quick mentality.

Related: 7 Problems with DFY Systems and Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

We could simplify affiliate marketing even further:

  1. Sign up to an affiliate program
  2. Promote affiliate products online, such as on social media and online forums
  3. Make money


  1. Get your affiliate link
  2. Send paid traffic to it, for example, solo ad traffic

Related: Solo Ad Vendors – Problems You’ll Face With Solo Ads

The fact is that simple doesn’t mean easy!

There is a LOT involved in building and running an online business, trust me. Keeping with the example of doing what I do, you need to:

  • Learn how to set up a website properly
  • Learn how to maintain it
  • Have access to technical support
  • Have expert and if possible, online community support
  • Have good hosting and site speed and understand the importance of these
  • Have good keyword research skills
  • Understand SEO (a huge field of knowledge all by itself)
  • Know how to write blog content that ranks on search engines (many new bloggers don’t reach people because their content isn’t good enough)
  • Consistently produce high quality content and be patient while waiting to see results
  • Be able to sell to people by providing real value
  • Fix indexing errors on your site (a real heart ace for bloggers!)
  • Learn lead generation and email marketing (copywriting is the art of writing marketing emails that convert)
  • Learn branding and building authority online
  • Learn how to promote your site in other ways besides SEO
  • And much more…

Yes, it might be easy if you’ve had several to many years of experience, but to a beginner, it’s always going to be an uphill climb to learn all this stuff thoroughly and put in the required work that leads to success.

Once beginners discover that the process isn’t as easy as it is simple, many get bitterly disappointed and tempted to quit. That’s just human nature.

The process is a 4 step formula but carrying it out is where the difficulties and challenges make themselves felt.

This ties in with a common problem which is that so many people have an unrealistic and false concept of what the life of a digital entrepreneur looks like.

They often glamorise it and overlook the hard work and struggle it takes to be successful. Working online is a real business. You get it right and you keep it going or you fail, just like with everything else.

Related: 13 Ways Successful Affiliates Overcome Failure

Sure, it’s great to be your own boss, but now you need to make sure that you don’t slack off or get overwhelmed just like so many other online entrepreneurs do.

It’s a marathon and the novelty of working online wears off. All this should be taken into consideration before you jump in on the opportunity.

That said, it is true that we are attracted to online business so that we can have more time and more money on our hands. And this is possible with dedication – leveraging the internet can lead to things like more quality time, real wealth and passive income.

Action Points: You’ll definitely need to change your thinking if you got into online business with the idea that its about following simple steps and living a carefree life.

Once you’ve fully accepted this, the next step is to give it your best shot and to go all in. Keep learning the process and keep applying yourself to the work you need to do.

#2 Doubting Yourself

This is a really rough one. Running into difficulties, confusion, frustration and what not; it can easily leave you questioning yourself. “Can I really do this?”

What’s worse, add to this the things other people say to you: “Dude, it’s not working. Try something else. Be like other people. Online stuff is usually just a scam. If you could just sit down and do it, then everyone else would be doing it too,” and so on.

The internet has been around for a long time now. We’re all on it. And people have been making money on the internet in legitimate ways for a long time too. And yet, today, most people have never even heard of the term ‘affiliate marketing.’

I kid you not, my own family and nearly all my friends and relatives (except for one) didn’t know what I meant when I told them I’m doing affiliate marketing.

Most people still don’t know about or believe in an ordinary person going down that route and becoming successful.

By far the majority of people today still go the conventional route: you pass those school exams, you go to college or university, you get qualified and you get a job. 9-5 you work for that boss whom you don’t get on great with and that’s how you earn money.

Then someone comes along with no college degree and says they are doing blogging for a living. And they are monetising their blog with affiliate marketing and making serious money.

When I heard about this method, I wanted to do it and I did start learning and applying myself. But at the time I still wanted to find an easier and faster way with less work involved, I’m ashamed to say.

It took me a pretty long time to say ‘no, this get-rich-quick approach is an illusion, but affiliate marketing through blogging makes perfect sense.’

However, my content wasn’t great; it was too armature and sometimes quite robotic and it was taking a long time. Worst of all, Google wasn’t indexing my blog posts much and I didn’t know about that because I was slow to get around to learning all about Google Search Console.

I had written a large number of posts but nothing much happened. It was so soul-crushing and depressing.

A part of me knew I could be a blogger and a good one. I always had a knack for writing but my blog at the time was too business focused. It’s fine to be business focused but I mean in the sense that I was thinking too much about the monetary value of it and not enough about my audience.

Make sense?

Anyway, thanks to Google’s sophisticated algorithm, it only ranks content that it considers to be truly valuable to the reader. Moreover, it doesn’t like robotic or boring content. You’ll often find that blog posts that rank at the top of Google have a nice personal touch and are just readable.

It was overwhelming thinking about having to redo all those old blog posts that weren’t getting indexed by Google, let alone ranked.

My failure was staring me in the face and I just doubted myself to the point where I thought I could never do it properly.

I had a mundane job stocking shelves and cleaning warehouse floors in a supermarket and it was making me miserable. But prior to that I was in a call centre for a mobile phone company and that was even worse.

Then I left the supermarket job and worked in another office as a payments administrator. I just wasn’t happy and all I wanted was to be a success at affiliate marketing, but I kept thinking it was a waste of time and effort for me. I probably couldn’t do it, or maybe I could one day but not right now, etc.

In the end I did get my act together and put my heart into it this time. I enjoyed it, made progress and never looked back again.

When you are seriously wondering if you can do something that you want to do, it’s usually the case that you can.

I don’t seriously wonder if I can fly even if I really wanted to, but I was seriously wondering if I could be an online entrepreneur which I definitely badly wanted. And the truth is I can; it’s what I am now… And so can you. You can do this as well if it’s what you want and are serious about it.

Action Points: Close the door on self-doubt. Building an online business is your way forward – embrace it!

Practise being your true self by doing the thing you love and pursuing what you want. Self-doubt is the enemy because it causes depression and procrastination.

I can’t stress enough how big a challenge self-doubt is. Don’t let anything that happens or anyone in your life cause you to think you can’t do this. No more ‘I can’t.’ Your new motto should be ‘I CAN.’

 #3 Learning to be Careful with Your Money

Depending where you are on your journey in online business, you always need to be careful about the money you are spending.

Either you are a beginner and let’s say you have been putting money into shiny object DFY systems after watching sales videos and ending up disappointed with the results, or you are already doing well but are spending your money on stuff like luxuries that you don’t really need.

Sure, you deserve some nice things if you are doing well in your business but as an independent business owner, you always want to have some back up money in case your business takes a dive.

So many people including myself started a make money online venture by finding convincing sales videos, usually promoted to us by other affiliates, that feature all the supposed benefits of various MMO programs. Most of these are get-rich-quick schemes, also called done-for-you systems.

They tend to be very over hyped and easy to buy because of their low frontend fee. But they nearly always have hidden upsells like OTOs or upsells that are always available and which you discover you need in order to follow the instructions properly and hopefully make money.

These upsells tend to cost far more than the product itself which is ridiculous. And in most cases, you never do make the money they make you believe you will. These things are designed to profit the owner, not you.

What usually happens is that not only do you not make any money, but you spend and lose large amounts. Even if you do make some sales, you are still in the loss margin and almost never in the profit margin.

Some people out there lose many $1000s on these things.

Here is an example of how a typical DFY/get-rich-quick scheme works:

  1. You watch a webinar that is very hyped up and tells you that you can make lots of fast, easy money with no skills or experience required
  2. You buy the product that is supposed to help you make money
  3. They urge you to buy expensive upsells, saying you need them to make good money (sometimes you get 3 upsells, sometimes up to 7 upsells. What starts off as a $9 product can end up costing you $1000s)
  4. They get you to buy solo ads to get traffic to your offer which is often the very program you just bought. Take Perpetual Income 365 for example. The idea is that you will make money by being an affiliate for the program.

There’s just so many problems with these systems. They teach you the wrong way to run a business. They are there to suck money out of you and never to help you make your own independent online business.

The mentality of people who fall for get-rich-quick schemes is the complete opposite of what you really need to be successful.

Okay, then you have those who are doing well but are not careful enough with their money. Things can sometimes go wrong and you can quickly get into debt, especially if you only have one income stream.

Robby Blanchard for example, recalls how he was doing really well making money with Facebook ads and then one morning he woke up to a banned account which meant his entire income stream came to a standstill.

But with money and experience on his side, he managed to recover his business.

Action Points: Don’t put money into things like DFY systems that are cheap on the front end but have expensive upsells on the backend. These never work in the way you are led to believe they do.

Don’t put money into solo ads. It is extremely difficult to get good ROI with them, and sometimes even to make any sales at all. Read more about solo ads and the problems with them here.

Sometimes, depending on the type of business you are running, your main income stream might become choked. While you prepare a strategy of how to counter this, make sure you have enough money left aside to keep you going and if required, to put invest into your business.

If you’re doing affiliate marketing, you definitely don’t want your entire business to rely on paid traffic, such as running ads. It gets very tricky and you are always at risk of losing your money.

Ideally, you want your main traffic source to be organic traffic. If you are good at getting your own traffic, you are unstoppable. So make a point of creating your own traffic flow without having to rely on paid traffic methods.

#4 Staying Consistent 

A business simply remains a nice idea for as long as the business owner fails to put in regular, hard work.

It’s such an easy thing to say – be consistent. In reality, most people find it really hard to stay consistent with something, even if it’s an online business that they love and really want to succeed.

Part of the problem is that people are impatient to see results and as humans we naturally tend to slacken off if left to ourselves.

This is a habit that is vital to overcome and the sooner the better. It saves SO much time and heartache and self-doubt to simply clock in every day and work on that business.

Once you get good at what you do, you should find that your online business is actually enjoyable and even fun to work on. That’s where you want to be if you want to overcome this negative, lazy, unmotivated attitude in yourself.

Even if things aren’t going all that well, still do something, always something. As Jordan Peterson says, “make a bad plan rather than no plan.”

Procrastination and all the excuses that go with it is the ultimate killer of a business. It stalls success, stunts growth and goes nowhere.

It is a long plod to the goal of success, but if you get used to being there at your desk and working away, suddenly, what seemed so far away is around the corner.

Once you have consistency, you will gradually eliminate ALL your problems simply because you keep going; you stay on the move, creating content or whatever it is you do and fixing problems as they come.

Action Points: Create a business plan and do your best to stick to it. Make it realistic, something you can actually keep to.

Whatever you do, never let a day pass without doing some work on your business. It can be researching a product or service, learning more about your line of work or producing a piece of content, but you should always put something in because as they say, ‘we get out of something what we put in.’

#5 Being Patient in Waiting for Results

This is really about being willing to play the long game. There are far too many gurus and scammers out there all telling you that making money online is a quick way to wealth whereas in reality, making money on the internet as a career is no trivial matter.

It’s not a matter of cutting corners and finding secret shortcuts. It’s all about taking huge action, especially in the beginning and trusting the process.

Keep to a good method, be consistent and you will arrive at results.

But admittedly, it really is a challenge to have to work and wait for months before you are able to see the money coming into your bank from your business.

At the same time, as you can imagine or already know from experience, it is very rewarding and well worth the effort and the wait.

Probably the toughest thing about having to wait for the results while working on your business is the fact that you can’t tell with accuracy or for definite when or even if you will be paid.

But in most cases, if you are doing what you should be doing, following a legit formula of online business and being consistent, you may well have quite a long wait, but when your business does pick up, you will experience a snowball effect of success – and I hardly need to say it but that’s one of the best feelings in the world.

The good news here is that if you can actually enjoy what you are doing, the time becomes less of an issue.

You don’t notice the wait so much if your business is something you have a passion for.

An online business is something you just keep getting better at, keep adding to. And it’s something that let’s you keep increasing your earning potential which is wonderful.

Action Points: try to enjoy and even love what you do and avoid getting into a type of online business that you don’t actually like or that you fee doesn’t suit you.

If you are doing affiliate marketing, make sure you don’t choose a boring niche; something you aren’t really knowledgeable or passionate about.

Do what you can today with your business and please, try to enjoy it!

Always remember that your work and time are never waisted. At the very least, you are gaining experience and getting better with every day that you put work into your business.

I hope this post on 5 top challenges in online business has been interesting and possibly useful.

Feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Further Reading Suggestion(s):

How to Get Out of a Rut in Life – Simple Steps to Follow

Your Online Business is a Skyscraper in the Making

How Calming you Anxiety Leads to Success

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