• Derick Ho

The Truth About Building an Online Business (That Nobody Wants to Hear)

In this post I would like to debunk the myth of ‘getting rich quick.’ And explain the truth of what it really takes to be successful in business.

This post is relatively similar to a post that I have written sometime back addressing whether is dropshipping a scam (it is not!). If you hadn't read it yet, click here.

This post is actually addressing at a general level of making money online, from Freelancing to Affiliate Marketing to Professional Online Consultancy, not only eCom and dropshipping. If you are doing e-commerce or dropshipping, I would advice you to read this post as it will definitely be of some use to you.

Many people like to think that owning your own business, making lots of money, and/or working online in a certain way means that you lived in luxury penthouse, owning expensive cars, only travel first class (or even have your own plane), and so on.

A super penthouse in Singapore that cost more than $100 million.

The typical mindset goes like this. You put in a dollar. And then get $10,000 back. And then go on to quit your day job, travel the world, buy a Lamborghini, and work from a laptop for the rest of your life. (lol) (hahaha)

The assumption that it’s easy to make money is no surprise. Even on YouTube, you’ll find hundreds of videos of people who claim they made $100,000 in a single month. And the next thing you'll see are people taking out their credit card and pay $5000 on a course.

Ahhhh the art of selling dreams.

Well, let me tell you, running your own business and making money online isn't always the way people make it seem. As the old saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Really, though, it's not all that glamorous.

I'm actually typing this blog post in the airport, waiting to get onboard on my flight. And no, i'm actually travelling on economy flight to Japan for a week off sightseeing.

And no, I do not drive/own a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, I actually drive an Audi A4 (bought it at a discounted price almost equivalent to a typical Japanese Car).

Majority will simply just toss their laptop at home and won't even be bothered to look at their online business for 1 week. Next thing you'll see are angry customers blasting on their support email for not getting their products arrive on time or shipping wrong products etc.

That's me with the displayed Jaguar I-Pace in the Airport.

But this is simply not the case for me – For example, I personally read every single support email in my inbox everyday, even when I am in overseas for holiday. I can just simply delicate this task to my customer service department.

But I want to make sure that I am on the ground, listening to what are the problems my customers are facing. It isn't wise to have your team aware of the situation and yet you as the business owner isn't aware of the things going on the ground.

This is the kind of commitment that you will need to have, be it running an online business or brick-and-mortar business. You need to show up on your business. End of the day, an online business is still a business. It needs to be treated like an brick-and-mortar business with the same level of commitment.

The Myth of Overnight Success

This belief sets unrealistic expectations in their head. The expectation that if they build an online business today, within thirty days they are going to end up filthy rich.

But here’s the harsh truth: This belief is simply not true.

Why? Because in the real world, building a profitable online business always takes time. Realistically, thirty days for a business to become profitable is an unrealistic expectation. And it usually takes much longer than this.

“How long?” you might ask. Well, on average, it usually takes a business anywhere between six months to several years for new businesses to become profitable.

For me, it took me close to 3 years to see my own online business becoming profitable.

I didn't had to lie about it. In fact, if I would want to lie to you guys – I would not have to open this website and write this blog post from the very start and instead simply create a eCom course and charge everybody $3000 for it and laugh all the way to the bank.

Why This Long?

Well, that is because even if I were to give you the entire steps and strategy, there is one thing that you cannot escape.

That is called Learning Curve.

Like learning anything in life, there is always a learning curve at the start.

No matter how many videos you have watched, or blog posts you’ve read, building a business comes with a lot of failures, trial and error, and corrections along the way.

I have lost almost $5,000 in total before I managed to earn my first $2,000 in that particular month.

People who you may see or claimed that they are making a lot of money in just a couple of weeks, or one month, or even days should never be referenced to as normal. Sure, they might have made $100,000 in a month — but after deducting the expenses, how much are the actual profits? (It could even be possibly in negative.)

Some claims may seem impressive on the surface. But the deeper you dig into the back story, what you’ll find is that things aren’t what they really seem.

It's the same as any other traditional business. People who are now crushing it with their online business hardly experienced an overnight success. In reality, it took much longer than a month or even years to build a life-changing business. 

To build an online business for success actually boils down to 5 essential skills.

#1. Technical Competency

#2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

#3. Content Creation

#4. Expertise in a given niche

#5. Paid Advertising

Out of the 5 of the above, 2 of them are actually optional but it will definitely make your online business journey a lot easier you if you actually possess these 2 skills. I am going to give you a run-through on these 5 skills in my next blog post as this would require another blog post altogether.

Get rich quick schemes aren't real.

Trust me, if you ever hear self proclaimed "gurus" that are earning millions tells you that by buying his/her course would bring you a magic money tree (even very subtlety) – please hold tight on your hard-earned money and run away from him/her as far as possible.

I spent nearly a whole year on Affiliate Marketing and months on eCommerce and made less than 3 cents per hour if I were to be very specific by adding up all the time I put into it. Yes, it paid off tremendously in the end, but there were lots of very stressful moments, heart-wrecking moments and sleepless nights. I even had to sell off my 8 year old Honda Civic just to fund for my budget for paid traffic. Are you willing to make this kind of compromise?

An online business is a great way to make a living, but you definitely need to put the work into it. If you think you can put the work into it, then I definitely recommend you give it a try!

Making money online means that you can work 24/7

Well, this is a double-edged sword actually. The positive side of this is because it's all online, and majority of the work are more or less automated. Which means that I will have more time to myself to do other tasks, no need to constantly conform to a 8-5 desk bound or shift work job, no need to answer to my boss or manager. I do not dispute this.

The negative side of this – you're more or less on 24/7 standby to your work. As I've said above, if there is something that requires my attention or decision even when I am overseas on a vacation, I had to get right into work immediately.

While I am enjoying the work that I am doing currently, it's never healthy to work all the time. You need to enjoy other aspects of life as well, and take a mental break from work. You will need to learn where to find the right balance between your work and leisure.

Hence, those who worked together with me will definitely know that I always have a high expectations; especially towards my team – because a one time good job is a thousand lesser problems in the future.

Work anywhere you want in the world, 24/7

There's no one way to earn money online.

Unlike a traditional business, anybody who are running an online business will definitely know that there is a lot of trial and error. While there are tips and steps for marketing, there isn't an exact formula as a whole.

"For example, person A is running a fashion niche so he/she utilize Pinterest marketing and is successful in that particular traffic source. Person B is also running a fashion niche, and he/she tried to follow person A formula by utilizing Pinterest marketing as well.

But it turns out that person B didn't get as much sales as compared to person A. So, person B tried using Facebook Ads by running banner styled ads and is successful."

Because there's no step-by-step guide that is telling you exactly what to do and how exactly to earn money online, everything is up to you. Things may happen faster or more slowly for you than for someone else who is running a company similar to yours.

You don't need technical experience to make money online.

I'm not a very technical person. In fact, I'm actually quite horrible in the technical areas.

This surprises many people, but it's the truth. You don't need to be a computer genius in order to work online. Instead, you just need focus on what are the things that you can do for your business, and hire out what you can't seem to figure out. That's exactly what I do.

In fact, I always hire freelancers to solve my technical related issues for me. And no, it doesn't cost an arm or an leg to hire freelancers. I usually pay them per project, rather than per hour (as I personally find that freelancers who goes by the hour usually abuse it by maxing out the hours than it is actually required based on my experience).

You may be lonely at times.

Working online is great, but it can be lonely at times. This is because you are often isolated from the rest of the world.

The “average” person works with others. However, when working online it is usually just you and your computer.

In actual practice, I've never felt lonely at all actually. In fact, my last job as a Human Resource in a beauty company was much lonelier than my current business setup, as I had absolutely no one to talk to at that day job – everyone was to themselves and practically had to survive on their own. Trust me, it was a very depressing environment.

One tip I can offer you – if you are feeling really bored, you can talk to other online business owners, meeting up with friends anytime for lunch or a cup of coffee as well as my readers. (If you are pretty daring, you can try engage conversion with that pretty lady sitting beside or across the table in the cafe while you're doing your work. But don't say that I taught you that xP)

You may be able to live your dream life.

Lastly, working online is not a get rich quick scheme, and there are no guarantees that you'll make it full-time. However, with your online business, you may be able to live your dream life. I'm not going to say “You WILL live your dream life” because you may realize that running an online business is not right for you.

The most important thing right now is to earn your first dollar or get your first customer online. Trust me, when you manage to get to this point – it will be a huge motivational boost for you to carry on your online business. Nothing beats the satisfaction of earning your first dollar or getting your first customer online.


Also, I didn't write today's post to scare you. Instead, I want to motivate you to work harder so that you can become successful. I also want you to know that a lot of the things and feelings that have made you possibly want to quit your business are actually quite normal. You just have to keep pushing yourself!

I would be lying to you if I told you that I didn't felt like quitting. Truth is, there are so many instances that I really feel like giving up, throw in the towel and simply return back to the corporate world as a electronic engineer or helping out my relative's alcohol business.

But I didn't give up. I gritted my teeth and keep moving forward, taking one step at a time. Truth is, all these adversities and obstacles are actually in your mindset. C'mon, we are all humans, who doesn't want to take the easiest way out or the least pain if possible?

But those who are already successful in their business will definitely know the easiest way out is simply not the option. The only option available for them is to simply produce out the exact same results that they expect from the very start (by hook or by crook).

And those who manage to grind on and persevere, wins.

Talk soon,