As much as we all love Luke Skywalker, he was pretty dumb when he was younger.
Despite Obi-Wan’s warning, Luke hopped on his landspeeder and headed back to the Lars homestead, even though he could’ve been captured or (more likely) killed by the Empire.
The kid rushes to try to save Princess Leia from the holding cells of the Death Star, without any clear plan in mind.
And Luke insists to Yoda he’s ready for Jedi training even though his patience is as short as his alien teacher.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurial-minded people are a lot like young Luke Skywalker – impetuous and headstrong.
And that doesn’t work out so well if you want to start an online business.
HERE’S THE PROBLEM WITH BEING AS IMPULSIVE AS LUKE…
In many ways, you’re a Luke Skywalker. An online business Jedi-in-training, if you will. And that’s awesome.
But some aspects of the famous Star Wars character aren’t exactly admirable, like his impulsiveness.
You can’t mimic Luke’s rash side when you start an online business.
Most of the time, this will end poorly. You’ll end up like I did when I started my freelancing business.
I didn’t put much thought into my online business at the beginning. In one sense, I didn’t have a choice; my full-time job didn’t end well and there were no other similar-paying opportunities for me in the small Iowa town my husband and I lived in. So I chose to pursue freelancing.
The writing part of freelancing was easy; everything else was overwhelming.
I had no idea how difficult it would be to be my own boss and stay motivated. I couldn’t predict how many days I would feel totally incapable of moving forward one more step. And sometimes I would panic so bad I just wanted to quit freelancing all together and try to get a low-paying, but less stressful, cashier job at the local grocery store.
I did eventually end up getting used to the ups and downs of owning my own business, and I managed to make more in my first year than my ending salary had been at my full-time job.
But I think if I’d thought a bit more and done some more research into what it takes to own an online business, my freelancing career would’ve started off much better. I would’ve had a better idea of what I would face, and would’ve had a healthier mindset for dealing with all aspects of the biz, especially the most troublesome ones.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make the same mistake I did.
THIS IS THE ROUTE YOU SHOULD TAKE INSTEAD
As an entrepreneur, I don’t believe you can ever be completely prepared for what’s ahead of you in online business.
But you can definitely do your best.
Start by asking yourself these ten questions to help you decide if you’re cut out for running an online business:
1. Do you have an idea, talent, or skill that solves a problem or meets a need for thousands (if not millions) of people worldwide?
This is crucial. If you have nothing to offer that will solve a legitimate need for people, there’s really no point in even thinking about starting an online business. You especially shouldn’t run a business if all you’re thinking about is making money online — that means your head isn’t focused on what matters: solving a problem for people.
2. Could this idea, talent, or skill potentially be turned into a lucrative business? (In other words, would someone really pay for your offer, and do they have the means to?)
While solving a need for someone is important, you aren’t really running a business if you aren’t earning income. You’ll have to do some research to determine if what you have to offer will cater to a group of people who are both capable of and eager to pay you. For example, the average college student isn’t likely to have money to pay you for career coaching, but college graduates who’ve been in the workforce for a while are more likely to shell out the cash for your service.
3. Are you willing to put in long hours, often without immediate reward, results, or recognition?
Owning an online business is a lot like being a teacher. It’s tiresome work which can take months or even years to show any sort of positive outcome. You can’t jump into entrepreneurship and immediately expect to see benefits. If you recognize that early on, you’ll have a better chance at owning a successful online business.
4. Does the idea of spending your own money on your biz before it turns a profit, or even losing money entirely if your business fails to take off, terrify you?
There’s almost no online business you can create that doesn’t require some sort of start-up capital. Even the lowest-cost businesses, like freelance writing and coaching, require a minimum of a website, learning materials, and possibly in-person marketing assets like business cards. And these don’t even guarantee to make your business work, though they certainly mean you’re more likely to succeed in the long run.
5. Are you okay with making lots of hard decisions, which could even result in unexpected or troubling outcomes for your business (like needing to change direction entirely)?
One of the cornerstones of being an entrepreneur is taking risks and making decisions others wouldn’t feel comfortable doing. If you want to own an online business, you must be ready to do the same thing, no matter what happens to your business afterwards.
6. Are you able to push through the hard times and keep in mind the larger goal of your business, even when it seems like the odds of finding success are, in the words of C-3PO, “3720 to 1?”
Like I experienced when I started my freelancing business, sometimes you just have to push through the roadblocks which will inevitably pop up in your business, mental or otherwise. Many times, there’s no way to get around these other than to remind yourself of your business’ overall purpose, and find ways to keep moving forward.
7. Are you willing to put the wants and needs of your audience before your own?
When you own an online business, the focus is never about you or what you offer. It’s always about your audience and how they can be helped with your products or services. It’s also only about the success, fulfillment, or satisfaction your audience gets after doing business with you.
8. Can you focus on the tasks you need to accomplish each day to move your business forward?
For many entrepreneurs, focus is difficult to achieve. But successful business owners won’t let themselves get distracted or dismayed (not often, at least). They have the discipline to make themselves sit down, figure out what needs to be done, and do it, much like Luke learned to focus and harness the power of the Force.
9. Do you understand the difference between planning and executing, and are you willing to put your best efforts into both?
Speaking of entrepreneurs who are disciplined, there’s a huge difference between making plans for your business and actually checking them off a list. Both require your full dedication and attention, because planning without execution is worthless, and execution without a plan can be badly misguided.
10. Are you willing to ignore nay-sayers while also being willing to take constructive criticism and feedback from people who actually want to help your business succeed?
Some people just won’t believe you can start an online business, and they aren’t going to feel bad telling you so. While you generally want to ignore these negative influences, you also have to be willing to accept positive ones in order to grow your business. Even if someone criticizes your business, you need to be open-minded enough to realize when they’re trying to help you, no matter how harsh they may come across.
THERE’S SOME LEEWAY IN THESE QUESTIONS
So how did you do?
Did you answer yes to most of these questions? If so, you understand the realities of running an online business, and are more prepared to do so than others might be (heck, you are even more prepped than I was).
If you answered mostly no to these ten questions, don’t give up hope on your online business just yet.
While some of these questions require “yes” answers to set up a business for its greatest potential success (such as if you have an answer to a larger problem or need), some of them have a little more leeway. For example, you can always teach yourself to focus better through productivity hacks, and you can often get through difficult times in your biz with the help of like-minded entrepreneurs.
But the plain truth of the matter is not everyone is cut out to run an online business.
It’s up to you to decide how determined you are to make your thing prosper, so you can start doing a job you enjoy, finding fulfillment, and living the life you always wanted.
HERE’S TO NOT BEING AS IMPULSIVE AS LUKE WHEN STARTING YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS
Again, I know we all love Luke Skywalker.
He has some great qualities business owners can learn from, like caring for others and being passionate about the larger cause he’s serving (you know, taking out the Empire and stamping out injustice and evil).
But entrepreneurs can learn from Luke’s bad habits, too. And taking a lesson from Luke’s reckless nature to keep your own impulses in check is a good thing.
Take some time to sit down and seriously ponder the questions in this post. I promise you you’ll come out with a far deeper understanding of your inherent ability to run an online business, as well as better clarity on what you want to do with your venture.
Now over to you: what’s the one question listed here you feel you’ll be most successful at? The least successful?