3 Ways Our Business Improved By Doing Nothing – Sometimes You Just Have To Stick Around And Good Things Will Happen

I don’t know what’s been going on lately, but I’ve been receiving an unusually large number of depressing emails this past month. People have been asking me questions like…

  • How do I know when to shut down my business?
  • It’s been over 8 months now and I’m not still not making that much with my website yet. Should I change my niche?
  • Why is my site not getting any traffic? Should I start over?

After taking a closer look at a few of these websites, I noticed one glaring commonality between all of these online businesses. They’ve all been around for less than a year!!!

While my wife and I were able to make a six figure salary in a short period of time, making significant money with your business can often take longer depending on your niche and your ability to adapt to the market. In fact, the longer you stick around, the better off your business will be as long as you are constantly changing up your tactics and testing different strategies to see what works.

One of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is that you have to force yourself to stick it out even though things are not going as planned. You have to give your business a fighting chance to succeed because things take time to evolve and grow.

Would you throw your child out of the house if he or she wasn’t advancing as fast as you would like? Much like having a child and raising a family, your business is a long term commitment and you have to be patient.

For my wife and I, we were close to giving up on our online store after just a few months but I’m glad we stuck it out. In fact, several fortuitous events happened to us that had a drastic effect on our business and all we really did was stay open for business. Seriously, good things tend to happen to those who wait. But you have to be open in order to reap the rewards. Here are a few ways our business improved just for staying alive.

Our Online Store Made The Google Blog

When I first started working on our online store website (this was many months before we actually went live), I made the mistake of paying for a submission service to submit our store URL to thousands of directories. At the time, I desperately wanted backlinks in order to improve my search engine rankings and I was willing to do whatever was necessary to obtain them. But since my domain was very young, Google saw the sudden influx of backlinks as spam so our online store was sandboxed immediately. And during this period, you couldn’t even find our store if you typed in our URL directly into Google.

I knew I had royally screwed up but I had no idea how to rectify the situation. So at this point we contemplated just calling it a day since we didn’t think we could succeed without support from the search engines.

But then something lucky happened! A friend of mine got assigned to write a blog entry on the Google Webmaster Tools official blog. Since we used Google webmasters tools for our store, she volunteered to mention our store in the article! Within a week of the blog entry going live, our store got un-sandboxed and just like that, we were back in business.

We Got Featured In Real Simple Magazine

For a long time, my wife and I struggled to gain credibility for our store and our products. One of our main problems was that no one knew who we were so customers were a bit hesitant to make purchases from our store over some of the more established brands. Business was slow in the beginning for several other reasons as well but the bottom line was that customers weren’t putting our products in their shopping carts.

One day, my wife and I were discussing some new marketing strategies to improve our store’s credibility when we received a call from Real Simple magazine. It turns out that they wanted to feature some of our napkins in the next issue of their magazine! Naturally, we took advantage of their offer and all of a sudden, we were able to add a magazine logo to our online store! Not only that, but the Real Simple website linked to our website as well which gave us a boost in the search rankings.

We Got Featured In Brides Magazine

While the Real Simple magazine feature gave our napkins and home textiles a boost in credibility, we still didn’t have any publicity for our core product, our wedding handkerchiefs. But during this time, our site had been silently climbing the search rankings. Did you know that the simple act of keeping your website up and running can improve your standings in the search engines? In fact, Google uses the age of your domain as one of the factors in determining where your site appears in search.

One day, Brides magazine found our site in Google and wanted to feature some of our products in their next issue. This was huge for us because it instantly gave us credibility in the wedding space. Most companies pay a lot of money just for a small ad in Brides magazine but here they were contacting us to be featured for free!

Good Things Happen If You Stick Around

All of the events described above happened to our store even though we did absolutely nothing. Essentially, we were in the right place at the right time. Good things happen to those who stick it out and find a way to succeed. There are other good reasons not to give up on your business as well. For example, even if you take the money out of the equation, our little online business has been rewarding in many other ways.

For one thing, our wedding linens shop has given us the opportunity to be a part of our customers’ lives. This sounds cheesy, but I really enjoy being a part of the wedding planning process and we get sent pictures and thank yous from our customers all the time. And in some cases, we’ve even helped a few guys plan their wedding proposals.

Because we stayed in business, I also got the inspiration to start this blog and to launch my course on how to create a profitable online store. My wife and I have also used our business as an excuse to travel to various foreign countries tax free and I’ve learned how to be my own boss and manage a small scale business. Not bad for just sticking around eh? Don’t give up so easily.

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28 thoughts on “3 Ways Our Business Improved By Doing Nothing – Sometimes You Just Have To Stick Around And Good Things Will Happen”

  1. Glad to have read this article today as I start my today’s goal of tweeking my website a little! Wasn’t planning on throwing in the towel yet but do have to remind myself from time to time that one of my current strategies is to “just be one of the one’s who stays in business”! Your article was a gentle reminder that my strategy is a good one – lol! Almost 5 months now woot woot :-D!

    1. @Carla
      Long time no see! I see that you have moved on from your other shop (assuming this is the same Carla). Good luck and congrats on making the 5 month mark!

  2. You were blessed to have those opportunities. it’s always interesting to see the opportunities that come when people contact you through your site, but I’ve never seen anything quite as cool as that on my own sites.

    1. @Andy
      Yep, we’ve definitely been lucky to have nabbed those opportunities. Look for another announcement in a month or so about our store being featured in another major publication!

  3. Great article about sticking around.

    I think it is hard to keep on going when owners do not see revenue coming in to even break even. They will get discouraged, and at the end just let go with the online store.

    In fact, 9/10 businesses fail, only 1/10 will get through. In my opinion, if your 1st online store did not make enough for you to stick around after1 or 2 years, at least you learned good experience and knowledge from it.

    Steve, one quick question, so you do not suggest us to outsource our SEO to a 3rd party? (for example, backlinks and blogs)

    1. @Jeff
      I think it depends on the personality. If things weren’t going well even after 2 years, then I still wouldn’t close up shop. It doesn’t make sense when it only costs 37 dollars a month just to stay open. I’d probably change things up a bit and ask for help or sign up for a course or something to learn what I’m doing wrong. In terms of outsourcing SEO, I personally would never do that directly. I like to be in control of what is going on and I’d want to make sure that no black hat tactics were employed.

  4. Love this article Steve! After a little over a year being in business, my store is just now making the kinds of sales I was hoping for. But in the beginning, things were VERY slow. So glad I didn’t give up!

    1. @Nicole
      Awesome! I’m glad that this article resonated with you.

  5. Hi Steve,

    Great article! This is so true and I can confirm it myself. I’ve been working with a family owned business for 5 years and have been building my blog for over 2 years now. I’ve watched both just continue to grow like crazy over time.

    Businesses tend to grow exponentially. The thing is zero times even 100 is still zero. All businesses need time to gain traction and really get going.

    The magic number for most businesses is 5 years!

    Yes, it takes multiple years of growth to really feel solid and feel like you won’t go out of business tomorrow.

    To a certain degree we still feel like our company can go out of business overnight. But we know that our business is really solid now. Much more solid then the past 5 years.

    And Steve, I am a week away from launching my first online business! Everything comes together over time and culminates into success if you keep at it!

    So good luck everyone! And keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive!

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

    1. Hey Jeremy
      Long time no see! You are absolutely right. Businesses tend to snowball as soon as they reach the tipping point so it’s all about getting there. To give you an example, my current company took 10 years to ship the same amount of product that we’ll be shipping next year. The growth has been exponential! Good luck with your online business and let me know if you need any help.

  6. This is great, Steve. I have “Patience” listed as #1 on my wall. There is a ton of value is sticking it out.

    1. @theComplex
      Same here. I’m actually not a patient person at heart so my wife always has to remind me that things don’t happen overnight.

  7. Hi Steve – Great timing! I have finally just launched my website – which I thought would be up & running in January. Although my business is technically brand new, I’ve spent the past year working on developing it. So far I’ve learned that a new biz is similar to a renovation: 3x the cost and 3x the amount of time I thought it would take.

    Thanks for being so honest about your initial mistakes & missteps. I love my vendors and products I’m using (healthy, natural & organic, eco-conscious assortments of treats & toys for pets), but the trauma of the website and all things technical (and a very, very small budget) has left me feeling very intimidated & unsure at times.

    Just signed up for your free “5 Easy Steps to Setting Up an Online Store”. Looks like I should have done this a year ago:)

    Here’s to Sticking Around and not giving up. Persistence & Perseverance!

    1. Hi Marge
      Good for you and congratulations on your website launch! Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to answer them.

  8. Way too many people think that the internet is a get rich quick scheme. There is definitely money to be made, but it takes time just like any other business.

  9. Steve, must say, this is timely and inspiring. It’s been hard for me to see my “slow progress” with the search engines. At the very least, I’m just NOW seeing them get on page one of Google and recently saw a wee tiny bit of money come in :)

    That’s definitely encouragement. Many people don’t talk about the struggles or events that spur them into the successes they are.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Moon. Personally I don’t think that you are making “slow progress” with your sites. I’ve actually learned a lot from your SEO experiments and always look forward to your posts.

  10. Hi Steve, thank you for this wonderful sharing and advise. I do agree that sometimes people are lack of patient and tend to see fast result. My ex-boss changed his business nature from time to time, simply for one reason “this business does not have good return”.

    But, after reading your post, I guess he might lack of patient and want to see the result in a short period of time. Thank you for the sharing, this is a lesson of the day for me :-)

  11. Totally agree with my qife quit her job, you have to stick with it, tweek and optimize your website effectively and eventually your hard work will pay off.
    Exellent blog!

  12. Thanks for this article, I am coming up to ne year and have 7 websites, non of which have made much money. I hope bt sticking with it and doing as you suggest, I will have some success.

  13. Sometimes taking it easy is the best thing we can do for our business. We can only push and force things so much. Waiting for the seeds to grow only takes patience and time, and then something wonderful shows for it. Congratulations on all the things that came together for you!

  14. N says:

    Your business was featured by god (google) and a few dieties? So what! This is not helpful for normal people running normal businesses.

  15. Ryan says:

    Hi Steve, how long was your website sandboxed by Google for? I fear I may have made the same mistake with a new website. If I can pull through this, I definitely won’t make that mistake ever again. Thanks.

    1. Hey Ryan,
      I don’t remember exactly how long now but it was at least a month.

  16. Too many people want instant gratification these days. Building any kind of business takes time. If you quit before your web-business has the chance to get any traction, you’re cutting your walking legs off.

    Our site was around for years before we had any real traction. Now we’re the top site in our niche. Had I quit after one year, I’d be working a 9-5 for someone else instead of helping change countless lives because of what we’ve built.

  17. Hi Steve,

    Great article. I really enjoyed it, and pretty much every other article on this blog. I’m like some of the others who responded to this post; I read this blog at a great time. Recently, I started up an e-commerce site, however sales were bad; really bad. This, coupled with the fact that I had some other friends who started up some e-commerce sites at about the same time as me and had excellent first months, was fairly discouraging. However, reading this, and some other articles on your blog, has refreshed my entrepreneurial spirit. I love that your articles are filled with what I would consider, practical optimism. You’re an inspiration to us all. Keep up the good work man, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for new articles.

    Justin

    P.S. I am seriously considering taking your course. I would definitely love to learn as much as a can from experts like yourself, and I know I have a lot to learn. However, currently I have a very tight budget, and I have to be very choosy as to where I invest my money. I was curious though; do you offer any sort of discounts or scholarships? If not, that’s totally cool, and I understand.

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