7 Fantasies About Online Home Businesses

It amazes me how much people want to believe that it’s easy to earn a spectacular living from home. I know all the big sales pages for internet marketing products make it sound like that, but it’s really not that simple. They encourage fantasies about online home businesses that don’t hold up once you get started.

If you want to know just how unlikely it all is, just take a look at the disclaimers. No matter how much they talk up the ease of big earnings, they have to admit that big earnings are the exception, not the rule. Most people will fail, or at least not do as well as the big earners, by a long shot.

I get how much fun it is to have fantasies about online home businesses. The dream sounds wonderful. It happens for some people. But even the little things you might fantasize about while planning a home business may not happen the way you want them to.

Fantasy #1
More time for your family

How I’d love for this to be true! I’ve been working from home since before my oldest daughter was born, and I’ve run my own websites for 16 years now. Running my business hasn’t always made it easier to have time with my family. I still have to plan it.

Your mileage may vary, but the simple truth is that any business is hard work, especially in the early days. If you don’t work hard, you slow down the growth of your business and it may never take off.

That said, there are some advantages to an online business. You have more freedom to decide when you work, and that’s a big help. You can run most online businesses from home, and that means you can at least be physically present, even when you’re kind of busy working.

And if you work hard, eventually you get to where you can take time off more easily, as well as learning more about when you work best. It does get better from the early rough days of not having enough hours in the day to handle all that your business needs, never mind everything your family needs. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time to hire some help once you can afford it.

Fantasy #2
Easy money

I hear this one all the time. “I’ve been working at this for x months and I still can’t quit my job!”

True. You can’t.

I worked my online business for three years before I was able to quit my medical transcription job, and it was a risk even then. There are times I wish I still had that assured income.

That’s because this doesn’t come easy. If getting rich were as easy as all that, inflation would probably make us all poor again. But it would be fun while it lasted.

If getting rich were as easy as all that, inflation would probably make us all poor again.

Failure in any business is easier and more common than success. Even the most successful business owners usually have a number of failures not only in their past but in their future. Failure means you challenged yourself. It’s only a bad thing if you let it stop you.

Fantasy #3
Lots of tax writeoffs

The trouble here isn’t so much that there aren’t a lot of tax writeoffs for online businesses. Any legitimate business expense is a writeoff come tax time.

The trouble is that many people think they can write off all sorts of things that they really cannot. And that gets them audited.

You have to think before you write off any expense. Is it really a cost of doing business or are you lying to yourself?

If you buy a new computer, for example, is it really for your business or will the whole family be using it regularly? My computer is just for business; we have a separate family computer that the kids and my husband play their games on. If I were to replace it, that would be a business expense. Replacing the family computer would not be a business expense.

My home office is not only my home office. The room is also used as a guest room. This means I cannot claim the entire room on my taxes as a home office. My desk is the only area that is exclusively my office – and I make sure everyone knows to keep their hands off!

Fantasy #4
Build it and they will come

Long, long ago, in the early days of the internet becoming popular, maybe this was true. Now, with so many other websites to compete with, not a chance.

You have to market your site. Get the word out. Advertise. Whatever you want to call it, you have to do it.

The same goes for your social media accounts. They aren’t going to suddenly have a ton of followers. It takes time to build a solid social media following. You have to be interesting. You have to stand out.

And that whole going viral on social media thing? Not as easy as you would like it to be. By a long shot. A few people hit it lucky and go viral with no effort at all. They probably won’t be able to repeat it if they tried.

Be ready to grow your business slow and steady. You might be one of the lucky few to go fast, but if you aren’t prepared for things to go slow, you’ll get frustrated long before things start happening for you. As fantasies about online home businesses go, the dream of going viral with little to no effort is way up there. Worse, it can do more harm than good.

Fantasy #5
Tons of traffic is always a good thing

Nope. Not even close. Not if you want to earn a living from this internet thing anyhow.

There’s good traffic and bad traffic if you’re looking at earning money.

There’s good traffic and bad traffic if you’re looking at earning money. Good traffic has a decent percentage of people who will buy from you or otherwise help you to earn money. Bad traffic overloads your server and doesn’t earn you anything, or only very insignificant amounts.

If you’re serious about your online business, you want buyers! People willing to spend money!

It’s a blast having the traffic on your website take off. I can tell you from experience that it’s even fun if it knocks your server down. Frustrating, but an ego boost nonetheless. It means you’re doing something right even as you scramble to get back online and take advantage of the traffic.

If you don’t earn anything, the ego boost is all the benefit you’re getting. That doesn’t pay bills or put food on the table.

This is the bad side of going viral. Too often it doesn’t do what you would like it to in terms of income and long term improvements to your home business. If the surge in traffic doesn’t include an increase in income, it’s not a good thing, especially if you had to upgrade your website hosting to cope with the traffic.

Fantasy #6
You just need to be an expert on your topic

Being an expert is very good for your business. You need to be one. But it’s not enough to bring you success. There are a lot of experts online, and probably a good number in whatever niche you’re in.

You still have to market your site. No one knows you’re an expert if you don’t tell them. Show your expertise elsewhere. Comment on blogs, join relevant Facebook groups and participate on forums intelligently. Be helpful, but don’t push people about going to your site. If you’re interesting and helpful enough, your signature or profile links will do that for you without annoying the forum or blog owner with blatant advertising.

It may also be a good idea to submit guest posts to relevant websites so that you get in front of their audiences. Find out who publishes the best content in your industry and see what it takes to get something you’ve written shared there. Alternatively, see what it takes to become a resource that they quote. Find a way to get in front of that audience that you want and they already have.

No one will discover that you are THE expert they need if you haven’t spent time marketing your online home business and building a reputation. The internet is big and you are small, no matter how brilliant you are. Do the work so that people will find you.

Fantasy #7
Anyone can succeed online

I see this a lot. Sales letters promising that the system they teach is so easy that anyone can do it. Yet somehow most people trying any one system will fail at it.

Some of that is from people not trying. Most of it is because what works once doesn’t necessarily work twice online. Another part is that working online simply isn’t for everyone.

That’s true no matter what you’re talking about. There is no one type of job or business that is right for everyone. Some people really can’t stand the isolation common to running an online business. Some just never get comfortable with the tools and processes needed to work online. Some fall too deeply for the idea that buying the information and throwing up a trash website should be all it takes. Some give up too easily. Some honestly cannot afford to take the risk of either time or money.

That’s just life. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, sometimes it won’t be the right choice for you and you need to find a new path. Other times it all clicks and is wonderful. Only way you’ll know how it’s going to go is to give it a try.