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My Survey Results Are In, and the Number ONE Barrier to Progress Is?

Few months back I emailed a few thousands readers on my list for some feedback. I wanted to survey readers to find out what everyone is working on and what challenges they were running into that was stopping them from making progress.

I could have used Survey Monkey for this survey but I decided to go the old fashioned way because I wanted some insights that a push of a button cannot give. It’s taken me some time to go through each and every response.

So after going through all the responses, the number ONE barrier to progress IS….


followed very closely by “I don’t have enough time”

I was shocked that the number one barrier to progress is technology. In fact, several readers mentioned technology is the reason they have not even gotten started. Some mentioned intimidation as the key driver, while others mentioned the lack of desire to spend time and resources to learn the necessary (learning curve).

I was mainly shocked because technology is foreseen as the main barrier to entry even when we have countless turn key tools available over the counter today. Can you imagine how difficult it may have been to enter this space several years back prior to these tools?

In any case, it is what it is.

Trailing second was the lack of time issue.  I wasn’t shocked about this because I have been there and done that. I started building my online businesses while working a full time job.

Many readers of this blog are also in the same boat, often times successful professionals who are looking to build additional income streams on the side to expedite the wealth creation process.

My Response to the Number One Barrier to Progress With Online Business

Although I may have already responded to you personally, I want to document my response to this issue on this blog for everyone’s access.

No one is born technical. We all have to learn certain things if we are to use them in some way. I have no idea how to program, but I can set up a WordPress blog because that’s what I chose to learn and do. Similarly, a top notch programmer may not have a clue about WordPress, but can learn the needed if they decided to use it.

Technology is not a reason to be intimidated and not make progress toward our goals. Rather, it is an enabler. It enables us to do unprecedented things faster and better, especially today when we have immediate access to tools that help us do pretty much anything we want to.

In addition to the tools we have available to us today, technical outsourcing has never been easier and cheaper than today. There is no reason why technology should impede progress in my opinion.

“But I don’t want to spend the money” many say….

Others say “I don’t have the time”…

This is an interesting challenge. Can you think of anything worthwhile that you have achieved in life that has not cost you time or money?

You don’t necessarily have to pay other than the basic start up expenses which can be well within $100 for most online businesses that I discuss on this blog. But you have to put in the time and effort.

If you don’t want to put in the time and the effort, then you have to pay some amount of money for certain tools, outsourcing and coaching/training that will help expedite your progress.

If you are not willing to do either, then perhaps doing business online is not for you?

Look at it this way, you have options! That’s the best thing you can ask for. YOU get to pick what you want to do and how you want to do it. You can spend time time, or spend the money.

No matter how busy we all are, and no matter what kind of lives we live, we can all find a little extra time and/or money for things that are truly a priority to us. If we “can’t” or “haven’t”, then we just haven’t committed to certain things as truly a priority in our lives. This is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned in my life.

Time Value of Money, Rate of Return & Losing a Ton of $ by Not Spending a Little $

It continues to sadly surprises me how many people keep spinning their wheels trying to figure out everything on their own in spite of being able to afford resources that would enable them to achieve their goals quicker.

Most tools and training available online for online business is not very expensive (relatively speaking). Think about how much just one course in a University costs today?

There is a common term in personal finance finance referred to as the “time value of money”. It refers to the value a single dollar down the road in the future. To make it fit the context of this article, how much are you loosing in the long run by not taking action today? This is in essence what that means. One can also look at it as the opportunity cost of not making progress.

I consume content like a mad man. I spent thousands of dollars each year consuming information products and testing out new tools. Why? Because I see this as the investment necessary in my personal and professional development to grow my career. When I look back, my investments have paid back exponentially over.

Another example of an exponentially large return on investment (ROI) is when I started outsourcing and hiring Virtual Assistants. My businesses took off in all sorts of ways when I took two deliberate and very specific actions, and paying for help was one of them.

I know for a fact that I am not the only one. Read around the blogosphere and you will realize that pretty much anyone who is generating a decent size income is hiring help at some level, may it only be a $5 gig on Fiverr.

How much are we losing out on in the long run as we drag our progress today?

Potential Solutions to the Number One Barrier to Progress

As I’ve alluded, if you don’t have time or the appetite to spend money, then perhaps doing business online is not for you.

If you have both, then all you’ve got to do is pick a business model you are comfortable with and go at it with or without spending money on tools and resources.

If you just have one or the other, I’d like to propose a couple options to consider:

Cost Constraints

If cost of starting up is what is stopping you from experimenting with online business, why not start by publishing an eBook?

You can create, market, publish and profit from an eBook all without having to spend a dime. You can read how here.

In the broad scheme of things online, this is a relatively quick and much easier process than say establishing a long term and profitable online business. But, this does a few things…

  • First, it allows you to prove it out to yourself that you too can make money online.
  • You can build some confidence in your own abilities as you live through the wonderful experience.
  • Although there is not much technical about this process, you will be exposed to little technical nuances here and there, those that even a 9 year old can get through – so in essence you will be exposing yourself to smaller doses of technology at a time.
  • Like Doodle Jump where you complete one level at a time starting with the easier one, this process is exactly like that, allowing you to parlay previous successes into future successes.

So try this out for starters and see how you like the experience. Hopefully you can take your earnings from this project and reinvest it in your next one? You can rinse and repeat the process and write another eBook, or you can try something else like creating a website or blogging.

Here is an article I wrote that discusses how to generate income online without owning your own website or blog.

Time Constraints

If you have a little bit of spare cash to spend on your online project but don’t want to or can’t afford to waste time doing so, consider paying for tools that can help you expedite your progress. Consider outsourcing some of the routine, mundane, technical and non interesting tasks. Consider paying for coaching guidance.

You can still accomplish your objectives despite doing any of the above, but just understand that it may take you longer to navigate through the forest of information and focus on the right and relevant stuff that applies to you.

Determine the type of online project you want to pursue, and then find a trusted resource such as a blogger who has been there and done that and see if they offer consulting or a training course. I love these options because they help you cut through the maze of information minutiae and get to the point.

Information marketers do not market a secret recipe or ingredient. In fact, all their information is already available for free online. For example, a blogger who sells a “learn how to blog profitably” course has likely already written about everything related to this topic, but going through their archives can be a time consuming and painstaking process. God forbid you have questions? Does the blogger respond to posts that are a year old?

Another factor is access. In a training program, you may have access to mentors in the event you have questions or have hit a stopping point. Simply reading articles is also not an interactive process, so if you are a better learner through audio and video, you may want to consider paying for a formal training course.

When you invest in your education, what you are REALLY paying for is personal guidance – a direct road map to where you want to get to that will end up saving you a ton of time and frustration, which based on the ROI discussion above may equate to a lot of money in the long run.

From personal experience, my investment in information products have paid me back in gobs. I am talking exponential returns.

For example, I first started to really see a significant amount of profits online was after I had purchased and gone through the SBI training program. I needed a teacher, a road map, a direct guide to where I wanted to get to. Several years, websites and all sorts of other things later, I still use their services.

At the time, I knew I needed a classroom type learning environment that covered all aspects of doing business online. This is one of the best decisions I have made since I started doing business online. While I knew SBI provided the technicalities that would allow me to skip the learning curve, I learned more about the BUSINESS side of things than I ever have because of their comprehensive 10 day interactive training course. I felt like I had completed a college course when I was done.

I see so many people who attempt to do business online who are technically very savvy but not proficient on the business side of the business, which is just as important if not more given that technicalities can be outsourced.

Common Reservations When Spending on Education and Training

If any of the potential solutions above resonated with you, here are some of the common reservations I used to have and ones that I’ve heard from many readers. If you have more, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Clear Final Destination – is the value proposition clear? In other words, does the product or service clearly communicate where it will take you or help you accomplish? Does it truly cut your learning curve? Does it truly save you tons of time and effort scrolling through pages of content and figuring stuff out by making repeated mistakes?

Practicality – is the offering concrete in terms of “how to” information, or hands on and actionable enough for you to implement immediately after learning.

Mode of Learning – is the offering offered in the mode that you consume and learn best (audio, video, text, live)?

Testimonials – does the offering have any testimonials? Are the testimonials publicly displayed on the sales page? Do you recognize the names the testimonials are from? You can always ask to speak with others who have tried the offering in the past as well.

Help and Support – what kind of commitment has been made to help and support? It’s always a big bonus if you can speak to the owner/creator of the course.

Money Back Guarantee – how confident is the offering in its capability? Is there a money back guarantee? How convincing is it?

Payment Plan Option – cost can be a big factor for many. Is there a monthly payment plan so you can test drive the system and see whether you want to stick it through? Or are they requiring a full up front payment?

You can get clarification on all of these by contacting the seller of the products and services you are contemplating purchasing.

If you are contemplating trying SBI, I can tell you that they now offer a month to month option instead of the full price when I started, which makes it a lot more comfortable to work with them today.

You can read my review of SBI here, as well as a cost study I did comparing SBI to other options here.

If you decide to use SBI for your next online business initiative, I want you to know that I have been an SBI affiliate for a very long time and will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase using one of my affiliate links. And if you do, I thank you in advance.

Concluding Thoughts

I think I’ve killed this topic enough. All I want to reiterate to conclude this article is that WE need to decide whether we want to invest time or money or both in our entrepreneurial initiatives.

Success doesn’t grow on trees automatically, and we have to put in the inputs if we want the output on the other end. When we say we don’t have the time to work on our business, or the little bit of money to spend on the resources, are we really being honest? Or have we just not made our side gigs a high enough priority in our lives?

If you have the capacity to invest in your business and in your future, don’t hesitate to do so to save hours of valuable time. Start progressing toward your goals TODAY. Technology will come to you along the way. You will pick up bits and pieces over time that eventually will get you to a point where you no longer will have to pay for many things except the actual tools you need to build your business such as a domain name. But in the mean time, why loose time? Why not invest in your business and learn along the way as well?

Finally, if you are not able or willing to spend money on tools and resources,  or have to or want to go at it alone by learning everything on your own, that is fine too as long as you put in the time on a consistent basis. Just understand that it may take you longer and your journey may come with more frustration than maybe you cant avoid.

As long as you understand what it takes and have a clear expectation of what’s to come, either route you select is totally fine. Remember, we are not racing against anyone here but ourselves. So if you can train yourself mentally to win those self provoking battles, I think you will be fine.

For the average reader of this blog who is a successful professional looking to establish additional income streams on the side to expedite the wealth creation process, that is why we call these our “side gigs”. That is why I don’t recommend you quit your job immediately to pursue entrepreneurship full time.

Yes, there is some money that is being left on the table, there are opportunity costs, and the time value of money is at work, but if you have a clear understanding of those expectations and know that you are not racing against anyone but yourself and can control your thoughts accordingly, you will be fine. But if you are in your own Tour de France, then perhaps it is time to quit your  job and make progress full time?

What are your thoughts? What do you feel is the number one barrier to progress? Why? How can one best overcome that? Please shoot all sorts of holes through my rationale in this article. I am all ears. I want to know how you truly feel about this matter?

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26 Responses to “My Survey Results Are In, and the Number ONE Barrier to Progress Is?”

  1. Andrea says:

    Very interesting survey results! Since I earn a living designing websites, I’m not shocked to see lack of technical expertise at the top of the list. As you demonstrated, a lot of people will readily admit that there are barriers but aren’t willing to pay for someone else’s time and expertise either, leaving them at a standstill.

    I get a lot of emails from people who want help but don’t want to pay for it, as if services provided over the internet are less “real” or something. And my answer is always the same – I’ve spent years learning this stuff. Your options are to acknowledge my experience and pay for it, to spend the time learning to do it yourself, or to do nothing. It makes me sad to see the number of people who would rather do nothing. There are probably tons of brilliant ideas that are never acted upon because the person stagnates.

    Personally, I still struggle with asking for help; for example, I know I could use a VA and I keep putting it off. It’s not because I don’t want to pay for it, but because I can’t give up the control. Eventually I know I’ll have to get over it, but for now I can still make time to do the things I would be outsourcing.

    • Sunil says:

      this is true. something about the idea of “doing business online”. though more common today, it is still a “phenomena” to most. regarding VAs, you can try out some part timers to make some sales calls on your behalf? a friend just got her feet this way and now she has 2 full time.

  2. krantcents says:

    Your survey answers seem more like excuses than anything else. If they wanted to do it, they would get what they needed either through training or someone’s expertise. If it were important to them, they make the time. I see this quite often in industry or in my classes. The successful people are the busiest because they figured out what is important.

  3. Great survey Sunil.

    Until recently I had never built my own wordpress site – now I have an authority site that is making money. There is no doubt that there has been a learning curve (and still is) but it is a pretty awesome feeling to know that you can do it yourself in a pretty short timeframe.

    Prior to building my own I had outsourced, but I felt the need to learn the basics and I sure am glad I did. Now even if I outsource I will know what I am talking about.


  4. Mike says:

    My sites make very little money, but I’ve built them from scratch over an eight-month period and that knowledge is invaluable to me, because I’m convinced I’ll eventually translate it into real success. I still make a fine living in my real job, which undoubtedly is a bit of crutch and keeps me from plowing fully into the online space, but I know if I keep rocking it I’ll find my niche.

    One nice thing about my blog is that I put it all out there– all of my successes, failures, mistakes, etc.

    I think the biggest impediment to success is simply quitting.

    Great post! Thanks!

  5. Emily says:

    Agree with the commenter who said the results sound like excuses. There are tons of YouTube videos and free products that take people step-by-step on how to buy a domain name, install a blog, etc.

    I am not techie at all, and I somehow figured stuff out. Because I WANTED to.

  6. Vince says:

    I think you need to find a medium because you definitely need to invest time in your business and to me time is money. The more time you invest doing important things, the more it’s going to pay off.

  7. I would say that cost is my primary barrier to growing my ebook business, but by that I really mean ROI. I’m not willing to put the money into marketing because past attempts have been unsuccessful. If $100 worth of advertising got me $100 worth of revenue (a ~2-3% conversion rate) then it be worth the investment and time. If $100 only got me $50 worth of revenue, I might still do it from time to time to increase my custumer base. But so far I have utilized over $200 woth of free advertising offers without converting a single customer.

    • Sunil says:

      perhaps sticking to marketing initiatives that yield organic results instead? I have not really experienced many ebooks marketed heavily outside of the shotgun approach to promote a new release – i.e. each time a new release hits the market you see the author on guest posts, podcasts, etc.

  8. I was shocked to see the results of your survey. I definitely would have thought that time would have been the barrier to progress by a lot.

    It’s funny how we say we are too busy to accomplish a specific task yet most of us sit on the couch for at least an hour or so each night. If you REALLY want to accomplish something you have to put as much effort as you can into it and sitting on the couch each night doesn’t count.

    In my business I help people all the time who don’t have technical know how with website design, social media, seo, mobile marketing, membership site setup, ebook delivery, email marketing, etc. Technical knowledge should definitely NOT be a show stopper for anyone in today’s world.

    My 2013 goal is to take action! Find out what you want to do and JUST DO IT! Even if it is a little each day imagine what you can do in a year.

    Happy New Year,

    • Sunil says:

      well said Clif. one cannot say that/give that advice enough. it’s really just that what needs to be done. happy new year to you and all the best in 2013

  9. Mike Baker says:

    Nice article, Sunil. Not sure whether this is an issue for anyone else, but just wanted to let you know that none of what I think are intended to be links in your text are working here.

  10. All the solutions you provided are great, but it comes down to one thing. If the person wants to succeed bad enough, they will overcome any challenges that they face. Period.

    If they “kinda sorta” want to succeed, then they will emphasize these “problems” to keep them from achieving their goals.

    It comes down to one thing, if you want it, go get it.


    • Sunil says:

      once again we hear the same message said in a different way. well said Sir. interesting that many success/business books also spread the same message in their own words. all the best in 2013

  11. Cipto says:

    Yes Mr Sunil, your survey result is true. Spend money and time, Learn skill are the basic resources to success in online business, that is my own experience. 2 years blogging & affiliate marketing didn’t make much money for me and I find another door of income. It’s making ebook finally, wonderful model passive income for who don’t like to spend money!

  12. Hi Sunil, belatedly seen this article and how true! I don’t think of myself as struggling with technology as I’ve learnt so much but having wrestled with OptimisePress and Wishlist member in the past few months I can relate!

    Outsourcing is the obvious answer but I’ve found some techies make things complicated (like car mechanics?) and aren’t always customer friendly to us lay people who don’t understand css etc.

    So, this is a challenge, but very interesting observation. Thanks.

    • Sunil says:

      so are you saying that if freelancers were more customer facing/considerate, more people would be comfortable outsourcing? and perhaps the technicalities/jargon is intimidating for those new to the concept?

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