What follows has been submitted anonymously by a community member. Please DO add your thoughts and advice as a comment

My Secret Frustration:

When is it time to throw in the towel and give up? I've been going at this whole online biz thing for a bit and I'm still in the same position I was back in the beginning – struggling to earn more income. I see so many other people around me so successful, some making six or more figures a year.

So, I know it's possible to make a damn good living running an online biz but I find myself ready to throw in the towel more and more often. But then the thought of getting back out in the world of having a job where someone else tells me when I have to work, what I'm going to do, etc. makes me sick to my stomach… so I throw myself into trying something else.

Right now I've got my hands in several different things but noting is clicking and sticking – I'll make a little $ here and a little more there. Then I get freaked out that one more thing I'm trying isn't working so I try something else.

Listening to all the “gurus” out there – I'll never make a living doing what I'm currently doing because my niche isn't narrowed down enough but there are lots of other bloggers out there making a living… so why can't I find the “key” to making what I do more profitable? (Blogging is not my main source of income; actually I make no money from that.)

Feeling like a bit of a lost cause…

Helpful & Encouraging Responses From The Community:

Teresa Miller of Freestyle Author shares…

Gosh, there's a lot to talk about here, so let me try to break down a few things…

There are a few of your comments that tell me that maybe you aren't giving some things enough time and attention to work: “ready to throw in the towel more and more often,” “I've got my hands in several different things but noting is clicking and sticking,”  “I get freaked out that one more thing I'm trying isn't working so I try something else.”Giving Up Too Soon:

Online business doesn't work like a job, unless you get an online job, and that's a different situation. But building a business takes time. You don't start working and then get a paycheck right away.

It is a good idea to know when to let something go, but it also is a VERY good idea to know when to stick with something and not give up too soon. Sometimes people quit when success is just around the corner.

Too Many Irons in the Fire:

What you've said sounds a lot like you're trying on a bunch of things for size and hoping something works. Sadly, a lot of people new to an online business start out with this “try everything” approach (I did!) and it just doesn't work.

I get it. I'm interested in lots of things. But when you're in the building phase, giving your attention to just one thing at a time helps that one thing grow more quickly. Of course you CAN focus on multiple things, but that just means those things will grow more slowly, because they aren't getting all of your attention and nurturing. It's a trade-off.  If you scatter your attention around, nothing is getting the full force of your focus and it will take longer.

I know you hear about “multiple income streams” but those additional streams are usually built off an existing river, not another trickling stream. Trying to divert from a small stream just makes both streams smaller.

Consider a Coach:

It certainly sounds like you're getting bogged down in some things that a coach could help you work through: figuring out which thing to focus on, looking at your niche to see if it's focused enough, and if not, how to target more effectively, and just helping you brainstorm, and get your mindset clear. Having someone talk you through some of these decisions can help SO much.

You are not a lost cause!

No way! You just need a little help getting your direction sorted out.

Thanks so much for being brave enough to ask for help. That can be the hardest thing to do (ask me how I know this!) But you're in the right place. There are some brilliant and caring people here.

Nancy Seeger of Seeger Consulting shares…

As a digital marketer I see this type of frustration often and there are a couple of things that might help here.

Know who you are and what you bring to the table.  You don't have to be an expert and you don't have to know all the answers.  You have to know yourself.  I

f you love to write – then write.  If you love to sing then sing. Knowing what you bring to the table is as simple as how others perceive your gifts and their value.  Often these take time to show themselves, but it is important to keep working in that direction.

Know who you serve and want to help.  They can be different. I served my clients with technical aspects of marketing that they did not get – how to set up a website, design and run their CRM or other business software.  I fined tuned this over time once I learned how and where I liked to serve.  But when I started I took on every project that was in that area to get the skills and referrals.

Who I wanted to help: I started working for myself years ago, to stay home with my kids.  And I wanted to give that opportunity to other moms.   I loved that I could hire ONLY stay at home moms in my community to give that experience to someone else.  It meant I trained my team more and had to commit to more flexibility – but it was important to me to help others have the life I loved too.

Be Flexible but always have a direction in mind.  

I am not a goal setter – I believe in building systems to do what needs to get done over having goals.  But I also believe in having a vision or map in where I want to go. The destination won't change – but the path might.  Over the past several years I have had 7 different businesses. Some were successful and sold for a good price.  Some were just a great learning experience (read cost me money to shut down).  But through all of them I was focused on being home for my kids and supporting my family with enough income to match my husband's full time job. The flexible part comes into play when things need to pivot – like Covid!!.

Some would say my goals/visions were vague.  I never focused on a niche.  But I learned with each step along the way.  And it was important to me to be flexible.

Having a coach is a great idea if you feel the need.  

Kelly is who I would suggest!…Coaches are amazing guides to help you discover some of what I have listed above.  I have used many over the years and they all bring different things to the experience.  But go in with a plan.  Don't hire someone unless you know what you are hiring them for.  When I hired my first coach it was a mindset coach – because I knew that was where I needed to focus.  And it cost a fortune.  But I got my value back out of the experience 10 because I knew what I was there to accomplish.

Respect the 80/20 rule.   80% was what you do won't return the results you expect.  Measure to know what is returning that winning 20% and do more of that.

As a blogger – do you have a monetization strategy?   What will people pay for – Ad's, your writing skills, your insights?  This is part of knowing your value and who you are.  Advertisers look for different metrics and value than someone hiring a writer.   So decide where you want to focus and create a plan to monetize that value.

Writing for your own blog is great, but limits your exposure – so think about ways you can get more exposure.  Think about where else you can write and get know.  Can you write for someone else? Are you an expert in a given field?  Can you publish or promote your articles through the news media channels or forums that help grow your audience?

If you want to make it happen and the vision is there – explore every option to make it work.

Once you have given it enough, and if it is still not for you – think Pivot not quit.  

How can I capitalize on these lessons and do it better.  Sometimes we need a part time job to pay the rent while this works out, sometimes it looks different than we expect. That is all part of being flexible.  But know yourself and then you will be at peace when you do quit.

Quit when it is no longer important enough to keep pushing through.  Quit when showing up hurts your mental wellbeing more than it lifts you up.  Quit when there are no redeeming aspects in the day to day of what you are doing.  Quit when you are ready to start it all over again with something else.  Just never stop trying.

Final Thoughts From Kelly

First of all, from me, thank YOU for sharing your situation with us.  Even your willingness to show up anonymously is powerful because it opens up the conversation for others feeling the same way.

Some of my most amazing and inspiring business friends have had these ‘throw in the towel' moments, so know that you are NOT alone.

I don't know what all you've tried and without looking at specifics, I can't say what ‘try' means   I will say most peeps give up too soon.

I've given up on several projects but never on my business as a whole.  If you've got some failed projects, we're alike you and I ;)  Take heart and keep going, just like I do.

I wholeheartedly agree with Teresa and Nancy that you want to spend some time with a good coach and of course I raise my hand there because I love helping people get clear about what they want to do.

You can learn more about my coaching options here.

We all have secret frustrations and I invite you to share yours. Submit your anonymous question, comment or story here.

About the Author

I'm all about Content Marketing & Community Building here at Love People + Make Money. I love to collaborate, so never hold back from sharing your ideas with me! - Kelly McCausey

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  1. There are a number of things packed in here as Teresa Miller shares. Some are ideas we inherit: Never give up, The captain goes down with the ship, Good things take time and effort… At various times I’ve lived as if all of these ideas were true – individually and all at the same time.

    I’ve worked hard most of my life, achieved a lot, worked harder, achieved more – kind of a vicious cycle. This is part of an “if this, then that” duality. It implies that there is a secret, a way, to do something and if you discover that secret and “do the work” the result will happen.

    I started asking myself: Is getting all ‘A’s K-grad school is a measure of a good life? This led to an epiphany for me: What if I didn’t have to do anything at all to be, OK?

    And then, I carried this over to my business: if things aren’t fun, full of joy, and playful, I’m not going to do them. A business built from stress, frustration, and pressure is not going to create ease, joy, grace, and lightness of being. This is the work I teach – how to live in a state of dynamic balance. Not avoiding hard work (mud) but not embracing it as a way of being, and not becoming mired in the mud. How to live fully with joy and fun and energy.

    So, for me, this question “When is it time to throw in the towel?” Is perfect – and the next question is “What is the towel?” For me it was, the doing this and doing that, to make my business “successful”. The needing x clients at y amount… I threw in that towel.

    This way may not be everyone’s way, but for me, doing what I teach – allowing my work and my business to grow out of the work with joy and playfulness, and fun will give me space be all of these things as I do my work.

    1. Beautiful contribution to the discussion Laura.

      “What is the towel?” is a golden invitation to look at your frustration with a new perspective too. Thanks for that ❤

      I’m with you, I decided a long time ago that I don’t DO dread in my business. If I feel it once, I might just be tired or having a tough day – but if I feel it often, I’m giving my time, energy, and creativity to the wrong thing.

  2. I remember getting the advice years ago (I’ve been online since 2008) not to start a new stream of income until the first one you created is profitable. That was my first thought reading the OP’s dilemma. It appears they have jumped into myriad opportunities but are stretched too thin.

    Sometimes you have to pull back and get back to basics. Evaluate which of these avenues you enjoy the most; which ones are a pain in the butt. You’ll soon notice which ones you should drop, or at least put on the back burner for now.

    You mentioned blogging. If you enjoy writing, maybe parlay that into becoming a content writer. Not that I want you to add one more thing to your busy plate but there are platforms where you can take on writing assignments as your schedule allows.

    Also evaluate whether you’ve been promoting your main source of income enough. Are you thinking of yourself as running a business or is this a hobby you do while the kids are occupied? I mean that with all due respect. I’m just realizing for myself after all this time of working online that I have not been putting in the marketing necessary to grow a business. It’s taken me some mindset work to realize this and to understand that the power to achieve more is in MY hands.

    Lastly, I like the coach idea. Even if you don’t go for a long term contract, they can help you sort through your projects and help you determine which ones you want to keep, which ones are working for you, and maybe they’ll throw out some ideas that you never considered. Good luck!

  3. This was a great read and very helpful. I too have had those same feelings and the words of advice provided have been extremely helpful to me to remind me to FOCUS on one thing first. Actually a coaching session with Kelly reminded me of the big rocks I have in my life and how much time I really have to deal with everything else. This was eye-opening for me. It helped me narrow my focus.

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