Setting up an online business offers you a lot of freedom, but there are a number of common misconceptions about what it’s really like. If you’ve heard any of these online business myths, you might be surprised by the reality of launching and growing your online practice.
- “It’s quick, simple, and easy to set up an online business.”
- “You need to have an Instagram account to be successful online.”
- “Niching down will make it harder to find clients.”
Do any of these ideas sound familiar to you? Maybe, you thought setting up your business would be effortless, and clients would come flocking?
Or you spent far too much time dancing and making Reels on Instagram because you thought that was the only way to get clients?
Unfortunately, these are all online business myths.
The reality of starting and growing a successful online business is very different, especially as a mental health professional.
In our free LIT Facebook group, we see many people eager to start working online as mental health professionals. So, we put together this blog post to walk you through the six most common online business myths.
It will prepare you for launching your business and equip you with tips for growing your online practice sustainably and successfully!
Online Business Myth #1: Building an online business is quick and easy
One of the most common online business myths is that you can set up a successful online business in months – if not weeks. The truth is, it’s more likely to take you years to grow an online practice that will provide all your income needs.
The first year is often spent working out what your offers are and setting up the key systems in your business. For example, you’ll need a website and an online presence (although an Instagram account isn’t a necessity – more on that below!)
In the second year, you’ll continue to grow your reputation and build relationships with your ideal client. You will probably start to gain more clients and grow your income from your online business.
For many small business owners, it’s not until the third year that their business becomes profitable and successful. By this point, you will have overcome many of the challenges of starting your business and have a steady client base.
But don’t let this scare you! There are many smaller successes you can celebrate along the way, and it’s also important to redefine what success means for you.
You might not be earning a six-figure salary, but if you can work for yourself, choose your hours, and have the freedom to travel, it’s well worth putting in the time and effort!
Online Business Myth #2: Building a business online is faster than offline
It’s well-known that setting up a brick-and-mortar business takes time. But there is a common belief that building an online business is a lot faster because you can reach more people over the internet and need fewer physical items to get started.
However, the greater reach of an online business isn’t always a positive aspect. Instead, you’ll actually have a lot more competition online and it will be much harder for people to find you!
Also, some people are still hesitant to try out online therapy, and you will need to decide whether you focus on trying to convince them or try to reach those who are already willing to give it a try.
So, the truth is that just because you’re building an online business, it’s not necessarily any quicker than offline – it might even take longer! How long it will take you to build your online business depends on your offer, your niche, and your marketing strategy, among other factors.
Online Business Myth #3: You can set up your online business for free
Many people assume that there are no costs involved in setting up an online business. But that’s far from the reality – as you well know if you’ve already launched your online practice.
Setting up an online business takes a lot of time and energy, as well as a lot of money. You’ll need to think about how you’ll support yourself in those first few months (or years) when your business isn’t making much money.
If you have some savings set aside, you may be able to devote your time fully to growing your business. But many people will only have a few hours a week to devote to building their online business and will have to do it while still working in their other job that’s currently paying their bills.
You need to be honest about your personal situation and finances when setting up your business and work to develop a business mindset – even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
Figure out how much time you can realistically devote to your online business, how much help you can afford, and as a result, how long it will take you to grow your business. Make sure that you have a plan for covering all your costs in this early period – don’t expect to start making a profit straight away!
Online Business Myth #4. Niching down will make it harder to find clients
One thing we’ve learned over many years of working online is that niching down is essential. But for many new and aspiring online therapists, the idea of reducing your target audience can seem scary or counterproductive.
But if you have too many offers or try to serve everyone, you’ll end up serving no one. You won’t have any way of standing out in the crowd or communicating to your ideal client why they should work with you instead of someone else.
Choosing your niche and getting clear on your offers and your ideal client is essential to your success as an online therapist.
Plus, imagine how amazing it will feel when you get to work with your dream clients all day! You’ll feel connected, motivated, and excited to start work every morning, and can wave goodbye to imposter syndrome.
If you’re still having doubts about choosing a niche, remember this – choosing a niche is a tool to help you clarify your marketing messages. You might still find yourself working with clients outside of your niche (especially if they come from word-of-mouth referrals).
It’s also worth mentioning that you may not know your niche initially. It may take some time working with a variety of clients to help you identify it. But be sure to make it a priority to figure out who your ideal client is and how you can help them. Specialising is one of the best things you can do to grow your visibility and attract your target audience.
Online Business Myth #5: My niche is too crowded already – I won’t find clients
So, you’ve chosen your niche and identified your ideal client. Congratulations!
But then, you discover there are already many online therapists working in the same specialisation.
That doesn’t mean you have to change your niche! There doesn’t have to be just one expert per niche, just like there doesn’t have to be just one bakery and shoe store in every city. You can still be unique and find a way to connect with your target audience.
Every therapist has their own personality, and that alone can attract clients and set you apart from others in your niche. Having an abundance mindset, rather than a scarcity mindset, can also help with this challenge. There are more than enough clients to go around!
Networking and collaborating with colleagues in the same niche can actually help you both out. There will come a time when you’re booked out and can’t take any more clients. Then, you can refer them to your trusted colleague (and vice versa!)
Online Business Myth #6: If you want to be successful online, you have to be active on Instagram
Finally, this is one of the most common myths we see popping up – but it’s not correct! Many new online therapists get tricked into believing that they have to spend hours creating content on Instagram to get clients.
But there are many different ways that clients can find you online. From organic (or paid) Google search to personal recommendations, online directories, referrals from colleagues, or even through offline marketing!
The main thing is that you will need to grow your (online) visibility to reach your target audience. Because if you’re not putting yourself out there, your ideal clients won’t be able to find you. But that doesn’t mean you have to go viral on Instagram or create Reels every day.
Instead, think back to your niche. Where do your ideal clients spend time online and where or how might they be looking for you?
Once you have the answers, that’s where you need to focus your attention. You might discover that Instagram isn’t the right place to be in the first place. So, you can save yourself a lot of wasted time and energy!
Hopefully, we’ve opened your eyes to these six online business myths. Knowing what to expect when setting up your online practice can help you navigate the challenges that you’ll encounter along the way.
Let us know any other online business myths you’re come across or are unsure about in the comments below!
If you’re looking for a community of like-minded professionals who can support you on your location independent journey, the LIT Community could be the perfect place for you!