When you think of people or situations holding your online business back from succeeding, you probably imagine all sorts of crazy scenarios where ninjas drop from the ceilings and smash your computers. It's either that or some crazy government plot to take you down from the inside - surely it will be some epic scheme that ruins your business. What else would it be?
The issue, however, is it's never what or who you suspect that costs you an otherwise solid business. Sometimes, sure, it's ok to blame the ninjas. But 99% of the time who's really to blame? Often it's our own faults when things go wrong; we're just too stubborn to acknowledge the truth.
Why Do We Do It?
Obviously you're not going to sabotage your own business on purpose. Decisions you're making along the way, though, are doing it for you.
Which decisions are those, exactly? There's never just one answer to that question, but there's usually one commonality: second guessing yourself.
The longer you're in the business the more finely tuned your business instincts become. You know when a product isn't working and when customers just need a little time to adapt. You start to recognize trends before they happen and when a great idea just won't pan out.
But it's easy to start doubting those instincts. Sure, you know that PR campaign won't work and might even make some mad. Then that little bug pops in your head: what if I'm wrong? What if this is the best campaign ever and I'm missing something? I've been wrong before, so why not this time?
Once it gets stuck in your head it's hard to get out. Eventually it becomes impossible to move on anything because you're too busy contemplating every move. When this happens, you become the dragging anchor to your own success.
Isolating what you're doing to hold your online business back can be tough. After all, it's usually a "hindsight is 20/20" situation, where you look back and slap yourself on the forehead because it was so obvious. But when eCommerce sales are down and you're running in circles, it's tough to know what to fix.
To get a better idea of what's wrong try an "elimination diet." When you have a food allergy the best way to discover it is to eliminate all foods except the very basics. Slowly you add food back to your diet so when you get sick you know exactly what food it was.
The same tactic can work with your dragging business. Go back to the basics - just making product and selling it. Slowly reintroduce elements back into the business; a little PR here, a redesigned eCommerce storefront there. At some point you should get some idea of what the culprit was.
As far as fixing the problem? You've got to start trusting your instincts again. You got this far with your business by being savvy, so there's no reason to stop now. It is very important to consider all options, but at some point you have to trust yourself and just... go for it like you did when you started your business in the first place.