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How much does timing play a role in the success of your online business?

I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately. Does it actually matter when you start a new business? Do factors other than yourself and your performance affect how successful you will be?

Well, yes and no. There are industries that remain more constant throughout, where you can get significant returns if you know what you’re doing. However, in the online world that we live in now things change. And they change really fast.

Startups are one relevant example. What do you think affects their success more than anything else? Hint: it’s not the funding, nor the team or the idea. It’s actually the timing.

My Situation

I would consider myself fairly successful when it comes to Udemy. It’s a great platform that is growing heavily. That means it’s harder for people joining now to create a large portfolio of courses for themselves, unless they have other traffic they can use for this. This means it was harder for me to get established on the platform than it was for people that joined 1-2 years before me.

I’ve talked about this before as well: the online world is like a repeating cirlce. Take Udemy as an example – if you’re there earlier, you establish a presence early. People know you. Whenever you launch a new product you can get more and more people involved from the get-go. You have a jump start over any new instructor. And that only increases as time passes by.

Does this apply to other platforms?

Of course. It’s not only about Udemy. You see it everywhere:

  • Facebook used to be the king of all traffic. Although it’s probably the most effective advertising solution nowadays, it’s much more expensive and our potential reach has greatly diminished
  • YouTube is flooded with loads of videos and considering there are several videos that have over 1 billion views now it’s not really that impressive to get over 1 million views
  • Instagram has grown tremendously recently, but even here it’s harder now to gain traction than it was before
  • Snapchat is a platform that is entering its growth period and might be a good idea to pursue right now.

Is it that simple?

No, it’s not at all that simple. Besides Instagram and Snapchat, there are dozens of other platforms that are trying to make it work. That’s why you have to constantly be in “Experiment” mode and try them all out. If only 1 out of 5 or 1 out of 10 pan out, then you’ve got yourself a winner.

I have learned this lesson in the past few weeks. I’ve grasped the importance of being an early adopter and I’ve changed my strategy for the short-term future accordingly. I encourage you to think about your own online business or your plans to create one, see what kind of content you would distribute and choose the approach that will allow you to have maximum exposure.