Take The FREE 60-Second Quiz - "What Type Of Online Business Is Right For You?"
Newsletter Podcast Blog Courses Contact QUIZ Consulting Login

How To Compete With The "Big Dogs" With Your New Business

It can be daunting when you're starting your online business. How can I "compete" with all the "established" names in my industry when I'm first starting out, am full of fear and have zero trust or credibility with my audience?

Well, the good news is that this is where EVERYONE starts and there are a few tried and true strategies to keep in mind as you dip your toe into the world of online business and we're going to talk about 3 today.

1. Developing your first "1000 True Fans"

2. Dealing with the fear of failure (often disguised as the fear of success)

3. How to build trust and credibility when you're new.

By the way, make sure to take our free quiz: "What Type Of Online Business Is Right For YOU?, here: www.bradlong.co/quiz


1. 1000 True Fans

Starting an online business can totally feel like a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). You might be thinking, "how in the world am I going to get a big enough attention and a big enough audience to ACTUALLY start making money?" AND, "how long will it take to build it?"

You're probably looking at all of your favorite YouTubers and other influencers with gazillions of followers and it all just seems so terribly daunting to think about.

The good news is that you don't need a million followers on social media, YouTube, your email list to earn a solid living online.

In fact, you only need 1000 true fans and today I want to break down the math around how you can do that without selling your soul to the fickle social media empires.

This whole idea of 1000 true fans comes from an article by a dude named Kevin Kelly from way back in 2008 (link below if you want to read the actual article for yourself: https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/)

I've found this 1000 True Fans framework gives me a workable and totally achievable goal to aim at in the beginning. It takes what can seem completely overwhelming and makes it totally doable.

A thousand customers is a whole lot more feasible to aim for than a million fans. Millions of paying fans is not a realistic goal to shoot for, especially when you are starting out. But a thousand fans is doable. You might even be able to remember a thousand names. If you added one new true fan per day, it’d only take a few years to gain a thousand.

He sets the table by outlining what this 1000 true fans looks like.

To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.

A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free youtube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune.

Here’s how the math works. You need to meet two criteria. First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. That is easier to do in some arts and businesses than others, but it is a good creative challenge in every area because it is always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to find new fans.

Second, you must have a direct relationship with your fans. That is, they must pay you directly. You get to keep all of their support, unlike the small percent of their fees you might get from a music label, publisher, studio, retailer, or other intermediate. If you keep the full $100 of each true fan, then you need only 1,000 of them to earn $100,000 per year. That’s a living for most folks.

This was the idea I followed when I started my first online business, ZeroDebtCoach. I was in the personal finance space and "in competition" with guys like Dave Ramsey, Clark Howard and Suze Ormon, to name the biggest players.

This "1000 True Fans" approach, helped me to narrow my sites on serving a specific segment of those markets and REALLY helped me to not feel overwhelmed at the prospect of who I was going up agains.

He says it best in this quote:

The takeaway: 1,000 true fans is an alternative path to success other than stardom. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status, you can aim for direct connection with a thousand true fans.


2. Fear Of Success/Failure

Fear of failure is something we understand, because all have it to some degree.

But what about fear of success?

Is that a thing? Is it a thing for you?

Well, I would say it definitely has been for me and I know it is for A TON of my students, too.

But what is that, fear of success?

In my experience, fear of success comes largely from some kind of bad past experience or past trauma.

In my case, it was caused by being ridiculed by the people in my life that mattered most to me any time I had some kind of significant "win" in my life, like: joining the army so I could go to college debt-free, actually going to college, graduating from college, getting my first gainful sales job out of college, having some success in the music industry, starting my online business...

You see, I was trying to break out of a sort of a generational mold that had been cast for me that I desperately wanted no part of.

So, I set off into the world and became a bit of an overachiever. And for the most part it was working for me. It wasn't always the healthiest posture, but it was working...

So, when I really started to become more acutely aware of the negativity that my success was having, it actually kind of surprised me at first.

I was like, "hey, shouldn't these people be like turbo-happy for me?"

And the truth is, yes they should have been.

I was racking up accomplishments and setting a trajectory toward a having a pretty successful life.

But over the years, it became clear to me that my success threatened them in some way.

In other words, I came to understand that their response came out of their own insecurities, and really didn't have much to do with me at all...

But for a significant period of time I naturally, to minimize further rejection, I developed an innate fear of "rocking the boat" with my successes... and I know it really held me back in MANY ways.

So, I went through a period of self-sabotage that I still have to contend with even to this day.

I know, it probably sounds like a bunch of psychobabble, but I actually think it's a pretty real thing for a lot of us.

You see, what happens is that when you have some unexamined fear or trauma that affects your pursuit of being successful or accomplishing something significant, in whatever realm, your brain is automatically going to sabotage you in ways you may not even be aware of.

Your brain is wired for homeostasis or status quo or "things are good, let's not get crazy here", so any kind of change automatically becomes a threat to the comfortable, predictable status quo, ESPECIALLY when success may bring on additional layers of discomfort (like rejection from people you care about and depend on to a degree).

So, what do you do about it?

First, you have to recognize that this "fear of success" may be an issue for you.

Second, if you've identified that it is, you have to really dig into what or who may be causing it and recognize the effect it's having on you.

Third, you have to ask the question, "is it true? Is what they say about me when I become successful ACTUALLY true?"

Once you've determined that whatever it is that they're saying in negativity or ridicule is actually NOT true, you can then begin to start unpacking all the areas of your life where this fear of success might be holding you back.

If it's a big enough issue for you, here's a simple solution: get some coaching, get some wise counsel.

In the both the personal finance and entrepreneurship realms, there are TONS of great courses, communities and coaching that can help you overcome this fear of success.

A HUGE part of any accomplishments in either of these areas is mindset, so don't feel weird about addressing that. It's REALLY important that you do.

There's a link in the description to a free resource on starting and growing an online business that is full of great mindset tips to help you address this potential "fear of success" issue.

So, I'm curious, is it true for you, are you fearing success?

If so, what's causing it and how would you internally confront that person or situation (not in anger, but) in a way as to free yourself from that pain AND the missed opportunities it's costing you?

What would your life look like if you could slay your fear of success?

And when you're faced with difficult situations with people, watch this video here to help you learn how to navigate them with ease and authority. Just click over to this video here and I'm waiting for you over here in this video right here.


3. Create Credibility When You're New

Trying to create some credibility when you're starting a new business or launching a new product can be one of the most frustrating parts of the whole online business process.

I mean, you have to get customers, students and clients so that you can build testimonials and build your social proof, but how can you convince people to "go with you", especially when you're in a competitive market?

YouTube: And stick around to the end for a resource that will help you get this process started in the absolute easiest way.


Today's questions comes from a subscriber @mohibquadr4053.

He asks:

Brad how do you counter the problem of a lack of experience when clients are mostly choosing to work with established people who have 2-3 yrs of experience. How do you stand out from the crowd in online business to attract potential clients in the beginning of design solo-preneur career as civil engineer?

So essentially, the question is:

  • "How do I demonstrate credibility and social proof when I'm starting a new business or launching a new product?"
  • "How do I compete in the marketplace and earn the trust of my audience if I don't yet have any credibility with them?"
  • "How can I get people to trust me when I'm first starting out?"

And while Mohib is a civil engineer, this process applies to any kind of new business.


  1. Use Your Existing Accolades
  • Break out your memory, creativity and "brag book" for this one
  • Start thinking about ALL of your past accomplishmentsHigh School/College honors/mentions/activities
  • Institutions you've been a part of including college/university
  • Community service/charity projects
  • Companies you've worked with and accolades received
  • Traditional media mentions
  • Blog mentions
  • Organizations you're associated with
  • Testimonials from current/former customers/clients/colleagues
  • It all counts toward establishing credibility with your audience!


Using existing accolades helps to create a sort of "halo" effect for you

  • Ex: My first business (ZeroDebtCoach)I was passionate with my own process/results
  • But I didn't have any other success stories starting out Not much coach experience to speak of
  • Had to "lean on" past accolades"My own success story and the process of getting there
  • College accomplishments (Magna Cum Laude)
  • "Who's Who" lists
  • Company accolades/achievements and sales accomplishments
  • Testimonials form current/former customers/clients/colleagues

Dig deep! Scour your brag book.

  • Use whatever you’ve got to establish your credibility.
  • College, university, internships, volunteer work—it all counts.
  • Keep a scrapbook of your clips and mentions so you can leverage absolutely everything.
  • Frame your accolades in terms like this:
  • "The founder's previous work and programs have been featured in..."

2. Use a "Beta-Tester's" Approach

  • Using feedback from an initial brand/product launch
  • Try out your new program for free in exchange for your students/clients giving you their honest feedback about the program and the results they get.
  • Find them through your Deep Dive Survey (DDS).
  • That process will give you your initial group of success stories.
  • This is an excellent "social proof" primer for your brand and we go into more depth in our "How To Get Killer Testimonials" material!

Here are the process steps:

  • Run what's called a Deep Dive Survey (DDS) (and more on that in a second).
  • Incorporate the feedback people give you.
  • Offer those survey takers access to your new product in exchange for their honest feedback.
  • Incorporate the positive feedback as your initial social proof that what you're teaching ACTUALLY works.


Now, you might be asking, "what's a DDS?"

A Deep Dive Survey Is...

  • A question or series of questions you ask your audience in order to uncover their biggest problems, pain points or desires.
  • A DDS is usually phrased in the following way:
  • "When it comes to [Your Topic], what's your single biggest challenge?"
  • When it comes to [Your Topic], what's your single biggest goal right now?"
  • The DDS is an excellent tool and a MUCH bigger subject for a whole other day. If you want to see an example, here's a link to one of my DDSs: www.bradlong.co/dds


Here's an example of one of my DDSs:

Question 1:

"When it comes to Starting And Growing Your Online Business, whats your single biggest challenge right now?"

NOW, You can also use your DDS as a way to gather more follow-up and demographic information.


Question 2:

"Which of the following best describes YOU?"

(The reason for asking is because knowing this will help me serve you more specifically.)

  1. "I'm starting a new business."
  2. "I'm trying to grow and scale and existing business."


Question 3:

"If you could only pick one, which of the following is the most important Online Traffic Source to your business?"

"Facebook, Google,YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest or I don't know yet."


Question 4:

"Which of the following best describes where your business is currently:"

  1. "I don't have a business idea just yet
  2. "I have a business idea, I just don't know where to begin"
  3. "I've started my business, I just don't know what to do next"
  4. "My business is up and running, I just need more traffic and subscribers


Question 5:

"If we were to create a paid program that helps you overcome your online business challenges (and you had to choose just one), which of the following are you most likely to have signed up for, if it was already available?"

"Digital Course, Online Community, Group Coaching, Individual Coaching, All of These, None of These"


Last Step:

"What’s your best contact info to notify you when your QUIZ feedback has been incorporated?"


Again, if you want to see an example, here's a link to one of my DDSs:


Let's summarize this process:

So, to create credibility when you're new:

  • Use your existing accolades.
  • Use the "beta tester's" approach.
  • Run a Deep Dive Survey to your audience.

Following this simple process will allow you to gather some initial social proof that you're someone that people want to follow and/or do business with.

And remember...

"You don't have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going."


Don't forget to take our free quiz: "What Type Of Online Business Is Right For YOU?, here: www.bradlong.co/quiz

Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

1. If you're wanting forward momentum in your business, I'd recommend starting with an affordable course:

➡️ The ADAPTIVE. Solopreneur - Course Bundle: Productize your knowledge with my niche validation, content, marketing, audience attraction and traffic growth system. Everything you need to start, grow and scale a profitable solopreneur business.

2. Register for my next free in-depth workshop on how to start, grow and scale an online business from a side-hustle to six-figures and beyond: Register here.

[FREE QUIZ] What Type Of Online Business Is Right For YOU?

Take this FREE 60-second quiz and find out what type of online business is the best fit for your personality and goals.

Take The QUIZ

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.