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This is what’s holding you back from succeeding.

The giveaway I ran for Set Up Shop had one kinda unexpected outcome.

You shared your stories with me. You told me why you NEEDED this course to grow your business. And out of what you shared, I realised that there were a core group of things that seemed to be holding you all back from taking that next step in your business.

Today I wanted to tackle some of those things, and then open up the discussion to you – I’d love to hear what you feel your biggest obstacle is (whether it’s on this list or not!).

Why do I want you to share? Because it’s only when we know what our challenges are that we can face them head-on.


Or – more accurately – lack of knowledge. So many of you said you desperately wanted to set up an online shop – or, you wanted to improve the one you have – but that you just didn’t know what you needed to do and know to make it happen, and do it right.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Of course, I’m part of the Google generation – my kneejerk response when I don’t know something is to ‘google it’ – and honestly, this is how I’ve learnt pretty much everything I’ve needed for my business over the last 6 years.

However, that only takes you so far, for two reasons.

  • One – goodness me, does it take a lot of stumbling around in the dark trying to find the right info!?! Research sucks up a LOT of time – time you could be spending working on your products or other aspects of your business.
  • Two – as we said above, you don’t know what you don’t know. Maybe there’s some immensely useful technique or tool or program that would make your life and business so much easier to run… but you don’t know about it. This is where being part of a community, learning from a mentor, or taking courses comes in useful.

You cut through the crap and save an immense amount of time by learning from those who’ve gone before.

I always say that everything I teach (and honestly, that ANYONE teaches) in my posts, talks, ebooks and courses is stuff you could find for yourself.

It is! The info is out there – it’s not a secret known to only the elite few and passed down to the select.

With the magic of the internet, the barriers to acquiring knowledge have been obliterated… but the amount of information available has also exploded.

The benefit of buying a course, attending a talk, or reading an ebook is that you skip the research. Someone has done it for you. They’ve searched, tried, tested, and then shared the distilled – immensely useful – information with you.

This, then, segues perfectly into the next limitation that’s holding you back.


We all have the same amount. 24 hours, every day.

However, we have also all chosen a certain lifestyle that affects how much time we can devote to our businesses – and this will vary immensely between us.

For example: I’m in my early 30s. I don’t have kids. I also have a husband who is at home with me full-time. He does the domestic chores and supports me in the business so I have the time to grow it and work on it. To achieve this freedom, we choose to live in 2 rooms in a converted barn on my parents’ property. We have one car. We don’t buy expensive things, but we do spend a great deal of money on things that mean a lot to us – like travel.

That is my lifestyle, and it’s something I’ve chosen deliberately. I’ve had a ‘regular’ job. I’ve lived out on my own, rented, shared houses, Nick’s had and paid off a mortgage. We know that’s not the lifestyle either of us ever want again. We don’t need more space. We love being close to my family. We love the freedom to travel our lifestyle affords us. We’ve never been happier.

Your life is going to look different to mine.  This is the point Megan was making with her ‘secret of success‘ post a while back. You are not anyone else – you are you, and your success will look different to mine and anyone else’s.

It’s taken me 5 years to reach the place I am with my business – over 3 of those it has been my full-time job. If you have a day job, kids, other commitments… your time is limited.

The time it will take you to achieve what you deem ‘success’ is the time it will take you. I know that sounds a bit zen, but it’s the truth. You can be clever about how you spend that time, but there is no magic bullet that will make it happen faster.

However, getting a bit of guidance will help. A lot. 


Just like time, the money we have to devote to our businesses will vary wildly. Maybe you have a partner with an awesome job who rakes in the dough. Maybe you’re both working part-time and just scraping by. Maybe you’re on your own and studying, or raising your kids.

Wherever you’re at, you have a limited amount of cash to invest in your business. Only you can decide what the best use of that money is. Do you need to invest in tools? Materials? A website?

It’s never been easier to make money from your creativity than it is now. You can open a shop on Etsy and get 20 products up in there for 4 bucks. The only thing you need to spend is time.

I’ve chosen the time route, because I have it. I still spend time rather than money wherever I can – which is why I love social media marketing and blogging. Some of you might prefer to spend money on advertising instead (though please still have a social media presence, it’s unavoidable these days!).

You need to spend one or the other – TIME or MONEY – in order to grow your business.


Honestly, I believe this is THE biggest thing holding most of you back.

If you don’t believe in yourself, nothing else matters.

I don’t care how much knowledge, time, or money you have. If you don’t believe in yourself and your product you will not succeed.

You will never take that leap forward because you’re always scared you’re not ‘doing it right’.

You’re frightened to devote yourself to your dream because you don’t believe that you can make it a reality.

Quite simply – you don’t think you’re good enough. You don’t think you deserve it. You don’t think it’s possible.

I call bullshit on that.

No-one can live your life. No-one can do this for you. No-one can make you believe in yourself.

YOU have the power. YOU are the one with the dream. YOU are the one who WILL make it a reality.

This is YOUR life to live EXACTLY as you please, because you’re not going to get another chance at it.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Get out of your own way and go for it.

And if you want me to hold your hand while you do it – I’m here, baby. But really, you don’t need me. You just need YOU.

So, now it’s time to ask yourself – what is it that’s truly holding you back?


If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, you can join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…


Van Den has written 319 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.



As usual, you have hit the nail(s) right on the head Jess. Every single one of the things you listed in your post is an emotion that I have felt at one time or another. “I don’t have time”, “I can’t afford it”, etc… etc… I look at people who are successful craftisans like yourself, and I can always find an excuse why ‘she’ can do it and I can’t. And to be honest… I am my worst enemy. I recently came across a book,that was published years ago, called “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson … and it was full of great ideas about accepting change. One thought provoking quote I recall is “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. We have the ideas, the plans, the desire… but so often we just don’t follow up with action. I’m so looking forward to June when my current busy ‘being a student’ life, makes way for ” look out world… here I come!” Thanks Jess for the continued inspiration and support you share with all us procrastinators 🙂


Oh darlin’, I’m the WORST procrastinator – truly! But I’ve worked out ways to get around it. Unfortunately, that sometimes means things like clean clothes staying in the basket for a week… I can only be SO motivated, and I prefer to expend motivation on my work 😉 And that’s a great book – my Dad gave me a copy of it years ago!


Amen Grace !! I completely agree. I’ve made excuses forever, but have always known where the answers really lie. I’ve let fear talk me down off the top. But not this time! That’s why I’m so excited about this course. If you haven’t signed up, let’s do this together. Thanks Jess for the pep talk !!!


Awesome to hear, Katherine!! Good on you for feeling the fear and doing it anyway 🙂


Katherine.. I would love to sign up … as Jess knows I have quietly stalked her for a while 🙂 But at the moment TAFE must come first…. but roll around June and I am jumping in head first!!


My sticking points are time and knowledge. I’ve always been a DIY type, and I know the information I need is out there, but it takes so darn long to find it! I’ve run around in circles on both Etsy and WordPress trying to find out something simple, but not knowing enough to know what to search for. I’ve also always spent time instead of money, because I rarely had any of the latter. My life has shifted and now I have no time, but have not managed to adjust my mindset to spend money. Plus I have trouble figuring out what to spend money on that would “buy” me time.


Your last point is a really good one, Abby – it can be tricky to decide where to best invest the money we have. I know I’ve invested money in the wrong places before, but I have always had the mindset of ‘oh well, it’s only money – I can always make more’ – I’d rather take the risk on something and ‘waste’ a little money than not try it because of the fear that it’s the wrong thing. For example, this weekend past I did my first ever expo with my jewellery – a bridal show with my sterling silver wedding bands. It cost me a good chunk of money (over $800) and a lot of time prepping… and I have NO idea if I’ll get anything back from that! But I’m glad I did it – it was a great experience.

sabrina miller

Thank you jess! Your posts,one from a few back really hit home.
I didn’t know exactly who my customer was so I got to know her. Then I looked for the sites and blogs she would read and find my jewelry. This adventure led me to contacting an awesome blogger/life coach who has asked me to partner with her after falling in love with the jewelry I sent her.

I am still in the trees but Jess!- I am climbing this mountain this with gusto!

I am a 24yr old woman returning to school for Neuro PT and it is my dream to have my art always in my life. And making a business out of the pieces I love so much.

Create & Thrive reignited that ambitious flame!
Thank you!
SABRINA @ Shine the Flux on etsy


That such excellent news, Sabrina – well done!


Time and fear are probably my two biggest roadblocks. Or rather, I should say my perceived lack of time (which is really just procrastination/poor time management) and admitting my fear (which I masquerade as too many ideas and not knowing which one to pick).
I’m hoping to learn some good time management tricks and ways to get past some of my worst procrastination habits.
As for the fear, I know I just have to jump in and start working on something, what ever it may be, and get the ball really rolling. I’m so looking forward to getting a push from this course – I’m already feeling motivated and we haven’t even really begun yet! 🙂


Time (especially time management) is a big hurdle for me but I’m working on it. For me, also being sensitive to outside influences can be a bit of a roadblock. I think it ties into fear – fear of being laughed at or thought of as foolish for pursuing my dream. Obviously, this is something *I* need to work on. Develop a thicker skin, learn how to let (real or imagined) slights roll off me, duct tape shut the mouth of my own inner critic!


I can not thank you enough for this blog. I has really inspired me to overcome my fears and follow through with my dream. Today, I put my fear aside and dove in. I opened my Esty shop and bought my domain name. I am official!


Angela – you are why this blog exists. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this with us – go for it!! x

Patty Matonti

Jess- when you say “the time it takes is the time it takes”, tha’s a reality that I never let myself accept. Having very limited time to create, run my shop, do shows and promote while holding down a full time job and a 2 hour daily commute….I put so much pressure on myself to make it all happen. I’m trying to learn to slow down and enjoy all the hard work I’m putting into my business. Your honest and encouraging posts keep me on the right track. Thanks!


Patti – the fact you’re doing ANYTHING with the limited amount of time you have is amazing! Just keep going, keep doing what you can, and be gentle with yourself 🙂

Terri MacLachlan

Here’s some bumper sticker philosophy: “Don’t believe everything you think”. It’s true! Your mind tells you more lies than that cheating ex of yours. I was listening to mine, but then I said, “Let me just do it anyway, and see what happens. I CAN do this.” So I opened my shop, and even though I knew I wasn’t totally prepared, I just jumped in & did it, because I knew that if not I’d keep thinking of more reasons why I couldn’t/shouldn’t. So now I’m learning by the seat of my pants, which is why this blog is so great, because it’s super encouraging and informative. So everybody, stop listening to your mind telling you that you can’t succeed. Tell it to be quiet & dive in. You’ll be so proud of yourself! And you CAN TOO do it!


I’m usually running from one chore to the next, tackling tasks in ultra speed mode; I barely stop and breathe. Today I did it (to read this post) and felt more human and understood. Just knowing that there’s more people out there going through something similar makes it easier. Somehow. I don’t know how, but it does. Thank you, Jess.


That’s brilliant. You’re so welcome, Giselle!

Victoria Turner

Wow, I’ve spent the last few days wondering why I keep putting off making some new things even though I have all the resources needed to start them, and I came to the conclusion that my procrastination is due to fear, so its amazing to then read that very thing from someone else. I definitely need to be braver and just have a go. Thank you for a really great article and the virtual kick up the bottom I need.


*shakes pompoms for Victoria* go for it!


Great article, Jess. I signed up to your blog yonks ago as I felt you spoke to me and I could relate to you. This article was really good and it was more like a shirt fronting. From a friend. Not many blogs do that to me. Well done! :- D


Lol – Avril, you had me laughing at ‘shirtfronting’! Glad to be a (friendly) kick in the butt.


Thank you for this post! As others have said the whole “the time it takes is the time it takes” really spoke to me. So often have I brought out a new range of products or changed something on the website etc and have been disheartened that they didn’t take off immediately! Time is definitely my thing. I have an 18 month old daughter so during the day my time really isn’t my own and then when my husband gets home from work I want to catch up with him and I need to be in bed by 10 to get enough sleep to be up with my daughter the next day etc etc! I’m sure there are others out there with the same ‘golden hour’ after dinner and before bed that cram making and running a business in. If I had more time or money I’m sure it would make a difference but for now my success is that I can be a good mother, a wife and run a business all in the same day.


My little business is sitting on the edge staring into the abyss and I don’t know how to talk it down. Apparently ‘everybody’ makes teddy bears and ‘nobody’ would be interested in mine.
‘Everybody# is much more talented, relevant, better……I’d like to get hold of that internal voice and snack it.
Meanwhile, I’m off to see if I can talk my business back from the edge.

What say you?