The Internet has allowed the entrepreneurial spirit to return to the economy. Coupled with the economic downturn that led to tens of thousands of layoffs, and now you have a growing number of individuals with certain expertise and skills starting online businesses. They will either flourish or flounder, depending on how they start these online businesses.
Starting an online business is hard and comes with numerous trials and errors, particularly if it’s your very first time. Of course, simply because it’s your first time, that doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistakes of other novice entrepreneurs. You don’t have to throw good money at bad mistakes just because you’re a first-timer.
Launching an Internet business can be likened to Wile E. Coyote constantly chasing the Road Runner and failing every time. He never learned from the mistakes he made or the mistakes of others. He just defined the true meaning of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for different results.
You have set aside $1,000 to start your own online business. You’re ready. You’re prepared. Your heart is racing, your adrenaline is pumping, and your fantasies of earning $1,000 a day are clouding your mind. You may even have "Eye of the Tiger" playing in the background right now.
Well, here are the top nine mistakes that others before you have made when starting their own online business.
1. Playing the Waiting Game
The moment has finally arrived! After spending weeks creating a website, you have opened your web portal doors. It’s time to welcome thousands and thousands of visitors any moment now. But wait... that moment never comes. Why? Because you’re simply playing the waiting game as opposed to actually building an audience, visitors, and a plan.
Let’s look at this fact: there are approximately one billion websites on the Internet. This means that your website is No. 1,000,000,001. How would you expect to be seen without taking any sort of action? Answer: you won’t.
Starting a website is just the first step in your entrepreneurial journey. There’s a lot more to it.
2. Not Generating Online Content for Leads
Content marketing has become an essential aspect of businesses today. You’re providing useful content – articles, webinars, videos, blog posts, infographics, and so on – while getting noticed by large numbers of people. If you’re not doing this, then how will you get your business out there and be noticed? Answer: you won’t.
Creating digital content can be done by either using a marketing firm or using an in-house resource. Both require time and money because content marketing must be professional, engaging, and successful. This then attracts visitors to your website and potential customers through organic searches, paid media endeavors, and social media.
3. Doing Everything Yourself
You’re hoping to eventually quit your full-time job so you can run a six-figure online business. You expect to do this by operating a website by yourself, fulfilling orders by yourself, creating marketing materials by yourself, and pretty much doing every part of the business all by your lonesome self. You’re pretty much expecting to be a one-man band. This is wrong.
One of the reasons why some websites and online businesses are so successful is because they take on the expertise of others who have the skills to grow a company. Whether it’s copywriting, web development, or social media marketing, there will be others who are better than you at this and can thus help meet your objectives.
4. Your Target Market is Just Too Small
How many times have you heard someone say: “If I could just grab one percent of this market’s 10 percent of this market’s 50 percent, then I would be wealthy”?
Attempting to corner a particular niche may sound like a good idea at first, but your online company’s growth will just eventually crumble. The reason for this is because your target market is just too small. It’s better to opt for a bigger market because then you have a greater opportunity to grab a slice of that enormous pie.
5. Beginning with the Wrong Expectations
Your online business will meet its ultimate demise if you have the wrong expectations. For instance, if you plan to work only three-hour days four times a week, then the doom of your online business is upon you. Or, if your goal is to earn $1 million in your first year, then you will fail. These are just the wrong expectations to have. You’re supposed to be conservative at first. Grandiose ideas are for those in business for the wrong reasons.
6. You're Not Going Mobile
More and more people are browsing the Internet on their mobile devices and paying for stuff through their smartphones and tablets. If your online business hasn’t yet adopted this growing trend, then you won’t last any longer than a couple of years. Not offering a mobile-friendly website or mobile payment options will ultimately lead to your demise.
7. Being Invisible in the Land of Search Engines
Simply put, if your online business is ranked very low on Google, Bing or Yahoo!, then it means one of two things: your business is already faltering or you haven’t made the effort to get listed on the search engine results pages. By being invisible on any of these search engines will only lead to questions on the validity of your business and if your company can deliver.
Moreover, not taking the time to improve your rank will then cause you to lose out on customers through organic searches. You will have to incorporate some of the latest search engine optimization (SEO) strategies out there to be on the first page, and perhaps the very first listing.
8. A Lack of Social Proofing
Marketing experts will concur that social proofing is the best route to take for conversions. Indeed, many businesses have embraced social proofing, but much of the time it’s the wrong way or just too forced (we’ve all seen those).
For instance, if your Twitter account has only three followers after three months in business, this will prove embarrassing and turn off possible customers. Or, if the amount of customer reviews is zero, or at most one, it will also ruin your image.
Indeed, you can be on every single social network, but without an audience, it will prove more harmful than helpful.
The solution would be to focus on one social media outlet and build an audience in this venue. Once you have accomplished this, start to hone in on another social network and go from there.
9. No Identity, No Logo, No Personality
Let’s be honest: there are just way too many businesses and websites out there that are the same. If your business is just like 200 others, then why would one person even test you out? The key is to be different and somehow stand out from the crowd.
This can be accomplished by having a unique identity, a flamboyant personality, and a creative logo and slogan. A generic WordPress template, a clichéd slogan, and the same products as elsewhere won’t get you anywhere. If you take this route, you’ll no doubt close your web portal doors soon.
Starting an online business and making it successful is very difficult, especially in today’s digital marketplace. With that being said, no matter how much hard work you put in, it’s the little nuances that can either propel your online venture to greatness or send it spiraling into obscurity.
Whether your online business is to supplement your income or to be part of your full-time job, you will have to ensure you have implemented the correct tips to increase traffic and grow sales.
Have you started an online business? If so, what has worked and what has hurt? Let us know in the comments section below!