If you are thinking of starting a business online you are probably already aware that setting up such a business is relatively simple and it is not hindered by excessive entry barriers. However, it is not an exaggeration to argue that although bundles of online business set off there is a massive number of them that fail, simply because those behind them fall into the trap of making mistakes that they could have easily avoided, especially when evaluating their actions with the benefit of hindsight.
Any business owner venturing to go online has already identified the need their business is aiming to fulfil and is also most probably aware that the main factor which will lead to success is creating and maintaining the necessary credibility in the eyes of both the potential clients and any associates in the venture. Although crucial and of vital importance, these two factors alone however are simply not enough. In fact the success or failure of any online business venture depends on a variety of other factors and the way to success is usually sabotaged by excessive aspirations, overestimating how much can be achieved and underestimating potential dangers and threats. To help you avoid loopholes and mishaps, here’s a low-down on the most common mistakes that should be avoided and which hinder the potential success of any online business venture:
Absence of a well-thought out plan
Although launching an online business does not really require you to have a full blown, formal, detailed business plan the total absence of a plan can surely be detrimental for the entire endeavour. Yes there is no need to have every little detailed planned in advance but you do need a basic guideline which will address the core issues. Before setting of you need to have clear and valid answers to questions such as who your potential customers are, what exactly it is that you are selling and how much are people willing to fork out in order to obtain the particular good or service. Another important answer that you need to be certain off before you start your online business is how much available cash or other funds you have at your disposal and for how long this will last you before your business starts making profits.
Concentrating on insignificant issues
At the beginning of a new online business venture when all issues will need your attention it is important to focus on what really matters and not on the petty little details, which will only result in getting you bogged down. Remember that you should not waste valuable time and effort on things like the colours of your logo or the paper to be used for printing your business cards. Try to avoid getting sidetracked by minor issues. Instead remain focused and concentrated on tasks and issues that will help the venture set off and proceed smoothly towards the path of success.
Wrongly handling money matters
Being over optimistic about the money you will need to spend and how fast you will be able to start making some back and how much that will be, is a common mistake done by many new online entrepreneurs. To avoid this mistake you need to certain about the available running funds you have at your disposal, how long this will last for and how you can raise more funds if necessary. If you wait until your cash runs out it will too late, too stressful and really bad for the prospects of your newborn online business. Thus, planning money matters well in advance and having in mind a roadmap with benchmarks and milestones to be achieved is the way to go about.
Not setting the right price for what you are selling
Pricing your product or service right is a crucial factor for the success of your online business. Although you should not overcharge and you should keep in mind that you need to remain competitive, you also be wary of the danger of undervaluing your product or service. The golden rule is that you should set the price at what it needs to be to lead to a worthwhile profit. Also take into account that to appear credible in the eyes of customers, the price set should reflect the real value of the labour and material costs needed for each product or service to be produced.
Neglecting customer service and contact with customers
The internet can be impersonal since it enables transactions to be carried out without any kind of contact needed. In turn this may lead you to forget that customers are real people, with real needed and sentiments, who value contact and will only become return customers if they are happy with the level of service they got and they feel that their custom is appreciated and their opinion is valued and it matters. Thus, you need to make sure that you provide ways of interaction available to customers, for example through instant online chats, email campaigns, surveys etc, as well as keeping up to speed with customer feedback and reaction on social media channels.
Giving away too much for too little
Offering something useful to prospective clients for free is perhaps one of the most common and effective ways to bag a sale or at least create the relationship that will turn into a conversion and a repeat customer. With this in mind, do not get carried away and start giving out free products just to get hold of a client’s email address! Instead opt for offering something which has a very low cost or no cost at all. Such examples might include webinars, e-guides, e-books, recipes, instructions etc.
Poor choices on social media/Spreading yourself too thin on social media.
Although it is important to start off building a strong brand through clever and effective marketing it is not wise to spend your entire marketing budget from the very beginning. In today’s social media jungle it is easy to fall into the trap of spreading your resources too thin on social media and trying to reach out to and please all audiences. Thus, to avoid this danger you need to be aware that it is better to be more targeted and only spend a small budget having identified your core social audience and which social medium they mostly follow and build a custom, tailor made strategy to reach and engage with just those who matter.
Hastily hiring staff
Rushing to start operating and being ready to meet client needs many online entrepreneurs fall into the trap of quickly and hastily hiring people to fill up positions. The risk when hiring in a rush and without the necessary research and caution is twofold. The first is that initial hirings set the tone for those to follow and if they go wrong then the rest might fail as well. The second and most important risk is that down the line you might discover that you have not found the right people for your business, that they either luck the full array of skillset required or that they do not share the same passion, values or mission and vision as you and your company.
Not being committed enough
Success is not for the light-hearted, so if your goal when starting an online business is to succeed then you should be prepared to focus, commit, concentrate, perspire and aspire! At least for the initial stages you should forget the work/life balance and other flowery thoughts. Instead you need to focus on the needs of the business, block out obstructions and demonstrate the necessary obsession and drive that leads to success.
Copying without thinking
Don’t plainly copy or imitate others. Since every business venture is unique and has its own particular circumstance and merits you should not light heartedly take for granted all that you read or have learned about what has worked in the case of other companies and adopt it without thought or scepticism. Remember that one size fits all is not a rule that applies for businesses and if something has worked for someone else it doesn’t mean that it will also work for you. Instead seek ways to test your products or services through ways that entail minimum resource and financial risks.
Lead Generation & Business Growth Specialist
Natalie is a prolific part of the global SEO community worldwide and she regularly contributes to e-marketing and promotion publications on and offline as well as best practice guides and round tables.