When you are just starting out with something, mistakes are bound to happen. A few months ago I wrote a post of my biggest mistakes, I thought to supplement this post with some more general mistakes related to online business. We should not be afraid to make mistakes, let alone let the fair of making mistakes prevent us from doing anything at all. Still, when you are starting out a head start can be useful, that is why I prepared the 10 mistakes that you should prevent yourself from making.
I hope these actionable tips help to develop your business faster and better, so without further ado.
1. Not Having a Clear Topic
A lot of people just start something and they think that they can figure out everything along the road. While this is somewhat true, having a broad idea of what you are doing is crucial for the success of your business. Sure it is popular to say that you can pivot, but this is not always the case in online business.
When I started online businesses I started with a niche site, later I found out I didn’t actually like the niche enough to keep writing about. Now when you have a very specific domain name it is not that easy to change.
The same goes for other online ventures, I would sometimes hear people talk about writing an eBook. When they are talking to me they would name all the sales and marketing strategies they have. When I ask them specific questions about their topic and their specific audience it is almost as if the topic is less important.
If I start driving a car from Amsterdam to somewhere, it is important to know where that somewhere is, I don’t need to know all the roads, but just the main ones. Sure I can drive around and maybe eventuallyI arrive at my destination, possibly wasting a lot of time and money in the process.
2. Not Having done Your Research
Do your research, yes I know it is boring and I too am the kind of person that gets excited wants to dive right in. Still research is important and should be high on your list. If you are looking to launch a product or service check out the market space. What are similar offerings and how can you distinguish yourself from them.
Who are your customers or audience, how do you reach them and why are you sure that they would benefit from your product or service and more important, that they are willing to pay for this. Remember, a business is only a business if you have a) customers or an audience that is looking for something, b) a way reach these people in an effective way and most importantly c) a way to get paid.
You can have all the customers in the world but if you are not getting paid you don’t run a business. The only way you can have a business that works is if you have A + B + C.
3. No Focus on Email
I have made this mistake big time. I have recently written a post about why I switched from a free account with MailChimp to a paid account with GetResponse. It is likely that many first time visitors that leave your site, will not come back again. Now I don’t know the actual number of the never returning visitors that all those internet marketers like to say (they all say something different anyway), but this important nonetheless.
So once a visitors leaves your website you are likely not going to see them again, and that sucks. An email address is your golden ticket to stay in touch with that person, to maintain and develop the relationship and potentially create something more beneficial for both parties. Without any email, that never returning visitor is not much more than a digit on your Google Analytics.
4. Do Not Fall in the Impostor Trap
Now I think that this is something that we are all a little bit guilty of, we are all likely to think too less of ourselves, thinking that what we bring has no value or that we are not an expert. Let’s say you want to develop a website about fishing rods, but you are hardly a good fisherman yourself. You feel like a fraud to give people all these tips and advice about fishing rods and fishing.
But the thing is, you don’t need to be an expert. What you might lack in skill and expertise is something you can compensate with enthusiasm, a unique perspective and dedication. You can fake it until you make it while you are developing your business and in the same time building your expertise, who knows, by the time your business gets some traction you have become the expert you always wanted to be.
5. Be Careful with Your Finances, But Don’t be Cheap
One of the biggest reasons a lot of businesses fail is not because they haven’t found a market fit, or they didn’t get the right product, a lot of businesses fail because of their incompetence to manage their financials. This faith does not only apply to businesses, many households share a similar faith.
When you are just starting out financials are even more important. Unless you started your own business with a big client, it is likely that you will not have a lot of revenue for the starting period. Starting a business is also expensive, you need to take expenses and investments in consideration.
Now the beauty about online business is that you do not need to spend a lot of money. I have mentioned it before, but I run everything I do on my Mac, that is all I need. Still you are going to have to spend some money on the right tools for the job. Evaluate every buying decision and its core importance to your business.
6. Lack of Focus
When you are building an online business you are likely either doing this next to a full-time job or as your main thing. Either way focus and time management are imperative to the success of your business. You are going to want to build a sustainable business and therewith an income stream, as soon as possible. You can only build a sustainable business when you are focussed and have a clear idea what you need to do. Don’t spend time on aspects of your business that are not important or that you are not good at.
Let’s say you want to get into Kindle publishing and you have been delaying and postponing the core of your business, which is writing content because you first want to have neat looking diagrams and images. This approach is not clever and not helping your business.
7. Not Having a Strategy
A strategy on how your online business is going to be a success should be at the center of your idea and research. During your initial research, you have to ensure that there is a certain demand in the market and that your product/service is able to meet that demand. The next step, and vital to any business, is that you find a way to get paid for what you offer. This strategy has to be at the core of your business and you should stick to it.
8. Don’t be Scared
Launching a business can be a scary thing. You are likely going to navigate through new waters and that is not always an easy thing to do. Besides the fear of starting there is also the fear of exposing yourself. If you plan to start something like a blog you will have to share some personal things too to build a relationship with your audience.
But maybe you are planning to do a tutorial series on YouTube or a podcast, you will have to expose yourself to the entire interwebs, this can be a scary thing. I have had similar experiences with Tropical U.P, early on I identified that a key component of my strategy would be video material but I always found an excuse to not do it (yet). Doing the things that make us feel uncomfortable are also often the things that will help us to progress the most. Don’t be scared, just jump and embrace all the opportunities that come with it.
9. Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations
Yes, I think the online business model is great, I mean it. But what you should now is that there are no shortcuts here and that just because you can potentially earn money every minute of the day, doesn’t mean you will. Many people on the internet refer to online businesses and passive income, Pat Flynn being one of the biggest out there.
Online business, however, is not that passive. Starting an online business is hard work and you are required to do all the work upfront before you can even expect to see some results. Yes, after the work is done you can theoretically earn from your work every minute in an infinite time as long as your work stays relevant and reaches an audience.
Regardless of the type of online business you are interested in, it will take time before you will see results. Don’t believe these get-rich-quick-Ponzi’s, just like with most things in life, there is no such thing as a free meal. Still, extremely well planned and researched business ideas, sometimes get success almost overnight. The more valuable you are, the higher your chances of success are.
10. Postponing or Not Starting At All
I want to conclude this list with what I think is the biggest mistake of all of them. I have spoken to countless of people who have great ideas and motivation to do something but somehow always seem to find excuses not to start.
Starting an online business is easier than ever before. For around 100 euros, you can start you have all the tools for a professional website that already puts you ahead of most other websites on the internet. Maybe you will not get it exactly right the first time, but you need time to develop yourself and to find your voice. Starting is the best exercise to do this. Ultimately it is better to try, give it your best and fail than never try at all.
So there you have it, my list of 10 mistakes that you shouldn’t make. I hope that this list helps you with preventing yourself from making these mistakes and to help your business flourish. Be sure to subscribe for future posts and leave a comment below if you have any other mistake that you want to share! Stay awesome and see you next time!