Starting an online business begins with identifying a need and offering a product or service that meets and fulfills that need.
While the obstacles and barriers for starting an online business are relatively low, many online businesses never seem to become financially successful because of mistakes that seem obvious in hindsight, but at the time are not clearly understood.
To help with the pursuit of a successful online enterprise, here are 10 often overlooked mistakes many entrepreneurs make. By avoiding these mistakes, you will definitely improve the odds that you will be successful online.
1. Not having a plan of attack.
You don't need to have a formal business plan -- but you still need a plan. There are many who think of a business plan as mundane homework they don't want to do but planning is crucial. You don't need an elaborate 50-page business plan to successfully plan a business. You need to know who your customers are, what you are selling and what people are willing to pay for your product or service. In addition, know how much funding you have and how long will it last before you run out.
2. Focusing too much on the little stuff.
First, you need to get your business off the ground and this may seem obvious, new business owners can get really bogged down by the details. Don't get caught up in all the nuances such as focusing on things like how your business cards look or the design of your logo, your website color scheme and so on. Instead, concentrate on tasks, income producing tasks, that will help get your business off the ground.
3. Not thinking about money.
You can be optimistic, but not when it comes to money. Many businesses run out of money before they begin to see a profit, you know, start seeing black instead of red. Know how much money you have to run your business, what your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses are, and make sure that you have a plan to generate more cash flow before you run out.
Too often business owners scramble to raise funds when it's already too late. Instead, successful business owners from the start design a financial plan, detailing key milestones and how much money it will take to reach these goals. And then, they stick to the plan and endeavor not to deviate from it.
4. Undervaluing what you're selling.
Don't sell yourself short! Whether you're selling a product or service, set the price at what it needs to be to make a worthwhile profit. Set your starting price for your service or product at a fixed amount after you consider the costs to develop your product or service. This also includes knowing your value! Look at others that may be selling or promoting the same type of product or service. What do they charge? If your product or service is at least of equal quality, then you should be able to charge accordingly.
Remember, the price is what it needs to be. As your business evolves and grows, continue to adjust your price points accordingly.
5. Ignoring customer service.
This is really huge! With a great deal of business transactions happening online over the Internet, it's easy to forget that customers are people who are way more likely to return to your website if they have a good experience. Remember, they're people!
Make sure you have some way of interacting with the people visiting your site through live chat, survey, email, instant messaging, or phone.
6. Giving away too much and getting nothing in return.
Before you've established credibility as a seller or an expert, offering something for free can turn a prospect into a long-term customer, especially when offering services. When continuing to offer your services or products for free the cost of 'free' can add up. Try to always use your free items as a lead magnet which is offering something useful and intangible in exchange for a customer's email address. Lead magnets can be downloadable PDF 'how-to' articles, online training class, and so on.
7. Spreading yourself too thin on social media.
When you're starting off with marketing and building your brand, master one or two social media sites at the most. Don't blast your offer to every media site known to man. Don't blow your advertising budget at the start.
8. Not taking the time to hire the right staff.
If you have a team or a staff, quite often many entrepreneurs rush the hiring process in order to quickly fill positions so they can scale their business. But by rushing to hire staff, many times entrepreneurs risk issues down the road, such as a mismatch in skillset and business needs, a personality that doesn't have the right mindset with the culture, and a lack of commitment to the company's mission.
So, when hiring, look for people who have the skills you don't have, display a level of integrity, and lastly, display the qualities you respect.
9. Not understanding the drive, focus, and obsession it takes to succeed.
You cannot have the employee '9-5' mindset. At times, it may require you to put in a 16-hour day, other times maybe not so much. Either way, you have to be willing to put in whatever effort is needed at the time in order to be successful.
Big ideas do not come when you are trying to manage every minute of your time. They don't come when you are multitasking. They come when you are focused on one thing.
10. Thinking if it worked for them, then it should work for me as well!
Just because a product or strategy has worked for one company doesn't mean it will work for you. Have a healthy degree of skepticism about what you read and see successful elsewhere. Do what works for you! Don't try to be someone or something you're not. Know your strengths and weaknesses. You are unique and therefore, use this uniqueness to your advantage, to your benefit. Besides, you don't want to be like 'everyone else'. That's boring. In order to standout, it behooves you to develop your own style, personality, and presence online.
Applying these 10 keys will help any entrepreneur tremendously to avoid many of the pitfalls and challenges almost every entrepreneur faces whether they're just starting an online business or they're a seasoned veteran! This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a highlight of the most commonly found mistakes many entrepreneurs make, even great entrepreneurs!
For more insight in building an online business, get a copy of my new eBook.
About the guest author: Dana C. Beck
I am an online entrepreneur and writer and I have been online since 2013. I am passionate about helping people successfully earn an income online and become truly great entrepreneurs. I live in Charlotte, NC with my wife of 30 years and a neurotic but sweet and loveable golden retriever, Sadie.
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