Starting an online business is no walk in the park. In fact, most business owners we talk to are typically overwhelmed by the amount of factors they have to consider to build, market, and monetize their online business. Most of which they had no idea about going into their new venture.
A recent client of ours approached us looking for help marketing their line of products. Sadly, prior to hiring us, we learned they were taken advantage of by other marketing companies that simply didn’t deliver. It’s no wonder they saw little sales.
We knew from the start the problem wasn’t the product but rather the approach towards marketing the product correctly. After all, how can you sell something if no one knows about it?
After some research and development on our end, we presented the client with an all new approach targeting users online through social media streams, email newsletter campaigns, and through a newly designed e-commerce website.
We put a heavy focus on delivering branding through all parts of the shopping experience. Every attention to detail from the initial website visit down to the packaging the customer receives the products in were all accounted for. As a result sales have increased nearly 500% and continue to climb.
When starting an online business you must account for many factors. If you don’t know about these factors it is perfectly okay but does not expect to have your business transform into a success by practicing the “setting it and forgetting it” model. While it would be awesome if that method applied to a business it’s just not realistic.
Below are 8 mistakes we commonly see new business owners make when starting up their online business. Use these as guidance with your own approach to doing business. Hopefully, they can save you from some of the pains most fall victim to.
Trying to solve a problem that doesn’t need solving
“By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.” – Paul Graham
We live in a competitive world. To stand out you need to be different but more importantly your business needs to solve actual problems. People use apps, tools, products, and services to make their lives easier. Give them a real reason to choose your business over others by solving a problem that truly needs solving.
Not being unique enough
Similar to solving a problem that actually needs solving is the importance of standing apart from the highly competitive market place your business resides in. Your customers need a reason to buy in. If you are hidden on the 10th page of Google search results and/or not listed online at all you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Get your business in front of your customers. This can be done through branding, marketing, advertising, and content authoring. There’s no better way to gain attention than to offer rich inbound content that is free to your customers. Doing this will restore trust in your brand and let your customers identify you as a reliable business of which they are happy to purchase from.
Not creating consistent rich content to drive people to your website
Having a website is simply not enough to market your business online. There needs to be a constant flow of content being authored from your website to help increase awareness of your business’ offerings.
Your customers (existing and new) need a reason to return to your online business. You can do this through blogging, reviews, promotions, videos, social media shares and a ton more.
A blog or vlog (video blog) is crucial for any online business. Here you can create compelling content to demonstrate why your business does what it does as well as express your thoughts and opinions. Customers like to see “real” people on the other end of the business. Give them an inside look at your process or show them a little more about your team and purpose.
Waiting too long to launch
Gaining a following is only half the battle of launching a new online business or product. If you have blog readers and newsletter subscribers you may feel tempted to wait it out before launching a new product or service so you have more channels to market through.
The biggest risk you can make is waiting. You need to make sure you are creating a presence for your business but also marketing something that is actually for sale. The sooner you put a product or service out there the more chance you have at sustainable revenue. Launch smart. Launch often.
Not listening to your customers
You’ve probably heard the saying “The customer is always right” right? Well, sometimes no matter hard it is to accept, it’s true. Your customers should always be the driving force behind what’s for sale on your website. Obviously, you have the final say in what goes but customers are often very open and honest about their buying experience. Use this honesty as a guide to enhance everything you present them. This could include:
- Your websites design and user experience
- Your product selection and offering
- Your pricing
- Your attention to detail
- Your customer services
Don’t make the mistake of avoiding your customer’s voice. If you let them help you mold your business into something better then it should be the utmost priority.
Getting feedback from customers can come in a variety of forms. We’ve found that product reviews are a great way to get unbiased opinions for online shoppers. You can always have a support forum or knowledge place or even a general contact form so your customers can connect with you directly.
Not being passionate about what you offer or do
We all want to earn our fortune in our lifetimes. Starting a new online business could prove to be very successful and is why many take the chance of doing so. The reality is that many do so for only the hope at earning money and not because they are passionate about what they sell, produce, or share.
If you’re starting a new business and don’t like what you do then I suggest you stop right now and find what it is you enjoy doing first. It won’t end well for anyone involved if you aren’t already passionate about your business and it’s offerings.
Having the wrong expectations
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is any successful online business. Most successful business owners I know have failed more than they succeeded. The trick is to pick back up and start again using a new approach or idea.
The media typically disguises all the failures successful people attribute in their lifetime and only publishes the successes. This, as a result, skews the perception of the public and future business owners.
With this skewed perspective, new business owners come to the table with the wrong expectations about how challenging and sometimes rewarding it can be to run an online business.
My advice is to set your expectations low at first and gradually reward yourself(and employees) for each small milestone your business earns. Over time milestones grow larger and larger but the definition of success remains the same. Don’t take it for granted!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Being a business owner comes with a lot of responsibility. Sometimes we don’t like to have to manage people so we try to do everything ourselves(I’m guilty of this). This leads to poor quality of life. We get overworked, we lose sleep and try to juggle all of your other commitments in life while doing so.
The added stress takes its toll but it doesn’t have to. After experiencing this dreaded feeling and situation you are best to ask for help. It may cost you to do so but the return on investment is worth it. Long term it could mean increased business as you can take on more tasks with extra employees on your team.
This list could never end
Building an online business comes with many learning curves. In my own practice, I have found that this list of mistakes and many others keep me from falling victim to making the same make twice when launching a new product, service or client’s product or service.
What things do you wish you had done differently when launching your online business?
Please share your thoughts on what you learned in the comments below.