Top 10 mistakes in starting an online business
Online entrepreneurs do a lot of mistakes starting an online business (I did the biggest ones), but we can learn a lot from others and avoid most of them. Let’s talk about the 10 most common mistakes online entrepreneurs do.
1. Not defining your niche market
Let’s start from the beginning, one of the most important steps in the process to starting an online business is the niche definition. I talk a lot about how to find a profitable niche because I really struggled with this matter when I was trying to find out the niche where I want to build my online business.
In my opinion, one common mistake is start defining your niche being 100% focused on finding a profitable niche and forgot the main purpose of your online business. That’s why I recommend start by listing the things you are passionate about, and how you would like to help others solving their problems in these areas.
Start from your passion and then make it profitable
Starting by passion puts yourself in a more exciting way, more creative, more active and of course more resistant to frustration and hard work.
Once you know these you can establish a personal connection with your business and you can start figuring out the niche where you want to develop your online business and the different ways to make it profitable.
I know how frustrating can be this task, you are forcing yourself to simplify all your aims in one tiny thing: the niche! But don’t have to be that hard, lets out the pressure. The important thing is to find out what you enjoy doing and how you can transform this into a business that solves problems to your audience.
In summary, not defining your niche correctly from the beginning is such an important mistake you can do, because after this your are about to build a whole business on the wrong foundation. You don’t need to have a crystal clear vision about your niche at that point. But you need a starting point.
To be honest, you don’t need to be that specific (at the moment), just let you go deep in your niche little by little, know your target audience, what they want, why they suffer,… and then, someday you will have that crystal clear vision about your niche.
But, you have to start with something, so let’s do it and invest as many time you need to find your (purpose) niche (and your purpose).
2. You are not solving an important problem
Some time ago I read somewhere: the definition of a business person is, somebody who solve problems.
I love this definition, and I think is the base for an online business in these days. Out there is a tremendous amount of data, created every day, in every minute. The world doesn’t need more data unless these data gives a differential input value. A high value.
When you are building an audience online you have to deliver high-value information, indeed you need to deliver information which solves problems to your audience. And that means that your content has been processed, analyzed and translated into a practical information ready to solve audience’s problems.
3. Putting your focus on the little stuff
Prioritizing your daily tasks you will gain focus over your goals and targets, this is the way to put your attention in the most productive actions for your online business.
I get distracted very easily, working on my blog I usually check and external source to do some research about some topic, then click on a Youtube video to watch a conference where someone explains something interesting about this topic and I am out of focus. I am totally out from my main target: write the post.
something similar happens when I have to edit some images for mi post, like the images that you see in this post, I could expend a lot of time on Photoshop or other similar software trying to craft my own original images and researching how to use Photoshop, because I am not a graphic designer, with the result of a lot of wasted time and a poor quality image.
What I do is to delegate into someone this task or do it myself in an easy way using Canvas for example. I know is easy to use, quick and the result is very acceptable.
When we are building an online business (or any business), we need to know the actions that will report the most productive results. These are your priorities.
Priorities when starting an online business
- High-quality content creation
- Promotion and networking
- Create engagement with your audience
- Customer/Audience relationship
What can you delegate on your online business?
- Graphic design: logo, business cards, infographics, email templates,…
- Web development
- Online advertising campaigns
4. Be one more in the crowd
This is one of the biggest mistakes today in starting an online business, out there is a massive amount of blogs, websites, social media “gurus” and lot other online activity.
2 million blog posts are written every day, most of these content is great and new content, so tell me something: What are you doing to be different to all those crazy amounts of new information?
What makes you different?
What unique value are you offering to your customers?
Here is a big true, you need to offer solutions to your audience that solves their problems, but if you can’t differentiate yourself from the crowd you will have a problem because you will be one more in a very noisy online market.
Which consequences have not to be different enough?
First at all, if you are not different from your competitors, your potential clients don’t go to give you credibility. Therefore, they will choose between you and your competitors by price. In other words, the only difference between you and your competitor is your price.
Do you have allegations from your potential clients about your prices? Too many? Then you have a differentiation problem.
When you build a reputable brand over your business, whether if this is your personal brand or you have created a different brand, your clients ultimately want to work with the best in the field, and after this, the best that they can afford to pay.
How to be different to your competitors?
- Build a personal brand attached to your business, show to your potential clients the people who are behind the business.
- Solve unique problems rather than be a generalist, specialize your services and focus to be excellent in a few things and not mediocre in a ton of things.
- Generating fresh and high-value content to your industry. You will become (with the time) a leader in your industry.
5. You are not engaging with your audience
As we talk before, is a lot of content been generated every single day, and happen exactly the same with social media.
Generate great content is not enough, working on your SEO is not enough, build a strong personal brand is not enough. Customers want to talk with the people behind the brands, they want brands that interact like humans because that’s what it’s all about, relations between people.
Marketers and online companies are focusing their effort on engaging more with their audience, because they perfectly know there is the money, in all that visitors that are not already clients.
Why they visit your blog or site and didn’t connect with you?
Check this graphic from the Content Marketing Institute, shows clearly the marketers priorities when they are creating new content.
That applies to your online business as well, whether if you are big or small, a newbie or advanced, your focus on created content for 2017 should be on engaging more with the visitors you already have.
6. Not investing in your online business
You can start your online business at a very low cost, but at some point, if you want to take serious your online project and create a real business from there you will need to invest.
Investment is essential to keep growing your business, but don’t worry about this at the beginning because the great thing about starting an online business is that you don’t need a big investment. Of course, you can spend as much money as you want on an online business, just like any other business.
Of course, you can spend as much money as you want on an online business, just like any other business. But I am talking here for all of you with a business idea in mind, ready to start an online solopreneur business based on your personal branding. In that case, you don’t really need much money to start.
And this makes the people free to start a business based on you at a very low cost.
I am surprised sometimes with people coming and talking about how difficult is create a profitable online business, then you look at their blog and is hosted on wordpress.com at a free domain. If you are not ready to spend $10 a year for your domain and show a professional image nobody is going to pay you anything for your services and, of course, nobody will take serious your blog.
If you want to create something professional, then go professional.
Which areas should you be spending money at your online business?
- Professional theme
- Domain and hosting
- emailing software. You can start for free in freemium services like Mailchimp, but at some point, you will need to pay.
- Opt-in plugin for collecting emails at your site.
This is the most basic things you should be investing at the beginning, but of course, you will need to invest progressively in other areas like delegate some tasks, SEO optimization (if you don’t know how to do it) or graphic design.
7. Not being passionate about your topic
I said this before, if you want to start your online business you will need to find your passion in what you doing. Is no point in spend a lot of hours working on something, not seeing results for long months and still working on it unless you are passionate enough.
In my opinion, the perfect online solopreneur is looking for something more than a business, is looking for a lifestyle!
Of course, we are going to do something profitable to have enough money to live the life we desire, but we need to start loving what we do and then everything will make sense.
I call this “the personal purpose behind your business”. What do you want to change the world through your business? Be brave, you need an ambitious goal, after all, you are a little grain of sand in the internet ocean, so you need to impress with your message when somebody visits you.
8. Ignore your audience
Your online business, like just any business, is based on the idea to serve and solve a problem from your clients. That means that you must know who is your audience, what they want, their worries, their needs, their aims and basically anything related to them.
When you are starting your online business you are building an audience little by little, I don’t care if you only have a few subscribers on your email list or very little interactions on social media, because the relationship with your audience starts with the first user who interacts with you.
Establishing a connection with your audience is extremely important if you are starting an online business based on your personal brand you are the core business, you are actually the business and your audience and clients want to be in touch with you. Even if you have a team helping you with all the stuff, your audience want to get access to you.
That’s very important. Also, you need to listen to your audience to know if you are delivering the right content, services or products because the most important part of your business is your audience, the best you know them, the best you will serve them.
9. Wrong expectations about an online business
Starting an online business is a long-distance race, not a sprint to get something quickly and then make money “passively” when you are on the beach totally disconnected from your business.
That’s absolutely wrong.
The Internet has brought an amazing opportunity for most entrepreneurs who want to create something meaningful but they don’t have the resources or the capital to do it. 30 years ago create a “traditional business” was impossible for that people, today is possible.
You can use your ideas, expertise, abilities, knowledge, connections, or whichever your valuable assets are, and create amazing content. Then you can distribute your content to hundreds, thousands, and millions of people all around the world. Starting from your home, with a very low investment and create a real business with higher incomes than most of SMEs. The key is that you can create your Audience.
The key is that you can use the internet to create your Audience.
This is the most valuable asset for the corporations in theses days, fervent fans who trust the brand. And corporations are investing loads of money to achieve this. Ok, now you have the opportunity to do it almost for free, from your home based business.
This is why I love online businesses! And this is why I am an online solopreneur!
10. Compare yourself with your competitors
I made this mistake a lot.
Is very easy compare yourself with any other competitors in your niche, you are starting and of course, you want to be in the top market position, like they are right now. You want their audience volume, their email list, their reputation and credibility in the market.
So, the easiest way to do this is comparing what do you do with what they are doing. And the next step is to forget what do you want to achieve with your business and follow their goals and strategies.
You have your plans, your identity, and your personal purpose on what you do. That means that you have your own vision of what success is for you, don’t forget this never. You can look to the big players in your niche and learn from their success but this doesn’t mean that you have to follow the same goals.
The market doesn’t need another clone doing the same things.
There is a lot of mistakes that entrepreneurs do in starting an online business but there is a lot of information and resources that you can check to avoid most of these mistakes.
My main advice to elude these mistakes is creating your own network or community full of online entrepreneurs and keep in touch regularly with them, sharing your experiences and learning from their expertise. Most of the problems that you have right now are simple challenges for other people, so you can learn a lot.
The good news is that once you solve one of these problems that don’t let you sleep it won’t be a problem anymore.
I am very interested in listening from your mistakes, your challenges, and any obstacle you find in your journey in starting and online business.
Which problems did you find in your online business journey?