Be aware of the pitfalls, so you can grow faster.
For people who’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak in their blood, the Internet offers a whole lot of potential for them to create a thriving online business.
An online business has some key advantages that traditional brick-and-mortar businesses don’t have, such as:
- Low initial costs.
- Faster timeline from zero to launch.
- Ability to expand operations beyond one location.
- Great autonomy and flexibility in work.
That being said, online businesses come with their own pitfalls. If you’re a new business owner, it can be costly to figure out what works and what doesn’t without a framework. So, we’ve compiled 7 most common mistakes made you should avoid in your business endeavor.
#1: Starting an online business you’re not passionate about
Many people dream of having their own business because they want to make enough money to be financially independent. Some people who start their business are not only driven by money. They’re also passionate about the product they’re trying to sell. In many cases, they are the ones who succeed.
Of course, passion isn’t the only ingredient you need to start a successful online business. But it can definitely give you a leg-up when the going gets tough.
Even though an online business is easier to set up than a traditional brick-and-mortar, it still requires massive amounts of dedication, discipline, and pure grit. This is especially true when profits aren’t high and you’re only breaking even, which happens in the early stages.
For example, you might find there will be more competition than you anticipated. Or you might have trouble deciding which channels to sell your product. In such situations, you’ll need something to keep you invested in the growth of your business. Something that will make the difficult things you need to do
Start an online business for an idea that you’re passionate about. To be profitable, you will need to know everything about the product you’re selling and the people you’re selling to. The more you enjoy learning how to overcome the challenges in growing your business, the more likely you are to succeed.
#2: Not having a product-market fit
If you’re selling something nobody wants, your online business is going to fail from the start.
One of the most persistent reasons why online businesses fail is that their product/service doesn’t have a market fit — it means the product doesn’t solve any significant problem. In the beginning, you might have thought that it did solve a problem. But a
How do you know if you have a product-market fit? Here are two guiding questions:
- How are you different from others who offer a similar product/service to consumers?
- What is the unique selling proposition (USP) of your product?
Consider seriously what you have to offer. If you can answer these two questions well, you might discover a new direction for your business to grow that aligns with what consumers want.
However, if your answer is simply “we do it better”, then your target audience might not see why they should choose your product over your competitors. But if you can sell the unique points about your product to the customer, they are more likely to want to try — and they may come back for more.
#3: Not defining your core audience
As important as it is to find a market fit for your product, it’s equally important to find a niche audience that will respond to your product.
Often, new business owners think that the fastest way to profit is to target everyone — and they fail. Not every business is going to fill the need of every consumer, which is fine. As a new business, you should aim to find a core group of people who will perceive the problem your product seeks to solve. They will be the ones who will be most likely to buy your product to solve that problem.
Once you have defined your core audience, you will then understand how to market your product directly to them. Instead of being a limiting factor, a core audience will actually help you compete better against larger competitors.
#4: Not learning from your competitors
Many new business owners are shocked to discover the amount of online competition that they’re up against.
This shouldn’t be surprising. The same thing that may have attracted you to opening an online business — like low initial costs — will draw other individuals. If anyone can start an online business nowadays, anyone will start one. Of course, this means more competition in the digital space, but that doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage from the get-go.
Instead of dismissing or ignoring your competitors, you should be studious in observing how they run their business. Once you have determined why your customers buy your product, you must ask yourself, “Why do people buy from my competitors?” What does your competitor offer that you don’t? What do you do well that your competitor doesn’t?
Of course, it can be challenging to balance between managing your business and looking at how others do it, but it is rewarding in the long run. Once you can identify your competitors’ strength and weaknesses, you will understand how to serve your customers in a better way. If you do it well, you can even siphon customers from your competitors’ base.
#5: Not optimizing your website
Optimization is a constant process that is inseparable from online business. Many new business owners don’t think twice about the inner workings of their website, as long as they have a website.
For example, online shoppers want websites that load fast and are visually easy to navigate. Most people have no patience for pages that take too much time to load — 47% of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. No matter how great you think your website is, you’re just a click away being abandoned and forgotten.
More importantly, you need a call to action (CTA) on every page you have. A CTA ensures that your customers have a way to engage with you wherever they are. This can be as simple as a button that says “Find out more” or “Call now” that is minimally designed. The key thing is to have them, because they make it more likely for your potential customers to engage with you.
Understand that your website exists to drive sales and persuade customers to convert. You need to make sure to optimize every aspect of your website for this purpose, and that nothing stands in the way between you and your customer.
#6: Doing everything by yourself
In the early stages, many entrepreneurs run their business as much as they can on their own. Understandably so, as this is the best way to keep costs low and maximize profits. At some point, this approach can put a strain on your business and prevent it from growing.
If you try to do everything by yourself, eventually you will burn out. You can actually make your business grow faster if you can outsource the day-to-day tasks to others. Once your business is sustainable enough, do not hesitate to delegate. This would actually free up your time and energy to focus on what’s more important.
Furthermore, when you’re working with a team, you will have more opportunities to think creatively about how to scale your business even further.
#7: Taking too much time to start
In any business endeavor, timing is key. When you finally figure out your niche and product, seize the opportunity without hesitation.
Understandably, it is normal to do research on the market, your potential competitors, target audience, and other crucial aspects of starting an online business. Research and evaluation are important, no doubt. But there comes a time when you have to set all that aside and learn by doing.
If you wait too long before you start, you may miss your window of opportunity to start. Many things could happen. A competitor who has a similar idea to yours may beat you to the punch. You could plan as meticulously as one could, and have just as many problems to overcome.
When starting an online business, don’t
Starting an online business today is easier than it was before. More people are taking this opportunity day by day. If you think you have a workable idea for a business, the best way is to learn by doing. Decide what your niche is, research your industry and competitors, your core audience.
Most importantly, learn from the mistakes of others and avoid them in your own journey. By steering clear of the common mistakes we’ve highlighted here, you will give your business a higher chance of success. What’s left for you to do is to just start.