As a digital marketing consultant specialising in eCommerce, I’ve spent a significant amount of time learning about the ins and outs of running a business online. And if there’s one BIG takeaway I have after nearly a decade of familiarizing myself with the digital landscape, it’s this: for people with an entrepreneurial mindset, the potential to use the internet to create a successful, lucrative, and exciting business is incredible…if done correctly.
In fact, there are even a few major benefits to starting out as an online business versus a brick-and-mortar business that will give you a leg up as a business owner from the get-go, including…
- The ability to start a business with low or no overhead
- A faster timeline than most brick-and-mortar businesses
- The chance to expand your reach beyond one singular location
However, running an online business isn’t a metaphorical “get out of jail free” card. There are still a lot of things you need to keep in mind as you begin your first online entrepreneurial pursuit — and what not to do is just as important as what to do when it comes to getting your business off the ground and making money.
So, let’s dive into ten mistakes you should avoid as an online business owner. Ready?
Because the internet makes anything feel possible, oftentimes new CEOs can underestimate the amount of work and dedication it takes to get an online business up and running, so they decide to pursue a business idea they aren’t truly passionate about. If you don’t have enthusiasm for the business you create, then learning the process of how to actually run that business will feel like “homework” and your effort will stall out of frustration or boredom. I see this happen time and time again. The easiest way to avoid it is to choose an idea you are passionate about from the very beginning. The more you enjoy running your business, the more successful it will be.
Businesses, both on and offline, are not always profitable in the early stages of creation. Sometimes it can take a year or longer to start seeing money from your business, and it may not be a massive amount. Building an online business is no less difficult than it is in the “real world” — meaning time, energy, effort, and planning are all major parts of the equation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will be fast and easy to make money online simply because it’s online. Be prepared to work hard and see profit later down the line!
Like I’ve mentioned, online business requires a ton of planning and preparation. This all starts with your business plan. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a formal 20-page business plan to do this step successfully. You just need to know who your customers are, what you are selling, and why it’s needed — and be able to articulate that information into a concrete plan.
Before you can laser-focus on the little details, your number one priority should be getting your business off the ground and running. Getting sidetracked by things like the design of your business cards or the look of your logo is wasting valuable time. Instead, concentrate on tasks that can help move the needle forward in your business and get you to the next level. Once you start seeing some success, you can then go in and adjust all of the small details to your exact specifications.
Chances are, you are going to have competition, unless you’re in an ultra-niche market. This is a regular part of business and it’s no cause for stress, but you do need to know why you stand out so consumers feel like they have a reason to choose your business over your competitor’s business. You also want to be sure that your business stacks up nicely as you won’t be able to gain an audience if you’re offering an inferior version of a well-known product or service. Instead, figuring out your unique angle — the thing that makes you stand out from the competition — and leveraging it to draw in customers is key.
Marketing is a major part of online business, and too many business owners neglect it and then wonder why their business isn’t visible or attracting new leads. Make sure you have a foolproof marketing strategy in place that makes sense for your business. For example, if you’re targeting Gen Z, you’d probably want to develop a TikTok presence because that’s where the younger generation spends their time online. You also don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Social media is a very powerful marketing tool, but you don’t own it — which is why it’s so important to also have a high-converting website and email marketing strategy in place too.
If you don’t know what your customers really want, how can you expect to sell them on your service or product? To have success as an online business owner, you need to be keeping your customer’s wants and needs at the forefront of your mind. This means conducting market research (talking to your target audience to get their direct feedback) and researching your competitors to see what they’re doing that is working.
The fact that your business is yours does not mean you need to do everything alone! In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to build a thriving, successful, and sustainable online business without a little bit of help. Between the time and various skills involved, you will have to bring in some other people to get your business up and running. There’s no shame in outsourcing some of the tasks that aren’t in your “zone of genius” if you can afford to. In fact, it may be the thing that takes your business to the next level.
Very few business owners find the legal side of business “fun”, but it doesn’t matter — making sure your business is legally registered via the proper channels in your country is absolutely essential and can prevent major problems down the line. This also extends to making sure you have your tax registrations in order and trademarking any intellectual property you want to protect.
You’ve probably read a lot about the importance of work/life balance. And while it is very important, you can expect to focus a lot more on the “work” side of the equation in your first year or two of business. There will be late nights, lost sleep, and times you wished you didn’t have to be tied to your desk working. Owning a business is no small feat!
If you’re an aspiring online business owner looking to make major moves in 2022, I’m here for you. As an award-winning business consultant specialising in digital, I know a thing or two about building brands to 6-7 figure months. Learn more about joining the waitlist to work with me or book a strategy call today to chat more about how this can be possible for your online business!