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Growing an online business is as much about learning what we should be doing, as it is about learning what we should not be doing. It is important to have a solid plan in place with a trusty list of your ‘to-do’s which can be satisfyingly ticked off as you go along. However as you move forward with your new business it is also just as important to be aware of the things that you should avoid and the common pitfalls involved in starting an online business. Whilst the obstacles to starting an online business are low, the potential initial mistakes, that can affect the long-term success of a business can be high. Read on for our list of the six most common mistakes that new online business owners make and our tips on how to avoid them.
A Weak Business Plan
It is all very well and good having a fantastic idea but if you don’t have a solid plan of attack then you could be on a backfoot before you’ve even gotten started. Whilst it’s not necessary to have a formal business plan, a plan of sorts is extremely necessary. In order to build an effective business plan you need to be considering the following: Who is is your target market and what do your customers look like? What is their ‘pain point’ and how will your product or service help them with their problem or issue? What are you selling and why would anyone be willing to pay for your service or product over your competitors? What makes your business different and how do you plan to position yourself to stand out alongside your competitors?
Alongside exploring the above questions you will also want to be thinking about the budget that you have available to you and how long that will last. You will want to be submerging yourself in a constant learning curve about how best to market yourself utilizing social media platforms and other avenues that will benefit your business. You will also need to be thinking about the details such as logistics, hiring staff, your accounting and your website content and strategy. You will realise that as your business develops so will your knowledge and understanding of all areas of business. You will essentially be ‘learning on the job’. However having at least a basic plan of the above will help you to avoid coming up against unexpected surprises and bumps within the initial first few months.
Becoming Obsessed with Detail
It is very natural to want everything to be perfect before we launch the fruits of our hard labour. We completely concur and agree that there are many things that need to be in place and fully functional before launch date. However becoming too hung up on the minute details of a new website has delayed many a business from launching and therefore has resulted in months of lost business revenue. You would be surprised how easy it is to fall into the routine of carefully analysing every last detail, tweaking, changing, moving, shifting, then changing it back to how it was in the first place. This process stalls the process of moving your business forward so try to be relaxed with the smaller details and keep modifying and playing with the details, as you go along in order to experiment with what works and what doesn’t.
Being a Bit Too ‘Old School’
Regardless of what generation we are from there is no denying that we are all now living in a digital age. For many of us that have been in business for a while and have different tried and tested ways of promoting and growing businesses it is easy to dismiss elements of modern technology and software as a ‘passing fad’. However there is so much technological support now available that will benefit your business that it is essential to be getting your head around the modern developments that will help you to grow your online company.
Regardless of what type of business you are planning, the bread and butter or the ‘first impression’ of your business, is going to be your website so this is always a good place to start whether you are focused on investing in software to prevent enterprise-level disasters with SEO alerts to ensure that your content is doing your business justice. Or perhaps your problem area is keeping on top of the finances in your business in which case you should be looking into the software and programmes available to support you in that area. There really is a whole world of wealth when it comes to the software, technology, apps and programmes available to you that will help you to grow your business to future and long-term success, so make sure you are taking advantage of it.
Not Focusing on Finances
One of the most common areas where businesses fail is through lack of proper financial planning. Many new online businesses fall foul of running out of money before they get to the point where they are making any and there is no other choice but to abandon the project. Therefore long-term financial projections are essential in order to plan out your time efficiently. Look into how much money you have in order to be able to run your business, how long that money will last whilst also factoring in a contingency budget that will cover you for unexpected costs and expenses along the way. Too often online business owners have to quickly try to pull funds together after realising that their budget is almost gone. By then it is probably already too late. So plan effectively in advance and keep your eye on your finances on a regular basis in order to avoid burning yourself out too quickly.
Lack of Confidence in Product or Undervaluing Your Service
It is very common for businesses in the initial months to want to just get the orders and the business rolling in and commonly that is to the detriment of a solid pricing structure. This is a big mistake however as lowering the price of your products or service is essentially devaluing your product and damaging your business. You should not be creating a business in the first place if you don’t believe in your product, so make sure that you are staying true to the proper pricing of what you are selling in order to build your business in a solid way.
Customer Service Focus as Secondary
As the sales come rolling in, a common mistake is to feel content that success is yours and that your job is done. However major value in your business is how you take care of your customers after their purchases. It is a dangerous mistake to see customer service as an afterthought for your business, as good customer service can be the make or break of any company. Living in the online age makes business easier in a lot of ways but it also makes the world of business pretty cut-throat too. Customers are savvier and more demanding than ever and if they are made to feel unimportant or unhappy, in any way, by a company, you will certainly know about it.
Dealing with customer service as a priority for your business means that you can look after your clients in a way that makes them feel valued and important to your company. That will keep them coming back and loyal to you and your business. Ignored requests, enquiries or complaints can, and very often do, lead to damaging public reviews that not only ensures they are never coming back to you again, but will also work as a huge deterrent to any new potential customers.
Recognising the above mistakes and taking great strides to avoid them will go a long way in steering your business in the right direction and keeping it on track for long-term success.