Some people settle into a life of being an employee and working a 9-to-5 job. They graduate college, find employment, and deal with the same mundane routine day after day, year after year. In the end, everyone has to decide his own career path. Some people are perfectly okay working for someone else. They don’t want to deal with the headaches of owning their own business. Others, however, choose a different path. A path that lets them control their income and pave their own way.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, starting an online business might be the answer to your employment woes. An online business can give you the freedom and flexibility to do what you love. And when you own your business, there are no limits to how much you can earn. You can choose to work just enough to cover your expenses, and then spend the rest of your time on a golf course or beach, or you can ramp it up and take your income to a whole new level. One good thing about starting an online business is that you can possibly work fewer hours, yet earn more than working for someone else. This is news to the ear, especially if you’re giving your employer all your time and energy, but getting very little in return. You have a choice: either accept this reality, or change it.
But just because you’re interested in starting an online business doesn’t mean you should jump into a business prematurely. If you’re fed up with your job and you’re ready for a change, you’ll probably do whatever it takes to get your online business off the ground. But without enough preparation and organization, you risk making a few rookie mistakes.
If you’re thinking about starting an online business, here’s a list of five mistakes you should avoid.
Not having a plan of attack
Your online business might not require a lot of start-up capital, which means you can probably get started without getting financing from a bank or credit union. Before lending money, a bank will want to see a business plan for your company. This plan outlines your goals for the company and how you plan to achieve these. But the fact that you’re not seeking funding from a financial institution doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan of attack. You may not need an official business plan, but you do need clear direction.
Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of starting an online business without conducting any type of preliminary work. Having a product or service doesn’t guarantee online success. Chances are, there are dozens of other online companies selling the same product you’re offering. In order to turn a profit and be successful, you have to know your competition, and you have to give customer something different. Finding a product or service that’s unique and caters to the public takes time and effort. You have to do a lot of research, and unfortunately, this can delay the launch of your online business. This isn’t meant to discourage you. But it is better to be prepared than launch a site before you’re ready.
You need to ask yourself several questions about the service or product you’re offering. For example:
- How is your product different from others on the market?
- Who is your audience?
- What is your marketing strategy?
- What are your profit goals?
Starting an online business can potentially increase your income beyond imaginable, but before this can happen, you need a clear plan and goals for your company.
Not having a professional image
As the owner of an online business, you may never meet face-to-face with a single customer or client. You’ll likely conduct most of your transactions online, which means you can manage your online business from the comfort of your home and in your pajamas. But just because your company doesn’t have a storefront or an official office, doesn’t mean you should skimp on a professional image.
It’s important to remember that you’re in competition with several other online businesses. If you’re offering a product or service that’s similar to what competitors offer, you have to go the extra mile to prove you’re the better provider. Not only should you offer fair, reasonable prices and quality products, your professionalism should leave a lasting impression.
What does this mean exactly?
The reality is, many people will judge your business based on what they see online. First impressions matter when starting an online business. Therefore, you need a professional website that provides detailed information to help customers make an informed decision. A cheesy, template site isn’t going to cut it if you’re looking to attract a certain type of clientele. This doesn’t mean you have to drain your savings account in order to create a customized site. Even if you use a website template, try and be as unique as possible, and make sure the design represents the company well.
Additionally, make sure the content on your site showcases your professionalism. When starting an online business, some entrepreneurs have to pinch pennies. As a result, they do a lot of the early work themselves – which includes writing the content for the website. There’s nothing wrong with being your own content writer, and you can potentially save hundreds or thousands writing your own content. But at the same time, the content on your site needs to be clear, concise and grammatically correct. If writing isn’t your strongest ability, it might be better to hire a professional writer. Potential customers visiting your website might be turned off by poorly written sentences.
You can also demonstrate your professionalism by making sure your customer service is spot-on. This involves responding to customer inquiries and complaints in a timely manner, and also by maintaining your cool when a customer becomes irate or upset.
Ignoring social media
You may know enough about computers to start an online business. But when it comes to other aspects of running a business online – such as utilizing social media –
you might lack the knowledge and expertise to take your company to the next level. If you don’t know much about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+, it’s easy to ignore these avenues of advertising, or convince yourself that they won’t work for your company. But since you’re running an online business, it only makes sense to advertise using social media platforms.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore traditional methods of advertising for your company. Having a blog on your website is an excellent way to draw attention to your product or service. And if you optimize your content for the web by including appropriate keywords, you can improve your search engine rankings and increase traffic to your site.
If you’re an old-school type of person, you may put all your trust in direct mail, radio or television advertising. These are effective methods, but you shouldn’t limit yourself. Social media is also effective because it can help you find new customers, and it offers a quick way to market your products. If you post about a product, service or promotion, your followers may like or share your post with their circle, which can expand your reach.
The good thing about social media is that you don’t have to be a guru to benefit from this method of advertising. If you don’t have time to manage a Twitter or Facebook account, or if you’re simply not interested in these platforms, you can hire a social media company to handle this side of the business for you.
Underestimating what it takes to be successful
Starting an online business – or any business for that matter – doesn’t guarantee success. It’s true that people who work for themselves typically earn more than employees, and they often enjoy more free time. But higher earnings and freedom doesn’t happen overnight. It takes more than a good idea for an online business to be successful. It also takes hard work. From the planning stages to actually launching your online business, you’ll have many long days and late nights. You’ll have to sacrifice your free time, and in the beginning, you may not spend as much time with family, friends or yourself.
Unfortunately, some new business owners underestimate the time commitment it takes to get an online business off the ground. They mistakenly think they can work a few hours a day and be successful. But this rarely happens when starting an online business. In the beginning, you may not have resources to hire an assistant or receptionist. Therefore, you’ll handle different aspects of the business by yourself. It can be overwhelming and exhausting and there’s the risk of burnout. This is too much for some business owners to handle, and may give up.
Thinking you have all the answers
It doesn’t matter what type of degree you have, or whether you’re highly familiar with the product or service you’re selling, you may not have all the answers. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs don’t like the idea of asking for help, or getting advice. But if you get a mentor or work closely with someone who has a successful online business, the knowledge you receive can take your company to the next level.
Getting a mentor can also help you adapt to changes in your industry. It’s not unusual for businesses to evolve over the years. Some entrepreneurs get stuck in the same rut and they become fearful of change. This can be dangerous. At the end of the day, you want your business to be successful for the long-haul. Wouldn’t it be nice to build a business that can provide your children and grandchildren with income? In order for this to happen, you need an open mind and you must be willing to make changes for the greater good. This is how you keep your product or service relevant, and how you maintain a strong client base.
Is an Online Business Right For You?
So, are you ready to take a leap and start your online business? The idea of being your own boss can be frightening. You’re giving up a paycheck, and as your own boss, you’re responsible for contributing money to your own retirement account, and you have to pay your own health insurance. It’s a lot of change to digest, but in the end, you may realize that starting an online business provides greater satisfaction than sitting behind a cubicle all day.
Of course, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. This type of life can be unpredictable. As an employee, you know how much you’re going to earn from week to week, so it’s easy to budget for the future. As an online business owner, your earnings can fluctuate from week to week, month to month, or year to year. One year your business may do extremely well, and the next year you may earn just enough to get by. Seriously consider whether you have the stomach to handle income fluctuations. Because the truth is, irregular income is too much for some people to handle.
But if you can weather financial ups and downs, and if you can look to the future with positivity, starting an online business is the best decision you’ll ever make. Ultimately, it’s your choice. Do you want to be an employee for the rest of your life and let your employer determine your worth? Or do you want to take control of your career and financial life and start a business you’re passionate about?
One of the amazing perks of starting an online business is that you don’t have to rent a storefront location or worry about a lot of overhead costs. This might be the perfect opportunity if you want to be a business owner, but you don’t want the headache of dealing with multiple locations.
It is time to stop suppressing your inner entrepreneur. Whether you’re interested in blogging, affiliate marketing or running an online store, there’s an online business that’s just perfect for you.