Every business venture takes hard work and dedication. When it comes to doing business online, people tend to think there is some kind of magic formula that produces overnight riches. Not true. Especially online.
At least if you have a physical (or local) business, your location can bring you some business. Yet you still have to work to market your business to attract the right customers.
When you “set up shop” online, this is especially true.
In fact, the Internet is not a business, it is a “medium” to market your business, generate leads, interact with your audience and lead people to your offers.
Your business is much bigger than the medium you use to market it.
Although today’s terminology can get confusing and lead you to think otherwise… you don’t really have an “Internet Business”.
You have a marketing consulting company, an information publishing business, a website design business, a beauty salon, or you may even be a direct sales professional.
You use many methods to market your business and deliver your product or service… the Internet just happens to be one method.
Now that we’ve cleared that up…
When I started my first business, the Internet was my medium of choice. Let’s face it, the low entry barrier is more than appealing.
My business was a bookstore. My “storefront” was a website. My method of delivery was via drop ship directly from the distributor or in person from my hand to the customer’s hand.
I’ve learned a lot about “doing business online” since that first venture in 1998.
I went on to start a web design business. Again, my primary marketing medium was the Internet. Although I did add some networking and other tactics to my repertoire.
In any case, over the years I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned from a lot of people.
From what I’ve been able to tell, there are all kinds of mistakes you can make that will hinder the growth of your business and kill your profits.
However, I’ve narrowed this list down to just 10 that I’ve done myself and have seen others do time and time again.
I believe these are some of the most crippling and if you can avoid these, you’ll do just fine in your pursuit of success in business.
You’ll maximize the potential of conducting business through the Internet and see amazing results.
1. Not Believing In Yourself
This may sound basic, but let’s look at it anyway. You may be thinking, well I wouldn’t have started a business if I didn’t believe in myself. And this may be true. My point in including it in the list and at the beginning of the list is because growing a business is not an overnight process. It takes time.
Time spent working while others play. Time spent perfecting your skill and honing your craft. Time spent building relationships with your clients and customers as well as mentors and colleagues.
Your belief in yourself will be tested. When you hit a rough patch, and we all do, you’ll have to remember to believe in yourself.
When everybody else stops believing, you won’t have that option. When you don’t believe in yourself, you make bad decision born out of fear and doubt. The end result… you cripple your business.
So going in you have to believe that you have the ability to do whatever it takes to succeed. And then you have to do it.
2. Falling for Get Rich Quick Gimmicks
This one is at the top of the list for most coaches and mentors. The first thing they tell you is that you can’t fall for get rich quick schemes.
And although you mentally assent, the temptation to be drawn away by the latest bright and shiny objects will abound.
What do bright and shiny objects look like?
- The latest 15 module training course that’s going to get you 10,000 new leads in 24 hours.
- Or you can buy an email list of 500,000 targeted leads for just $20.
- You can buy a turnkey website that will bring in thousands of dollars in sales while you do nothing but watch the sales pour into your Inbox.
Give me a break! Don’t fall for it. Remember, you are building a business… a real business. Any real business takes time and effort to build. You start with a solid foundation and keep going from their doing the right things on a consistent basis over time.
3. Thinking It’s ONLY about You
You are not in business to serve yourself. So… it’s not about you. When you talk to your potential customers, it’s not about you and the language you use in your marketing should reflect that wisdom.
The products, programs and/or services you provide should be focused on serving your clients and customers.
If you create a bunch of products that only you want you’ll go out of business. Fast.
If you only talk about yourself and how great you are and how wonderful your product is without telling your audience what your widget or service does for them, nobody will listen, you won’t get any sales and you’ll go out of business. Fast.
Instead, focus on your clients and customers. Tell them how you can help them. What your wonderful product will do for them.
How it will change their lives.
Find out what they want and give it to them!
4. Not Doing Your Homework When Hiring or Outsourcing
As a web designer, I’ve helped many people recover from the horror of dealing with a bad designer.
Their domain names and websites have been held hostage or their designer is unreachable and their site has information that hasn’t been updated in months.
I know it’s sometimes hard to find people you can trust and who will do good work for you. Companies like “Angie’s List” have capitalized on this successfully and provide a great service.
Just know that delegation does not mean abdication. Do your due diligence, do some research on what you’re asking for so you can be somewhat familiar with what’s involved, make your expectations very clear and have regular milestones or check-in points so you can make sure the project is progressing as it should.
5. Not Investing Money In Marketing
The reality of business is that you must have marketing budget. If you’re not willing to spend money to market your business, then you shouldn’t be in business.
There are many low-to-no cost ways to market on the Internet. Social media, article marketing and blogging are just a few of the free methods. Some paid methods include pay-per-click ads, banner ads on complimentary sites and sending emails to other people’s lists.
Whatever you do, you have to be willing to invest in your business by establishing a marketing budget.
6. Not Building a List
Can you have a business without a list? Ummm… yeah, I guess so.
Can you grow your business without a list? Hmmm, probably so.
But can you sustain your business long term without a list? I’d say no. At least not without making it much, much harder for yourself.
If you’re building a business that you intend to sustain you for the long term and you’re not just playing around, then you will make sure you’re capturing leads and building your list.
Your list is like family. You may make new friends and you may meet a ton of new people in your life, but it’s your family who’s always there.
My Church Secretary Community (previous niche website) was more than just a list to me. They were like family. I really did care about them. And I believe they knew it.
Why? Because many of them were with me, actively since day one, for years.
That says a lot about the relationship we developed over the years.
There are all kinds of business “models” out there. Some that don’t “require” you to build a relationship with your audience at all.
If that’s the kind of business you want to build then go for it. Just beware of the long term consequences.
The question you have to ask yourself is if you’re ready to do this for the long haul.
Are you ready to work consistently and be committed to a process that works?
If you are, then building your community (list) will be a joy to you.
Sidenote: Social media followings and friends are not your “list”. You need to own your list. These are supplemental (and definitely beneficial) to the list you build. Your goal is to get those who follow and friend you to join your list. (smile)
7. Not Using the Proper Tools
Using the right tools is imperative if you are going to do a professional job and provide quality work.
I know that many times when you are starting out, you’re on a shoestring budget, however there are some things that just shouldn’t be compromised.
For example, when sending broadcast emails (emails to a large quantity of people) you don’t want to use your personal email account.
They aren’t made for sending mass emails. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will shut down your account for excessive sending.
You could make a mistake and send the email to the wrong people (I’ve seen this done way too many times).
It’s difficult to make sure you are legally sending emails to people who want them… according to the law, people are supposed to opt-in (or sign up to receive) your emails. Sending to people without their permission is against the law. And not having a way for them to unsubscribe is also against the law.
Lastly, there is specific information that has to be included in every email you send which includes your company name and contact information.
Email marketing companies like Aweber , Constant Contact, MailChimp and Ontraport make this easy. I have more information about Aweber and Ontraport on the Resource page of my website.
Having a professional appearance with a systematic method of operations to back it up goes a long way in establishing trust with your audience.
8. Not Being Yourself
People buy from those that they know, like and trust. The only way to build a long-lasting business is to be authentic.
This doesn’t mean that you have to share all of your personal business, however letting your true personality shine in everything you do is a must.
Your clients and customers want to know who you really are and identify with you.
Some of the greatest responses to emails or blog posts came when I shared something I was personally dealing with or had personally experienced.
When you are authentic and true to yourself, your voice shines through and either draws people to you or repels them away from you.
You want both.
If your message doesn’t resonate with some people, then trust me, it’s best for you and them if they move on.
Serving a group of people who want to be “in your space” is much more fulfilling than constantly trying to be someone that you are not to please an audience who is not your ideal audience anyway.
Authenticity begets loyalty and allows you true freedom. Be yourself.
9. Not Using Social Media
Your clients, customers and potential clients & customers are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and more. So that’s where you should be. Period.
These social media outlets give you a “hall pass” into their lives… for free!
Facebook has over 1 BILLION active users (at time of this writing), and gives you direct access to your clients and customers and many of their friends and family.
Here are just some of the benefits of being social:
- Enhances and increases the reach of your brand.
- Allows you to directly interact with your customers and strengthen your relationship with them.
- Drive a constant stream of traffic to your website.
- Connects potential clients and customers to you and your brand so they get to know, like and trust you.
- Delivers quality leads so you can build your list.
- Increase sales and profits in your business.
10. Focusing on Beauty at the Expense of Content and Functionality
This mistake is made when building your site. A pretty site that takes forever to load and isn’t functional or intuitive for the user won’t attract customers and it won’t get sales.
Any designer worth their salt will advise against useless splash pages and flash based sites.
A good web designer who has experience in and understands marketing and Internet marketing will know these things. And no matter how much you beg for things like this, will advise you otherwise.
Now, if you want search engine traffic to your site and you want Google and the others to “find” you, this is a crucial question.
WordPress is the platform that absolutely delivers on this. Search engines love WordPress sites.
At the time of this writing, there were over 73 MILLION websites in the WORLD using WordPress. Each month, 342 MILLION people view 2.4 BILLION pages of content on WordPress.com sites (and these are just the sites hosted by WordPress.com, and doesn’t included “self-hosted” WordPress sites like this one)! 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments are posted DAILY. (stats found on http://en.wordpress.com/stats/)
Need I say any more about WordPress and why it’s THE platform to use for creating your site?
If your designer has the right mindset… one that focuses on growth, ease of use and ease of content management for YOU… then they’d be building websites using WordPress.
Even if you are starting small, your site should be built with your future growth in mind.