Starting and building an online business is time and resource consuming.
Yes, it is true that there are different types of online businesses each with unique operational models and financial returns.
Despite those differences, all online business startups face the same challenges and internet market pressures.
Failure to understand those challenges and the common mistakes you should avoid when starting and growing your online business, all your effort can easily go to waste.
I know you do not want to work in vain or give up along the way. Therefore, read this post to discover 40 common mistakes which can quickly ruin your online business if you ignore them when starting or building your online business.
Also, you can visit the three books below to understand how to start, build and grow your online business into a multi-billion empire.
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40 Online Business Mistakes
1. Shiny object syndrome
Have you ever heard of this syndrome in the process of building your online business?
Shiny object syndrome is a situation where you become a person who shifts focus from one idea to the next depending on the success of others.
For example, let say you began freelance writing online business then you come across a case study of a blogger making more than $25,000 per month, so you make a decision to leave freelance writing and begin an online blogging business.
The most unfortunate part is that when you hear or come across something which seems to be better than blogging you will shift your focus again without even learning or gaining any benefits from your previous online business opportunity.
Therefore, this is a syndrome where you get caught up in trying new online business opportunities all the time because someone else is succeeding with them.
It is a big mistake because it takes consistency and perseverance to build an online business to the level where you can enjoy the profits.
Therefore, to avoid this syndrome stick to your initial idea, eliminate all the weaknesses/obstacles, seize all the new opportunities, grow and learn and eventually six months down the journey you will begin to see results.
2. Not having a business plan
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail” Winston Churchill.
Starting and building an online business is not based on guts feeling or trial and error experiment unless you do not mind wasting your time and resources.
A business plan is like a blueprint that will specifically help you define the purpose of your business by answering the following questions;
- Who is my audience or buyer persona?
- What niche is my online business?
- What is my business unique selling proposition and value pricing proposition?
- What type of business model shall I use?
- How do I monetize my online business?
- What promotion and marketing strategies shall my online business use?
- What are the best SMM, SEM and content marketing strategies for my online business?
The list above is endless, and not having all the answers to those questions is a huge mistake because you will get lost in over 3 million internet users per day just like another failed business statistics.
A clear business plan will give you a competitive advantage and a clear course of action which will prevent you from making wrong decisions or getting caught up in the shiny objects syndrome.
3. Waiting too long to launch your online business
We all have that desire to wait until something is fully complete before we can put it out there or start your online business.
Always thinking that there is a right time to release the product or out online business ideas is good. However, waiting too long for the “right time” is a huge mistake because there is no such a time-the right time in now!
No product has ever been released with 100% accuracy so instead of wasting time and resources perfecting the initial idea, complete all the necessary basics steps and release your online business to the world.
After all adjustments can always be made along the way based on the feedback from your audience and functionality of the online business.
4. Not optimizing for mobile
Gone are the days when optimizing your online business products and website for mobile users was not necessary.
Therefore, it is a huge mistake if you design a website in 2018 without caring about mobile SEO.
5. Picking on the wrong niche or problem
“By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has” Paul Graham.
There are many ways you can make this mistake, such as the following;
- Solving a problem no one cares about or only a few people less than 2000 are facing.
- Relying on passion and your interests alone to pick a niche and not using market research too. Market research, competitor analysis, future trends analysis and keyword research will help you to validate if your passions are significant enough to become a business idea.
- Picking a niche you know so little about or have zero experience in, and this means you will struggle to write about or even give up along the way in your online business.
- Solving a problem with few monetization options or opportunities for growth and making money online.
6. Being a copycat and not being different
There are over 1.9 billion websites and online businesses on the internet on a daily basis.
In this sea of competition, there is a very high possibility that the online business idea you are creating has been created by other entrepreneurs somewhere in the world.
For this reason, you must dare to be different enough with unique value/selling propositions for you to attract the attention of the same buyer personas your competitors are wooing.
If you copy what they do and how they do it directly, you are digging a pit for failure because you are not alone in the online business space.
7. Ignoring negative feedback
There is a high possibility of calling your critics and customers who provide negative feedback haters and just ignoring them altogether.
This is a pitfall because it is true some are haters, whereas others are genuine customer experiences with your online business.
The difference between a successful online business, which expands and grows and one that remains at the same level is that the prior take negative feedback as weakness which needs to be corrected.
8. Not listening to customers
Your online business can only be relevant and make money online when it has customers.
Those customers are the ones that will buy your products, pay your bills and share your content with other likely buyers.
Sometimes you may think that you are solving the right problem for those customers but still get it wrong.
The best way to avoid this mistake of being irrelevant is to listen to those customers. Take into consideration their feedback sent to your email or through comments left on your blog posts and other online business communication channels.
Also, visit social media groups to discover trending topics or participate in question and answer forums to understand what kind of information they need most.
9. Doing little and thinking more
Creating a successful business is all about taking action not thinking about 1million ideas, tips, and strategies that only exist in your brain.
The truth is there is too much conflict advice on every topic on online business, such as SEO, social media marketing, and content marketing among others.
The only way you shall ever know which strategy works best for your online business is by testing it out.
Therefore, you must take more action and little talking or thinking in your online business for it to succeed.
10. Bothering with the wrong “non-important” things
I put quotes on non-important because yes, those small things, such as the design of your business card and hiring a developer to perfect the new website are essential, but not at the initial stage.
It is better to spend that time and money creating content, perfecting the products and promoting your online business than on those small tasks.
Therefore, prioritize essential tasks, such as content creation, SEO, marketing and promotion among others before stressing out about those small things that can wait or be perfected over time.
11. Being too cheap and under-pricing
Most times it’s easy to get caught up in the feeling that you should be paid less or sell products at half the marketplace because you are just starting out in your online business.
Yes, it is a reasonable pricing and competitive advantage model, but the problem is, that will be the worth your customers will attach to your business even when it grows.
Unfortunately, if you begin charging higher, they will go because the low prices were your unique selling proposition which attracted them to your online business in the first place.
Thus, price your products and services with the right cost which matches other products in the market with the same value is very important when starting or growing an online business.
12. Doing it all alone
An online business is like a system with many processes to take care for every day.
For example, there is content creation, marketing, managing sales, customer service and SEO best practices among others.
Yes, you can do all these alone, but the problem is that you shall burnout too quickly or overdo and underperform in others.
For this reason, it is a good business practice to outsource some services by having helpers for different tasks, such as a website designer, SEO expert, social media manager and content creators, while you focus on the management and planning of your online business.
13. Spreading too wide or too thin
The best online business idea or activity is one on balance without being on any extremes. You can commit this mistake in several ways, such as the ones listed below;
- Using all social media platforms and not mastering one, which suits your business model well. For example, if you are a blogger going to Pinterest and Facebook is better than going to all social media networks that will generate zero or no engagement.
- Taking on a very broad niche, such as health without specifying if it is weight loss, fitness, healthy eating or what aspect of health you are focused on in your online business.
- Taking on a very shallow niche with too little information or very low audiences who will engage in your content.
14. Treating your business like a hobby
There is a huge difference between a hobby and an online business.
A hobby you do it at your convenience or during your free time and when you feel like.
However, online businesses only succeed by working on a plan and not responding based on feelings, emotions, likes, and dislikes.
For example, if you take on a blogging business, you cannot say that you will publish a new blog post when you feel like because you must have a content writing schedule and stick to it for maximum success.
Therefore, an online business requires a plan, discipline, consistency and more handwork than a hobby.
15. Not thinking about money or doing it too late
Every billionaire will tell you that they measured the financial returns of every investment before they created it.
Additionally, they will tell you that they began putting the right monetization channels from the initial stage of launching their online business.
Similarly, your online business must be monetized from day one.
For example, think about building an email list of subscribers you can sell to later when you create a product instead of waiting until you have the product so that you begin building an email list.
16. Having a “get rich quick” mindset
No online business has ever made billions overnight, in days or weeks after its establishment.
It takes time, effort and consistency before you begin seeing results in your online business.
Yes, there are methods you can use to get rich fast, but they will eventually land you on penalties, getting banned or even worse serving a jail term.
Therefore, you should be willing to pay the price of being patient and persistent if you want to grow your online business into a brand and empire with a future.
17. No customer service or relationship building
You may have 1million plus visitors and views on your website or social media followers, but if those customers are non-engaged all that if useless.
Customer service and building relationships with your visitors and followers will help to transform them from strangers into buyers, sharers and brand ambassadors.
An online business that ignores customer service and relationship building is digging a grave of failure because customers will not buy from you unless they know you and have a personal connection with you or trust you and your business products.
18. Giving up too soon
Do not be fooled that starting an online business is an easy walk in the park or all bread and butter.
No! There will be losses, stagnant weeks or even months where you will not close even one sale.
And worse off dark days of successful hacking and other extreme losses.
If you let your focus to be on those obstacles and discouragements, you shall give up on your online business.
Therefore, be creative to create opportunities where they do not exist and keep learning something new daily, and you shall never feel like giving up in all those screaming noises.
19. Not understanding your market
Starting and building an online business is not a trial and error adventure, and it should never be at any moment.
It is wrong to begin an online business and stay ignorant to understand all the requirements that come with the responsibility of building and managing an online business.
For example, a blogger who does not understand SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing has failed because all bloggers should care about those topics.
Similarly, an e-commerce store that ignores what the most secure payment methods or marketing channels are is digging a pit of failure because their success will depend on their ability to understand their audience, niche, and market needs.
Are that kind of a person who keeps pushing tasks to another time or day apart from the one you scheduled?
This is a dangerous quality that online business owners should not have because customers only associate themselves with brands who have a definite pattern and predictable schedule of carrying out their business processes.
Therefore, procrastination kills your morale and also gives your customers a reason to doubt your online business products and services.
21. No sacrifices, handwork, and effort
Ready to sacrifice your sleep hours to complete a product for your business within the scheduled time?
Are you willing to sacrifice leisure and social media time to complete a blog post with minimum distraction?
Ask yourself if you are willing to invest back into your online business instead of buying a new car model or traveling the world with your profit returns?
All these questions are endless because building an online business from scratch into a thriving empire is all about making extra time, resources and money sacrifices.
Additionally, it is all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and putting in twice, or triple effort and handwork than you usually do to achieve the goals of your online business.
22. Automating everything
There is nothing with automating some of your online business processes, such as social media posting of old posts.
The problem is automating everything to a point where you look spammy and more like a robot than a problem solver.
Customers do not love to be associated with online businesses which take time to reply back to their messages, comments, questions and other forms of engagement directly to your website, social media profiles or left in forums.
23. Ignoring competition
Your competitors can either make you or break your online business.
By making I mean, you can learn from them or turn their failures/weaknesses into opportunities.
Also, you can build partnerships with them or create better networking relationships which will result in backlinks, endorsements, and other benefits.
On the other hand, if you ignore the changes those competitors are making to improve their businesses, you are likely to lose all your customers to them in the event where they offer better unique selling propositions.
Therefore, choose your weapon wisely when it comes to analyzing and monitoring your competitor’s progress.
24. Not creating highly selling and converting copies/products
Who wants to share shallow content or buy a product which is poorly developed and does not solve any problem?
I know you don’t and your customers do not like it too.
Thus, if you want your online business to succeed and stand the test of time, begin to offer exceptional value.
Create blog posts, videos, products and offer services that solve problems and which are unique from others provided by other entrepreneurs.
25. Not knowing your target audience
Do you know the demographics, preferences, and problems of your audience?
How well do you know your customers? How do they make buying decisions?
Where do they get information from?
The more you know about your customers and audience the better you will offer them solutions that meet their needs better.
Growing an online business blindly without knowing your customers in like digging a pitfall for failure because your business will only grow and make profits when those customers engage and buy from your online business.
26. No passion
An online business takes time to grow and being producing profits.
For example, it will take about 3 to 6 months before a blogger makes their first affiliate sale even after writing at least two blog posts per week.
If you are in a niche which you have no passion for the truth is you shall give up so early before you see any returns.
The only thing that will help you to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking on better opportunities is passion.
Passion will help you to keep fighting in scenarios where you should give up because doing something you love is more motivating that doing something for money or other extrinsic benefits.
27. Not taking care of yourself
Do you eat healthily? Do you have an active lifestyle? Do you have time to rest? Do you take time to meditate? Do you have time for loved ones and other social engagements?
Running an online business is exhausting and time-consuming.
If you’re not careful, you may forget everything else about your life and become unhealthy or nurture a dull brain while building an online business.
For this reason, you must take care of yourself by having a balanced, healthy life to avoid falling into exhaustion or other wrong habits which will fail in your online business.
28. Not saying NO
You will get many offers as your business grows.
More customers, more orders, more advertisement deals and more opportunities for growth and monetizing your business.
The more they become, it does not mean that all are relevant to your business models and audience.
For example, many advertisers would like to place their ads on a website with good traffic, but some will harm your audience trust and SEO of that online business.
Therefore, saying yes to every deal or opportunity you come across in your online business is a mistake you should avoid at all cost.
29. No discipline and consistency
I mentioned earlier that an online business needs a plan and schedule for doing things.
The problem is you will have other engagements, such as family responsibilities, part-time jobs, and other social commitments.
Now the question is are you disciplined enough to stick to your online business plan and still balance your input in those other engagements?
Also, can you stick to a schedule where you can maintain that kind of discipline day in day out even in days you are feeling under the weather?
In summary, running and building a successful online business only works best for entrepreneurs who possess these two critical virtues: discipline and consistency.
30. Ignoring legal stuff and documents
Yes, the online space has limited entry barriers and legal requirements for new entrants and other established internet business.
However, that does not mean that there are no legal requirements that your online business should comply with to avoid any penalties.
For example, visit this article to discover website to discover some legal standards an online business is expected to meet according to Australian Government.
31. Choosing the wrong resources
You will need several resources and tools to run your online business. Some of these can be a downfall for your business in the following ways;
- Choosing the wrong hosting company with a poor data protection policy, slow servers and high possibility of a virus or hacking attack. For example, you would not be disappointed if you choose SiteGround or Bluehost hosting plans. Visit this post to discover 10 reasons why I use SiteGround hosting.
- Picking the wrong theme that is bloated and lacks a support team which will correct any bugs and mistakes along the way. For instance, I have never been disappointed for using Divi from Elegant themes in my business because it is a multipurpose theme which will not disappoint you and your online business. See a live demo of Divi and read 20 reasons why I love Divi theme.
- Selecting the wrong social media scheduling or email marketing tools that will not deliver your messages on time or mix them up. Take for example, I have never been disappointed for using Smarterque for social media scheduling and Convertkit for email marketing.
32. Failing to use the right tools
Every online entrepreneur uses several tools and resources to make the process of running and managing their business more manageable.
Thus, failing to use the right tools and resources in your online business will result in and resource and time wastage.
33. Having unrealistic expectations
Yes, there is nothing with having goals for your online business.
However, the problem is making them too high far from what happens in reality.
For example, a blogger assuming that they will make more than 10000+ and rank on the first page of search engines within the first month. It is not impossible, but it is unrealistic because it also depends on their niche, uniqueness of their business idea and type of content.
Therefore, do not plan your failure by setting unrealistic goals which you fail to meet and eventually give up on your online business idea.
34. Hiring the wrong people
Most online entrepreneurs are quickly caught up in the mistake of hiring a team based on their pricing as opposed to their expertise.
For instance, it is easier to hire a website designer who charges $10 per hour as opposed to one who costs $100 per hour.
Thus, you can easily hire the wrong people by using the wrong factors, such as how much they charge as opposed to their portfolio.
Wrong designers, social media managers, content creators and SEO experts can easily break down your website, especially in they are incompetent or sleeping on their jobs.
35. Poor budgeting and low capital
Every online business requires money to start, but some need higher or lower than others.
For example, starting a blogging business is cheaper than starting an e-commerce store but more expensive than starting a freelance writing business.
Therefore, failure to budget wisely or get in with the right capital estimations is planning to fail in your online business.
The right capital estimations will help you to create successful online businesses without coming into a situation where you have to abandon everything to find capital or even worse running into debts.
36. Not monitoring and measuring progress
The success in online businesses is not always constant as you predicted in the beginning.
Sometimes your traffic is maybe increasing steadily, and then it begins to drop sharply over time.
Also, sometimes you may serve a specific type of customers, and then a new demographic and customer segments begin to develop along the way.
Thus, not monitoring these statistics either from your Google analytics account of social media profiles analytics is a mistake.
These changes will help you to determine how you shall grow your business to the next level based on its performance in the past.
37. Not saving or investing back profits
There will be dark days in your business where you will be required to give more than you are getting and this explains why saving and investing back in important.
Also, along the way, you may encounter an opportunity that is related to your business idea, and acquiring it would catapult the success of your business.
Therefore, it is a big failure pitfall when you because of a spender of all the profits gathered from our business without saving some or investing it back into better opportunities.
38. Not optimizing your website for SEO
Search engine optimization will help you to build user-friendly sites.
There are many benefits of having a highly optimized website, such as free traffic from search engines and one that makes easy for customers to find information quickly.
39. Being isolated
The online platform is a global village where you cannot stay isolated.
It is a mistake to create an online business and only sit back hoping that your ideal customers shall find you.
For this reason, you must vigilantly work hard to network with other online entrepreneurs and promote your online business.
Your business is not an island because there are over 4 billion internet users daily.
For example, a blogger cannot create a post and sit back hoping that they will be found magically by other bloggers and their idea customers.
40. Not investing in yourself through learning
Your online business success is directly related to the amount of effort you shall invest in education and developing your knowledge, expertise, and experience.
You should invest in buying new books, courses and attending webinars or seminars to learn more and discover new opportunities and tips for growing your online business.
An online business entrepreneur also reads widely on almost every topic under the sun because the more informed you are, the better you shall come up with better opportunities for growth.
It is over to you!
Have you been making any of the above mistakes in your online business?
The good news is that it is not too late to correct it, but if you wait any longer, the damage will be worse.
If you are planning to start an online business, I hope that this post has brought to your attention some mistakes that are likely to ruin your effort.
Want two books that will teach you how to launch and grow your online business idea from scratch with zero experience? See the three below.
Feel free to leave a comment asking a question, sharing any mistake I might have left out or your own experience and better suggesting a piece of content you would like me to write about in the near future.
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