10 Most Common Online Business Mistakes You Should Avoid

If you are in online business, you should know this 10 most common online business mistakes.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Not Updating Your Skills

Most people have the ability to offer some kind of service or product online. If someone is looking for what you do and it’s something they can’t do or don’t have the time for, they will pay you to do it. But you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. Demand for skills change, and that’s why it’s necessary to make sure you can offer multiple sets of skills. For this, you need to keep updating your skills.

Even when you outsource services to clients, you want to have knowledge of the basics on whatever you are offering. You never know if an outsourcer fails to complete a task or does it incorrectly. You may not have the time to have them correct it due to deadline pressures. It’s during these times that knowing about what you are offering can help you to step in and finish the job. You want to avoid missing deadlines as much as possible. That is a difficult situation to reverse.

Of course, having dependable resources in the first place will limit this situation from arising. When considering outsourcers, have them do some jobs that are exclusively for you, in the beginning, to see how they per-form. Again, having a grasp on the basics of the task they perform will help you evaluate their skills. Once you are confident of their abilities, you can use those resources to perform work for your clients.

For the most part, the internet has made it quite easy for people to keep their skills up-to-date and learn new ones. There are plenty of websites dedicated to learning. Some have specific subjects while others are general purpose. You may need to pay for some courses, but you’ll be able to find plenty of them for free. YouTube is one place to look if you can get past the advertising and offers. Another free place that expands frequently is Khan Academy.

When you feel comfortable with your new skill sets, you can offer them as standalone services, or you can use them for add-ons. If you already have an existing client base, simply let them know that you can perform these extra services when they need them. Also, ask them if they know of anyone who may be looking for such services. You already have proven yourself to your clients so they should have no problem recommending colleagues. These types of referrals are your best sources for new jobs.

Even Online Businesses Need a Plan

As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” One of the greatest reasons to start an online business is, it is easy to do. But that ease often comes with a price of not making a plan of how you will make it work. The dynamics of online businesses are easy. The execution is what throws a lot of people off. Trying to make it without a plan is at best, an uphill battle.

The plan doesn’t have to be an elaborate business plan. Keep it simple by specifying the type of people you are targeting (your ideal customer) and what kinds of products you are going to offer. Come up with a list of social media platforms that would fit with what you are trying to sell.

Determine what kind of marketing channels you are going to implement. It may be content creation for your website, videos, instructional mate-rial, etc. Don’t rule out traditional offline methods like direct mail and flyers. These still work better than most people realize.

Whatever methods you choose, make sure you track your efforts. If you don’t know where your sales are coming from, you won’t be able to in-crease spending on those methods. And you will also be spending too much money on channels that are not as effective.

Another common problem when it comes to planning is not knowing what you need to do to become successful in your online business. When you first start out, you won’t have enough experience to determine the best path to execute. If this is the case, find a qualified program or mentor to get you on track. You can choose to use this just long enough to come up with a plan, or you can continue so that you learn the appropriate methods and techniques to help you.

One of the biggest problems when seeking out help from others is whether or not they truly are qualified to give that help. Ask for some proof of what they have accomplished. If you get any feeling that they are not who they say they are, don’t be afraid to move on. It’s your money, and you don’t want them jeopardizing your chances of success due to a lack of experience.

If you come up with the right plan for your online business, you will in-crease your chances of making it work. It still will take a lot of effort, but the journey should be much quicker than trying to make it without a plan.

Getting Less Done By Trying to Do Everything Yourself

Starting an online business is easy. Running an online business success-fully is a whole other ballgame. One of the biggest mistakes online business owners make is they try to do everything by themselves.

You believe you know what is needed to make money online, and you start to perform tasks to get there. But then, other things come up that get in the way. Bills arrive in the mail, so you pay them. Perhaps you get a phone call from someone who is interested in what your business has to offer. You spend an hour with this prospect. They decide to hire you. They ask for contracts and other documentation. Before you know it, your day is finished.

The next day, you are excited to get started on work for this new client and decide that you also need more clients. You do some prospecting online and send out some emails. You get a few nibbles from prospects asking for more information. You have to do some research to answer their questions. By the time you are done, your day is half over, and you haven’t done anything for the new client.

As you can see, running an online business often entails much more than you signed up for. You will continually find it difficult to manage actual work with prospecting. Something has to give. Either, you spend the majority of your time with prospecting, or you spend it working for your clients. You need to offload whatever you decide not to do, to someone else.

If you have enough work to justify hiring someone, then by all means, go ahead and do so. Of course, this means you may need to deal with payroll and offering benefits, etc. An alternative would be to outsource, so you don’t need to pay those benefits. Another great benefit to outsourcing is when you find someone that doesn’t work out as intended, you can choose someone else. The break is much cleaner than hiring an actual employee.

Many people are reluctant to hire or outsource due to the costs. How-ever, you can look at these extra resources as helping your business get to where you want it much sooner than doing it all on your own. They offer leverage of doing the tasks that you don’t have the time for, and they can do them at the same time you are doing your tasks. The biggest drawback is now you have to manage other people.

How Debt Can Drain Your Online Business

It’s exciting to start a new business. However, it requires the right amount of capital. Even online businesses are going to require some spending to get the word out or to create products, etc. Many business owners turn to debt to obtain that needed capital.

Online businesses often suffer from not having assets attractive to lenders. The lenders refuse business loans because they cannot recoup the losses. Therefore, they tend to hit up credit cards to finance their business capital. The high-interest rates can truly weigh down your ability to manage your business.

When you run up heavy credit card debt, you can expect to pay several hundred and even thousands per month just on servicing the debt. The problem is that you may not yet be cash flow positive to offset that debt. Also, remember any interest tacked on is doing nothing to help your business make any money. It is simply money that is going to the credit card companies. That’s assuming you even have enough to pay them.

Contrast this with someone who starts an online business with a fair amount of capital right at the start. Any money spent can go towards growing the business, all things being equal. This doesn’t mean they will spend on the right things, but the same can be said for the person using credit cards.

Another way to avoid overextending yourself is to obtain crowd funding capital. Crowd funding is a relatively new financial product that helps people raise money via the internet. It uses services like Indiegogo.com or Kickstarter.com to present a campaign for funds. People visit these sites and pledge money to the campaigns. There are many of these types of services, and they all have similar ways in which they operate, although differences will obviously exist among them. The great feature of this type of funding is it does not need to be paid back. The downside is that the popularity of these sites has made it more competitive to obtain the funds.

The best option is to find a business model where you can earn money while putting up little to no capital. When you do earn, you can use those funds to grow your business to a higher level. When this happens, you won’t have the heavy debt burden taking away most or all of your gains. In this way, you’ll truly be working for yourself instead of your debtors.

How Not to Handle Bad Press

Your business is going along at a great clip. Then, out of the blue, some-one leaves you a bad review on sites like Yelp.com. You try to think back to all the customers you dealt with to recall any bad experiences and nothing comes to mind. With an online business, it can be difficult to know when someone is not happy. No matter what the cause, there are some tips on what not to do when it happens to your business.

First, don’t strike back at the person leaving negative comments. It makes you look petty, and other customers (and potential customers) may see this encounter. It’s actually better to ignore it than it is to con-front them head on. An even better approach is to try and reach out to the naysayers and ask what it is they didn’t like or had trouble with. If you can, offer them a discount on their next purchase. If they are un-happy with any purchase, try offering a refund. When you take this approach, complaining customers may reverse their negative reviews.

Another thing you should avoid is pumping up the review site with false positive reviews. Not only is this an artificial means to handle the situation, but it can also get you into trouble with the law in some countries. For instance, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has made it known it is cracking down on this type of practice.

There are reputation management companies who claim they can turn around any bad reviews or press. If you decide to use such companies, make sure you understand their methods and agree with them. If they are not on the level with their methods, they can make the situation worse.

Oddly enough, there is some bad press that can bring in more potential customers, especially when they realize that your company was not doing anything wrong. People who have never heard of your business before may see the reviews or stories about your business and decide to visit your website to see what it’s all about.

Unless whatever was reported about your company is truly heinous, time should heal the situation. People easily forget. This is especially true if they like what your company has to offer. While you will lose some customers here or there, many will eventually return. Offering discounts to entice them can be a great way to make the impact of the situation less severe.

How to Destroy Your Business by Ignoring Your Customers

Think about the last time you purchased something online from a company you trusted. Did you buy something else from them later on? If you did, was it an easy sale, in other words, did you trust that company more than you did when you purchased the initial product? You probably did trust them more during subsequent purchases.

One of the greatest assets a business has is existing customers. When you have an online business, you have even more of an opportunity to capture those customers on your list. You can communicate with them directly and then even sell to them from time-to-time.

But it’s amazing how many businesses either ignore customers who purchase from them or worse, they don’t treat them with the respect they deserve.

While it may be a stretch to say that your business will be destroyed when you ignore existing customers, you certainly are not doing yourself any favors if you are. Customers who are currently in your funnel have warmed up to your business, and when you do it right, they trust you. New customers have no idea who you are, and you have to do a lot more to get them to trust you. Who do you think it’s easier to sell to?

This is not to say you shouldn’t put effort into finding new customers; you should. The point is you want to make sure that you are spending a good amount of your efforts on keeping existing customers happy.

It’s incredibly puzzling to see even well-established businesses cater to new customers while completely leaving existing customers in the dust. Have you ever paid for a subscription and stayed with that subscription for an extended period, only to learn that the company has offered an amazing deal, good for new members only? You likely feel betrayed when that happens, and it happens often. You may have even unsubscribe when it happens.

Maybe your business won’t fold if you ignore your existing customers but you will be putting in way more effort than is needed to increase your sales. While you shouldn’t bombard your existing customers with offer-after-offer, you should make them feel special. When you do, the effort to sell them will be small, and your cost of acquisition actually decreases when that happens. Who doesn’t want an easier way to sell to customers? It’s there for the taking.

How to Make Your Online Business Struggle by Not Capturing Emails

Ask any online business owner what their single biggest asset is. Rather, ask any online business owner who captures emails from customers and potential customers. You probably have figured out by now the email list is the biggest asset of any online business.

There are tons of online businesses out there. Amazingly, many of them don’t capture emails of visitors and customers. Either they don’t know how to do it, or they don’t know that they should. Some businesses don’t believe in it. Whatever the reason, they are leaving money on the table, and lots of it.

As for people that don’t believe in doing it, they feel it is intrusive. But guess what? Visitors don’t mind leaving their emails when you give them something valuable in return. If you maintain that value coefficient for the duration of the list, you will find most visitors welcome the “intrusion.” Those that don’t will simply opt-out of the list.

If you are not familiar with how to capture emails, you have a couple of options: learn how to do it or hire someone who does. However, the option should never be not to do it, even though that is seemingly one option. There is plenty of information available online, and there are plenty of people who can get you going if you are not willing to do it yourself.

The concept is simple. You sign up for an autoresponder service. This is a service that manages the emails for you as well as provides you with the forms and other great features that help you in your email campaigns. The services are getting more sophisticated all the time. However, the more features they add, the more complicated the service becomes. The good news is you can use these services for basic functions like having customers sign up and confirm their emails as well as opting out.

Just having an email list is not enough, though. You need to load it with information that your list will find useful. A guideline is to include several emails that don’t contain sales pitches and then every five or six emails can include something sales related. This is known as nurturing your list and is a great way to keep the list members happy. Too many sales pitches are going to get them hitting the opt-out option. Although you can’t eliminate that, you want to avoid that as much as possible.

Is Your Online Business Compliant?

Running an online business can be a lot of fun and can be profitable as well. But it’s important that you make sure you are meeting all compliance requirements with governments. Many website owners ignore this at their peril.

If you capture emails of potential customers, in many countries, you are required to disclose what you intend to do with those emails. You need to let these customers know if you intend to sell their emails or any other plan you have for them. It is common to include this in your website’s privacy policy.

If you include testimonials, make sure that they are real. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on companies and websites that are fabricating testimonials. This should be com-mon sense but make sure you get people who have actually used your product and are giving genuine feedback about it. Also, be aware that if you pay for these testimonials or give your product away for free in ex-change for a testimonial, this fact must be disclosed as well.

If your business includes affiliate sales and you provide reviews of affiliate products you are selling, you must disclose that you have an affiliate relationship that may result in commissions generated. The FTC wants to make sure your potential customers understand your reviews may be biased based on the fact that you are receiving commissions.

It’s not the worst idea to run your policies by a lawyer who is familiar with compliance law. The internet is accessed by many people around the world. This complicates the scenario as you need to make sure you are compliant not only in your country but everywhere else your website may be viewed. Many countries are trying to implement similar rules but you simply never know when one falls outside those rules. Failure to comply can at best get you a warning and at worst levy steep fines for your business. Those fines will likely be more than any amount a lawyer would charge to help ensure compliance.

Of course, there are plenty of tricksters and charlatans who will use scare tactics to try and get you to purchase products and services that will help you keep compliant. If you have a budget for this, you will be better served to pay a lawyer as the solution will be specific to your business. Don’t leave it to chance. You may put your business at risk if you do.

Learn from Your Online Business Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of being human. The biggest failure when you do make mistakes is not to learn from them. Some people get so overwhelmed from their mistakes that it paralyzes them. Instead, using those mistakes as a basis to not repeat them will help your business grow.

Having said this, you should try to avoid mistakes whenever you can, especially if you have made them in the past. It’s amazing how many people will continue creating situations that they have to later try and rectify, especially when they know it didn’t work out in the past. Insanity is defined as doing the same things over with different expectations for the results.

If you want some guidelines on how to either avoid mistakes or learn from them, the first is to keep a journal. Whenever you come across a situation, record it in the journal along with any steps you took. Also, take note of whether you viewed it as successful or not. When time passes, we may run into those situations again and not remember it. The act of writing something down will help you remember it in the future. Besides, you will have a roadmap of steps to take or avoid should you not remember the circumstance.

Another way to deal with mistakes or potential ones is to seek the advice of trustworthy colleagues and friends. If you know someone who has dealt with a similar situation, consult with them about what steps they took to deal with it. If you find their advice helpful, consider doing something in exchange for that advice. Perhaps you can give them something relevant from your business, or you can refer business to them in the future.

The types of mistakes you want to avoid are ones which can get you in le-gal trouble. If you are unsure of taking some action, don’t hesitate to consult with an attorney on the subject. Seek one who is qualified in the area of law that deals with the situation.

In most cases, there is no avoiding making mistakes completely, so don’t beat yourself up too much when you do. It’s important to recognize that you have made them and take ownership of them. Passing the blame onto others is going to make the situations worse and is going to upset the people you are blaming. Owning up to your mistakes will keep the integrity of your business intact and will help you to sleep better at night.

Want to Quadruple Your Workload? Don’t Backup Your Data

If someone took away your main workstation tomorrow, how much would this cripple your online business? If you are like most who run your business online, you’d probably say that number is close to 100%. This is exactly what may happen if you don’t backup your data.

It’s incredibly easy and cheap to perform backups these days. You can even do it online using cloud-based services. They can even be done automatically, too. Many businesses ignore doing it, often with dire consequences.

If you transact most of your business online, it means that you are using your computer for a good portion of your business tasks. You probably rely on emails for your contact database, and you save a fair amount of information on your local drive. Maybe you have some of your information stored on some cloud-based service, but you still keep a fair amount locally.

Even if a large portion of your data is stored on the cloud, you should not rely on the service you are using completely. There have been plenty of instances of failures with those cloud services which can leave your business vulnerable. You hope they are backing things up, and you hope they are storing those backups offsite, but you can never tell. If you wait until there is a problem to find out, it’s probably too late at that point.

If you store a good portion on your local drive, maybe you believe that you can use a data recovery service. Be aware that these services are very expensive, and there is absolutely no guarantee of getting your data back. You pay whether or not they can retrieve your information. Most people make the mistake of trying to recover the information themselves before seeking out the services of data recovery companies. They usually do more harm than good and make it impossible for any recovery of data.

There is absolutely no reason to not backup your information or data. The technology is quite cheap and easy to set up. Most solutions are set-it-and-forget-it. If you are technologically inept, hire someone who can help set it up for you. There are even online services that will back up your in-formation. When deciding on such a company, get references and do some research to make sure they are reliable companies. Ask them about the procedures they use for backing up as well as restoring and ask about offsite storage.

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