Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Online Business

The internet has revolutionized life as we know it, including the business world. In fact, the quantity of online business communication, selling, and marketing that takes place these days is staggering — especially when one considers that none of it existed half a century ago.


While the internet is a promising landscape for practically any business venture at this point, that doesn’t mean that starting an online business is a simple task. It requires planning and is just as open to miscalculations and oversights as any brick-and-mortar enterprise. With that said, here are a few mistakes to avoid the next time you launch an online startup.

Being a Stranger to Your Audience

It’s easy to start a business with an “if you build it, they will come” mentality. But the truth is, most businesses don’t stumble into success that way. They manufacture it through their own research. Critically, part of this comes through knowing your audience. As you set up your business, make sure that you spend time defining what your niche audience is, then researching what they like, dislike, need, and want. What kind of questions are they asking? What are they looking for?


Not Understanding Metrics

Diving into the online world without a thought to analytics is a surefire way to fail. Collecting and analyzing data is a key way that businesses make decisions, especially online. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a room full of analytics experts to monitor your online shop, though. Just make sure you’re comfortable with things like Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, etc. and all of the data that they provide.


Using “Black Hat” Services

When it comes to optimizing your site for search engine traffic, there’s one important thing you need to remember: Black hat SEO is bad for business. The term refers to the concept of using illegal or unethical practices to help boost your site’s search engine rankings. This typically comes in the form of the short-term exploitation of loopholes and blind spots in a search engine’s algorithms.


While it can yield quick results, it ultimately can cripple your operations, as Google can shut down the traffic it sends to your site if it thinks you’re utilizing such practices. Instead, make sure you know the difference between black hat and white hat techniques. Creating quality content with a reasonable number of keywords is a good step in the right direction.


Underutilizing Social Media

Remember, social media is an online business owner’s friend. It allows you to communicate with customers, vet the needs of your audience, and even provide cutting-edge customer service at minimal costs.


If you decide to use it for targeted ads as well, make sure that you choose your budget wisely. For instance, Facebook and Pinterest are great for product sales, while Linkedin is better for brand building. Do your homework before you start allocating funds!


Designing Your Website for You

Even if you’re happy with your website, that’s not enough. You need to make sure that your site’s design is user-centric. That means you’ve organized and designed the site with users in mind, not just yourself. In addition, make sure that everything is tailored to the trends and feel of your niche market and not your own personal preferences.


Avoiding Hiring Professionals

No, we’re not talking about hiring a professional to do it for you and hoping everything will go better. The truth is, hiring employees can be expensive and complicated … traditionally speaking. However, in the modern world, new alternatives to hiring a full-time employee have become available.


Specifically, there’s the option of hiring freelancers. The freelance market gives you access to tried and true experts with real, hands-on experience for a fraction of the price.


If you find you need help with anything from web design to marketing, product design, graphic design, content creation, and so on, consider hiring a freelancer to meet the need. Just make sure they have a solid portfolio of work to help you gauge their skills, strengths, and style.


Being Careless

Don’t assume your site is bulletproof. The rise of the online marketplace has been quickly followed by a rise in cyberthreats as well. Make sure your site is secure, your social media passwords are well thought out, and any and every form, shopping cart, or payment option on your site is backed up by a quality company like PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, or the like.


Going in Without a Plan

Finally, while the online world is certainly very different from a physical business, you still want to make sure you have a winning plan for your e-business from the start. From operations, goals, and vision to nitty-gritty finances, map out your road to success so that you clearly understand the path that you’re trying to follow. Most businesses that succeed don’t do so by pure luck; they have a plan in place from the get-go.


Failing to Temper Your Expectations

Starting a business online isn’t rocket science, but it certainly does require many different steps along the way. However, if you take the time to avoid simple mistakes like these, you’re much more likely to ultimately succeed.

One of the best ways to maintain a cutting edge in the online commerce world is to always be on the lookout to improve yourself. The modern world changes quickly, and your willingness to do your homework, avoid mistakes, and always be learning is an excellent way to set yourself up for the best chance of success.


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