The following is a post by Sara Stringer. If interested in submitting a guest post please read my guest post policy and then contact me.
The start of an online business is a truly thrilling experience, especially if it’s one that is starting from home. From home, you are no longer restricted in what tasks you perform because you are the boss and you call the shots. All the ideas you generate are ones you can freely pursue, so you’re no longer limited in the scope of your work.
Because of the web and its immense amount of available resources, any individual can take an idea, form a plan, and start their online business. This action of starting up is so easy that an individual with enough dedication can have a business asset created within an afternoon.
Due to the speed of the launch, it’s easy to be blindsided by some of the common pitfalls of Webpreneurship; these are detrimental events that take place when you rush into things.
The following are a handful of those deadly pitfalls you’re likely to make if you’re in too much of a rush to launch your online business (along with a strategy to help yourself out of the rut if you find yourself trapped in the situation):
1. Improper Use of Time Management
Time is your most precious commodity as a person because it is finite. Each action you take when working on a business should go toward improving the bottom line. Improper use of your time is what often kills the viability of the business because owners:
- Get too wrapped up into hyped-up ideas
- Do not set goals and the appropriate tasks to reach those milestones
- Allow their to-do list to become overwhelming to the point of paralysis
What you’ll often find is a new Webpreneur taking on too many tasks, which prevents them from completing their product creation or bringing a service to the market. They are too overwhelmed with trying to build a community that they no longer have something tangible to offer them.
Further reading: 15 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My First Company
Be sure to start with something you can sell from the very beginning. Having an item or service to sell will shape all other aspects of your business so you’re not stuck in the pitfall that’s caused from overhyping an idea or the eventual paralysis that comes from not knowing what to deliver the community.
2. Improper Use of Finances
The start of an online business doesn’t require a great deal of up-front capital depending on your location and the scope of the project but once you are operational there are many other expenses that need to be kept in check including:
- Past debts which may prevent you from obtaining loans when you’re in need of an expansion
- Improper tax filing which can bring trouble from the IRS
- The failure to raise enough money to pay for the services of your employees
It would be wise to understand where you stand as far as finances go through credit education since it’s your credit that will give you the most flexibility to expand the business once it takes off. If you need more information in this niche, check out the blog and articles about credit by Lexington Law.
Get a firm grip on your finances and they won’t become the limiting factor in whether or not your business will grow once it starts to see a trickle of success.
3. Improper Use of Marketing Techniques
Online marketing is incredibly different compared to the methods used in the real-world. Your foray with online marketing may rely too closely on what you know from traditional methods which do not translate well onto platforms like social, online video, affiliate programs, or rich media.
“Content is king, but marketing is queen, and runs the household.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Content is easy to produce and will be your main method of gaining traction within your industry because it fuels your social profiles and helps build search engine placement. Outside of this you really need to put an emphasis on the marketing strategies that go along with content and other methods of obtaining clients/customers such as paid advertising, sponsorship, and referrals.
The pitfall comes about when you stretch your attempts too broad (because there are simply so many different marketing techniques to be used). Instead of the many – stick with a few that you know work well for your industry (based on research on competitors) such as blog posting, Facebook advertising, PPC campaigns, or utilizing an affiliate program.
4. Improper Protocol for Customer Service
“45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. (Forrester)”
Customer service will be the defining factor on whether someone follows through with the buying process. The service is also the factor on whether they share their great experience to friends, family, and social followers or trounce your brand for an ill experience leading to muddying your online reputation.
Without some form of protocol and plan of action for your customer service you will prevent making detailed plans how to act and react based on customer feedback and suggestions. Having this plan will aid in retaining customers while squelching negative experiences before they become overblown and destructive to the brand.
Further reading: How to Create a Customer Service Plan
Take it from me as someone who has created a handful of Web-focused businesses throughout the years. It’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in an idea because it sounds “cool” or it simply piques your interest because it feels “fresh”.
If you begin entertaining every idea that passes your way then you’re going to miss the important points that can make or break your business financially, socially, or technically. The point is to slow down and react rather than trying to bull your way through the pitfalls.
Take these items into consideration, take notes, and make plans for their occurrence because they will happen to the novice Webpreneur. It’s the ones’ who know their way out that will continue onward to success while the many others fall into obscurity.