Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Online Business

A common mistake people make when attempting to follow a recipe is changing some of the ingredients. When you change your input, your output will change as well. Most times it is not always a desirable change. Avoid the following 10 mistakes when you start your online business and your path to success will be fast and frustration-free.

1. Winging It

You absolutely must have a business plan before launching online. Until you have done your research, developed a budget, studied similar Internet businesses and created a plan, you need to put off starting your business. Otherwise you are simply taking a stab in the dark, with a lottery ticket mentality to succeeding in business.

2. Going Too Broad

Don’t try to be everywhere at once. There are simply too many places to “be” online. Aim for marking out your territory at those places online that make the most sense for your business.

3. Going Too Narrow

Targeting a niche that’s narrow, yet deep is the ideal scenario for an online business. Such communities tend to be passionate about interests. However, don’t go so narrow that there are only 10 people interested in your product or service!

4. Not Tracking and Testing

There are free and low-cost applications, software packages, and virtual employees that can test, track and tweak every aspect of your online presence and marketing efforts. Take advantage of this virtual ability to test, record, monitor and change your online business growth. What gets measured gets improved.

5. Falling Prey to “Shiny Object Syndrome”

It’s okay to check out new technology, applications and ideas. But if you are constantly hopping on board the “next big thing”, your lack of focus will only deliver scattered results.

6. Becoming Allergic to Change

When you test and track your efforts online, you may see that you need to change some aspect of your Internet business. Change is simple, quick and usually inexpensive on the web. Don’t be afraid of heading in a particular direction if all the data shows you should be doing exactly that.

7. Micromanaging

Virtual assistants, offshore freelancers, programmers, writers, advertisers and web developers – these can all be crucial parts of a successful online business. The more you can delegate aspects of your operation to people who are experts in those areas, the more successful you will be. Once you have given them the basic information and guidelines they need, let them do what they do best while you focus on other parts of your business.

8. Waiting Too Long Before Launching a Service or Product

You might be told you need 1,000 followers or 10,000 people on your email list before you should take some particular action. On a shoestring budget you want to be profitable as quickly as possible. Don’t wait to present your offer to the world. As soon as you have established an Internet presence, get it out there.

9. Quitting Your “Real Job” Too Early

You may find success early with your online business. That is great. That is the “perfect storm” scenario you were looking for. However, the Internet changes rapidly. Your business could as well. Hang on to your regular job until your virtual business replaces your current income for an extended period of time.

10. Not Getting Started!

Stop waiting. Do your research, develop a plan and then get started. Once you have the information you need, present your service, product or offer to the global community today rather than tomorrow.

Starting Your Online Business and Understanding Your Competition

You have to know everything about your competition to make money online. Otherwise, starting an online business is nothing more than depending on luck for success. The low-cost business and worldwide reach of the web, although great reasons for starting a business online, will almost certainly level the playing field between you and your competitor. Fortunately, the same Internet qualities that give you a global business reach also make it easy to spy on your competition.

How to Research Your Competitors

First, you have to find out who your competition is! This is easily done. If you want to sell blue extra-large widgets, type “blue extra-large widgets” into Google. What do you see? You’re looking at the search results for web pages that contain the words “blue extra-large widgets”. Spend some time looking through the results.

Many of the results will lead you to your competitors’ websites. Make a list of these businesses and then individually type those names into Google for more in-depth information. You should join the email lists of your top competitors, because there is no better way to know exactly how they are marketing their services online than to receive the information firsthand into your inbox on a regular basis

What Are Your Competitors Doing on Social Media?

Now that you have located your competition, look for evidence of social media marketing on their websites. Find links to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and other top social media sites. Click through those links and see exactly how your competition is marketing their business.

Check for the number of followers each business has. Those competitors who have developed the biggest social media presence bear watching for good online business tips and practices. Are they buying Facebook ads? Do they attempt to sell directly through their social media pages, or do they build relationships first? What time of the day do they publish posts and updates? You can quickly earn an advanced degree in successful web business operation just by observing what works for your competitors.

Go Mobile to Monitor Your Competitors

Bing Finance and Google Alerts will deliver notifications to your mobile device every time a particular company or business name is mentioned. Type the names of your competitors into each application and receive free updates on their activity direct to your mobile.

Glassdoor and Feedly RSS Reader are two other sites that secretly spy on your competition and keep you informed. So when you are out and about, you are updated in real-time as to exactly what your competitors are doing online.

Finally, recent changes in the Google algorithm will penalize a site that isn’t properly optimized for mobile, as it delivers a poor customer experience to mobile users. Check to see if your competitors are optimizing for mobile, and make sure that you optimize your own site accordingly.

Project Management for Your Online Business

Managing your business can be difficult online or off. There are so many things to keep in mind. Start up costs, maintenance, employees, virtual assistants, writers and product launches are just a few of the many concerns for an Internet business owner. Fortunately, there are a lot of free and low-cost project management solutions for online businesses that start on a shoestring budget. The following resources are versatile project management tools for any online business owner.

Basecamp

This is a simple and easy to use project management tool. Its dashboard features a designated discussion area where you can communicate with team members. A copy and paste capability makes file transfer quick and easy. Daily email recaps are automatically sent to everyone on your Basecamp team. This way, everyone knows what deadlines are approaching and what tasks have already been accomplished. Basecamp offers free and low-cost options, and is perfectly suited for micro-sized online businesses as well as larger ones.

Asana

Asana provides one of the most popular project management applications you will find on the web. Users can handle all their contacts, tasks and business plans in one place. It is also free for up to 15 users. That means you can add 14 freelancers, employees and outsourcers to your Asana team and makes it great for real-time interaction. Asana’s other features allow prioritization of tasks, easy goal visualization, and a calendar function that allows you to graph team tasks and assignments.

Smartsheet

This company introduces its product as the perfect Asana alternative. Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-based project management tool that comes with a 30 day free trial without registering your credit card. Spreadsheet allows users to collaborate on tasks, assignments and files, and manage projects of any size, from basic to enterprise level.

Producteev

With this project management resource, you receive access to unlimited projects and users absolutely free. If you need Outlook integration, a logo customization or personalized support, there is a paid upgrade option. Real-time communication, task assignment and follow-up, progress tracking and email integration are all valuable benefits of this user-friendly resource for managing your business.

Trello

Cash-strapped online business startups love Trello. When you first start a virtual business, you probably don’t have a lot of project management needs. Trello is perfect in that situation. It is a totally free tool based on a project management method called Kanban. Virtual task cards are moved by team members to represent where a project, task or assignment is in development. Trello is a very user-friendly, simple and streamlined management tool.

How Do You Know If You Have a Good Idea for a Business?

Do you have an idea for an online business? Great. Because the power of the Internet allows you to reach literally every corner of the globe inexpensively. Even so, how do you know if your business will be successful? Unfortunately, most businesses barely make it two years before failing.

You need to do your research before rushing into an online start-up. It is true that you can start and manage an online business with a limited budget. However, even shoestring budgets need to be protected. Take the following steps before you launch an Internet biz and you drastically improve your odds of success.

Understand How the Web Makes You Money

You need to see if your service or product can use one of the proven web models for making money. Shoe stores are viable brick-and-mortar businesses. On the contrary, shoes do not always sell as well on the web. People have to physically try on shoes to make sure they fit. So you need to see if your business idea can fit one of the following methods for proven profit generation on the web:

• Selling information
• Selling online services
• Reselling another company’s products (retail and drop ship)
• Referring people to make a purchase somewhere else and receiving a commission (affiliate marketing)
• Selling your own products online (for shipping or download)

See if There Is a Viable Market Online

If there is someone already selling a product or service similar to your offer online, you may think that is a bad thing. The opposite is true. Research the web for businesses similar to yours. Then see if they are spending money on advertising and marketing. A business that knows what it’s doing won’t throw good money after bad, so a continued advertising campaign shows that a business is making money with the goods or services it is advertising. This is a positive indication that the business may be a profitable one for you to enter.

Do Smart Keyword Research

Google claims 75% to 85% of all desktop and mobile web searches, so we will start our keyword research there. Type “buy ____ online” and “online ____ business” into Google. Fill in the blank with the name of your product, service or offer. Use other variations of keywords and phrases related to the business you want to start. You want to see thousands, or even millions, of search results. Multiple advertisements by different companies also reveal you have a good idea for a potentially successful web business.

Figure Your Costs

How much does it cost to build a website? How are you going to get traffic, through generic or paid channels? What is your product fulfillment process? How much will that cost you? You need to understand your start-up and management costs for running an online business to find out if it is a smart or financially disastrous idea.

5 Things You Should Know When Starting Your Own Online Business

Are you wondering if you should be starting your own online business? If you want to create an Internet business but have a limited budget, consider the following benefits of selling services and products online:

1. It Doesn’t Take a Lot Of Money to Get Started

You can develop a serious Internet presence for very little money, as monthly management costs are negligible. As a matter of fact, you can easily get started for a couple of hundred dollars in many cases, and under $1,000 in almost every instance.

2. It’s Easy to Test Your Marketing and Advertising Efforts

In the “real world” it is sometimes difficult and expensive to run, track and tweak advertising and marketing campaigns. This is not the case when doing business online.

There is plenty of free and low-cost software that effortlessly tracks your advertising campaigns for you. What happens when you discover you need to head in another direction with your advertising? The answer is …

3. You Can Change Your Online Business Quickly

Don’t like the return from a particular marketing campaign? You can change your approach in a flash. Do you think perhaps your business logo is cheesy-looking? You can have a new one up across all your Internet business platforms in a couple of days.

One of the great benefits of running an online business is speed of change. No matter what your intent, making changes to your business online is lightning-fast, even on a shoestring budget.

4. Your Current Skill Set Does and Does Not Matter

Do you have experience running brick-and-mortar businesses? If you do, that’s great. The same skills you need to run a “real world” company translate perfectly to the World Wide Web. More importantly, you can start and grow a successful Internet operation even if you have never run a business before.

If you don’t have a particular skill set or business ability, there are free and low-cost answers on the web. There are programs, applications, freelancers and virtual assistants available to meet every one of your business needs.

5. It’s Simple to Scale Up

When you discover what is working for your online business, you can ramp things up very quickly … and inexpensively. In a real-world situation, you may have to build or rent new offices or rent real estate and other facilities. That is expensive and takes time. On the Internet, scaling up is quick, easy, and possible even on a very low budget.