Everyone makes mistakes. Especially in online business. But business mistakes are part of learning and you can always find the benefit in each mistake if you look long enough. Think about where you are now and compare to when you first started. Or if you are just getting started now, think about the future and visualize how your priorities might be different from what they are now.
What is important is that you look ahead and try to avoid those costly mistakes. Yes, you will still make mistakes, but hopefully not these.
Here are four big banana peels you need to step around when starting a business online.
Business Mistake #1: Quitting Your Day Job Too Soon
When I first started selling educational materials, I had a full time job. I still do because I love what I do. My friend had asked me why I didn’t sell my math activities online. I remember saying “why would anyone buy online”?
But that idea stayed with me and I began researching ways to sell my products online to teachers and homeschool moms. It was several years later before I actually posted my first product. But that first month I earned $19.80.
That was the most exciting $19.80 I’ve every earned.
I know other teachers get started posting their resources and immediately decide to quit their day job. Their decision, but if you are expecting to replace your current income in a few weeks, you may be in for a disappointment.
Online sales has a lot of competition and even if your products are great, you have all the skills of creating and promoting and lots of support–it takes some time to develop a following. It takes time to develop that consistent revenue.
You just have to be prepared for the long-haul going in. Because a real, lasting business takes time to build. Accept that fact and you’ll be much better prepared. If you are working outside the home and have the urge to start an online business, take some time to plan out the future.
How long will it take you to replace your current income if you need to do that. How many products you will need to create and sell on a regular basis to sustain your business.
Business Mistake #2: Trying To Do Everything Yourself
When you are first starting out, you almost need to do things yourself to learn the skills needed and to keep expenses low. But, there are only so many hours in a day and you just can’t do everything yourself!
I like creating products so my focus is there. I have someone who takes care of all my routine website maintenance like backups, updates and server issues.
I used Fiverr to find someone to create my intros for videos I create– I don’t have the skills to create a professional look. I also used Fiverr to create a logo and some coloring pages.
I have hired a website designed to update my teaching website but when I started CreativePLR, I did it myself. Yes, I used the design ideas of the other website so I had a starting point.
I use platforms like TAILWIND to schedule my Pinterest and Instagram posts (actually I do it once a month and it takes a an hour). I use Missinglettr to schedule my blog posts. Each blog post is scheduled to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter–9 – 15 times (either over a year, 2 months, 2 weeks) automatically. It takes about 15 minutes a week to schedule those.
I use Canva to make mockups, covers, social media posts, Pinterest Pins and some videos that showcase products.
I have hired people to proofread and check my math resources—that is a little more difficult to find qualified people to do so that is sporadic. So far I have resisted the urge to get a virtual assistant but that time may come.
Business Mistake #3: Not Building a List
This is a real business killer. In any business, whether it is online or brick and mortar, it is challenging to find new leads. It takes time and money in most cases. And it is a huge business mistake to put your efforts depending on other platforms.
When you do not have a list, you are at the mercy of ETSY, Shopify, Amazon, or even Teachers Pay Teachers. Those platforms could change or even close and your business would be gone. There have been 3 different platforms I was using to sell educational materials that are now gone. Had I not diversified, my income would have been impacted.
So when you do find a lead, you need to do everything you can to make sure you can reach them again. Get their contact info, especially their email address.
I use Convertkit. They store the email address, send emails and let me broadcast to my list when I have special offers or info to share.
An email list is one of the most valuable assets you can have for your online business. It allows you to stay in touch with your community , and help them solve problems.
Yet, so many businesses make the mistake of not building an email list from the start. They focus on generating traffic but don’t bother capturing those leads into an email list.
It is one of the things I regret about my educational resources. I never thought to create an email list or expand my customer base. As a result, my store continues to sell products but has not grown as much as it could have. Just like a garden a business will not grow unless tended.
Business Mistake #4: Failing To Adapt
There are a lot of choices that business owners make each day. And a lot of learning. Things that we cannot foresee will happen and we have to be prepared to adapt to different situations. I have a saying “When you spend so much time worrying about one thing, something else will come along and bite you in the rear”.
This past year the weather has been–well, unpredictable. It has not been uncommon to hear of power outages. And if your business depends on the internet, you are stuck. Yes, it’s a business mistake but not one that is in your control.
But even if your power is out, you can still use your device(for a while) to make products, organize your office, make a list of ideas, make a content calendar and social media posts. Work around the problems and do not let this stop you from making progress.
And if the power is out for days–take a long nap and do some knitting. I would say get out and take a drive but if your garage door needs power like mine, you may be stuck. But, you can get out and take a walk.
So I try not to focus on any one thing and worry about it.
Last year, I decided to try a new hosting company for this website. They could not communicate very well (and I got frustrated). They advised me I needed a certain type of hosting–this turned out to be false. Then they said I needed upgraded hosting, then a different program, then something else.
There was one problem after another and I finally moved on. I spent weeks trying to make something work that just was taking too much of my time. It is OK, to just change when you need to. Since I am stubborn, I spend weeks being unproductive when I should have cut my losses and moved on earlier.
A couple of friends shared that PayPal had blocked their account. For weeks one friend argued–it still took weeks to resolve–but had to shift to other payment processors to keep business going while PayPal held their money during the dispute. What I learned from that was to use more than one payment system.
Another friend had his email responder block their account because it had been flagged as spam. This prevented emails from going out to announce new products and affiliate offers which cut into his income. While waiting for resolution, he found a new email responder and moved part of his list. This is one reason I use a different email responder for my teaching resources. It is like having a back up ready.
I have made every one of these mistakes and I keep on making progress. I am sure along the way I will make more mistakes because that is how people learn and grow. They look at what went wrong and find a solution so the mistake is not repeated. Which mistake can you identify with? How have you overcome problems that have caused others to quit?
I would love to hear your list of mistakes. Drop me a line at email@example.com so I can learn from you.
Interested in more tips for your business? Check out this blog post on 8 MINDSET MISTAKES THAT AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS.