Running a business online opens up a multitude of possibilities and benefits. It can give many people the chance to be their own boss which they may never have had without the internet and its almost infinite resources. It alleviates the need to rent business space if you are running a small business from home. It can also give an income to someone who has difficulty in working full time due to disability, sickness or other responsibilities such as young children.
Assuming that your business is all done online and there is no land based shop or business establishment then regardless of what business you are operating, there are some common mistakes that should be avoided when starting up.
The main reason you are building an online business is to make a profit and provide yourself with an income. If you employ staff then you will need to create sufficient cash flow to pay them as well as yourself. Budgeting at the beginning is vital. It is likely that you could run out of money before you start to turn a profit so knowing how much you have to work with is a must.
No business strategy
Although a small online business doesn’t necessarily need a formal business plan it does need a plan of attack. You must have some focus on where you want to be heading and defining your business strategy at the beginning is vital. Setting goals etc is important at this early stage.
Bad company name
This might not seem such a problem but just think, whatever you name you choose for your company is the one you will likely be stuck with forever. Not only that but names are evocative and can attract people or put them off. Take the title Gary’s Sports Shop. This might work very well for a brick and mortar shop in a small town. It could mean a shop that feels welcoming and local, plus Gary may be a trusted member of the local community. Online however it will sink into oblivion and something snappier and unique would work far better.
Bad domain name
This follows from the bad name. Ideally your website domain name would be slightly descriptive and would include your company name. You want it short enough that people can remember it but not completely irrelevant.
Bad hosting packages
For your online business to run smoothly you will want the best hosting you can get within your budget. Common problems with poor hosting would be poor customer service, slow hosting and sharing servers with toxic websites. If your servers are slow then you can lose visitors and drop down the rankings. If your hosting provider also allows illegal, pornographic or gambling sites on their servers then this can affect your site too.
Look on Google for reviews for quality website hosts and read up on the options before choosing your hosting package. You can visit FortuneLords if you are after a hosting package in Canada or North America and there are many packages to choose from.
Other hosting problems may be that you haven’t allowed for enough bandwidth or storage space. Make sure your package can be upgraded if you start to receive high levels of traffic. Also see how the customer response times are. Some hosts provide excellent customer service and others can be poor and slow. If your website is suffering from technical difficulties you will be reliant on the hosts to fix them before you lose visitors. Do not overlook how important small business hosting is.
Lack of social media or too much
Social media is very important to a small business. It can be used as a very effective tool for marketing and driving traffic to your website and to sales landing pages. You can interact with customers instantly and directly to improve your business and swiftly deal with any problems. However for all its undoubtable benefits it can also cause problems.
When you first start your online business it is unlikely that you will be employing someone to overlook all your social media content so this means it will likely fall to you to do so. If you ignore this important area then you can leave customers and their feedback hanging on your Facebook or Twitter feeds unreplied to. On the other hand if you spend too much time online then you could easily be neglecting other areas of your business. Set times each day when you will listen to feedback and take notes for improvement and then post updates. If you have more urgent matters then leave the social media until they are resolved.
Not hiring the correct staff
Although it is tempting to believe you can run everything yourself there are only a certain number of hours in a day. Overstretch yourself and those dreams of being your own boss and working from home or your own office will become a grind.
As the business starts to work look at what areas can be managed by employing some extra labour. Hiring the right person could take all the admin, social media responsibilities and other daily chores off your hands to concentrate on core areas of your business. Getting the right staff at the beginning will make a huge difference down the line.
Increasing expectations of customers
Making promises that you know you cannot keep such as delivery times will lead to a breakdown in trust. What you are looking to do is build brand loyalty and with that comes repeat custom and word of mouth recommendations. Be honest in what you can provide by way of service and products.
Pricing the products incorrectly
You may worry that your products are overpriced but they need to turn a profit. Look at all your overheads, utilities, wages etc and price the items so that you make a return. There is no point in having a popular online shop with great hosting that makes a loss on everything it sells.
These are just some of the things that people can make mistakes with when building an online business. Your website should have good appropriate content that is SEO friendly. The social media advertising should target your demographic effectively and be within budget and your website should be user friendly and attractive.