An eBusiness can give you a great deal of satisfaction and bring in good profits – if you do it right. Do it wrong, and your investment money and hard work could all be for nothing. Give your eBusiness the best chance of success; don’t make these 5 common mistakes!
Mistake #1: Fail To Plan
Planning is definitely not the most exciting part of starting a new eBusiness. Most of us want to jump in and get started designing an online storefront and listing products, then watch the money roll in! Unfortunately, this is a mistake new eBusiness owners often make.
Just as with starting any new business venture, planning is critical. Why? You have a limited amount of time and money. You’re going to get the most return on investment if you have clearly defined goals and a direction. For example, say you want to start a new eBusiness selling pet items. Do you want to specialize or offer general products? Who do you see as your main customer? What makes you different from the thousands of other pet product eBusinesses? If you dive in now and sort it out later, you’re spending valuable resources figuring out what doesn’t work. If you plan it out by studying the market and researching products and suppliers, you can channel that time and money directly towards your goal.
Mistake #2: Fail To Budget
A budget is, of course, your financial plan, and it’s important for the same reasons planning is essential. Remember, your eventual profits are going to depend not on how many items you sell, but rather on how much you sell relative to how much you spend. Getting an item wholesale at a low price and marking it up for retail is great, but don’t forget the “back end” costs like shipping, taxes, and home office expenses such as Internet service and phone. There could also be ecommerce transaction fees (think PayPal fees, for example) or a listing fee per item, depending on the website you use for your eBusiness. Also, do you have funds set aside for both online and print advertising? What about health insurance or an employee to take over if you fall ill? As your own employer, you have to consider these things. Without a clear idea of expenses and a plan to handle them, you could quickly end up in debt.
Mistake #3: Take On Too Much At Once
Even with a good plan and budget, there’s going to be trial-and-error learning in any eBusiness. Doing a complete, full-on launch isn’t a bad idea in and of itself, but it does make it difficult to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. If initial sales aren’t good, is it the product? Is the marketing weak? Maybe the website design is turning customers away. For example, if you market your new eBusiness via television, newspaper, 12 places online, as well as hire an SEO expert for your website, it can be difficult to determine which approach is bringing in the most customers. Some aspects of an eBusiness launch have to happen simultaneously, but it’s a wise practice to add one thing at time whenever possible so you can see how each strategy performs.
Mistake #4: Ignore Marketing Opportunities
Many people make the mistake of thinking they can launch a successful eBusiness without advertising. You can’t. One of the great things about an eBusiness is that the Internet exposes your product to significantly more people than a brick-and-mortar business ever could. Marketing is absolutely essential to getting your product or service in front of potential customers.
There are literally thousands of different ways to market your eBusiness. Do not make the mistake of choosing just one! Just because your business operates online doesn’t mean that print advertising is obsolete. Just because your eBusiness reaches international customers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t showcase your products at a local trunk show (assuming you do your own fulfillment of course). Going to a big event like a party or a business seminar? Arriving without a business card is a missed opportunity to convert a contact into a customer.
Mistake #5: Do It All Yourself
Part of the draw of starting an eBusiness is the illusion that you can do it all yourself with just a computer and some accounting software. This is one of the biggest mistakes a novice eBusiness owner can make. The fact is, running an eBusiness online is still running a business. You simply cannot handle all aspects alone.
Nor should you. Burnout is a very real problem with eBusiness owners. Spending hours locked in your home office can also lead to depression and social isolation. In addition, attempting to tackle things that are not your area of expertise, say writing sales copy for your products or doing your own SEO, can waste your time and energy without getting the results you want. So, as part of your business plan, plan on support. Reach out to family and friends for emotional and social health, have a list of business people who you can call and ask for advice. Also create a list of dependable freelancers, online contractors, and local people you can hire to help with shipping.
Starting an eBusiness in today’s global marketplace is indeed very exciting. And thanks to a wealth of Internet tools and ready-made website, ecommerce, and marketing packages it is easier than ever to get started. Avoid these common mistakes and you’ll greatly improve your chances of success.