The COVID-19 virus and ensuing global repercussions have many people rethinking their employment options. Some aspiring entrepreneurs are turning this challenge time into an opportunity by starting an online business.
While starting an online business is a viable way to build a successful career, it’s a difficult path. Learn from those who went before you by avoiding these common mistakes.
Not Having a Business Plan
Never underestimate the power of a business plan. Many entrepreneurs start a business without a proper plan outlined about their offerings, pricing strategy, customer acquisition efforts, and how they’ll fund the project.
Obviously, when you’re starting a freelancing business or something with minimal overhead costs to get started, you likely don’t need to outline how you’ll secure a loan. However, this document is an opportunity to brainstorm and clarify who your ideal customer is, and how you’ll reach them. In other words, how you’ll make money.
Not Setting Goals
Setting actionable goals creates a destination to aim toward when starting an online business. Not all business goals have to be financially driven either.
In the early days of your business, your goal could be to cold call five potential clients per day, or develop a social media content calendar.
The key is to set goals and accomplish tasks rather than fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best.
Not Having the Right Tools
Having the right tools can make a significant impact on the success of your online business. For example, having what you need to send a Windows fax with a client contract or proposal, or securing a reliable internet connection.
When you start your business, outline the processes that you could use help with, such as editing or sharing project updates with customers. Then, conduct research to determine which tools can help solve this problem.
Asking Without Giving
Too many new businesses push for sales without proving their value. Consider a personal trainer, for example. It takes more than sharing a few fitness-related social media posts online to prove that their services are worth the expense. Hosting some free virtual workouts, however, can show potential clients why they should pay.
As a business, you shouldn’t give away everything for free. However, 80% of your content should be giving in nature to prove your value, while only 20% should be blatantly sales-oriented.
Thinking About Overnight Success
Social media influencers and people trying to sell you business coaching tend to make it seem like starting an online business is an overnight ticket to six figures. The truth is, it can take years to build a profitable business, and reaching that level of success takes time, dedication, and more than a little luck.
If your goal is to become an overnight success, pack it in now. If you want to build a sustainable business that supports you over the next few years, proceed.
Pricing Too Low
Another common mistake with starting an online business is undervaluing your work or trying to undercut the competition. When you price yourself too low, you attract the worst sort of
customers. These are the customers who have unrealistically high expectations and will never truly value the efforts you make.
Do some market research (ideally as a part of your business plan) to determine what similar businesses are setting their prices at. Consider the value of your time and your ideal customer. Then, use these factors to set a price point that’s attractive, without being too low.
Handling Everything Yourself
Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Measure your opportunity cost when starting your business and outsource accordingly.
Consider whether spending 16 hours setting up a website is a valuable use of your time when you could be out finding new customers. Decide if you are really going to create and post social media content every day, or if you might get distracted.
When in doubt, outsource to someone reliable to take actionable steps and get things done in your business.
With these tips, you can start an online business that lets you work from anywhere.