Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Online Business

Corey Bray
by Corey Bray 19 Aug, 2016

:: How Can You Be in the Elite 10% of Online Businesses That Succeed? ::

With flexible hours, the ability to work anywhere in the world with a Wi-Fi connection, and having a sense of pride in your own business, starting an online business is the dream of many. However, according to many sources, approximately 90% of all Internet business start-ups end in failure within the first 120 days. There is a minefield that entrepreneurs must navigate to succeed. 

How can your business end up in that elite 10% that are successful? 

Start a Business You Enjoy

One of the best reason to start your own online business is because you are passionate about the product or service that you are offering. Online businesses require your dedication and commitment, even when profits aren't high, it is important to stay invested. You may find that there is more competition than you anticipate, and becoming profitable is always harder than you think. If you do not have enthusiasm for the business you choose, then the learning process will seem like homework. Your business will stall because it will be harder to put effort into the business. For example, if you are selling plumbing parts online but don't really care about the products or industry, it will show in your customer service, quality control, and many other areas.

Define Your Target Audience and Their Personas

It is extremely important that you ask yourself who your ideal customer is. Your initial answer may be "everyone," but that is not true. Not every business is going to fulfill the needs of every consumer. Your objective is to find who can best use your online business, and see how you can meet their needs. By not defining your target audience, you miss the opportunity to find ways to market directly to them. Your online business will perform better against larger companies if you find a way to target a niche audience.  

Develop a list of attributes based on customer behavior patterns, demographics, motivations, and goals. The semi-fictional representation of each person is a persona. Personas will help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.

Take Care of the Legal Stuff First

Some online businesses skimp on the legal issues regarding their practices. Every step of your business may require an applicable legal document. For instance, if you are looking into what type of corporation you want to file, you can't skip the incorporation process, which is a common mistake made by small businesses. If you want to form a LLC, then you will need an LLC operating agreement.

Other legal mistakes an online business may make can include failing to outline what duties a company partner will have and what rights to the business they may have. Do not make the mistake of thinking that since your partners or lenders are your friends or family, you do not need formal documentation.

Optimize Your Website for Success

Many first-time online business owners  do not optimize their websites for consumers, which costs them sales. Consumers want a website to load fast-47% of consumers expect a website to load in two seconds or less. If your website is too slow to load, no matter how good your service or product may be, your customers will click away. Your business website also needs a call to action (CTA)  on every page. A call to action is a message to the consumer to take action immediately, such as "Subscribe to our email list" or "Find out more." 

The Internet has created unprecedented opportunities for individuals to start their own businesses. If you have an idea for a business, go for it! Launch your website and immerse yourself in best practices. Get to know your competitors, research your industry, and create a business plan that gives you a roadmap to sustained growth. Keep in mind that learning what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. 

What are some of your business best practices? Tell us in the comments below!

Corey Bray is the CEO and Founder of LegalNature. A serial entrepreneur, Corey has successfully exited several startups and is currently focused on revolutionizing the business document industry.