Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do. Here are arguably the 7 worst ways to start a business. Avoid these and you’re already ahead of the pack.
Mistake 1: Not using your own hosting
In the early stages of your online career, it might be tempting to set up a test blog using Blogger or some other free hosting service, so you can experiment before jumping in completely.
Trouble is, that never works out well. People will see your site as unprofessional because running an internet business from a domain like yourname.blogspot.com is about as professional as selling things from the back of a truck.
By not taking yourself seriously, you guarantee no one else will either and doom your website to failure.
Go to the right place, and buying your own domain and web hosting isn’t complicated or expensive.
You can buy a domain name for around $12 a year and get decent hosting for $10 – $20 a month (my web host of choice is Media Temple).
Mistake 2: Starting without a plan
Success means getting to a certain point – but if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
That’s why you need a plan.
It’s ok to change your mind along the way if you see your original idea needs refining, but starting without a plan and waiting to see what happens is just a waste of time.
Before you begin, have a good idea of what your website will be about and how you want to generate an income from it.
Mistake 3: Teaching something you haven’t yet learned
It’s amazing how many blogs about traffic generation get nine visits a month or how many sites about making money online earned $4.83 last month.
When people start blogs on subjects like these when they have no prior experience of the subject, it’s usually because they think – or have been told – that’s where the money is. But it’s guaranteed to end in tears because they lack the credibility needed to grow a following and a business.
Focus on a subject you know about and write for your reader – not your wallet. As word gets around about your expertise, the money will follow.
Don’t think you’re expert enough on any subject? Take a look at how to turn your current job into an online income.
Mistake: 4: Expecting to work 4 hours a week
One of the best things about running your own business online is that you can work at times that suit you and the rest of your life. With some nifty time planning, you can run a website in-between looking after the kids or a full-time job.
But some people confuse not working 9-5 with just not working.
On this blog, I try to show you the shortcuts to getting results quicker by working smarter – but you still have to put the hours in.
Remember the 4-Hour Workweek is just the eye-catching title of a great book – don’t take it too literally.
Note: If you’re working full-time and can’t spend more than a few hours a week on your new web business, that’s fine. I’m only talking about the misconception that if you had all the time you wanted, you’d still only work four hours and spend the rest of time watching Curb Your Enthusiasm reruns or trying to get your laptop to work on the beach.
Mistake 5: Looking for a magic button to press
There is no shortage of self-titled gurus who can tell you the secret of instant internet millionairedom – and all it costs is $47.
But the people who actually part with the $47 overlook three things.
1. There is no single secret to success, so no one can sell it to you.
2 If it sounds too good to be true it is.
3. These gurus are not people. They are fine-tuned robo-selling machines who make a living by selling $47 ebooks to folks looking for an easy way to make money that in reality doesn’t exist.
Save your money, learn from the free resources on the web, and put your new knowledge into action.
Mistake 6: Not spending enough time on the content
The single most important factor in your success – or otherwise – is your content.
Quality content draws visitors to your site, allowing you to make money through advertising or affiliate sales, or generate leads for a consultancy business or, in the case of an ebook or elearning course, becomes a product you can sell.
Marketing and promotion are important too, but no amount of marketing can turn bad content into a money-making enterprise.
Say something interesting and in your own voice and you are already ahead of 90% of everyone who starts an online business.
Mistake 7: Never getting started
You shouldn’t jump into a web business without learning something about it.
But sooner or later it’s time to stop reading and get going. If you wait until you “know everything” you’ll never start.
The truth is, you don’t need to know everything – you only need to know enough to start.
Caimin Jones blogs about successful online strategies at GeniusStartup.com, is a WordPress developer and author of the beginner’s guide, WordPress Websites Step-by-Step.