6 Top Online Business Mistakes To Avoid

Updated: May 31, 2018
by Ray Alexander

There are some common online business mistakes to avoid. If you scroll down this page and just skim through the headings, you might say "yeah, pretty obvious". Yet many internet marketers fail to identify these mistakes and waste a lot of time before they get on the right track, or worse still, many of them give up every year.

Online Business Mistakes To Avoid

Because starting an online business is easy, it is possible for anyone to "learn as you build". Just jump right in, start promoting your business using whatever the platform and methods that are available at the time. Blindly in the beginning and gain your knowledge and skill from the experience as you go along. But...

...But if you cannot visualise the future of your business, you cannot visualise your income either. Agree? So the first one of common online business mistakes is about - you guessed it. Planning!

#1 Not Making A Business Plan

Without preparing a plan for your business, you will struggle to keep track of your efforts. If something doesn't turn out as expected, say, bad results from social media campaign, it'll be harder to judge whether it's best to carry on or stop and move on to Plan B (because there is no Plan B!)

Your business plan does not have to be anything elaborate right from the beginning. Firstly clarify a few points such as;

  • What kind of products you're promoting.
  • Who your target audience is going to be.
  • How much time you're willing to invest.
Making a business plan

When these initial points are clear, decide how you're going to work towards them.

  • What kind or marketing channels to implement (website, videos, paid ads, social media).
  • Financial goals - short term (monthly profit), medium term (e.g. by the end of this year), and even longer term if you can.
  • How much money you can invest - website hosting fees, web tools, advertising fees.

It can take a lot of effort and it might sound like a daunting task to you, but with a clear business plan you will definitely grab your first success much quicker.

In order to prepare a plan, you need to do some research and ask experts for help. It's best if you have a mentor whom you can ask to review your plan. In any ways, there's no point in planning blindly all by yourself while you don't have enough experience and going ahead with it -  so that's No. 2 of Online Business Mistakes to avoid!

#2 Not Seeking Help

Good business makers have their own mentor however successful they are. While they continuously help others, they also have people to ask for help and advice. And they're not afraid to ask.

Seeking help in online business

Great thing about working online is to be able to make your own decision. You don't have to involve anyone else if you don't want to. But like anything else in life - you can't do everything on your own. In fact you get less done by trying to do everything yourself. You should always be open to honest & unbiased opinions from others, you should also proactively ask for help. And learn from it - that's most important.

Finding your own mentor or coach can be hard and costly. You can start by joining an online entrepreneurs' community, read articles that inspire you and reach out to the authors who are likely to be successful. Never try to rely on them, but you can ask them for a few tips by telling them your specific problems. Most experts are happy to spare some moments to give you a guidance. If they offer a coaching service to you, it'll be great as long as it's within your budget.

#3 Ignoring Net Profits

This one might sound so straightforward, but as an accountant I've seen so many sole traders who failed this way over many years - online and offline.

When large sums of revenue start to pour in, they tend to be blinded by it, ignoring all the expenses and believe their business is a success.

Profits from Online Business

One man was ecstatic when he started his new venture and almost immediately started to make the total sales of over $10,000 month after month. He hired me to manage his account - I soon found out he was actually making a loss. The cost of sales was also close to $10,000, plus overhead (i.e. various service fees, tools and utility bills) which he'd been completely ignoring. After I showed him his account, he was unable to redevelop a new strategy and decided to call it a day, with a hefty amount of debt unfortunately.

It's really important to keep track of every single transaction in & out of all your accounts (bank, PayPal, credit cards) periodically. You can create a simple spreadsheet or use a free financial software such as Wave. Update your record at least once a week. If you need a help with this, don't hesitate to contact me.

#4 Not Running Email Campaigns

Email Campaign Online Business

You may have heard of the phrase "The money is in the list". And there are some reasons to prove that it really is. Building a list of subscribers is building a foundation of your relationship with visitors and customers. And email marketing is the best way - if not the only way - to gain trust from them over time. 

If you don't bother to try an email marketing, you're leaving money on the table. If you don't know how to do it, signing up and setting up an autoresponder is not harder than you think.

Or if you don't believe in email marketing because you feel it is intrusive... Would you rather not try at all than try and fail? Visitors sign up with you because they want to see more of your business, expect to receive something valuable from you - not necessarily freebies, downloads or discounts but simply, updates.

Email marketing is actually a 2-way communication. You get to learn what your audience (subscribers) wants from their behaviour. If many of them unsubscribed after you sent a newsletter, maybe something you said. They've left because they didn't find the contents of your email worthy enough... Then you'll learn from it. So there's a great chance for you to improve your marketing skill. And that's No. 5 of online business mistakes that you should avoid...

#5 Not Updating Your Skills

Learning Updating Skills

Successful entrepreneurs never stop updating their skills, neither should you.

For example with email marketing, a little failure such as the open rate turned out to be low, should be analysed and improved. (Low open rate is likely due to some spam triggered words used in your email - such as "FREE" "get out of debt" "$$$" - and it's delivered straight to your subscribers' spam folder instead of inbox.)

The only way to improve your business is by learning, and by "learning" it means;

  • Fixing errors and mistakes like the email example above.
  • Improving your existing technique.
  • Learning new skill sets to that you can offer them to your customers as standalone services, or you can use them for add-ons.

#6 Not Treating Others With Respect

Two words - trust, and help. You have to be trustworthy to sustain your business, but there are different kinds of trustworthiness.

Treating Others With Respect

Leaders and social influencers build trust with others by being honest, straightforward and even blatant at times. But when it comes to customer relations, you need to make them feel special by showing you care. Show them that you are ready to listen to them and ready to help. 

One of the biggest business mistakes is to only focus on finding new customers, forgetting that one of the greatest assets that you have is your existing customers. The only way to gain a good reputation of your business is to prove that you treat your existing customers with respect they deserve. Whereas new customers have no idea who you are, so you have to put a lot of effort to get them to trust you.

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About the author 

Ray Alexander

ASD. Recovering alcoholic. LGBTQ+ advocate. Semi-retired. 15+ years of web-designing experience. 10+ years affiliate marketing. Ex-accountant. I'm nice and real. Ask me if you need any help in starting up your home business.

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  1. I liked your Content, Thank you for sharing. Have a look into my Site and let me know if you need any help in this Business setup services.

  2. Good advice. Thank you. Ray. I did not know I have to make so much detail plan. But this is meaning a lot for me. Because I still don’t know where to start for making my plan. I ask you to help me.


    1. Hi Zan, thanks for your comment. Preparing a plan is not as difficult as you think. You just have to clarify your goals first, and think about how you can work towards your goals. You can send me an email any time and I’ll guide you. Thanks for your visit, and good luck!

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