I read a statistic recently that said 90 percent of new online businesses fail in the first four months. Four months! The reasons for this? There are many. Having been through the journey myself recently here are the 10 main reasons I've seen people fail at starting their own online business.
10 Lack of commitment. You talk about how much you want to start your own business with your family or friends, but you never really commit to getting started. You keep waiting for the 'right time' or continue to 'think about it' without ever getting started.
9 Poor planning. You finally get started but you didn't plan well enough for the financial, emotional, mental and physical implications. You didn't save enough money, you didn't do enough research. As a result, you run out of money and ideas very quickly with no plan of how to get yourself back on track.
8 Lack of action. You simply don't take enough (or any) action. Or if you do, because you're new at business your actions aren't properly aligned to your business so you waste a lot of time.
7 You attempt to grow your following on Facebook and Instagram but instead of being tactful and succinct you spend entire days on there browsing aimlessly.
6 You don't know who your target clients are, or where to find them. So when you do get yourself all set up with your new website, Facebook page and business cards you'll be completely baffled as to why new customers aren't queueing up out the door.
5 You have no idea about copy, SEO or sales, so as much as you are fantastic at what you do, you can't sell yourself, so you get very little business.
4 Business plan; you don't have one. Or if you do, you've just made it up with no real idea about how to generate the numbers or how to hit any of your targets.
3 Visibility. You keep yourself hidden behind the curtains (i.e. your laptop) as opposed to being as visible as possible.
2 You try to do it all on your own, without the support of others. You decide not to enlist the help of professionals and instead try to figure out everything on your own. You spend hours each week on non-money making tasks, such as fixing annoying tech issues with your website or mailing list. You end up scared, overwhelmed and lost, and frustrated at your lack of results. You realise there is a long road ahead that you aren't prepared for.
The number 1 reason I see people fail at their new online business:
Social media can be dangerous for motivation, especially if it makes you feel negative about your own situation. Looking at what everyone else is doing and getting overwhelmed by their results can spell new online business disaster. Comparison crushes your creativity and feeds self-doubt, worry and concern. Concern that you're not good enough, smart enough, young enough, old enough, not 'liked' enough, not earning enough or that there's something wrong with you in general can really knock your confidence.
I faced this challenge a lot in my first year -- looking at other people and comparing myself their success. I'm a member of a number of entrepreneurial Facebook groups where celebrating your success is encouraged. Success (apparently) breeds success, but what I found is that when you're looking at other peoples skyrocketing results day after day, it can leave you feeling down and deflated, certainly NOT motivated, if you're not getting those same results.
So what can you do to mitigate these 10 reasons why new online businesses fail?
10 Decide to do it and commit to doing it.
9 Plan ahead. Save as much money as you can and do your research. What software will you need? What marketing programmes will you use? Connect with other entrepreneurs and ask them for advice. What worked for them and what didn't when they first got started?
8 Take consistent action that is aligned with your business. What is your end message? Who is your ideal client? Where can you find them? What problem are you trying to solve for them? How can you monetise what you are doing?
7 Use social media with intent, don't just aimlessly browse. Get on there, do what you need to do, then get off. Staying off social media allows you to focus on your own creativity and progress, as opposed to being distracted by what other people are doing.
6 Get clear on who SPECIFICALLY you want to help. Tailor your website, Facebook page and any other form of marketing to reflect the ideal client you are trying to attract. You may have the ability to help a wide range of people, but this muddles your message and confuses people as to what you do. Choose your speciality, research it and promote yourself accordingly.
5 Learn sales. Chances are your marketing and promotions will start to attract clients to you, so it's essential you can assist them through the process of actually signing up. Sales is matching their problem with a solution. Your solution.
4 A business plan is essential. What's the minimum you will need to earn in order to survive? How can you ensure you achieve this? What's the ideal amount you want to earn so you can thrive? How many clients will you need/units will you need to sell to achieve this? Understanding conversion rates brings your numbers to life - how big does your audience need to be in order for you to achieve your goals? Online purchase conversion rates are typically 1%....you do the math and add up the required numbers to hit your targets.
3 Be as visible as possible, daily, either using images of yourself or videos are even better. People connect with images and video content far more than they do with written text. Yes, creating an online business requires you to be visible - no negotiation.
2 Seek professional advice and support with anything you are struggling with. Sometimes money can be tight when you're in your first year of business, so in that case shop around. You don't have to pay for the biggest best latest guru coach on the market. Just get started with some sort of support and upgrade things as you can afford to.
1 Give up comparing yourself to others. The internet is saturated with online entrepreneurs. Protect yourself from overwhelm and simply don't look too much at what other people are saying and doing. Sure, it helps to get ideas and see what works and what doesn't. But avoid getting caught up in the hype of others peoples success and results. Everyone is on their own path, stay focused on your own journey and keep yourself moving forward step by step. Social media can be very invasive, turn off notifications or leave groups that don't make you feel good about your situation.
When it comes to comparing your progress to that of others, I want to expand on that here. It took me a little while to realise that it can be misleading what other people post. A lot of people say they've 'hit' an income goal or 'made' X dollars in a certain month, but after getting to know some of these people better I realised this doesn't necessarily mean they've got that cash in the bank.
When I worked in the corporate world, no company ever claimed it had 'made' X amount at the beginning of a new contract or when they'd signed on a new client. Often payment disputes could occur or clients simply didn't pay. Unexpected costs could crop up or deals could be dropped all together at a moment's notice. The money each company MADE was how much profit remained at the end of each month, quarter, financial year or contract - when all incoming and outgoing money had been processed and confirmed.
I've come to learn this is not the way a lot of online entrepreneurs promote their success. What they say they are making in their business sounds better than what it is. Not many tell you how much they've spent in a month, for example.
So if you're looking at other people's results and freaking out that you're not there yet - relax. It's possible that what you're reading isn't entirely true.
However, credit must be given where it's due. Those people out there that are streaking ahead - chances are, it's taken a lot more time than they let on to get there, they've invested a decent amount of money into professional assistance AND they've worked their butt off for it. They've applied themselves, promoted themselves, given away a heap of free stuff, been knocked down and got back up or failed at several other things before they finally got it right.
If you want more free information about how to successfully start and grow your online business, my free 7 step audio guide covering how I successfully left my corporate job to start an online business can be found here.
Being an entrepreneur is tough, mentally and emotionally, especially when the results in the first year are often inconsistent. But you can do it. Learn from your mistakes, try new approaches, and most importantly keep showing up. Sometimes obstacles can slow your progress (sometimes a whole lot at once can really throw you off track) but you've just got to deal with each one as it arises, keep coming back and showing up. You can do it. You can make your new online business a success.
Good luck! Greer.