In this full-length online business guide, you are going to learn the top 3 online business mistakes that most people are making, and how to completely avoid them!
If the goal is to hit that ‘$10,000 per month’ mark, then you obviously need to grow your online business the right way.
Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can earn a buck or two here and there. But the real challenge, for those of you who are taking this online-business thing seriously, is crossing over into that six-figure income territory.
That is the standard that a lot of people are shooting for with online business, and it is a very good standard to shoot for.
But the big concern about this is that this mindset, while optimistic and ambitious, can also give rise to a number of problems.
So in this guide, you are going to learn how to break those problems down and avoid them.
You are also going to learn a ton of other tips, tricks, and bits of information to help you make the most of your business today.
If you get an online business started the successful way, or you need to turn things around, then this is a guide that you must read and implement!
Alright, let’s get to it.
How Do You Make Your Online Business Successful?
This is the big question.
If you are thinking of starting your own business, or have already started plugging away at it, then this is probably the biggest question that eats at you, day and night.
How do you make your online business successful?
There are obviously a lot of complicated answers to this, and you will learn some of the most important ones a bit further along in this guide.
But before you get to that, you need to fix what you are doing wrong.
If you don’t fix what you are doing wrong, your level of success in business will continue to fall short of your expectations and your potential.
Why? Because you have to fix the foundational problems before you can hope to successfully add productive bells and whistles on top of it!
Far too many people try to fix their businesses using the wrong methods.
In truth, there are 3 big mistakes that keep the vast majority of online businesses from succeeding. And these problems can very easily slip under the radar.
It is imperative that you fix them, though, if you want your business to make money and grow.
So let’s talk about them.
The 3 BIG Mistakes That Cause Your Online Business to Fail Before It Takes Off
Some of these may seem very common-sensical. And it is possible that a certain number of you may dismiss them right away.
You might say “Huh, I would never make that mistake with my business.”
But in response to this, I would sincerely encourage you to look deeply at how you have been doing things for the past month, two months, or six months.
Examine the content you have been creating. Examine the methods you have been using.
And perhaps, most importantly, examine the spirit with which you have been publishing your content and conducting your business.
9 times out of 10, one or more of these mistakes is responsible for keeping online businesses from growing at the rate they ought to be growing.
Mistake #1: Focusing On Choosing The Product First
Many people start their business thinking “What am I going to sell?”
But this is 100% the wrong way to look at it.
Rather than thinking of the product first, you actually need to look inside yourself and, instead, focus on your audience and how you can help them first.
What are you going to bring your audience? What problem of theirs are you going to solve?
How are you going to bring real, measurable value into their lives?
This is where your personal story comes in.
You see, when you think only about a product, you are just thinking about how to sell that product. Sure, you think about all of its uses, features, and benefits… and you can try to sell it based on the value that it may bring people.
But trust me… that is not how to succeed in business nowadays!
Focus On What You Care About, What Value You Can Bring, And What Your Story Is
Before you sell any product, you first need to get a few things straight in your own mind.
Do you really care about this product? And if so, why? What personal trials has this product helped you to overcome? Can this product do the same for other people? If so, how?
Describe in your content how you were able to solve your own problems first. This is SO HUGE, it simply cannot be overstated.
Tell your audience how to do it. Give them a ton of value in your videos, blogs, and podcasts.
Then, tell them how this widget, gadget, or course made your life better.
Sure, they can buy it from you. Put an affiliate link in your post.
But selling this product to your audience is SECONDARY to BRINGING THEM VALUE AND ANSWERING THEIR QUESTIONS!
Once you get this simple, fundamental mindset straight and scale it correctly, you will truly become unstoppable.
Mistake #2: Not Creating Content For Both Audiences
Contrary to what you may believe, you always need to create content for two very specific types of audiences.
This is more important nowadays than ever, and so many entrepreneurs fail because they do not learn to diversify enough to do this correctly
Humans And Algorithms Are Your Two Audiences
The first audience that you need to address in your content are the people who are listening to you.
This is your target demographic.
So you need to make sure that your content will help these people.
You do this by identifying their challenges and helping them to solve them. It is literally that easy.
You can also tell your own personal story. This helps to build trust and confidence.
But at the end of the day, the people who follow you do so because you have some of the answers they are looking for.
And it is very important that you create content to help these people if you want to succeed.
But there is also a second type of audience that you need to create content for… the algorithms.
Make The Algorithm Your Next Best Friend
You may be asking “What exactly does it mean to create content for the algorithms?”
Well, the short answer to this is that you need to create content that will help people to find you via the search engines.
SEO, Google, keywords… these are all tools that can help you to reach an even bigger audience if used correctly.
But the only way to use them correctly is to learn how SEO works, and then to weave the vital components of this throughout your content.
This means that you need to do keyword research. You need to research the tags you put into your YouTube videos. It means that you need to tag your podcast episodes appropriately so that people will be able to find them.
It means optimizing your website, making sure that your titles and metas are correct.
It means not violating Google’s rules.
It means knowing and understanding how each individual platform gets content in front of users, and then back-engineering those algorithms so that your content will be seen by as many people in your chosen niche as possible.
Now, a lot of people are really good at focusing on either one or the other.
Some people write 100% for humans, and some write 100% for the algorithms of their chosen platforms.
But if you don’t blend these together, you are going to end up coming short.
So many people fail at this simple skill. And yet, it is so important that it will literally kill your business if you don’t get it right!
Mistake #3: Focusing Too Much On The ‘Selling Game,’ And Not Enough On Value
This is actually talked about at length by an author/speaker named Jay Abraham.
This guy is old school. If there were ever a guy in the world of marketing consultants to look up to, it would be him.
He’s been in the game for 40-50 years.
Have you ever heard of the brand IcyHot?
Jay Abraham was part of an endeavor that purchased IcyHot, turned it into a $1 billion company, and then flipped it for a huge profit.
This guy is an absolute gangster… he is a boss, and one of the biggest contributions he brought to the world of marketing was the strategy of ‘preeminence.’
The Strategy of “Pre-Eminence”
So, the idea here is that most people in the world are trying to take, take, take.
And they do this by trying to sell, sell, sell.
Everything is about the sale, every single time!
Well, the truth is that a lot of this just becomes noise to most people. People overlook it, tune it out, and see through it.
As a result, they become disinterested in it.
And that is how many, many businesses begin to fail!
Instead, you need to focus on bringing value first.
First, you help people. You do this by publishing awesome content, by empathizing with your audience, and by doing your best to actually help them to solve their problems.
It is really, really simple actually. It is just a value-first mindset. That’s truly the biggest difference here.
So you provide all of this value, build up trust, and build a brand that people know they will get results from.
Then what happens? They eventually buy all of your products, because they know so well that you are going to help them that they don’t even question it.
They know this because…
- You have done it for yourself
- You have helped them to do it
- You are also helping other people to do it
9 Problems You May Run Into While Starting an Online Business - Avoid Them At ALL Cost!
So, we’ve talked about the 3 biggest mistakes that destroy online businesses from the ground up.
But now, it’s time to talk about a few other ‘notable mentions’ that are simply not talked about enough.
Let’s go over a few of these. They are extremely important!
Listening to Fake Gurus
This is a big one. So many people run their businesses into the ground listening to the wrong people!
It is actually very, very unfortunate.
If you are going to listen to someone and take their advice, make sure that they are not just saying stuff to look like a boss and sell things.
There are more than a few fake ‘gurus’ who have managed to create names for themselves through huge amounts of advertising, and promising to make people rich.
But this is all pretty sketchy.
Before you take the advice of any ‘guru,’ ask yourself a few questions first.
- Is this person putting ‘value’ first, or the ‘sale’ first?
- Has this person actually done this themselves?
- Is this person really who they say they are, or are they just ‘struttin’ online to get likes, follows, and sales?
- Does this person try to impress you with their flashy cars, stacks of money, hot babes, huge house, etc.? Because if they are, there is a good chance that all of that is a tactic to get you to buy their products so that they will get ‘more rich.’
You have to be really careful about who you let into your head-space these days. These fake gurus will easily lead you off-course.
Not Using the Right Strategy
Not using the right strategy can put a serious damper on your business.
There is a certain amount of this that is a given in most cases. But then again… there is a certain level of this that is not commonly discussed.
You do need a focused, consistent strategy to make your business work. If you want to build an online content-marketing business, but never post any content, then your strategy is obviously going to need some revision.
If you post content but never optimize it, you are obviously going to need to revise your strategy.
If you blog about three vastly different topics, all completely unrelated to one-another, on the same blog, there is a very good chance that you are going to have to change you strategy and niche down to hit that ‘sweet spot’ with your target audience.
Having an effective strategy in place to help you grow your business is super, super important.
Not Having The Patience To Stick With It
This is actually a really common problem that rears its head in the content marketing game all the time.
So many people start out strong and motivated. But then, after only a few months, after seeing only a little bit of traffic trickling in, they give up.
This is such a shame!
Why? Because it takes time to build up an online business. It took Melanie and I 4-5 years of steady grinding to get our business to the point where it created a lifestyle-change for us.
For all of those years, we hustled every night after work, on weekends, and on holidays. We built our business from the ground up, and never gave up!
And that is ultimately what it takes. Patience is such a huge thing. You need patience to make an online business work.
To be really, really honest, you can be just about 100% sure that your business is NOT going to strike gold in the first 4-5 months. It truly takes time. You just have to keep after it, and keep hammering away.
This is something that far too many people get wrong!
So have patience. Stick with it. Don’t give up.
If you keep at it, it will all be worth it.
Consuming Content Instead Of Creating It
You probably consume a certain amount of content in your life.
You may watch shows, listen to music, watch movies, read blogs, read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos on YouTube, consume social media content, etc.
Well, one thing that many of the most successful online entrepreneurs have in common is that they make sure to create more than they are consuming.
Now, don’t misunderstand. You want to consume positive, motivational, inspiring content.
But where many of you go wrong is when you start scrolling through social media, or clicking on to the next video, without any real intention of doing anything productive.
Time wasting. That is what social media is really good for if you don’t manage it properly.
And when you start to get caught up in this cycle, two very dangerous things start to happen.
- You get caught up in the ‘mostly’ mind numbing content that fills these platforms
- You waste valuable time that you could be spending creating something else
The key is not to stop consuming altogether. The key is to balance consumption with creation, making sure to spend enough time and mental-energy creating, instead of wasting it on content consumption that isn’t going to actually help you in the long run.
Being In A Hurry To Clock Out - As If Your Business Were A Job
This is a very surprising, yet all-too-common mentality among many entrepreneurs.
It could stem from a lack of focus, a lack of motivation, or both.
But far too many online entrepreneurs just put in the bare minimum needed to get them through the day, and then are in this HUGE HURRY to ‘clock out’ and get on with the ‘fun’ part of their lives.
Well, this is not the way it works.
If you want to do well at your business, it truly needs to consume the upper-echelon of your priority list.
Yes, there is value in spending time doing other things. But the greatest value comes from spending more than enough time on your business.
Far too many people place far too much emphasis on going out on the weekends, wasting time with friends, spending money going out to movies, putting things off to go do those ‘social things,’ etc.
Hey, don’t forget that you are trying to build a business here. So just remember, every day, to actually put effort into growing your business!
Leave those ‘fun things’ for a day when you have legitimately gotten ahead and can afford to do them!
Entering A Highly Competitive Market Without Enough Skills
This one is interesting, and a lot of people fall prey to this problem before they have managed to niche-down enough to find their magic target demographic.
Sometimes, people jump into markets that are just super competitive. There is really no other way to put it.
And when the people entering these markets do not have the ‘skills to pay the bills,’ they are simply setting themselves up for failure, right from the start.
For example. Let’s say that you want to enter the HVAC space online, but have no technical knowledge of the trade.
Sure, you can watch YouTube videos, read books, and try to educate yourself as you learn and blog about it… but there are two very big problems to overcome here.
For one, it is a very competitive space. And for two, if you don’t know what you are doing, you are NOT going to be able to fake it, and your content just isn’t going to provide as much value.
This is a fundamental and serious set of problems!
So instead, go to HVAC school. Go to a technical college. Get a job in this space, and get the training you need to become a professional.
Or a more fast way, create a digital marketing job for yourself, doing marketing for someone already in that space.
Then, after 5 years of success in the field, come back around to an online business template and start blogging about your experiences. Now, you not only have the training and experience to back up your content, but you also have a much better grasp on the topic.
This will enable you to deliver true, measurable value to your audience that could actually help them.
And that is huge!
Failing To ‘Niche Down’
This is a common problem that can be surprisingly difficult for some people to solve.
As a general rule, you want your content marketing/affiliate marketing business to be as narrowly niched as possible.
There are many benefits to this.
So, instead of making ‘wine’ your topic, focus down a bit.
- Narrow it down to ‘collectible wines’
- Narrow it down further to ‘collectible wines from small vineyards’
- Narrow it down even more to ‘collectible wines from small vineyards that cost $25 or less a bottle’
- Narrow it down even more to ‘reviewing collectible wines from small vineyards that cost $25 or less a bottle’
As you can see, narrowing your niche like this really helps you to focus in on a demographic.
If your topic is just ‘wine,’ you will be competing with every other wine website. But even more than that, you won’t be drawing a particular crowd to your site.
So instead, you hone your focus, and you target a very specific demographic of people… people who are looking for collectible wines from small vineyards, that cost no more than $25 a bottle.
This is a much more specific niche, and will help you A LOT in gaining traffic and a foothold in your market.
Stopping “3 Feet From Gold”
This analogy comes straight from Napoleon Hill’s book, Think And Grow Rich. It comes from the story of a gold miner who spent all of his time and money digging for gold, only to get frustrated and walk away from the mine.
Later on, another company took over the mine, and ended up striking gold just 3 feet from where he gave up!
Had he just kept at it, he would have made his fortune.
But alas. He gave up, and learned a difficult, but powerful lesson in the process.
The lesson for you, however, is this…
Don’t stop. If you find your calling and you get started, don’t give up. If you do, there is a chance that you will stop ‘3 feet from gold,’ and lose everything you have worked so hard to achieve.
You never know when you might be close to striking gold. So stay true, and don’t let the long-term game discourage you.
Constantly Changing Niches
And of course, no list of online business problems would be complete without this one.
Constantly changing niches robs you of consistency, growth, and the ability to attract a dedicated, committed audience to your content.
Earlier, you learned about how to choose a niche by ‘niching down.’ That is very important, but another super important, and very related problem, is ‘niche-changing.’
You are going along in your niche. You are publishing content, you are doing your thing… everything is great.
And then… you see another post or video that inspires you. Or, you find that you are starting to get a little bit bored of the stuff you’ve been working on. Or, you see a guru online telling you that you really need to be talking about this or that, etc.
Suddenly, you find yourself questioning the niche you started with, and wondering if it is even the right niche for you.
To test this, you may start to switch your niche a little bit… just to see what effect it has.
But this is a very dangerous habit!
Shiny New Object Syndrome - What It Is and Why It Can Kill Your Online Business
No matter what niche you choose, there are going to be times when it is not going to be super exciting.
There may be posts that you need to write that you legitimately wish you didn’t have to write… even if you LOVE your topic.
Remember that there is literally no niche in the world that is always going to be fun, exciting, and engaging all the time.
So instead of bailing on your niche when the going gets hard, this is when you should be doubling-down and learning more about it. Attend a master class, read a book, or listen to a speaker to get a new perspective on the niche that you’ve chosen.
But avoid ‘shiny new object syndrome.’
It is very dangerous, and can actually hurt the work that you have already done for your audience.
If you start posting stuff that your audience doesn’t relate to anymore, all because you got bored of your niche and wanted to switch it up, there is a chance that you are going to lose audience interest. And that is a death-sentence in this business!
It is almost as bad as not publishing any content at all!
8 Powerful Tips for Successful Online Businesses
Alright. At this point, you have learned the 3 biggest mistakes that online businesses usually make, and have also learned 9 problems that online business startups tend to have.
In other words, you have learned a lot of what NOT to do. So now, let’s talk about what you should be doing to make your online business as successful as possible!
1. Don’t Just Treat It Like A Hobby And Dabble
If you want to give yourself your best chance at success, then show up for yourself and your business in a big way.
Don’t just show up when you feel like it. Put serious time into your business every day. That is how you get real, measurable results.
2. Be 100% Performance-Based - ALWAYS
Are you constantly showing up and bringing the best you have to offer to your business?
If not, then you really need to start doing it.
No more half-way nonsense. No more doing ‘just enough to get by.’
Show up to perform at 110%, every day. Give it your best.
Not everything has to be perfect. But you should strive to give the very best that you have to offer, day after day.
3. Create A System To Attract Interest And Gain The Trust Of Your Audience
The number-one best system to attract the interest of an audience is to start publishing content as often as possible.
Make this content valuable, helpful, unique, and specific to the point. Make this content so helpful that it will literally solve your audience's big problems.
This usually takes the form of blog posts, podcasts, or YouTube videos.
Eventually, you want to master all three of these mediums and use the complete ‘3 Pillars of Content’ to attract audience interest.
But for the beginning, focus on one, and do it really really consistently!
4. Put A System In Place To Convert Traffic Into Leads And Customers
There are many great ways to do this.
Get your audience to opt-in to your email mailing list by offering them a free ebook, course, or video in exchange for their email address.
Convert these audience members into customers by sending them all kinds of value in email mailings to build up trust. Then, after you have really, really proven that you can help them, show them an offer.
This will help you to convert powerful numbers of audience members.
You can also use landing pages, sales funnels, and sales pages on your website to sell your online products.
5. Focus On The Audience And Put Their Needs, Goals And Desires First
This should be a no-brainer, but a lot of internet marketers ignore it.
Don’t focus on selling first! Instead, focus on your audience.
What do they need, want, and desire? What are their goals? What are their problems?
Seek to provide what you audience needs the most to fulfill their own goals, and try to provide it to them in your content for free, as often as possible. Once you start doing this consistently, you will notice that when you do offer products or links, you will get much better conversions.
This all comes back to the law of reciprocity!
6. Create A 5-Year Plan That You Will Execute Relentlessly - And Focus On Your Proven Strategy
If you could boil all success in internet marketing down to the lowest common denominators, they would look something like this.
- Be able to back up your methods with proof of how you have done it and succeeded in your own life
- Consistently and relentlessly work to create content, optimize, help your audience, and work on your craft
What is your 5-year plan? What do you want to be doing in five years that is different from what you are doing now?
What will it take for you to get there?
Answering these questions for yourself will give you a huge advantage moving forward.
Make your 5 year plan. Execute relentlessly on this plan. Focus on your proven strategy. Take what you have made work in your own life, and teach that to others.
Create content. Keep creating. Keep helping. Keep spreading your message.
It will all come back to you eventually.
7. Work Smarter, Harder, And Longer Than The Competition
This is actually classic advice. But it is still just as relevant today as it has ever been!
There is an awesome quote by Dwayne Johnson that perfectly sums up this idea.
“Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.”
Be the hardest worker in your niche, and always put in 110%. Leave nothing behind.
This is the kind of work ethic it truly takes to succeed!
Compounding Results is the ‘Magic Solution’
Compounding results are really the ‘magic solution’ when it comes to internet marketing, content marketing, and affiliate marketing.
When you first start out, you might make 100 YouTube videos. But you may only acquire 50 to 100 subscribers during that time.
This may discourage you, but this is only the beginning.
By the time you get to 250 videos, you may have 500 subscribers!
Why? Because your videos will keep getting better, you will get better at optimizing, and now even your older videos will still be attracting new audience members.
By the time you put out 500 videos, you may have literally thousands of subscribers!
This is the magic of compounding results. You need to keep growing your network, keep building-up content, and keep helping people.
As you publish more and more content, you will attract more and more of an audience.
But if you give up after the first 100 videos, how will you ever get here? How will you ever succeed?
Understanding The Supreme Importance Of A ‘Value-First’ Mindset
The ‘Value First’ mindset has been talked about a lot in this post, for good reason.
Simply put, internet marketers are making HUGE mistakes with this.
They are trying to sell, sell, sell, and are not coming into the game with an attitude of value.
Albert Einstein has a quote about this that is absolutely 100% relevant here!
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
This mindset is often lost in the modern world of internet marketing, but this is a huge shame.
Go Beyond Content Creation
Yes, you need to create content. And yes, that content needs to create value for your audience and help them to solve their problems.
But if you are like almost every other internet marketer in the world, you will quickly realize that the temptation to ‘sell sell sell’ will get really strong.
So here are some steps to take when you feel that you are slipping back into that mindset.
Continue To Learn And Grow
One of the best ways to keep a value-first mindset going strong in your business is to continue to learn and grow.
If you are constantly bettering yourself and finding better ways to do things, then you will keep coming up with new, awesome material that will legitimately help your audience.
Of course, it is very important to know at least something about what you are doing before even going into that niche. But once you are there, you also have to keep your mind fresh and updated with new knowledge, tactics, information, etc.
Push The Limits And Establish Yourself As A Trail-Blazer
Development is really important to the building-up of value on your site for your audience.
Whether you are publishing blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, or whatever, it is really important to keep finding better tools and processes as you go along.
You want to be a pioneer in your market. You want to be a trailblazer.
If your niche is based around collectible wines under $25 a bottle, be the first website to publish a blog about the top 100 wines in that market! Be the first YouTube channel to do in-depth reviews of every single bottle of wine in this category.
Be the first podcast to get exclusive interviews with all of these wine-makers!
Whatever it is, always be pushing forward, developing better processes, and taking your audience to places where nobody has ever gone before!
Find Quality Mentors To Inspire You And Motivate You
You heard earlier in this post that you need a healthy balance when it comes to consuming and creating content.
And generally, you want to create content far more often than you consume it!
But with that being said, you also need to strategically consume content that is going to teach you even more about your niche, so that you will have new information with which to help your audience.
It is also a huge help to find role-models and mentors in the world who will inspire you to keep that value-first mindset alive.
Keep your ears and eyes away from the fake gurus. Instead, focus on mentors who have truly delivered value, know how important it is to help others, and will motivate you to do the exact same thing.
Self-Motivate | Don’t Rely Completely On Mentors To Keep Your Head In The Game
Of course, one of the best ways to stay focused on your business and a value-first mindset is to motivate yourself.
This is actually a skill, and it is an invaluable skill to learn if you want to level up in your business.
How good are you at focusing on what you have to do? How good are you at motivating yourself without any external stimuli?
How good are you at reminding yourself to stay centered, each and every day, on bringing help and value to your audience?
These are essential skills that you must develop for yourself. Without them, you will be seriously held back in your online entrepreneur journey.
You have learned A LOT of different things in this guide. And hopefully, many of them will help you.
Just remember… the key here is to avoid the 3 biggest, most common business mistakes that cause most businesses to go under.
These mistakes are…
- Focusing on choosing the product first
- Not creating content for both audiences
- Focusing too much on the ‘selling game,’ and not enough on ‘value’
If you can stay away from these mistakes and push past them, you will most certainly be on the way to making your online business fun and profitable.
So go forward, and conquer!
If you have any questions or would like to continue the discussion further, please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Do you feel that there are other mistakes that should be added to this list? If so, let me know!
I am always interested in hearing what you have to say.
I’ll see you on the next one!