Starting an Online Business: 20 Common Mistakes People Make

Starting an online business has become paramount amidst entrepreneurs. Some successful founders who manage physical stores have also started incorporating the internet into their businesses. Ever wondered why?

According to July 2016 statistics, 50.1% of the world population uses the internet. If you’d agree with me, each of these users is a potential customer to any good or service that your intending startup is looking to render.

Can I be straight up with you? Online businesses are taking over! It’s only a matter of time to realize that people would prefer goods and services being delivered to them than going to the market or a service store. Here is a typical example: would you prefer to contact a car service store by ordering online or you’d prefer to travel a few or several miles to get it done? The truth? You’d definitely opt for convenience.

More so, back to the baseline — businesses are all about creating values and solving problems. Online businesses are currently solving numerous environmental problems and creating unique values to customers. Why not tap in while you still can?

However, some founders overwhelmed by the wealth of information available online, stating the importance of an online business have launched once or twice but crashed. Perhaps, they were not patient enough or made a wrong turn someplace, somewhere. That’s a problem this post proposes to solve.

“What do you wish to have done differently?” has also become a consistent question that most aspiring or newbie online entrepreneurs ask successful founders. This post lists the most common mistakes that people make when starting an online business.

To start and properly manage an online business, you should avoid the following mistakes:

Post Contents

1. Setting unrealistic expectations

Setting outrageous expectations causes an early withdrawal of entrepreneurs from online businesses. Posts such as “Learn to make $1 million dollars from home in 2 months” are typical examples of one of the several wrong roadmaps on the internet.

The internet is saturated, true! You can make $1 million from it, true. But in 2 months?! You had better start breaking banks instead because it’s never gonna happen. Online businesses are just like any other business out there. You need a business plan, an MVP, a marketing plan, etc.

If your expectation is over hyped, it’s time for a rethink. Don’t expect too much so you won’t get unnecessarily frustrated.

2. Wrong team — business partner or employee

negative employee employees
Photo Credit: Pixabay | Unsplash

A team is vital to any business. It could be in form of an employee or a business partner. Often times, people opt for friends as business partners, perhaps because they’ve been friends for long. However, there are key factors to consider when choosing a business partner or hiring an employee.

For example, to start an online medical consulting business; you need capital, a qualified doctor, a website and graphic designer, a query attendant, an SEO specialist, etc. You need to check if your proposed business partner or employee has any of these qualities.

It’s a business, hence the need to divide labor. If you’re a writer and SEO specialist, do you still need a similarly skilled personnel? At times, business partners are business burdens. Be sure to consider the necessary factors before choosing a business partner.

3. A blog is a business

Photo Credit: Pixabay / Peggy_Marco

Most entrepreneurs are ignorant of the fact that a blog is a means to an end. It’s a means to amass loyal audience — readers who would click to read your posts even though the headline sounds awkward. If you think I’m wrong, ask successful professional bloggers. Ads alone can’t make you a successful entrepreneur. In fact, most successful bloggers that I’ve met don’t use ads!

A blog is the face of your business, it’s a means to prove your expertise, and become an expert at what you do. Blogging about the entertainment industry, for example, gives you a better insight of what the industry looks like. It helps you stay on top of the news and trends in your industry.

After successfully amassing a loyal audience, there’s the need to launch products to sell to your audience. It could be a tutorial or a tool that your audience needs. A blog appeals to potential customers to buy your product or hire your service.

4. No business plan

Just like any other business, starting an online business without a business plan is like wanting to write without any writing material. You need to do market analysis, be sure of your target customer, be sure of how much human resources is needed, etc.

With an extensive business plan, you can determine whether or not you’re on the right track per time. What to do next, where to target, how to target, and when to target are questions you already have answers to.

raise capital
Photo Credit: Pixabay/Geralt

5. Insufficient capital

Starting an online business with insufficient capital is delicate. What happens if your domain name payment is due? It’s quite easy for another person to buy your business — buy your parked domain name. It’s not like a store where you may not be sent packing.

This also points back to having a solid business plan.

6. Turning deaf ears to customers

Some entrepreneurs create a product because they “think” customers need this product. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You can spend $500 on creating a product without selling one piece. As interesting as the internet can be, it can also be frustrating.

You need to employ the ask method survey. It could be a survey about the problem people are facing, then you write an e-book to solve it, or a survey about the things they wish there’s a tool for and build the tool. Whichever way, be sure to engage your potential customers in surveys before creating a product.

Also, some entrepreneurs are as lucky as not needing to go through a survey. They receive emails where potential customers complain about issues or request for the solution to some problems. If these emails persist, you can make some cash off such problem by creating a solution.

customer service
Photo Credit: Pixabay / OpenClipart-Vectors

7. Poor customer support

Online entrepreneurs loose customers because the customer couldn’t fully understand a product or service. There is the need for a range of customer services to help customers understand and enjoy your product or service.

To start with, a contact email that would be promptly attended to is needed in any online business you’re venturing into. This would serve as a medium of complaint, inquiry, or feedback for customers.

8. Choosing the wrong niche

The first law of any business you’re venturing into, be it online or otherwise is to engage in what you love. Business involves doing the same thing over and over again. If you don’t love what you do, you can easily get pissed.

Choosing the wrong niche when starting an online business dampens your drive and spirit. It is also important to be an expert in any niche you’re choosing.

9. Targeting the wrong market

The internet is no doubt a wide market. Choosing the right market to sell your products to is a leap towards achieving success. For example, if you’re developing a tech related product, be sure to target tech related markets — tech blogs, online retail stores, tech companies, etc.

10. Targeting a small market

I just said it: the internet is a wide market. The limit to how many people you can reach is marketing dependent. Several successful online entrepreneurs have made millions of dollars from products that you and I have never heard about, yet they keep widening the margin daily.

That is to tell you how wide the market can be. Be sure to perform an extensive marketing strategy to reach your potential customers.

11. Solving an already solved problem the same way

Starting an online business by offering a similar solution to an already solved problem is a sign of improper planning. Don’t get me wrong, two service providers render the same service and the person who started last laughed best, that happens.

However, your product or service should be unique. What is the single most important reason why a customer should opt for your product instead of your counterpart’s? What edge do you have over your competitors? These are questions you must procure answers to.

Photo Credit: Flickr / Miranda Mylne

12. Wasting too much time thinking

I want to make money online, become an online entrepreneur, create that product, start that business, become a successful entrepreneur, etc.

Stop “I wanting” and start “I having”. I have marketed the product, currently awaiting results. I have sent the product out for testing, waiting to hear from the investor. STOP wanting to act, just act. Stop thinking, start doing! It is that simple!

13. Rendering too many free services

I’m not saying you should start chasing off your potential customers with alarming price tags. I’m saying reduce your freebies.

14. Using a wrong tool set

Using a wrong tool set or using the right tool set the wrong way is a common mistake of online entrepreneurs. How hard would it be to drive a nail with your shoe instead of a hammer? How easy would it be to beat a cockroach to a pulp with a broom instead of spraying an insecticide?

Using the right tool set is associated with being an expert in your industry. Be sure to use the right tool set, the right way.

start15. Not taking a step to start

Take that bold giant step today and start! If you start late, that golden idea may have already been implemented.

16. Ignoring the competition

17. Insufficient market research

18. Improper marketingbusinessman-562572_1920.jpg

19. Trying to do everything yourself

Does this sound familiar? You wanted to start an online business, you’re the web designer, the writer, the content marketer, the product marketer, the graphic designer, and the web developer. You kept on for a while, then quit! “Online businesses are hard to manage”, you said.

It’s only gonna get harder.  Contract out jobs when necessary, it gives you room to think about other important things.

20. Neglecting any of the above-listed

Be sure to note all these mistakes, overlooking one of them could be disastrous. Starting an online business could be easier than you’ve anticipated with the right preparation and tools set.

Final thoughts on starting an online business

Learning time: What do you think is missing? What other mistake do people make when starting an online business? What other mistake have you made in the past? Is there anything that you wish to have done differently during your online entrepreneurial journey?

Drop your answers below in comments section, I’ll be here to learn!

PS: If you find this post useful, kindly use the share button(s) to help someone else out there. Cheers!


  1. Nice post friend! it’s really pathetic how bloggers stumble around in the dark without actually knowing what they are doing wrong.

    probably alot.

    This post is an eye opener. I particularly love 4. Running without a business plan. HUGE MISTAKE!

    Thanks Again.

    (Serious Bloggers Only Mate )


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