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Starting and running an online business shares many of the problems, risks and issue inherent in any business. Here is my hit list of the ten most common mistakes online sellers make that lead to failure.
1. Have a Plan – I am always amazed when I learn how many people buy a book or a training program and just dive right into it without thinking about what they are doing, setting goals and taking the time to work out a budget and a list of tasks they will need to do.
2. If you want to start your business –you have to start your business –This is the opposite of the first tip, Have a Plan. I cannot tell you how many people plan and plan and plan and never get started. They are perfectionists and simply will not dive in until the water is at a perfect temperature, and they are wearing a life vest and there is a lifeguard standing ready. It really is a question of learning as you go. Starting an online business is the ultimate in on-the-job training.
3. Set up Your Business Correctly – If you want to sell the occasional garage sale item on eBay you don’t have to worry about this, but if you want a real business then you have to take the time to set it up and organize it correctly.
4. Invest in Your Success - This is a common problem, especially if you're not used to taking risks. Ask yourself where you want your business to be in three, six or twelve months. How big do you want your business to be and invest accordingly? If you are just looking for a part-time income then you don’t want to invest in expensive services and tools. However, if this is the way you hope to make a living, then you have to take some risks and invest in your success.
5. Guard Your Time - Time has a price tag and its easy to overspend. Years ago I used to run a large commissioned sales force. Our sales people had two tasks; Prospecting & setting appointments and making the sales presentation.
6. Stay on Top of Your Business – Nothing in the business world is static. Things change all the time and this is probably more true in the online business world where change can happen quickly. Once you get your business up and running and you are making money, it is easy to put your feet up and relax. That is a crucial mistake. You should always be on the lookout for new products, new services that can help your business and new methods of marketing. I was guilty of this when it took me two years to recognize the marketing value of Twitter and Facebook. That mistake cost me thousands of dollars.
7. Take your losses early – Believe me I have been there. You purchase some inventory knowing you are going to make a killing and then it turns out it just won’t sell. Or maybe you set up a new venture and no matter how hard you work or how much you spend you just can’t get it to work. There is a time to be persistent and a time to quit. If you have inventory that is not selling, drop the price and get rid of it. You can use the money to invest into inventory that will sell.
8. Get help when you need it – I never had any formal training in writing. When I started writing my eBay books it showed. I would get email from readers pointing out mistakes in my books. Finally I realized that I needed help.
9. Network – Networking is nothing more than making friends and acquaintances with others who work in your field or related fields. I have even made friends with a few of my competitors. These are folks I can call on for advice. For example, my friend Jim Cockrum has become an expert on outsourcing.
10. Understand your expenses -- People go into business and start spending money and they have no idea if they are profitable or not. Experts claim that most new businesses fail because they are undercapitalized –that may be true for brick and mortar businesses. But most new businesses fail because they don’t understand their expenses and have no idea hot to track their cash flow.
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