Starting an online business is often an attractive option for the first-time entrepreneur since start-up costs are typically low, and that means less risk. But entrepreneurs who want their online businesses to succeed should make sure to avoid these “money-saving” mistakes.
With Your Online Business Think Low-Cost, Not Cheap
Many aspiring entrepreneurs, in an attempt to be frugal, will look for any way to avoid spending money. But, as I describe in the tips below, there is a fine line past which frugal business becomes cheap, and that is where you don’t want to go.
The barriers to entry for an online or e-commerce business appear to be low, but many people are taking advantage of that these days, and the amount of competition you are likely to face will be staggering. For this reason and others, if you are looking to start an online or e-commerce small business, then avoid these mistakes:
- Not registering your own domain name. Your domain name is not just your address on the Internet, it plays an influential role in your online brand. A domain name that is “ugly,” too long, or hard to remember can seriously affect the traffic to your site. Moreover, the actual cost to register a domain name is nominal (usually about $10/yr), so you really don’t have much of an excuse not to register it.
- Going with a free hosting service. While there is definitely a time and place for free hosting, in general it’s not a good option for a serious online business. There are several reasons for this. First, nothing spells cheap like seeing the url: firstname.lastname@example.org. You’re making a very clear statement to potential visitors and customers that you do not care to invest in your site, and if you don’t care, then why should they? Second, free hosting services may be lacking in up-time reliability as well as vital support systems. Third, many reliable paid hosting services offer cost-effective plans ($10- $15 month), so again you don’t have much of an excuse not to use a paid service.
- DIY website and logo. Unless you are a designer or artist, then you should avoid trying to design your company’s website and logo by yourself. At the very least, pay for a good website builder or logo designer. At best, hire someone to do the job. One way to keep the costs low if you want to hire someone, is post your needs on some of the freelance sites, such as freelancer.com. You could also post your project as well as your budget for it on crowdsourcing sites such as DesignCrowd or CrowdSpring- just be warned that the quality of what you receive may or may not be adequate for what you need.
- Falling for quick success promises. Success with an online line business typically takes time and a lot of work. Those paid services promising to give you thousands of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or visitors to your website, etc. will probably not help your business in the long-run. Even if you do end up with these numbers, these people will not be the kind of loyal followers who will do real business with you.
- Failing to pay for help when needed. There are many ways to successfully market your online business on the Internet. Using social media, posting on forums, registering with SEO-friendly directories, strategic article marketing, and writing blog posts on your own blog and others, are some tried and true strategies. But to do them right, you may need the paid counsel and services of a professional web marketer. The same is true of many other of your business functions, such as your finances. You won’t be saving any real money if your business suffers as a result of your ignorance or inexperience in key areas.
Bottom line: If you want to start a successful online business, sometimes you just have to pay for it.