And what to do instead…

Person Stepped on Gum

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Starting an online business to offer your digital products or services can be really profitable.

And you’re here to profit from your business, right?

Let’s look at 5 self-sabotaging mistakes that online business owners make, and more importantly, what to do instead. 

Self-Sabotaging Online Business Mistake #1: Using a personal email address

Black and Gray Digital Device

Using a personal email address for your business can definitely sabotage your efforts. 

Some business software and services require a professional email address to create an account, so you may not be able to sign up for all the tools you need. It can also look spammy to potential clients who then ignore your email, meaning your reach-outs fall on deaf ears – err, eyeballs?

Instead, get a professional aka branded email address. To do that, get a web domain (I recommend Namecheap for super affordable domains). 

Then sign up for webmail. My two recommendations here are:

Best Choice

Google Workspace

  • Most user friendly
  • Affordable
Best Value


  • Most affordable
  • Quick to set up

The best part?

You can start using your branded email right away.

Nope, you don’t even need to have a website up and running. 

And you’ll show up professionally and in a trustworthy way to your clients and potential clients. 

If you want to read a bit more on this topic, check out this article.

Self-Sabotaging Online Business Mistake #2: Ignoring your basic legal policies 

Close-up Photo of a Paper on a Vintage Typewriter

Not getting your Privacy Policy, and your Terms & Conditions squared away from the get-go can definitely sabotage your business efforts. 

If you’re like most business owners just starting out, reading that last sentence got your heart racing and you maybe even threw up in your mouth just a little.

Let me start by saying I’m not a legal expert, so please consult one for your own business if you so choose. 

When you’re taking someone’s private data, like a name and email to grow your list or just to communicate with folks for business purposes, you need a privacy policy that states how you handle and protect their data. Not only is this good practice but it’s required in most places around the world. 

When you’re taking money in exchange for offers, having Terms & Conditions set up helps to protect you against liability and helps your customers know what to expect. 

Don’t worry, this mistake is easy to avoid, or fix! And no, it’s NOT by using copy-paste “swipes” that you find on the internet. For more thoughts on this, check out this article

Get yourself a custom Privacy Policy, and Terms & Conditions, that fits and reflects your own business. 

My recommendation for getting these legal policies set up as easily, painlessly, affordably and accurately, is by using customizable templates from Contract Club

Our Pick

Contract Club

Contract Club includes customizable legal templates (with easy-to-follow instructions) for the privacy policies and web terms that we’ve talked about so far, as well as contract templates for almost every part of your business that you may need… all for a low, one-time fee (no ongoing subscription costs!)

Self-Sabotaging Online Business Mistake #3: Waiting to grow an email list

Free stock photo of audience, auditorium, bleachers

If you’re doing business online and you haven’t started growing an email list, or maybe you’re waiting until you feel you need to, you are definitely self-sabotaging your business efforts. I learnt this the hard way when I had to change how I operated my business. 

I used to rely exclusively, and successfully, on word of mouth referrals for over five years. Then life happened, I had to change my business model, and I had no audience to market to. Yes, I also thought that would never happen to *me*, so I caution you… even if you feel you don’t need a list right now, start one anyway!

There are two main ways you can build a list:

  • Without ads
  • With ads

Building a list without using ads is the cheapest way to build your list. It also takes more time and effort on your part, meaning it will take longer to see results. 

Building a list using ads is much faster. If you have the budget, this is definitely a strategy that will give you quicker results. 

Of course you can always use a combination of the two. 


If you don’t have an email list started because you’re not sure which email marketing software to choose, get The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Your Email Marketing Software by clicking below. 

Get My Guide

It’ll narrow down your choices and help guide your decision to choosing a platform that works for your business and your current situation.

If you want to build your list, check out this article for more details and recommendations

Self-Sabotaging Online Business Mistake #4: Forgetting to connect with your audience

Photo of Men and Women Holding Blank Signboards

If you are building an audience of some kind, whether it’s on social media, email, or both, you might still be sabotaging your efforts if you don’t connect with them regularly. 

Your audience is surrounded by messaging and marketing all day, every day, both positively and negatively. And if they don’t hear from you often enough, they may forget you. 

If they forget you, they won’t read your emails or posts, and that will signal to the internet gods that your messages aren’t worth showing – thus getting you caught up in spam filters or being squashed by the dreaded algorithm. 

Regular messages are one of the key factors for busting through and reaching your audience. What does that mean, specifically?

“Regularly” depends on your particular type of business (and certainly doesn’t mean daily or bust). Regularly simply means that your audience is hearing from you often enough to remember who you are, and you’re nurturing that relationship.

Check out this article for more benefits of nurturing those relationships, plus tips if you don’t know what to say.

Self-Sabotaging Online Business Mistake #5: Being afraid to sell too soon

Sale Sign In A Miniature Shopping Cart And Paper Bag

If you wait too long to let your audience know that you offer something for sale, you could be sabotaging your business. 

That’s because your audience can get used to getting free content from you, and it can feel jarring if you suddenly make an offer after ages of only ever providing free content.

Sprinkle mention of your offers right into your welcome sequence onwards. You have one of those, right? If not, click here to snag a free template

It’s okay if you start growing your audience before you have something for sale. In fact, I recommend it. But it’s also important to seed the message that you are, in fact, a business. In this case, you can tease your upcoming products, create a waitlist, offer a poll for input on your product development, and so much more. 

If selling something scares you a little, I recommend starting small and building up from there. That lets you validate your offer and build out something more robust with input from your customers!

You can even pre-sell a product so that you don’t waste time creating something that doesn’t sell. Check out this article for more tips on getting started with selling.

Bonus tips


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