And what to do instead…
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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
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:
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
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 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.
My recommendation for getting these legal policies set up as easily, painlessly, affordably and accurately, is by using customizable templates from 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
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 a list started because you’re not sure which email marketing software to choose, get The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Your Email Marketing Software here. 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
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.
Self-Sabotaging Online Business Mistake #5: Being afraid to sell too soon
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.
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Read the Business Beginner Basics series
- 5 Self-Sabotaging Online Business Mistakes (you are here)
- Does your online business have its own branded email yet?
- Why I don’t let my clients use copy-paste swipe files for Privacy Policies
- The reality about growing an audience and email list for your business
- Email marketing – connecting with your audience and nurturing those relationships
- Start selling in your business, even if you’re not ready yet