Online business isn’t just about having a great idea and selling it to as many people as you can. You can have the best idea ever but even with enough exposure it may fail, taking your investment with it, along with your hopes and dreams. It’s not impossible, but it’s not so simple. Otherwise, everybody would be doing it.
You may be a freelancer that owns an agency, an entrepreneur sitting at the head of a product or service-based business or you may be a digital nomad making it online some other way – online businesses can turn sour for anybody, and you have to be prepared to diagnose your problem before it gets worse.
In this article, I’ve put together a number of reasons why your online business can stop growing and begin to suffer, leading to a drop in your sales, a loss of revenue and possible failure of your entire project.
Study your company as you read this: you may already be suffering from these symptoms but haven’t realized it yet. You’re going to be thankful to me when you do.
Online entrepreneurs are a daring kind of people. While old-fashioned people see us as lazy (because we’re on a PC all day instead of out on the fields or greased-up under a car), cowardly (because we’re not out selling door-to-door or meeting our clients face-to-face) or just plain inferior to them (because we do things more efficiently), we all know the amount of effort and competition we have to worry about to make money in this modern society.
Don’t tell me you haven’t once seen a competitor in your market and wondered: “How the hell is this person making so much more than I am, when my product or service is just as good?!” It happens, again and again. Entrepreneurs these days are no longer giant sharks in a big wide ocean; we’re sardines cramped in a tiny pool, fighting for the pieces of meat (profitable ventures) that are floating around and waiting to be eaten.
But you can’t be an online entrepreneur if you won’t take risks. Not an effective one, at least. You won’t be making big money, you won’t be reaching as many clients, and your lack of confidence will be so clear to the competition that you’ll be chewed up and spat out.
Take risks, stop giving everything too much thought. Start turning your best ideas into projects. Don’t lose this opportunity to make something special.
I’ve been at the receiving end of this one, and I hate it.
Having worked for many entrepreneurs since I began freelancing in mid-2015, I have learned to identify the patient ones that are set for the highest levels of success from the impatient ones that will never be on the top tiers. Patience is key if you want to succeed.
The online businesses led by impatient entrepreneurs are usually doomed to fail, but why? It’s simple, impatient businessmen and businesswomen aren’t interested in the quality of the results they accomplish, they’re interested in how quickly these results are reached.
If they’re setting people to work on social media, they’ll want to increase their followers to huge numbers, no matter if the accounts following them are potential customers or just numbers. If they produce videos, articles or courses, they want the most videos, articles or courses uploaded as possible, not concentrate on making a few excellent ones.
You know you’re impatient when none of your business ideas last very long. Maybe you had your blog writer prepare a few articles and then you rapidly moved him on to social media. Or you made three or four podcasts and stopped because nobody was watching them. Perhaps you made your first video and then never made the second because YouTube didn’t make it monetizable within six months. If you laughed and nodded at any of these, you now can be certain that you’re an impatient entrepreneur.
Give things time and allow workers to do their thing. Prepare for the long run and don’t expect immediate results. Everything will work out in the end. Don’t lose hope on what you’re making.
Everyone wants to expand their income streams to cover as many things as they can, following the instructions of gurus and millionaires who tell you to invest in real estate, cryptocurrency, stock trading, start-ups, social media, dropshipping, freelancing, YouTube, Patreon… the works.
But real life doesn’t work that way. Those gurus and those millionaires didn’t reach where they are now thanks to the fact that they threw a dime into each of those ventures and worked simultaneously on making them grow. Very, very few of the marketing giants actually produce content for all their media channels, much less invest in every single passive income stream they tout during their teachings. Don’t expect to be able to, no matter how hard you try.
In freelancing, I recommend finding a niche and stick with it. Sure, you can perform dozens of different roles – such as a writer that also manages social media, acts as a virtual assistant and does email marketing - but always stick to one niche at the end of the day and grow within it. This can be applied to online business, in the sense that you can definitely perform a handful of roles, but you will never excel by dividing your attention into eight different ventures.
All you will be doing is keeping your eyes from the prize. You just have to find which of them is the actual prize.
Make the tough decisions and choose what is going to perform the best for you. You are going to make money, but only by focusing on what is right. Don’t despair, multiple income streams will come later when you have more time and money.
Business grows and changes, just like everything else does. What worked in 2017 no longer works in 2019, and the strategies you used to beat certain marketing or sales algorithms no longer work on your favorite websites. That’s completely okay, but it means that you also have to keep up with the changes.
Evolution is survival. All the species on Earth have had to do it, and the ones that didn’t accomplish it quick enough soon died out. Entrepreneurs must avoid being those animals that became extinct, withering away as better, smarter animals came and devoured them.
You have to evolve continually, dedicating plenty of your time and resources to learning new methods, practicing new skills and developing fresh approaches to your business. A tip - keep an eye out on the marketing experts, many of them know best when it comes to this.
Don’t allow yourself or your business to stagnate or come to a standstill. You must always be learning, always be developing yourself and your strategies. Don’t be left behind by the times and the competition, it is a stupid way to fail.
This one sounds a bit too vague, so let’s put it into perspective: there are leaders, and there are bosses.
Leaders are the entrepreneurs who take the reins of the business and know what needs to be done. They direct the members of their organizations but make sure to participate, constantly providing feedback and providing their employees with motivation when needed. This is the type of entrepreneur you must aspire to be, always involved and at the forefront of everything.
On the other hand, bosses are the people who sit back and send their employees tasks, giving little else but a bit of information and a deadline, handing over a payment when they’re done. They know very little of what their worker is doing, and they don’t care if the people in their organization are motivated or not, just that the money is rolling on. This is the kind of entrepreneur you don’t want to be.
If you’re not ready to be a leader, train to be one. Being a boss is not enough, and it can hurt everything you’ve worked so hard to build. Don’t see workers as tools. They’re people, just like you, and they’re making you money!
It’s funny that you can never have too much of something. In the previous point we talked about how you need to keep your employees happy and be a leader, however, you must learn to moderate the amount of motivation you hand out, especially in monetary terms.
If you’re paying your workers too much, handing out too many bonuses and feeling too willing to reward everybody with praise whenever they do things as you expect them to, you’re going to create less competitive and less hungry members of your organization that don’t perform for results but for praise and bonuses. This isn’t what you want.
Be smart with your money and your praise. Keep the environment tense, if not hostile, and make sure your workers are always fighting for that well-earned praise and those juicy bonuses. It will serve them well for their futures as much as yours.
Don’t go overboard on motivating your workers. They only deserve so much of it, and you should identify how much that is. Don’t spoil them, make it feel like a true reward.
Do you remember the time when you could just set up a website, mention it in a few places and wait for the traffic to come pouring in?
Some might be too young for those times, but they were present once. Since before, there used to be two or three big competitors per niche, it was easy to generate traffic. Sure, not as many people used the internet then as now, so there was less money moving around, but it was easier to be the pioneer in a market.
Now, though… you’re always competing with somebody. Begin Wandering, for example, is in two incredibly tough markets – “make money online” and “travel blog”, meaning that we’re dealing with big companies, influencers and experts who have been here longer than us.
In this sense, marketing is crucial. You need to get your name out there, putting it in front of your potential clients and sell them whatever it is you’re offering without any shame. Sure, you can use Facebook and Google Ads, but you can also find free channels in the shape of Facebook groups, Twitter, Quora and more. Use your imagination!
Invest in marketing whenever you need it, and don’t be afraid to learn more on YouTube and other resources. Your brand needs to be exposed to get anywhere. Don’t worry about costs if you’re doing well thanks to the marketing you’re investing in, it’ll all come back in returns.
Sometimes, the business idea of your dreams turns out to be something completely different, and you don’t like it anymore. Maybe you never liked it, and it was always about the money, who knows?
If that’s the case, you may just end up being an outsider within your own online company. You’ll be sitting on the sidelines looking in, and it’ll feel like every accomplishment only half belongs to you.
If you want to make your online business grow and your value to grow as an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared to handle even the things you don’t love. This is a life of challenges, and ‘challenge’ means you’re going to be put to the test. Nobody said it would be easy. Get involved and start being at the forefront of your company’s growth. You can always sell your venture when it’s big enough for you to do so. It’ll be the most satisfying money you’ll ever earn.
Avoid putting space between yourself and the business you’ve started. Get involved, get close and stay there; it’s just a matter of time before you can become an integral piece in your organization. Don’t back out from your own online business because it’s not your favorite market. Compromise!
Does it make you feel awkward when you read that the best businessmen and businesswomen sleep 8 hours and work the other 16? Do you feel that you spend more time checking out your favorite celebrity’s social media and less time on growing as a professional? Do your employees end up growing tired of waiting for answers to their questions while you slack off doing something else?
You may be suffering from a horrible control of your time, or bad time management. Aside from reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, you can also start fixing your calendar and using apps to make things easier. Schedule posts, delegate and get all the necessary apps for time-saving (Asana, Slack, even WhatsApp can help) and stop wasting your time, your employees’ and your company’s!
Not only will you start making more money, but you will also achieve more goals, have more grateful and content employees/associates, and you won’t have the terrible reputation of being a time waster!
Control your time – it is yours and nobody else’s! Get yourself some time-saving tools, delegate and start ensuring that the least amount of time is wasted as possible. Don’t lose control of your life!
Look, the above sentence means a simple but cruel truth: your brand is ugly. Yep, just as you’ve read it – nobody wants anything to do with your brand, website or social media, because it looks like something that was pulled up on Paint ’95 or made by a 7 year old.
Many things can be wrong about your website, whether it’s your funnel, your email marketing or your copy… but if your brand and its resources are simply ugly, you won’t be getting anywhere. Invest in a graphic designer that can align with what you’re looking for, and keep an eye on their work.
Also, make sure to have a UX (user experience) specialist look at everything if you’re going large-scale. They can make things go from “Oh, look” to “Wow!”
Make your resources beautiful if you want people to love them. Much of what we love is what we see, so focus at least part of your efforts, time and investments on this. Don’t waste the opportunity to make a site that can bring sales without doing anything other than looking nice!
This one is something that I see very often. People haven’t actually set up their sales process properly or simply don’t lead their users to buy. If you’re selling something, you need to make it so people can access it as easy and straightforward as they can. You need to make your content point at your products, and the sales process itself easy and trustworthy.
On BeginWandering.com we don’t really sell anything yet (big YET, as we’re soon to launch a line of moneymaking and travel courses which you’ll love, as well as books), but I have some ideas of how we’ll approach this. A post about this will come soon.
If you can’t help your users get to handing over their credit card info and pressing “buy”, your business will never grow past a certain stage. Fix this if it doesn’t work or you’ll be in trouble!
The act of buying requires ease and trust. If you don’t give the user both of these things, you won’t sell a single dollar. Be smart and do this right! Don’t scare potential customers off with hard-to-use payment systems and a complicated website!
I’m guilty of this one, unfortunately. I’m also surrounded by people who are inconsistent as well. I want to do so many things at once, as well as one after the other, and I end up doing everything for a short while… and nothing in the end.
This is a terrible curse for many entrepreneurs, who believe they can do everything and still have time for leisure. You don’t! Trust me, you simply can’t do it all and stay consistently good at them. You have to focus. Focus! It’s the best way forward.
Being consistent means focusing, and it means that you have to produce more of what works, not everything of what MIGHT work. Concentrate now and make it so that you know what you’re aiming to provide your customers… and then give them more.
Being consistent allows your brand to gain more recognition and your bank account to grow through sales. If you can produce what people like and keep them addicted to it, you’ve won. Don’t branch out into a hundred things unless you have a hundred people to work on them – focus on what you know and what your customers want!
The last but nowhere near the least of these items – this is more about motivation than anything else. In fact, this is the true killer of entrepreneurs. Self-belief, where everything stems from; the source of this desire to become an entrepreneur and to believe that you’re going to make sales, find clients and build a community with what you know and what you’re selling. If you don’t have this, you’re screwed.
Alright, so…how does one grow their self-belief? How do you get the motivation? It isn’t easy, but you have to start by looking at your audience. It’s simple in this sense – what do they need? Why do you think you’re the expert and can solve their problems? Because I can assure you, you can fix their issues. You just need to look inside yourself and see what you can provide them. Look inside and find the answers. They’re there. You’re an expert, not just a salesperson. You can save them!
Once you can believe in yourself once again, you’ll recover your growth as an entrepreneur, because what is an entrepreneur without self-belief and confidence in their knowledge and abilities?
Maintain belief in yourself and your knowledge – it is what will keep your business strong and your brand growing. Find motivational sources if you’re having trouble with something, and don’t be afraid to seek help! Don’t allow your energy to drain and your happiness to disappear!
Of course, these are just 13 Reasons, but they are the main reasons why you’ll stop growing (hopefully temporarily) in business. Address each and every one, and you will continue to succeed. Believe in yourself, control your time and improve your management, and everything will be just as you want it!
Good luck, Wanderer! You’re going to need it!
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Founder, Head Content Creator. Chemical Engineer. Entrepreneur. Instructor. Writer. Traveler. Once a cog in the traditional workforce machine, I decided to stake my claim in the freelancing business and haven’t looked back since. Working remotely is the first step to freedom, bringing you the ability to call your own shots and organize your own time. Now, however... I'm going to teach you how.