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3 Reasons Your Online Business is Failing (And What to Do About It)

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A lot of businesses fail. It’s the reality of entrepreneurship. However, the Internet business sector has a different mentality. Just as many of these businesses fail as do business in other sectors, but there’s often a victim mentality at play with online businesses.

Online business owners somehow believe that their business is failing in spite of them—when the reality is that it’s failing because of them.

Internet businesses often fail for the following three reasons. If this sounds like your business, you can still do something about it before it’s too late.

1. You don’t have a business model

Figure out your business model from the start. Don’t fool yourself and say that you’ll figure one out when you get X amount of readers, users or another arbitrary number. Those vanity metrics don’t really mean anything. Hammer out your business model as soon as you start your business.

Answer this one question: How many different ways can someone give you money?

If the answer is zero, you have a problem. If people can’t pay you for anything, don’t be surprised if and when they…gasp!…don’t give you money.

You are not Instagram. Facebook will not buy you out of the blue for $1 billion. Build a business model into your business from the get-go and don’t wait for the money part to “just happen.”

How to fix this problem: Create a product answering someone’s question. Offer a service to solve someone’s problem. You can even put a big donation button on your site. Whatever you do, create at least one way for people to give you money. Yes, it’s that simple.

2. You still think it’s all about you

Nope. That’s not how it works.

Build something for others. Find out what problems they have. Then solve them.

I don’t care how much you love ice cream. If you all you want to do is eat ice cream and talk about ice cream all day, you’ll never actually have a business (you’ll just spend a lot of time eating ice cream and getting fat).

Instead, try ranking, curating and organizing all the best types of ice cream out there. Help ice cream parlors promote their businesses and bring in more customers. If you’re feeling particularly gung-ho, create your own brand of ice cream that is somehow better than all the other brands of ice cream out there.

Bloggers fall into this trap all the time. They want to talk about what they’re interested in—instead of talking what other people want to talk about or solving problems other people need solved.

For example, instead of blogging about your transformation on the Paleo diet, try sharing helpful resources, tools and food lists to help others make the transition, too. Yes, your story is interesting, but the tools are more useful to other people and thus more valuable.

How to fix this problem: Cut yourself out of the equation. Talk obsessively to other people about what they need—then deliver it.

3. You think “online business” means “easy business”

Too many people think they just need an Internet connection to get started. They somehow think that also means that as long as they have a website, all the other hard parts of business go away. Not true!

Remember the whole problem-solving thing we mentioned earlier? That means you have to actually do work, so bust out some elbow grease! The reason it’s a problem in the first place is because there was enough of a barrier at some point in time for someone to think “this is hard” and give up before solving it.

That means you need to step in and fill that space. It might not be easy, but it’s probably not as difficult as you imagine it to be, either.

Regardless of the difficulty, if you can fix a problem or find a solution for someone’s pain, there’s a good chance they’ll pay for your service or product.

How to fix this problem: Don’t be afraid to do the hard work. The reason it’s hard is the same reason it’s valuable. Do what other people aren’t willing to do, and you’ll benefit.

Are you guilty of making any of these mistakes? How are you going to change them?

Joel Runyon is the creator of Impossible HQ and runs an online marketing agency, Impossible Agency. Follow him on Twitter @joelrunyon.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • Sarah P @ jillsjobs.com

    I definitely think people, in general, take the “online business” idea for granted. That it will be a piece of cake. Maybe 10 yrs ago…but now….there’s so many layers and processes that must be addressed professionally and efficiently. I think a lot of “startups” get overwhelmed by the amount of work an online business actually takes. We’ve put a LOT of time into our start up and some days it feels like watching the slowest grandfather clock tick each second by….

  • Dan C

    First of all think how you can solve a problem. Only after you figured that out, try and turn it into a business. If you can’t turn it into a business, build an app for it. Of course, we can help you with that: http://www.neobytesolutions.com/

  • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    Great piece. I agree with what you wrote.

    I would add that people commonly go into business because they like solving a particular problem (like helping people eat Paleo), but don’t realize that at least half of their time will be spent working on letting people know their business even exists (marketing).

    I know a lot of great coaches who are excellent at what they do, but are having trouble because they haven’t learned how to market effectively. Running a profitable business means you need to do both your core competency and your marketing well.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2254LVpSgmQ azerty342

    thanks for share

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