I know he’s going to love me for saying this, but, my husband is such a geek! He LOVES Mythbusters, and I often catch him sneakily watching episodes when I am working. Anyway, listening from my office the other night, it got me thinking. What are some of the myths about running an online business? What are some of the things I have heard that might stop you from finding success online, and more importantly what is the truth behind them.
1. It’s easy and anyone can do it!
Yes and no! Of course I believe anyone can do it, or Busy Bird & Co wouldn’t exist. Is it easy though? No – or at least, not as easy as it used to be. Of course its not rocket science either J But being seen in a saturated web is becoming increasingly challenging and time consuming. Bloggers and online entrepreneurs are having to do more to find and engage their audience. Social Media has increased from 2 platforms to…. Well to be honest goodness knows how many! New ones launch on almost a daily basis. And whilst most will never become the next Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, the savvy online entrepreneur knows that being an early adopter is the key to mastering any Social Media platform. And then of course there are the challenges of running your own business! Being your own boss is wonderfully liberating and rewarding, but its not without its challenges. (I think that’s a whole other post though)
If you want to start your online business because you think it is an easy way to make money, my advice would be don’t do it! If on the other hand, you have a genuine desire to share your passion, to offer a great service, to create a product that will be loved, then read on J
2. You must know EVERYTHING before you launch!
No, no and no! If this were true, I would still be working 9 to 5 as a Finance Manager. It isn’t possible to know everything from day one. In fact, if you wait until you feel you know everything, you will never start! Because the online world is constantly evolving. There is always new technology to learn, changes, updates and improvements to be made. It is one of the greatest things about being an online entrepreneur – and one of the biggest challenges! Will you make mistakes? Sure! Will you get things wrong? Most definitely! But that is how you will learn.
3. You must be on EVERY Social Media platform.
It is true to say Social Media plays a big part in the story of many successful online businesses (mine included) But whilst I would always advise claiming your profile on any Social Media platform, you DO NOT have to maintain a presence on them all. In fact, even attempting to master Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, SnapChat, Ello, Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Reddit, etc there is a danger of spreading yourself too thin and not finding success on any.
My advice would be to focus your time and efforts on two, or three at most, key platforms. What those two or three are will very much depend on your business and where you are most likely to find your audience.
4. Once you launch your website, your audience/customers will find you.
I’m afraid this isn’t true either! Maybe it used to be, back in the early days of the web, but now there are more than 75 million websites on WordPress alone and 440 Million blogs in the world (according to MediaKix), you need to shine bright to be seen.
Finding and growing your audience takes time, effort and something that resembles a strategy. It will involve consistency, finding a voice, mastering social media marketing, building an email list, networking, collaborating, and some long days. But it will be worth it, I promise! I mastered all of these things though by myself, with trial and error and built a thriving business that allowed me to give up my day job, work from home (get my longed for puppy) and do something I love.
5. The quickest way to build a following is to ask people to follow you.
No!…. Well, ok, so maybe this one might work to begin with. But not the right sort of followers – no, not all followers are created equally. Its easy to get bogged down in the number of followers you have. But its not the number that’s important, its the engagement. It is far better to have 1000 engaged followers, a tribe of likeminded individuals who love what you do, than 2000 followers who followed you because you followed them first!
Growing an engaged audience relies on authenticity. So, find your voice, stay true to yourself and your brand on Social Media, and the right kind of followers will find you.
6. Choosing a narrow niche limits your business.
No, no, no, no, no! Of course this might feel counter intuitive. You want to cast your net as wide as possible to maximise your catch (or cash) but trying to be everything to everyone will get you exactly nowhere.
Trust me when I say choosing a niche is the secret to success. Choosing a niche, and sticking to it, is what will engage those followers we talked about. It will help your business attract the right audience and stand out from the crowd.
7. Running an online business costs nothing!
It is easy to be fooled into thinking that because you’re not having to pay for premises (be it a shop, a warehouse, an office) that running an online business is cost free, but that is far from the truth.
Here are a few must haves:
Domain Name – an annual cost to buy and retain the domain for your website.
Hosting – a monthly cost for hosting your website/blog. And hosting is something that is worth investing in wisely! Whilst there may be some cheap hosting options out there, your online business is your source of income, so protect it wisely!
Email List Software – with the recent changes in Social Media having a database of followers that you own and have complete control over is becoming increasingly important, so make this a priority when you launch your online business.
A separate Bank Account – from day one all income and costs should be kept separate from your personal account. You, and your accountant, will thank me when it comes to year end!
Accounting Fees and/or Software – no matter how big or small your business, managing your accounts is imperative. Whilst you might be able to manage it yourself (with an excel spreadsheet and a strong coffee) I would always recommend this is something that should be left to the professionals. Investing in Accounting Software might save you a few $s when it comes to year end.
And here are a few things I would advise investing in – right from the beginning:
Branding – branding is so much more than just a logo. It is not an exaggeration to say that for any business the right branding can be the difference between success and failure!
Website Design – by far the most important investment you will make in launching your online business. Whatever your subject, service or product, your website must be designed with your audience in mind,
Social Media Management Software – this might be a nice to have, but investing in software to help you manage and schedule your Social Media will, in the long run, save you time and make your life so much easier. And anything that does those two things is definitely something worth investing in.
8. If you haven’t done it already, you’re too late!
Its never too late! And I strongly believe this. I hear from so many people with a great idea who believe they’ve left it too late to follow their dream. They tell me someone out there has beaten them to it – already offers the same service, has already designed a similar product, already writes about their particular passion. But the web is wide (world wide!) and there is room for everyone.
So it’s not too late for you to start your online business, but there’s no better time to start it than today!