In 2019, Ecommerce sales in the UK were predicted to reach £106.46 billion(1) so there is great potential to be successful when starting an online business. However, a large number of businesses online fail and in many cases, it’s due to easily avoided errors. Here we consider some common mistakes to be aware of and to avoid.
Underestimating cash requirements
Whilst a huge benefit of starting an online business is the reduction in costs incurred, there is still a need for cash. For example, it is vital to invest in the domain and hosting for your website, as well as the design of the site itself and any marketing requirements.
Depending on your business model, there may also be requirements for stock and operational costs. In addition, your new business will take some time to consistently make money, so with any fledgeling online enterprise, you need to budget for sufficient cash to cover your needs.
Lack of planning
The ingenious idea you have for a service or product is a great starting point but it won’t be enough on its own to succeed. It can feel boring and time consuming but it is vital to research before starting your online business and launching with a concrete plan of action. Things to consider include your audience and how to reach them; competitors; scalability; and collaboration opportunities.
Vulnerable online security
Cybersecurity is crucial, even for the smallest online business. Hackers are able to steal customer data, plant malware on the network or disable the business website, all of which can have a dramatic and costly impact. Ensure that you are up to date with the latest cybersecurity precautions and put in place strategies such as secure password policies, antivirus software and the use of VPN services to secure your internet connection.
Ignoring opportunities for change
Markets continually change and businesses that are unable to adapt will fail. Recognising changes in the market and being willing to alter your own business, perhaps fundamentally, will increase your chances of creating a successful, long-lasting business.
Expectations of overnight success
Most people have heard that new businesses are unlikely to be profitable in the first year but it is important to remember this and apply it equally when starting an online business. Whilst the overheads are significantly reduced when trading online, a secure income can only be assured after careful strategising and lots of hard work.
Overusing social media
With so many social media channels available these days, it can be tempting to set up a business profile and try to exploit every platform and reach the widest possible audience. However, the time and investment necessary to reach customers on all the social media platforms out there can be prohibitive.
It is far more sensible to research different platforms and decide on one or two that will fit your audience and your budget. A small amount of time and budget can allow you to really get to know and interact with your customers in a meaningful way.
Setting up and running your own business is an opportunity for growth and success but to truly achieve this, it is vital to pre-empt the more obvious potential mistakes. Good luck!