The 6 Top Business Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
It’s hard for any new business to succeed – statistics show that some 90 percent of new businesses fail within the first two years. But it doesn't help when business owners make glaring mistakes.
Many new business owners in particular are prone to make the same mistakes and any of them could seriously limit any chance of success. Often, when people try one or two different business ideas and fail, they give up completely, yet just by correcting some of these mistakes and spending time developing the right strategies, a business with no hope can be turned around and made into a profitable business with a promising future.
Here are the top 6 mistakes that business owners and Internet marketers make. Address these and you will substantially improve your chances.
- No niche
Trying to appeal to a mass market via the Internet is extremely challenging, yet so many entrepreneurs continue to do it, afraid they are going to miss out. The problem is that in such a big market, your website is competing against thousands of other businesses and you need an awful lot of marketing power and exceptionally good keywords to attract people to your website. Then you need to beat the competition when it comes to converting visitors to customers – basically, it’s a constant struggle.
However, you can be a big fish in a small pond when you opt for a niche market. Just by focusing in on a smaller area, you can reach your customers much more easily. For example, rather than try to reach the entire market for gardening products, focus on gardening tools for left-handed people, or rare garden plants (or books about them). Just by tightening your focus, you have a much improved chance of reaching your potential customers with targeted keywords and phrases.
Before you invest time and money in a business idea, always test it first. A good way to do this is to set up a landing page and try a Facebook advertising campaign or a Google AdWords campaign – you only pay when someone clicks through your advert to your web page, hence the name ‘pay per click’, so it should be a cheap and easy way to test the market. To make it an effective test, try a range of different adverts for the same product and evaluate the results. The main thing is to get your keywords right and you should start by brainstorming a list of keywords and phrases that are relevant to your product. Google has a free keyword tool that can help you with this and it allows you to see whether people are actually searching for your chosen keywords. It also gives a list of alternatives that you may not have thought of. The tool will help you to choose the right keyword for the bidding price – some of the less common keywords are cheaper – and when you have a tightly targeted niche, you can often reach your targeted prospects for a reasonable price.
If you want a more in-depth analysis of keywords, you can sign up for Wordtracker (www.wordtracker.com). You pay for this service but it is cheap enough and can give you a lot more information when you are ready to roll out your marketing. Don’t forget the key to your success with Internet marketing is getting your keywords right.
- The wrong products
There are several ways of choosing the right products:
- Develop something unique so there’s less competition
- Follow what other people are selling successfully
- Sell something popular but add a twist
The biggest mistake most entrepreneurs make is to sell the popular products that everyone else is selling to a mass market. Again, you need to narrow this down to a niche if you want to actually reach your customers.
Imagine how many entrepreneurs are out there watching the market for trends and jumping on the bandwagon every time a product looks set to take off. You only have to look at eBay to see the hundreds of sellers selling the same thing – the latest slimming product, the latest widget or whatever is the current fad. The problem with this is that you are constantly trying to beat everyone else to the sale and this results in a price war where no one makes much of a profit in the end. Also, many of these types of products have a very short life-cycle until the next fad takes the top spot. You end up in a race with every other seller to get there first.
So, should you sell something unique? Well, every business needs a USP and it always a good thing to have something different but it can be difficult and lengthy process to get a new product off the ground. Also, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of selling products and services that actually, nobody wants. They get all fired up about their new invention or a product they are particularly keen on but there is no market for it. It all becomes a bit of a gamble.
A compromise is to sell popular products that you know people want but add your own unique twist. How about combining two or more related and popular products into a unique package?
The best way to determine what products to sell is to do your market research. Ask the market what they want. You can do this by conducting a survey with your own customers, asking trusted business associates and by getting statistics from market research companies. Market research is absolutely essential but most entrepreneurs make the mistake of launching into a business without any idea of whether their products will sell. Be smart and know your market and your products.
- No marketing funnel
A marketing funnel is a system where you attract repeat sales by creating a series of products. Most Internet marketers are continually chasing more traffic to their website and struggling to get new customers. Yet they neglect the customers that have already bought from them and might well buy from them again.
The most successful businesses are based on this repeat business from a list of loyal customers. The trick is to create a marketing funnel where you draw new customers into the top of the funnel -- in other words the wide end -- with freebies, low-priced products, samples and so on and gradually step them up to higher priced products such as books, courses, DVDs and perhaps even seminars, workshops and personal mentoring.
By restricting your business to just one or two products, you will be continually chasing the next new customer. Think about how you can create a marketing funnel and a series of products for your business. These back-end products, as they are known, are generally much more profitable than the front-end products that attract your customers in the beginning, so it is a mistake to rely solely on one or two low-priced products.
- No SEO
Another big mistake that many business owners make is that they put all their effort into Internet marketing and advertising but neglect the one thing that can bring the most free traffic to their website. -- search engine optimisation (SEO).
People spend hours posting on Facebook and tweeting on Twitter and weeks writing articles and blog posts but forget how powerful SEO can be in getting targeted traffic to their website. Marketers spend huge amounts of money on pay per click advertising, yet most Internet users will only trust the organic listings anyway when they are searching for something.
All these other methods have their place, of course, but first and foremost you should pay attention to your SEO. Once you have that right, you can use your best keywords in all your other marketing strategies to create a co-ordinated marketing campaign. It is a big mistake to neglect SEO on your website, blog or landing page, spent plenty of time on this and make sure you get your keywords right. You can use tools such as Wordtracker and Google’s free keyword search tool to help you with this.
- No value
Too many business owners and Internet marketers are offering shoddy, poor quality products and wonder why they can't make a success of their business.
We've already seen that a successful business is one that offers a series of products via a marketing funnel. If your front-end products are poor quality then you are not going to persuade anyone to buy more from you, so you will never get to sell your really profitable back-end products.
Before you start marketing, take a critical look at your products and be honest about how good they really are. You should be proud of the things you are selling. Not just to build yourself a good reputation, but it makes business sense if you want to develop a long-term business that can provide you with a substantial residual income from back-end sales.
Giving up too soon
Plenty of studies have shown that it takes several positive contacts to make a sale -- seven in fact, on average. However, most Internet marketers give up trying when they don't make a sale after just two contacts with their enquiries. It really does pay to show persistence and keep contacting your list. Here's why…
50% of sales people give up after 1 contact
65% give up after 2 contacts
79.8% give up after 3 contacts
89.8% of those people give up after 4 contacts
Practically all salespeople have given up after 6 contacts
80% of sales are made on the 5th contact -- yet only 10.2% of salespeople are still following up!
94% of prospects will have bought after 7 contacts -- yet hardly anyone is still in touch with their prospects
If you are still in touch with your prospects after 8 positive contacts, you are likely to have made a sale if you are ever going to, so don't give up too soon.
The best way to stay in touch with your list without appearing too pushy is to create a newsletter that you send out by e-mail. This gives you the perfect excuse to contact people but make sure you give them something worthwhile so that they will actually open your e-mails. Dig out some interesting information, the latest news and throw in a few freebies here and there, and you will help people to connect with you and hopefully buy something after that magic number of around 7 positive contacts.
Another mistake business owners make is that they spend time initially setting up marketing strategies but fail to keep it going. Marketing is what keeps your business alive and unfortunately, it has to be done constantly. One way to make your marketing more effective so that you cut down the time, effort and the money you spend on marketing it to evaluate what works best for your business. This means testing and analysing all your marketing strategies.
Most business owners use a scattergun approach to marketing without ever finding out what really works, yet spending time testing and analysing where your customers are coming from its vital. If you know that one or two strategies are bringing in the majority of your traffic, you can forget the strategies that don't work and concentrate on those that do, saving you time, effort and money.