If you're in the process of starting a small online business, then make sure you take a look at these three most common, and damaging, mistakes entrepreneurs make.
Unfortunately, most people tend to make the biggest mistakes early on while their fledgling startup is still very fragile. That's just the nature of business. The hardest part is earning the first dollar - after that it usually gets easier.
The fact is, the vast majority of all online startups fail - or fail to even earn a cent. But, by avoiding these common pitfalls it is possible to radically increase your chances of success and turn a decent profit.
The biggest difference between entrepreneurs and business owners who succeed, and those who fail, most often lies in how they work with money.
Many people try to save as much cash as they can, preferring to work day and night on aspects of their startups on which they have little skills or expertise. Not a good way to do things - trust me, I learned the hard way.
The truth is, from a business perspective, that capital is actually a tool to grease the wheels and grow the business quickly. So, the most effective productivity tool you will ever have at your disposal is money - cold hard cash.
Every second request for help I see from business owners wondering why Google has dropped their site from the search results (and killing their Web traffic) is how to fix the damage done by the "SEO company" they hired.
It's not uncommon for genuine businesses to have to lay off staff or even shut their doors entirely as a result of a Google penalty cutting off a significant portion of their income (derived from organic search traffic).
Google's attitude is that they were caught using Web spam to artificially increase their rankings, and they are within their rights to penalize them indefinitely.
Now, I hate spam as much as the next person, and normally I would be cheering Google on - except that I don't think it is constructive for small businesses to be going under because they hired bad SEO experts.
Starting and running a successful small, home or online business these days means that you are going to have to rely on technology to handle most things - if not everything.
There isn't a single aspect of the modern business that doesn't have software, online software, cloud solutions, or innovative hardware and gadgets to save time, streamline processes, maximize efficiency, and save on costs.
The problem, especially for first time business owners, is knowing which technology is the right one for your company, and how to use it effectively to ensure that it provides value and/or good returns.
There's a lot of competition and a lot of potential in America's eCommerce industry, and having a better startup idea than the next person might be all it takes to succeed (well, that and hard work).
eCommerce has grown consistently over the last 10 years despite large scale problems in the U.S. economy. This makes it one of the best industries for entrepreneurs to get into.
But, what you really need to drive decent profits is differentiation. Offer a store that isn't like everything else out there. Fortunately, the vast majority of eCommerce sites do the same old thing without adding much value - and offer less competition as a result.
Starting a new online business can get expensive and difficult fast; unless you're using the right tools and technologies to simplify things.
Many entrepreneurs find their precious time being consumed by technical problems as they search for the right tech products and services to meets their needs.
Wasting time, money and energy on the wrong Web platform, bad hosting, expensive custom Web development and design, integration with accounting and payment systems, and other 3rd party tools for marketing, can massively increase the risk of failure.
Social media marketing is one of those things that most entrepreneurs and small business owners wonder if they really need.
In general, my answer is yes, but I need to qualify that by saying that the amount of time, effort and cash you invest in social must be proportional to the returns you want (and can realistically achieve).
I serve on the board of a wonderful not-for-profit, registered charity, and we have utilized the tools and technologies provided by the Web, and in particular, social media, to drive visibility, engagement, and awareness that would simply be out of reach otherwise.
Small retail businesses and eCommerce sites need to consistently choose the best products to sell in order to maximize their profits.
But trying to find this information is not always easy, and there are plenty of "silver bullet" sites (and con men) that will try to make a profit by advising you to stock products that give them commission.
It's far better to be able to do your own research into which products offer the best value for money for your own customers and clients. After all, you know your business best.
The penguin algorithm, launched in April 2012, is designed to penalize websites engaged in link spam. It's backfired though, and here's why...
Google's famous PageRank algorithm takes into account over 200 factors when ranking webpages for their search results. But, at heart, it works by equating the number and authority of inbound links with overall quality.
So effective is PageRank, that the vast majority of Internet users who make use of Google search are very happy with it - and this has helped propel Google to state of absolute dominance virtually planet wide.