Since eLink Design was founded in 2001, we have helped hundreds of businesses build websites and apps, run marketing and ad campaigns, create branding, written business plans, and even invested in a few, all in the hopes of seeing them succeed in business. While we have done our best to support these businesses, we unfortunately have seen many businesses in that time fail for numerous reason. However, while we have seen failure, we have also learned from it. At eLink, we use the insights we have gained through working with so many businesses and helping them through the ups and down of starting, launching, and growing a business to help each and every client position themselves better for success.
In an effort to help more people succeed in their online businesses, we have compiled a list of four major areas that are often severely lacking by online businesses causing them to fail to reach their goals. Besides just identifying the issues, we also have put forth a brief explanation of how to overcome each hurdle in a way that we have seen successful in previous companies we have worked with.
One of the biggest issues that we have come across are people who desire to start an online business because they think it is easy and that the money will roll in once they launch their website or app. THIS NEVER WORKS. Launching an online business takes dedication and hard work just like any other business. We see countless successful business owners who have the money to build out a great app or website but not the time to invest in making it a successful business.
The easiest but often the hardest solution to this problem is to be full time in the business. Starting a business takes a lot of hard work and passion, it will take long days and late nights to make it successful. As such, the most passionate person should be working on it, which usually is the person who came up with the idea. That being said, leaving a job that pays income to start a project that initially only spends that income, is a very difficult position for any person to be in. Instead of quitting a job, maybe look to take a few months off to work on the business to grow it to a point of sustainability. We have seen some people hire someone who is able to run the business, but often this doesn’t work out in the long run. The best way to bring on someone to start, grow, and run a new business besides the founder, is a co-founder who has an equity position in the company who is properly funded.
Connected to the first problem, a lack of delegation is often faced by first-time digital entrepreneurs. Running a business is hard, and even more so when it is attempted alone. Trying to run the sales, design, accounting, marketing, and then the production of whatever offering the businesses is selling is not easily possible by a single person. As stated above, an investment of time is often more important than an investment of money. Being pulled in multiple directions by what needs to be done does not lead to any dedication to any one aspect of what needs to be done. This often results in failure.
The best solution is to have a co-founder who is complementary to your skill set. Whether it be someone who is strong in sales while you are strong in operations, someone who has skills in social media while yours is development, or someone who has money to invest but no time, along with someone who is able to be full time and build out the rest of the team. Regardless of your situation, having a co-founder helps in growing the business. Delegating between your co-founder and yourself can alleviate some of the stress that is inherent in starting an online business.
A formalized business plan, while often viewed as outdated, is an immensely helpful document to help organize all the requirements and strategies needed for business success, but is often another area where online business lack. Business plans should be viewed as a living document that changes as the business grows. They can help solve the first two problems in a couple of ways. If you are not able to put the time in to write a business plan, then you probably aren’t able to put in the time to run an online business. Another solution is to the delegation problem by including a section on the varied roles of the business, who should fill them, and what they need to do so that you don’t find yourself incapable of handling everything that needs to be done further down the road.
The easiest way to write out a business plan is to look up a basic template online and start to fill it out. Keep in mind that the plan does not have to be perfect or investor ready as it is an internal document. As you start to write out each section, try to think through and write as much as you can so that you can see where you are weak in planning, and where you might be a bit overzealous. The goal is to establish a sort of roadmap that can be followed from where you currently are to where you want to go.
While kids these days are often social media experts from their day to day lives, people older than 24 often are unaware of how powerful and necessary that social media and their digital presence are to the success of their online business. The ability to grow your company’s digital presence should be a vital part of your business plan. Social media allows you to reach out and connect with like-minded groups and people as well as potential customers.
The easiest way is to start posting on the major social networks regularly. Share good articles, pictures, and videos that are related to your business, as well as create your own unique content that provides value to your ideal customers. Creating content is easy, but time-consuming, and your strategy should be laid out in advance in your business plan.
Overall, these areas are all things that can overcome by online business owners and need to be in order to have success. The easiest way to prioritize overcoming these hurdles is to start with the business plan and use it as a guide to fill out the other areas that haven’t been thought out yet. Ideally, once you have started the writing process you will be able to determine your commitment level and areas where you will need to delegate. At the same time, you’ll be able to start to strategize your digital presence and see if that is an area where you’ll need help, or will be able to do with a co-founder. The goal in all of this is to not discourage starting an online business but to help guide you in ways that might not have been considered so that you have the best chance of success.
eLink Design is a national web design, application development, SEO, and business consulting firm, founded in 2001 that specializes in custom solutions for over 800 clients around the country. With this blog, we hope to provide insights into what we are working on, areas where we think we can help shed light on problems we hear, and sometimes just cool things we have come across.