One of the things we all do when starting out with a new home business is make mistakes. It can’t be helped. You’re doing something new, and even if you know a lot about the work you’re doing, running a home business is something different. Getting things wrong is all a part of learning to do something new.
Still, there are many mistakes you should do your best to avoid. Many come from trying to take the easy route to success, which rarely exists.
Mistake #1: Expecting to be an overnight success.
You can’t help but notice the people who seem to have success right away. They started a business, and it just takes off. In the meantime, you’re struggling to get any results at all. It’s frustrating. Why aren’t things happening for you?
Your typical “overnight success” has worked for years to get to where they are. Their success may be overnight-ish on their current venture, but what about the venture before that and before that? Few hit it big on their first try right away.
Business success usually builds up over time. You may know how to do the thing, and do it well, but you still need to learn how to deal with the business side of things. Finding customers. Managing your social media. Charging enough. Running your website. Time management.
All these things factor into the success of your home business, and they may not come easily to you. That can be a good thing, because an overnight success may become overwhelmed and have more work than they can cope with if they are new to the industry. Ramping up over time means you have time to learn the skills you need and to find help when you need it.
Mistake #2: Fake it until you make it to excess.
Many people love the idea of faking it until you make it. It sounds good. You say you’re an expert when you’re actually pretty new to it all. You’re actually figuring it out as you go along, and hoping that you can keep up.
The problem is that it’s easy to fail when you overdo it. Someone catches you asking for advice on how to do something you’ve claimed you can do elsewhere. Suddenly your reputation tanks. People know you can’t do what you claim, and they won’t trust you anymore.
You can find examples of this with photographers who steal images from other photography sites and claim them as their own. There are people who claim to have made big bucks as affiliates, as they ask very basic questions about affiliate marketing on forums. People who get in way, way over their heads because they can’t admit to their current limitations.
If you must fake it, don’t overdo it. Have confidence in what you know, but don’t offer what you can’t handle. Take the time to learn about things before you offer them as a part of your home business.
Mistake #3: Trying to do too much at once.
Many people try to do too much with their home business. They’ll make a website that they want to appeal to everyone, rather than to a particular niche, large or small. They’ll offer too broad a range of services to clients.
Picking a niche or specialty is a big help, especially when you are getting started. You’re more likely to attract customers or a following if they know they can expect great things from you in your niche. If you’re doing great things, but they’re geared toward different audiences, it’s much harder to attract the audience you want. A blog about your life, finances, cool new electronics, how cute your pets are, funny pictures, politics, career advice, new movies you’ve seen, great places to go on vacation and more will have a lot of trouble gaining an audience unless you’re an incredibly talented writer.
Specialize enough that people know what to expect from you. If you try to please everyone, you’re more likely to be seen as the “Jack of all trades, master of none” than as an expert.
Mistake #4: Expect results regardless of efforts
Some people think that starting an online business is an easy path to success. They hear about passive income, overnight successes, four hour workweeks and more, and think that it’s that simple to earn a full time living online.
What they don’t see is the time it took to get to where these things happen. Passive income comes about as the result of hard work for a long time. Websites that produce an income with only a few hours of effort a week are the result of dedicated effort to get there.
You don’t start out with spectacular results just because you put up a blog post. You work at it for years, often with mediocre to poor results as you learn how to make things happen for you. Easy income doesn’t happen for everyone.
Mistake #5: Buying too much stuff for your online business
This is such an easy mistake to make. You hear about a hot new product that will help you build your online business. You buy it. Maybe you even use it a little. Then you hear about the next hot new product. And buy it. Then the next product, and the next.
It’s easy to waste a lot of money.
I don’t like to buy products that have a lot of hype around them. Most of them are merely distractions from my business. Few are worth my time and money. If I buy a product, I’ve thought carefully about it.
When you buy a product, choose it because you need it right then. Not later. Now. If you don’t need it yet, bookmark it and come back to it when you’re ready to use it.
If you stop in the middle of the learning process, you’ll feel as though nothing works for you. That will be true enough, but it won’t be due to any faults in the products. It will be because you stop trying before it has had time to work or before you’ve learned what you’re doing. Finish what you start.
Mistake #6: Buying too little stuff for your online business
On the other hand, it’s very easy to spend too little on your online business. It feels like saving money, but it can cost you income.
When you see a tool you can use to build your online business, and you know you will put it to use right away, buy it. Put it into use right away. Learn to make the most of it.
This goes for tools and education in running your business. When you’re ready to make use of them or you’re ready to learn something new, spend the money and take advantage of the opportunity. Do it right and it will be well worth the expense.
Mistake #7: Spam of any kind
You’re excited about your home business and you want to get the word out. I get that. But there are rules about how you promote your business that you must follow.
Some kinds of spam can get you into legal trouble. That would be emailing people without their permission. Take the time to build your list and you will build a list of interested buyers without worrying about possible fines for emailing spam. Double opt in is safest – that means they sign up on your site, and also respond to a confirmation email.
If you pay to have your ad sent out to someone else’s list, make sure theirs is legitimate too.
Don’t drop your ads on forums, Facebook groups, blog comment sections or anywhere else unless you know they’re welcome. You’ll get deleted, blocked, or banned. You’ll also annoy the people you’re trying to reach on those sites.
Many groups have a right and wrong way to promote your business. Some forums, for example, allow signature lines with a link to a business. Others don’t. Some Facebook groups have days when you can post about your business. Don’t post about it at any other time.
Your goal in using forums, Facebook groups and such is to become an authority that people trust on your topic. If they find out you have a business, they may seek you out because you’ve built trust. Spamming ads doesn’t build trust.
Mistake #8: Not worrying about credibility
Not worrying about your credibility goes beyond faking it until you make it. It’s making claims you don’t know to be true. It’s promoting products from other marketers when you don’t know if the quality of the product.
This can be easy to see. You subscribe to someone’s list, and they promote product after product after product. It’s clear that they aren’t concerned with whether it’s any good, just if they have a chance to make some money from subscribers. If you want to build a good reputation, you’ll consider your credibility both in your own products and in what you market for an affiliate commission.
Mistake #9: Taking on too much
You can overwhelm yourself with work when you run a home business. There’s a lot to do. You might even still be working a day job and raising a family as you try to build your business as a side income.
Running yourself into the ground trying to do it all for your business is probably not the right idea. You’ll need to work hard, but if you work so hard you make yourself sick, you’re doing too much.
Outsource when you can. It’s not easy to decide to spend that money, but it can be a huge stress reliever once you get things going well. It can give you more time to do the things that earn you money.
This can be anything from hiring a maid to clean your house once a week to hiring someone to help with your social media or design your website. Hiring someone to watch your kids while you work can even be seen as outsourcing, although many work at home parents prefer to avoid this.
Pay someone else to do the routine things and the things that you aren’t so good at yourself. You’ll be more free to do the things that need your special touch and you’ll give your business a better chance to grow.
Mistake #10: Giving up too easily
There may come a time when giving up on your home business dreams looks like the right thing to do. Sometimes it is.
But often you’re going through a rough spot, and it’s not really time to give up. Maybe you thought success would come more quickly than it has. Maybe you’ve had a setback.
These don’t mean it’s time to give up. You may need to take a better look at what’s happening with your business and make some changes, but you don’t have to give up.
It took me years to get to where I am now. I worked on my websites and worked as a medical transcriptionist for years before my website income was good enough that I could quit the transcription job. I got there and I’m so glad I did.
If you catch yourself going from business opportunity to business opportunity and never having success, you probably aren’t giving each one enough time. Stop chasing the shiny new opportunity. Put solid work into one home business and really try to make it succeed. Don’t drop ads here and there for a couple months and get mad that they aren’t working. Build your business over time and know that it usually takes longer than a few months.
Don’t keep going on something that is bringing your family into financial disaster. That’s my big stopping point. If it costs too much and you can’t afford the loss, there’s a problem. Sometimes you will hit the point where going back to a regular job is the smart move. Sometimes that will let you keep trying with a business that isn’t doing enough to keep going but shows promise if you can keep going. Other times, it’s the best thing you can do because that business just isn’t going to happen for you.
Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.