Last Updated April 11th, 2018

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.

I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention or waste your precious time. Knowing which social media mistakes are common can help you to make a better social media plan.

Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE

A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.

Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.

If you’re looking for people to follow, look at who follows your competition. They might be interested in what you have to offer as well.

Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.

Deleting your mistakes is always a possibility, but people do notice and may not approve of how you handled things if you delete something with no explanation. This is especially true if you insulted or angered people. If the mistake was merely funny, most people won’t be too upset with you.

Be willing to learn from your mistakes. We all make them.

Mistake #3: Being Rude

It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.

Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.

If someone sees a social media post you’ve made as rude, don’t argue with them. You’ll do far better if you apologize and explain what you meant, being more careful in your word choice. Some people won’t accept the apology or explanation, but others will.

Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships

Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.

As someone who is both shy and an introvert, this has always been a challenge for me, even on social media. It’s not always easy to join in the conversations. Do the best you can. You may find that it works for you.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers

If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.

Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations

Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post (although they now allow more characters than they used to). Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.

Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling

Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.

That said, don’t stress when you make mistakes in spelling or grammar. We all do it. Some people delight in calling such mistakes out, but they rarely contribute significantly to the conversation otherwise.

Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own

People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.

Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.

Most will also allow you to add your own comments when you share someone else’s post.  This way you can give credit while sharing your own thoughts.

Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.

Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant

This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.

It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.

Mistake #10: Overposting

You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.

The right number of posts per day varies tremendously from platform to platform. Facebook Pages generally perform best if you post only a time or two per day on your page. Twitter and Pinterest can handle quite a few more posts every day.

Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional

When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course, you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point of social media is to be social too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.

Have a little fun. If getting personal is appropriate to your business style, get personal. A look behind the scenes of your business can be a great way to bring in an appropriate amount of personality to your social media. Discuss your work routine. Share a picture of your home office. You can even share a little about your family or pets if that suits your business personality.

Mistake #12: Getting Too Personal

The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need to be associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.

This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.

It can be difficult balancing the personal side of your social media sometimes. Remember that you aren’t besties with your social media followers, at least not most of them. They do not want to read about all the details of your personal life. Occasional anecdotes are fine.

Mistake #13: Expecting Too Much

Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.

It takes time to build a loyal social media following. It’s a lot of work, and then the platform changes the rules and your posts may not reach your followers as well as they used to. I’m looking at you, Facebook, but you aren’t the only one!

Keep working on your preferred social media platforms if you want to see results. Despite what some people say, we won’t all see amazing results in just a few months. You will need to test different things to figure out what works best for your home business.

Expecting too much also comes in the form of trying too hard to go viral on social media. Constantly trying to create the next big thing annoys your audience. Viral is not a constant thing.

Mistake #14: Failing to Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog, such as Shareaholic. Most will keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.

Make it easy on yourself too. Use social media tools such as HootSuite, IFTTT, and the WP to Twitter plugin to automate parts of your social media marketing efforts. You still need to get in there and interact with others, but these will help you handle the routine side of things.

Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.

Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. Have a social media strategy. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.

Don’t let your social media mistakes keep you from using social media to market your blog or business. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process. As you figure out what works for you on each platform, you will get better results that will make it worthwhile.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated July 5th, 2017

10 Mistakes Most People Make When Starting A Home Business

10 Mistakes Most People Make When Starting A Home Business

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.

Buying too much stuff for your online business

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.

mistakes are not failures

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: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 9th, 2015

9 Mostly Useless Things You Can Do For Your Home Business

9 Mostly Useless Things You Can Do For Your Home Business

There are a lot of things you need to do to grow your home business. Unfortunately, there are many things that sound as though they will help your business grow, but are in fact pretty much useless, sometimes even damaging.

1. Excessive Use of Social Media/Social Bookmarking Sites

Social media use is a must for online businesses these days. It’s one of the best ways to bring attention to your website and what you have to offer. But there are limits to how much you should do with them.

The first reason for this is that a good social media website can be a huge time suck. The more social ones such as Facebook may tempt you into interacting with family and friends when you should be working, while sites such as Pinterest may catch your attention with ideas you may never use. They’re each useful in their own way, but you have to think about how you’re using your time on them.

Just plain social bookmarking can take a tremendous amount of time. There are literally hundreds of social bookmarking sites out there. Most of them won’t provide any significant traffic or search engine relevance and are a total waste of time.

If you want to make the most of social media and social bookmarking, know which sites are best for generating traffic for your business and focus your efforts on them. The best sites will generate traffic for you, and if your shares are interesting, others will share them with their audience as well. It takes time to build an interested, involved audience, but it’s worth the effort.

Use the right tools to simplify your social media use. Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer can make it much easier to plan out your social media use effectively. When you’re done, close them so they aren’t a temptation.

2. Spending Too Much Time on Email

Email is another one of those things that can be vitally important to your business yet be a huge time waster. You need to be ready to respond to questions when clients have them, but you shouldn’t be spending large parts of your day reading your email.

You can consider handing off many emails to a virtual assistant or have response templates for the most common questions you receive. Either can save you a lot of time with your email, so you don’t have to take much time with routine questions and can focus on the ones that need a more carefully considered answer.

Another important thing to do with your email is to unsubscribe from all the junk. If you have tons of emails that just sit unread in your inbox, think about why. Is it a newsletter that doesn’t really interest you?

I keep some control over my inbox by using filters to sort out emails by type. This limits what falls into my main inbox. It also allows me to see which emails I’m tending to ignore and that I should therefore unsubscribe from. I sort out email from shopping sites, political emails, newsletters and so forth. Business emails are sorted by which site of mine they’re relevant to.

3. Working Too Hard

It’s easy to overwork when you work at home. You’re setting your own rules, and you may need to earn a lot to make it all worthwhile. You may have set some highly challenging goals for yourself. You tell yourself that the more you work, the more you’ll earn. But that’s not necessarily true.

Take a break and improve your focus and productivity. Working too long makes you less productive, not more. Many people find a break helpful to get past a mental block or to come up with new ideas.

4. Doing It All Yourself

When you’re running a home business, it’s easy to feel that you have to do it all. It saves money, or so it seems. It saves the trouble of training someone to help you.

Hiring someone to help you with certain parts of your home business, however, can be worthwhile. It’s not always convenient and it’s not always cheap, but it can improve your profits. Why spend so much time on the things that don’t really earn money for you if you can pay someone else to do it? This allows you to focus more on things that will make money.

This is one of those things I don’t do enough of, and I know it. It’s difficult to change. It’s giving up a bit of control. It’s worrying that someone else won’t do the work right. Sometimes I’ve hired something out and it has gone well. Other times it has been a bit of a mess.

Take a look at hiring a virtual assistant for routine emails and other matters that don’t need your personal attention. Finding the right one and training him or her in what you need done takes time, but it should be worth it in the long run.

5. Excessive Research

There’s so much to learn when you run a business from your home. It’s easy to spend too much time trying to learn how to run your business better, and too little time actually running it.

It’s much more important to take action than to keep learning things you aren’t ready to use. Don’t spend a lot of time reading up on things for your business that you aren’t ready to act upon.

Another trap is browsing unrelated sites when you’re looking for information. It’s easy to follow links to things you don’t need to read during your work hours. Save the random reading for your spare time, not when you need to work.

6. Working For Free

Sometimes you will have people or companies try to get you to work for them for free. They’ll call it good exposure or something like that. Truth be told, it’s often not worth the effort to work for free.

There can be times that working for free is okay, but only on your own terms. You might volunteer for a cause you believe in. You might write a guest post for a website that will get you exposure to an audience you need to get in front of.

Where this goes wrong is working for free on someone else’s terms. They contact you and suggest you do something for them for free. For example, some companies will get bloggers to host giveaways for little to no pay, even though this can be a lot of work. Companies might ask you to promote the giveaway, maintain contact with the winner and ship the prize to the winner. You have to track entries, deal with problems relating to entries, and make sure the winner qualifies for the prize. You can request pay for running a giveaway – it’s a great advertising opportunity for the sponsor too. Make up a media kit for your blog so that it is easier for advertisers to see your policies.

7. Striving For Perfection

This is a mistake so many people make when starting a home business. They want everything to be utterly perfect before they even get started, and continue on that path as they go.

I know someone who wants to start a resource website on a particular topic, for example. He has been talking about it for years, but nothing has ever happened with it. Why?

He wants to have a ton of pages ready first. His topic is huge and he wants his site to be fairly comprehensive right from the start. This is a mistake. He’s put work in on it, but gotten nothing for it because he hasn’t published any of the site yet, so far as I know.

It’s better to start small and grow. This gives people time to discover you. It gives you time to make beginner’s mistakes while your business is small and few people will notice. If you monetize from the start, it gives you the possibility of some income coming in as you build. This also limits the frustration of feeling as though you aren’t getting anywhere – traffic takes time to build, but you’ll always have something to work on, something to work on to make your home business reach the goals you have set for it.

You can also get caught by this in little ways every day. I’ve caught myself many times spending way too much time picking out just the right image for a post, then just the right font for the text on the image… the time all this takes adds up. Relax a little about these details. You want everything to look good, but when the differences are small, who else will know what options you considered, or judge you for it?

8. Working in the Kitchen

Lots of people who work at home don’t have a home office space. It’s a bit of a luxury to give over that bit of space dedicated to your work, and it may be difficult to make that commitment. But if it’s at all possible, it’s a very, very good idea.

Working at the kitchen table or in the living room, or even in your bedroom means you are surrounded by more distractions, and this impacts your productivity. I speak from experience here, having worked in all those spaces. The bedroom has the advantage of being a space where you can close the door, but it’s probably not that functional as a work space unless you have a desk in there.

Having a dedicated home office space also means you can consider taking the home office deduction in your taxes. This is something you would want to consult on with your tax professional – don’t ask me if your situation is right for that because I don’t know. The money off can be pretty nice if your situation merits it.

9. Being Disorganized

Being disorganized is a huge failing of mine. I’m working on it. The process of deciding to buy a house and going into escrow has certainly pushed matters – I had to search for certain financial paperwork that wasn’t properly filed. I also need to get rid of clutter to get ready to move.

An online acquaintance of mine, Lynn Terry, did a big home office reorganization recently and posted about it on her blog. She shared a variety of tips on how to get your home office organized so that you can be more productive and why you should get it done.

Getting organized takes time and commitment. It’s not just getting organized, it’s staying organized. The good part is that once you have a good system down, it’s easier to remain organized. You’ll save time in the long run by taking time now to figure out what works for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 16th, 2012

7 Big Mistakes Most People Make With a New Online Business

When you start an online business, you can’t help but make some mistakes. We all do, as it’s a part of the learning process. That said, if you’re aware of the mistakes you can either avoid them or stop making them a little sooner than you would otherwise. Recognizing these mistakes won’t keep you from making other mistakes, but it might improve your learning curve.

Mistake #1: Buying everything for your business that comes along.

List building tools. Business automation tools. Business information and advice.

One thing you learn very quickly when you run a business online is that there’s a ton of information and tools out there for sale, all promising to help you grow your business more quickly. Some of them will even deliver on that promise.

The problem is that many people buy too many things and then never make use of them. Buy a bunch of automation tools, and you probably won’t use them effectively, especially if you don’t really understand what they’re automating or how to do it yourself. Buy too much information and you’ll either waste too much time reading rather than taking action, or you’ll forget about it and never read what you paid for.

Which leads nicely into…

Mistake #2: Spending too little on your business.

Sure, you might be starting out on a shoestring, and you’re determined to bootstrap your way up. It’s possible to grow an online business without spending a ton, but spending some money on your business is an excellent idea.

Yes, some people have done well starting out without spending a single penny, but you’re making things harder than they have to be by refusing to spend on little things such as a domain name, hosting, email list management, and carefully chosen tools and information to grow your business.

Yes, much of that can be had for free. Free is not always the right choice. A free website is at the whim of the company hosting it. Managing your email list yourself is asking for trouble either when your ISP says you’re sending out too much email or you get a spam complaint from someone too lazy to unsubscribe properly.

Free productivity tools can be great, but they can vanish over time. Free information is a wonderful way to get started, but you often have to buy information products when you want to get into the serious details.

There’s a balance between mistakes one and two. Think before you spend. Don’t fall for a pretty sales letter; consider whether or not you really need what is being offered and if you’re ready to use it. Most products will still be there later if it’s not something you need immediately. You’ll save a lot if you limit purchases to what you need at the time.

Mistake #3: Fail to know what’s working and what isn’t.

It’s not always easy to know where traffic and customers are coming to your website. I’ve had my site clobbered by traffic where it wasn’t at all clear how people were learning about me, as it mostly came from people pasting my domain name into the address bar or searching on it. I had to do research to find the articles causing that. The articles mentioned my domain, but had no live links to my site, so it was difficult. Still, I was able to figure it out.

You probably won’t have that problem too often. Most times you can use the data you get from your hosting or from services such as Google Analytics to figure out what’s driving traffic to your site. From there you need enough tracking to see which traffic is converting for you or not to learn what kinds of things are working for you. You want to focus on what works and decide if the stuff that isn’t working is worth trying to improve.

Many people ignore this part. They get traffic, they earn money, they’re happy. The problem is that you don’t really know what’s effective for you, and so you don’t know where to focus your efforts. Sometimes that really slows down the growth of your business and your income.

Mistake #4: Imitating the competition.

You should absolutely know what your competition is doing, but you shouldn’t just be following in their footsteps. It’s much better to make your own path. Sure, there will be similarities to your competition, but get creative and make your business stand out. Find a way to do it better, more quickly or more cheaply. There’s always a way to stand out.

Mistake #5: Fail to prioritize.

Every day you work on your business, the first thing you do is decide what to work on. Most people will choose based on what they feel like working on at the moment. It’s one of the great parts of working for yourself, after all. It’s just not always the right choice.

The first thing you should do each day is decide what’s most important to get done that day. It may not be your favorite part of your business, but if it needs to get done, that’s it. You need to do it because it’s not happening otherwise.

Social networking, for example, is something many people love, and it can be valuable to your online business. The problem is that many people spend too much of their day on it, and the returns aren’t what they should be for the amount of time spent. If that’s the case, you need to be more careful about how you spend your time.

Mistake #6: Starting too many projects at once.

I’m great for this mistake still. I get too many ideas, and it’s hard to keep up with them all. It’s very much a good thing that I don’t try to start all the websites I think of, because it wouldn’t work. There just isn’t that much time in the day.

Start with one website. Work on it, marketing it, tweaking it and try to make it profitable before you allow yourself a new project.

Don’t fall for the bit about if you can get one site making $1 a day, it should be easy to get 100 sites making $100 a day. It sounds great, but it’s just not true. Some will do better, some won’t, and in the meantime you’re increasing the amount of work you have to do to keep up with all those sites. Work that little $1 a day site and learn what you need to know before you start the next one.

It’s possible to run a ton of sites, but it usually involves outsourcing and more experience than you have when you’re starting out. Save your extra ideas for when you know what you’re doing. Then, if you want to give it a try, go for it. Be prepared for the kind of work involved before you try it.

Mistake #7: Fail to test.

Just because something is working for you doesn’t mean it can’t work better. Take some time to test different parts of your sales process and you may find ways to earn more money even if traffic to your site doesn’t increase.

You don’t have to change big things to make a difference. A single word or two may be all you need to change, or the color or placement of your “buy now” button. Simple things can make a big difference.

You don’t want to make big changes all at once because they can disguise which changes are most effective. If change A makes people more interested but change B discourages customers, it’s going to be really hard to tell that you should keep change A, for example.

Give any changes you make some time to work. One day is not always enough, as any difference over a short period of time can be a fluke. A week or so is enough to see what’s happening, depending on how much traffic you get and what your current conversion rate is.

Whatever mistakes you make, don’t get too down about them. It happens to all of us. It’s not the mistakes you make that are bad for your business so much as what you do about them. Failing to learn from your mistakes is the biggest mistake of all.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated March 2nd, 2011

5 Ways You’re Trying to Doom Your Home Based Business

You don’t mean to, but you’re probably making a lot of mistakes with your home based business. We all do, really. It’s a part of the learning process and can’t be helped. Some mistakes are worse than others, however, and may doom your home based business. These are the mistakes you need to avoid.

1. You’re Easily Distracted by New Ideas

Look! Shiny!

Many believe it’s a part of the entrepreneurial mindset to be easily distracted, especially by new business ideas. It’s why many entrepreneurs go from project to project, never quite making it work. They just don’t give things enough time to work.

This is why people buy too many information products and get information overload. It becomes impossible to take action because you can’t choose from all the possible actions you know you could take. You can spend a ton of money learning all kinds of tricks to create a successful business yet never use a one because you can’t decide which one to start with. It become a huge waste of time and money.

If you want your home based business to succeed, you must learn to focus. Pick what you’re going to work on and make it work. Don’t go from project to project, swearing you’ll make them all work eventually. It’s not going to happen that way. You’re far more likely to have them all fail.

Lynn Terry describes this as taking one site from start to profit. That’s a very good idea. You’re far more likely to succeed if you work on making just one site work, not a dozen or even two. You can always work on more projects later.

2. You’re Easily Distracted by People and Things Around You

Not everyone knows how to cope with all the distractions available when you work from home. Friends and family may not know to respect your working hours. You may not immediately appreciate how much you need to respect your working hours. It can be a recipe for disaster.

The sooner you learn to manage the distractions of working from home, the better off your business will be. Don’t let the television draw you in. Don’t let household chores cut into your working time. Don’t let family take up time you’ve agreed needs to be work time. They’d cope if you had to go to an office to work, they need to learn to cope when you’re working from home. Find the balance that is right for your family and don’t neglect them.

3. You Expect Instant Success

If you really want to fail, assume you’re going to succeed brilliantly right away.

It would be nice if it were easier to succeed with a home based business, but that’s just not the reality. It takes a lot of hard work. Your typical overnight success worked for years before coming into what appears to be overnight success.

You’re better off planning to work long, hard hours growing your business. You should expect setbacks. You should even expect failure to a degree, or at least understand that it happens to a lot of people.

What you shouldn’t do is let any of that get in your way. You can’t succeed if you don’t keep trying.

4. You Refuse to Invest in Your Business

There are a lot of ways you can run a home based business for free. Free blog, free ways to build links to your free blog, free this, free that.

Free can work, and some people do build successful online businesses that way. But it costs you more in time, and that’s a risk. You have to earn an income at some point if you want to call it a business.

Small investments such as your own domain name and hosting are well worth it. Buying carefully chosen information products to help you learn to run your business are absolutely worth it. Paying for people or tools that make some of the tedious parts of running your business simpler can be worth it, depending on your budget and how well you choose the tool or the assistant. These are things that may help you to increase your income more quickly than you would otherwise be able to do.

5. Not Doing Your Research

Lots of home based business owners do this one. They think of a market and don’t really research it to see if it’s viable. They work hard then find out that there aren’t enough people interested, they’re targeting the wrong people, or they’re targeting their market the wrong way.

You need to know who will be interested in what your home business has to offer. Who are they? How are they most likely to find your site? Do your offerings really appeal to them? You can’t sell weeding tools to people interested in golf just because the game is played on grass. You need to know your market better than that.

There are many more mistakes you can make with your home based business, and some you’ll only learn from after making them. If you can get this major mistakes under control early on, you can increase the chances your business will succeed.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.