Top 3 Mistakes When Starting an Online Business

With the development of various e-commerce platforms, social media, and the wide reach of the Internet, everyone and his Aunt Betty is talking a good game about starting an online business.

Geographic barrier is for most part a non-issue. You can put up a website (or not) for peanuts and sell ebooks on obscure subjects. Nobody has to wait for some big wig in some big company to give the “go-ahead.”

We can blaze our own trail and write our own ticket – live the American Dream! Or so we are led to believe.

So many “marketers” or “coaches” are pumping their fists about the “just do it” and “follow your passion and the money will come” bit.

Unfortunately, what separates those who actually make it, from the ones who are just talking about it, is some good ol’ elbow grease.

So forget about “if you build it they will come” and take a moment (or two) to make sure you are not making these 3 critical mistakes in your online business:


Mistake #1 – Not Sticking Your Neck Out

Bad news: if you build it they probably won’t come – because they don’t know you exist.

Good news: there are more ways than ever to let them know you exist – if you are willing to stuck your neck out.

If you don’t promote, you don’t get traffic. If you don’t get traffic, you don’t get to sell anything. If you are not generating revenue, you don’t have a business.

You can’t hide behind “writing more blog posts” or “having to create this product first” before you promote yourself. Your stuff is just taking up bytes if it’s not benefiting anybody.

There are many fears and stigmas around self-promotion holding us back from finding the people we can help and telling them how we do it.

Yes, promotion is that simple – nothing pushing or yucky needs to happen. You validate your idea, find the people who need your help, and tell them about what you have to offer.

The key is talking to the right people – promote where the demand is, and you will get a response.

Self-promotion goes against many of our conditioning – don’t toot your own horn, be humble, be seen and not heard, don’t speak until you are spoken to…

Reframe your fears. Nobody is judging (until you get really big, and by then, you won’t care). Be way more relentless and persistent than you think you have to.

Know that your solution is needed. If you can help, it’s your OBLIGATION to tell your potential buyers.


Mistake #2 – Not Loving Them Up

Money IS in the list – if you do it the right way.

A majority of your revenue will come from a small segment of your list – they’re the loyal clients/customers who will buy (almost) everything you put out, which means they have a high lifetime value.

The higher the lifetime value each customer has, the more you can invest in generating lead – which means you can invest more money in marketing and promotion (see #1)

Big question is: how do you get your subscribers to stick with you and buy from you?

Optimize for the relationship, not the sale.

connection and resonance are the new currency of conversion

When you build a relationship, you are not just competing on price and feature. You create loyalty.

Don’t jump right into selling when someone joins your list. Take the time to build trust by giving value, and let your subscribers know that you give a crap.

Set up a system so you can nurture the relationship before you “sell.”

Don’t speak like you are some big faceless corporation. You are a human being, making a connection with another human being, so you can understand their needs and help them with your expertise.

when the rubber meets the road, sales and marketing is about a human being at one end, communicating with another human being at the other end


Mistake #3 – Not “Marketing” From the Get-Go

Marketing starts on day 1, before you create a product.

Marketing involves listening to what your customers’ problems are, so you can create a solution they want to buy.

Marketing involves building relationship with your list, so they know you care and pay you (instead of the next guy) for your solution.

Marketing involves letting your ideal clients know about your expertise by sharing your knowledge, so when you launch a product, it becomes a natural continuation of the process in the conversation.

The more connection you build with your audience, the more likely they’ll buy from you, and the easier the actual “selling” becomes.

By asking and listening to your list, you’re validating your product idea.

Many people make the mistake of creating an epic product behind closed door, only to find out they wasted 6 months of their lives making something they *think* people want, but not what they are willing to pay for.

Start small, listen, have something to sell, validate your idea while you make money… rinse and repeat.


Online business is an opportunity, not a magic trick. You can’t hope a few nifty little plug-ins will make your website the best thing since sliced bread.

Like all profitable and sustainable businesses, it’s about PEOPLE. You are building relationship with people, who pay you for your products and services.

The Internet offers us the opportunity to reach more customers at a larger scale and faster pace. The rest is up to YOU.

Ling Wong

Ling is an Intuitive Brainiac. Through her unique blend of Business + Marketing coaching with a Mindset + Psychic Twist, she helps the multi-talented and multi-passionate maverick solo-entrepreneurs distill ALL their big ideas into ONE cohesive Message, nail the WORDS that sell and design a Plan to cut the busywork and do what matters, through her intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 10 years of experience in the online marketing industry. Ling has the superpowers to help her clients optimize the space between individuality + originality vs. “tried-and-true” marketing so they can express their WHY unapologetically and profitably without reinventing the wheel. Find Ling and grab her free “How to Find YOUR Winning Formula” Training Series here.

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14 thoughts on “Top 3 Mistakes When Starting an Online Business

  1. Thanks for the tips. I’ve been working on my online business for over a year now and I am almost ready. Much of this time has been about learning, building my network, working on my database, working through what I can offer to start the relationship. I am nowhere near perfect at any of this, but your post is a very timely reminder. Cheers.

  2. OMG i,m happy to see i,m not alone searching to shar my blog more than year but thank you lin wong for sharing this post ,i decided make strangth in one area the rest is history….

  3. Very enjoyable read. I think that it can be rather difficult to think about trying to start marking before you even have a product ready. I’m sure a lot of people have a hard time with that, myself included.

    • Yes, agree. And I also think it’s what most people consider “marketing” to be that makes it hard. If you consider marketing to include getting known among your ideal clients and understanding their needs (a plain English way of saying “market research!”) then it’s almost essential that you start the process before you create a product.

  4. I would love to have read this post when I first started online Ling. I spent way too long thinking I had to have everything perfect before I started marketing. That whole build it and they will come idea is so crazy. It did not work in traditional business so who ever thought it would work online? Great post thank you.

  5. Ling – What a great blog! This is well worth sharing! I really resonate Optimizing for the RELATIONSHIP! That is such a key point I think. Marketers forget they are dealing with PEOPLE! Thanks so much for the great inspiration!

  6. These 3 tips are simple yet absolutely essential when building an online biz. Getting over ourselves and doing what we know we need to do can be the hardest part at times. Once we drop the ego that isn’t serving us anyway, following the tips you laid out in this blog and getting to work is what will bring anyone from zero to hero online.

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