In setting up a web business the owner often goes about it completely the wrong way from the
beginning and set themselves up to fail rather than succeed.
Having worked with many site owners on the website design, optimization and marketing of their
web sites I have often asked myself regarding a client - “What sort of web site owner are you ?
This question has revealed a lot about why some website owners will fail on the web even before
their web site is launched.
But first, to understand why I would ask such a question I need to explain a little about my own
I am a professional design engineer well versed in design procedures and principles that have
been proven to work over many years.
I also have a solid background in management, marketing, sales and financial accounting. All
these different disciplines probably put me in a unique position to assess the viability of a
business and the chances of its success.
But first, I need to distinguish between site owners who have an existing bricks and mortar
business with actual physical real-estate like a store or hotel and the web site owner who has just
virtual real-estate (VRE) on the web.
Actual real-estate Versus virtual real-estate
For the website owner who wants a website as an extension of their existing physical business
they generally understand the financials. They have an understanding of profit and loss, what adds
to the bottom line and are more focused on financial viability.
With such a website owner you can talk about break-even point and return on investment without
having to explain the terms, or educate them on why these things are important in the decision on
whether a website is a viable option for them.
With an offline business you would be advised to:
- Research the market sectors you are interested in.
- Determine if the market is big enough and whether you can reach the consumer.
- Determine if the consumer has the disposable income to spend on your product.
- Determine if you can satisfy a need or solve a problem with your proposed product.
- Create the product or a mock-up of it.
- Test the product with the target consumer.
- Establish the distribution channel to get the product to market (website).
- Promote and sell the product.
For the offline business the cost of entry to a market is frequently higher and this naturally
causes more caution.
The other sort of website owner with ambitions on just creating virtual real-estate (VRE) and
earning an income online usually has a lot less business sense and an entirely different mindset
when looking to create a website.
The VRE website owner is frequently in a hurry and the barriers to entry, like the cost of a
website, are low. For the VRE web site owner the process of creating their online business is
somehow different to creating an offline business, when in fact the steps should be very similar.
Virtual real-estate website owner
For the VRE site owner the process often involves doing far fewer of the basic 8 steps for an
offline business and doing them in totally the wrong order.
Instead of assessing the market and product viability first and creating the product and website
last, the VRE site owner often creates the product and website first and frequently leaves out
assessing the market or product viability.
The VRE site owners sequence is often like this:
- Base a product on their own knowledge or experience.
- Discuss idea with family and friends to get feedback.
- Create the product.
- Get a website from which to sell the product.
The problem for the VRE site owner with this typical 4 step approach is they have missed out
some critical steps which can doom them to failure right from the start.
- They assume their product satisfies a need and has consumers looking to buy it.
- They assume they can reach the market with their website.
The single biggest mistake is assuming
the target market can be reached with the website
In addition they frequently under-estimate the resources needed to reach their target consumer.
By resources I mean, know-how (knowledge and experience), money and time.
All too often web site owners invest a lot of time (but usually little money) in a product/s and
a website and don’t realize they have little chance anytime soon, of being able to reach the
consumers who might buy their product/s.
They have invested too much of themselves in the venture to stop now, even if they are told
their plan has flaws and their website is more likely to fail. Or put more gently, will not
succeed, but they still carry on.
The problems for the VRE Website owner
- Insufficient knowledge or experience to develop their website to get targeted
- A product with too low a profit margin to be able to afford to pay to promote it.
- Not enough funds to do much other than cheaply or for free
From the site owners viewpoint they usually
they have the first two problems listed above
If the website was created by a web designer, it probably matches what they told the web
designer about how they wanted it to look and what they wanted it to do. Most web designers do what
their clients want even if they know it to be wrong.
The web designer still gets paid, so why
and besides the client won’t find out for months
the site needs to do more than just look good !
The site owner also frequently assumes that because the site looks good it will sell well if
only they can get the visitor numbers up.
It looks good so it should sell !
In the site owners mind the issue becomes just about getting more visitor traffic and higher
search engine rankings. After all that’s what everyone else tells them they need to do.
But the problems usually go a lot deeper and include:
- A website not search engine friendly (even when told it is)
- A website not optimized for keywords it can compete for.
- A website poorly optimized for the visitors it receives.
- A website design that converts far fewer visitors to buyers
Even when the site owner has someone who shines a spotlight on the problems, flaws and issues
with their website and web business, they often still fail to take appropriate action.
It becomes a lot safer to do nothing, or keep doing basically the same thing in the hope that a
breakthrough will happen.
In reality, on today’s web, the odds of succeeding without good advice and resources are against
To your Success
Website Audit Expert