I’ve spent more than a decade in the trenches as a web developer and UX designer, working with entrepreneurs to create and grow their online businesses. Ive learned a few things along the way. Below are the top ten pieces of advice I now share with friends embarking on their online businesses. If you are just getting started on your journey I hope they’ll save you time and money, and help you skip atleast a few sessions beating your head against the wall.
1. You WILL get it wrong.
That’s OK. Get it wrong as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Failure is the norm not the exception. Developing a pattern of reflection and action can bring distinct market advantages:you’ll adapt quickly, will move in the direction of your customers, and wont make the same mistake twice.
2. Just start.
Get out there, get feedback, and adjust. The barrier for entry in online business keeps getting lower. Use that to your advantage by putting your ideas out there faster and asking for feedback ALL THE TIME. User feedback — if heard with wisdom — is a lot smarter than you are and harnessing it quickly is the smartest thing you can do.
3. Good enough really is good enough.
Dont go for perfect, especially with your web design, and focus on the basics instead. If the product or service is worth it people will let you know despite any design drawbacks. And if its not, well, the most killer website wont save a bad idea (believe me on this one, I’ve tried more times than I like to admit! And this is coming from a designer).
4. Overloaded with negative feedback? Great!
If its worth users’ time to give you feedback, even negative feedback, then its worth following up on as a business. What you need to watch out for is the product or service that elicits no reaction at all. Theone that lands without even a thud.
5. SEO is dead.
If you dont know already it’s a critical piece of practical advice for anyone looking to start an online business. Tattoo it on your forehead. It will save you a lot of headaches and empty rabbit holes. Its a pay-to-play world now. The positive way to look at this development is that it’s easier to predict how your site will grow. Yes you have to pay for growth, but the semi-hidden “magic” and mystery that used to envelop SEO is gone.
6. Dont succeed, progress!
Success sounds like an end point and leads to unrealistic expectations. Instead aim for progress every day, week, month, and year.
7. Set a noble goal.
Whatever your goal is, make it a good one. Don’t waste your (and humanity’s) precious time on snakeoil or fluff (marshmallow fluff excepted ofcourse, mmmm). Business advantages of a noble goal include having more sustained energy for an idea you believe in, and the unleashed creativity that accompanies doing the right thing. Play to your best self and harness it’s business advantages.
8. Trust in… something… bigger than yourself.
Whatever this higher power looks like to you believing in something greater than ourselves helps us through the hard times. And starting a business is HARD. But with a noble goal the right person, the right book, or the right message will come to your aid, the right door or window will open. Thenact as if all your prayers have been answered. Set that noble goal first though; hustling a pyramid scheme wont get you $h#t.
9. Be humble.
You will fail — that’s a given — but every failure is a pointer to success. Without humility you’ll miss the signs, feedback, and guidance that are all around you waiting to help you progress. With online business the pace is fast and the failures… erm, I mean guidance… come quickly. Get a humble mindset in place from the get go.
10. Be proud.
Putting your ideas out there is amazing and puts you way ahead— most humans talk about ideas but lack follow though. You are putting something real out in the world. Be very, very proud. What you are doing is important and I’m rooting for you.
I hope you find the above top ten pieces of advice practical and helpful. If you have questions leave a comment (I check pretty frequently) or connect on linkedin.