Ten Challenges of Being A Web Entrepreneur and Launching A Web Business
The past year of my life has moved more and more in the direction of a web entrepreneur. Several ventures have given me a nice level of experience. With the experience has come numerous challenges, some of which I’ll detail in this post.
Here are ten challenges that I have encountered with regards to web entrepreneurship:
1. Having the full range of skills needed for a successful launch
This is definitely number one. Launching a web business takes an incrediblely wide range of skills from the most technical of skills such as configuring a web server to the business skills like finances and marketing. To have the highest chance of success, both ends of the spectrum need to be executed well.
Fortunately, because of the development of new platforms, individuals who lack hardcore technical skills can launch a website or web application easier than ever before. My previous article details some of the process when launching a web site utilizing features such as “one click installs”.
However, even with the rise in this easy site creation and deployment, to create a launch customized web application, there is still a great deal of technical knowledge required. Either you have the skill set yourself or you will need to pay someone who has it (or perhaps partner with the technical person – see challenge #9).
2. Building a web application cheaply that will still work with a high level of traffic
When launching a potential business, you want to keep your costs as low as possible in case your idea goes nowhere. Because of this, most of the web businesses I’ve launched, I’ve created myself. This can be creating a WordPress blog or writing a fully customized web app in Ruby on Rails or Java. Although I’m an above average developer/coder, I do have my limitations and a by-product of this approach might be that my application’s performance is seriously compromised if I achieve any level of success. Hopefully, if this happens, I’ll be able to justify investing some money into the application to better handle an increased load.
Search Engine Optimization tips and techniques are scattered across the web, including some commonly accepted strategies as well as a wide range of theories that are not so commonly accepted. Depending on your web business, you may or may not require SEO. If you’re customer is the general web surfing public, then you probably will.
I’ll touch on a few important items here without getting into a huge SEO discussion. Probably the most important SEO tip is to ensure a quality indexing in Google. If you only have a few pages in your site, then this probably won’t be too tough, but if you have hundreds of pages with unique content, this can be more difficult. A proper, high-quality indexing by Google (and other search engines) will at least get you started. The most important way to improve your indexing is to have quality, unique titles for every single page in your web site.
4. Being flexible in your strategy or business model
I’ve known several web entrepreneurs who have created a website with a specific goal, perhaps to market a book they have written. Within a few months, they had altered their entire strategy where there was a much larger opportunity than selling a few more copies of a book. The internet is powerful and it is quick to change. Stay on top of your business and don’t be afraid to test out new revenue strategies.
5. Having persistence when you hit that first wall
Launching a website or web business isn’t the hardest part. It’s continuing to improve, market and operate that web business after the intial excitement wears off. There are probably millions of blogs that close down every day after only being open a month because the blogger realizes that just by putting a blog online did not result in thousands of readers overnight.
Getting over that first wall that you hit mentally and emotionally will be a big factor in how successful your web business becomes. Be ready for it, and you won’t be as shell shocked when it happens.
6. Paying attention to details while focused on the big picture
Usually there are two types of web entrepreneurs: the detail oriented individual and the big picture individual. I fall into the big picture category, which means I have a huge weakness in taking care of the minor details. Unfortunately, in the competitive world of the internet, many times it is the details that make you successful or not.
I tend to be focused on the next two steps in our growth strategy rather than improving the css styling of our website. Ignoring the style could prevent a website from even getting to those next two steps that I’m obsessing over.
So, you have two options. Both options necessitate you determining which category you fall into. Once you do that, you can either get a partner who is in the other category, or you can really put pressure on yourself to focus on the other area. By determining which category you fall into, you’ll be much better prepared to compensate for your weakness.
7. Having a clear strategy, not just a cool concept
Launching a cool and unique website is great. But, that’s about 10% of the entire process of a successful launch. Before writing a single line of code for the website, it’s important to plan for the following:
- How will people find this website?
- How will we make money?
- What are we selling?
- How are we different?
8. Having a business growth strategy
I like to think ahead to a major growth phase even during the initial launch. If you tend to get distracted, you may even ignore this section, but remember the above section about me being a big picture guy? Focus on getting off the ground. However, if you can think ahead at the same time, consider some aspects of your future growth.
For example, at what point will we need to bring in additional personnel? How would we organize additional workers? Are there new business areas that this business could naturally penetrate? Are there some big time partnerships that we could pursue? Would this business be a potential acquisition target assuming we achieve the level of success we’re moving toward?
9. Deciding whether to take on partners or go it alone
This one is also extremely important and should be considered near the front end of a project. I have changed my opinion in this regard due to my recent project over at YourBelly.com. I used to be very much for going it alone, but my recent project, which was a much larger project than launching a WordPress blog or something of the sort, has definitely thrived due to the partnership.
10. Finding the time necessary to make it happen
We will end with the issue of time management. How do you balance your entrepreneurial activity with your day job, with your family, with your hobbies, with your friends? The answer to this will look different for just about everyone, but I do have a few tips.
First, it will help if you combine your business with your hobbies and interests; therefore, you will satisfy that itch by working on your business. When it comes to family, it’s important to keep your priorities in line, and to find time to work on your business during times when you typically don’t spend time with other family members. For me, that usually looks like getting into work an hour early and spending that hour on my own business venture.