Daryl Willcox, the founder and chairman of media
communications company DWPub
says achieving success with an online business is
more difficult than it used to be.
Getting rich online is easy, right? Come up with a great
idea. Build a website. Line pockets with cash from venture
capitalists intoxicated by your idea. Build business. Sell
business. Retire to Mustique.
Sorry, but it doesn't work like that. Not anymore, anyway.
Online businesses require the same kind of dedication and
commitment to work that any other business does. Although you can
get an online business up and running within hours and at a
substantially lower initial cost than 'traditional' businesses,
success comes as a result of a passion to make it happen in the
Follow these five tips to ensure you stay on the path to
Stick to one main idea
Because it is so easy, in theory, to start an online business,
many fall into the trap of starting multiple ventures, rather like
'shotgun entrepreneurs'. I see a lot of people who follow this
strategy simply fail. Nothing gets off the ground. Pick the idea
with the greatest chance of success, the one that solves a known
problem, has revenue potential and is scalable. Just one. Throw all
your energy behind that (at least until you know it's a definite
dud) before you start anything else.
Listen to your customers
Your online business will need to evolve before it hits the
mark. The people who can tell you how it must evolve are your
customers, or potential customers. Get close to them, and ask for
their input. Social media is great for this - make sure you are
visible on social media platforms that are suitable for your client
base and use them for market insight. Don't fall into the trap of
just telling people how great your product is, listen and then
listen some more.
Invest in the user
The internet isn't new anymore. People have high expectations -
they don't want to work hard when they're online. You must make it
easy for customers to use your service. Marketers call this a good
'user experience'. Constantly test and review how your website
works for people. Make sure the people building your online
services understand what good usability is.
This is an old chestnut that applies to any entrepreneur and one
that took me years to fully embrace - delegate as much as you
possibly can. Why? Because you need to be out there seeing what is
going on in your market and focussing on the previous three points
- especially talking to customers.
Prepare to ditch your business
Success may be elusive. But the fundamental idea of the business
may not be at fault, it may just be the business model. Nine months
after starting my business I was getting a lot of positive feedback
but the revenue wasn't there. Stubbornness set in and I said to
myself "I will make it work". But I couldn't. So after some
soul-searching I changed the business model - in this case it was
from an advertising-led to a subscription-led one. It worked and I
have never looked back. Stubbornness can be good when you just want
to get things done but when it comes to strategy it can be