The Top 7 Mistakes Newbies Make While Building Their Online Empires

The internet began in the 1980s and became mainstream by the 1990s when the likes of Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, and Google jumpstarted their empires. By the middle of the 2000s when YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter opened their doors for the masses to jump in, the world had become a huge flattened global village. Today we are the citizens of the world. George Orwell’s nineteen eighty-four, first written in 1949, is here but unlike the dire prediction of 1984, the internet has democratized communication and commerce and nothing can stop its onward march.

While it took many global brands hundreds of years to acquire the status MNC (Multi-National Corporation) the internet is producing globe-spanning companies and billionaires at a rate and speed never seen or heard in history. While before the internet boom, there was only one documented employee who later became a billionaire, in the person of the late Roberto Goizueta, the former Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of one of theglobal brands, the likes of Steve Ballmer, Tim Cook, and Meg Whitman, to mention three, became billionaires while directors and employees of Microsoft, Apple and eBay respectively.

Needless saying the founders of the global e-commerce giants like Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Jack Ma, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, to mention the topmost echelons are billionaires many times over. By 2018, Jeff Bezos had become not only the richest man in the world but the richest in all of modern history, with his net worth topping $104billion, barely 23 years after founding Amazon.

From publicly available information, the top 5% to 10% of employees in most of the global internet giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Ali Baba are multiple millionaires. The internet, of course, has also aided other global giants like Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, Microsoft, HP, and GE, to explode further also making a bigger percentage of their employees millionaires like never before.

While you needed millions in capital and thousands of employees pre-internet to scale your business operations to make it to the big league, today you can become a millionaire with just your laptop and internet connectivity. Indeed, today the extent and how fast you can grow to millionaire status is limited only by your imagination.

To show how imagination triumphs online, let’s take the founder of CD Baby, Derek Sivers, as an extreme example. An introvert, looking for a cure he joined a circus and became a clown; perfected his guitar playing skills; started producing songs; and became a musician and an artist. Long story short, he produced a music CD, which shops around his neighborhood would not stock. To solve his problem, he set up a website, CD Baby, in 1998 and started selling his music there and also invited other musicians to join. Just ten years later, he sold CD Baby for $22million in 2008.

Expectedly Americans, people from Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel dominate the internet but anybody from any part of the globe can jump in. As someone who has studied the internet phenomenon for a while, these are the top seven mistakes that newbies to the internet make from my own opinion. Read and learn how to zigzag your way to internet success.

1. Hanging out solely with the internet ‘gurus’: Beware of gurus. They are in a class of their own. While the majority of them have made a further fortune online, the majority of the more familiar names made theirs before the advent of the internet. Why follow the gurus when you’re not in the same league with them? It’s like learning to run 100 meters dash and heading to the Olympic to compete with the likes of Usain Bolt, Florence Griffith-Joyner and Magic “Bullet” Johnson, and the like. You’ll only end up in frustration. The solution, look for someone who is three to five steps ahead of you and learn from her.

2. Trying to do many things at the same time: Doing this is going to be your fastest road to failure because you’re going to be a jack of all trades and master of none. Do you want to set up e-commerce, a market place, membership website, or do you want to learn HTML, how to code, develop software, or do you want to learn search engine optimization, develop eproducts, or apps? Decide and focus single-mindedly until you prevail in one area before you jump to another.

3. Not putting in enough effort: It’s easy to be misled into thinking that making millions is a walk through the park and anybody can do it. Thanks to motivational speakers, you’re made to believe anything you can visualize and believe in, you can achieve. Beware, if it were that easy, we’d all be millionaires. True, it’s easier to succeed online than offline because of the ease with which you can scale, however, you still need to burn the proverbial midnight oil, put in the hours, toil and sweat, put in sufficient capital investment and learning before you start seeing the needle moving in your favour.

4. Lacking Skills or relying on shallow skills: When people read books and watch YouTube videos with headlines such as, How I Made My First $1million Online, How I Sold 1million eBooks Online and Set It All Up And Go Have Fun And See The Millions Roll In, they take in what they hear hook, nail, and sinker.” Again if it were that easy everybody would be a millionaire. As Tony Robbins consistently says, “It’s not what you know it’s what you consistently do” that matters. Though thousands are making it online, the technology for spectacular success is quite formidable and beyond the grasp of the majority of people. So be prepared to learn new skills like making videos, writing copies, scripting, podcasting, webcasting, doing webinars and so on. Though you can outsource things that are beyond you, you still need to know who you can outsource to and even what to outsource.

5. Not developing online assets early enough: Online assets such as websites, blogs, YouTube channels, vlogs, eproducts, to mention a few, enable you to scale fast and monetize early. The mistake most newbies do is to wait until they are perfect. You don’t need to be perfect to get your first website up and running. Sometimes newbies think the website is about beauty. It’s not. It’s about functionality. Though aesthetics has its place, what is paramount is functionality. Can people interact easily with you and your website or blog? Without online assets it’s difficult for people to know you, meet you and enter into dialogue with you. So tomorrow get someone to design a website for you. If you have nothing to put there, just put your picture and say hello, my name is Internet Newbie. You may say I’m on Facebook; just know they serve different purposes.

6. Not Getting A Coach Early Enough: Derek Bok, the former president of Harvard, has the following quote attributed to him, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” The biggest mistake you will make while trying to carve out a piece of the internet cake for yourself is to go it alone. You can, but beware, you may spend years trying to figure things out what to do while what you already knew or was in vogue is already obsolete. Sure, you can learn literally anything through Google and YouTube, smart newbies get coaches and mentors to show them the way around the web. Some newbies think they cannot afford a coach or coaches because they erroneously believe coaches are for elites tennis players like Serena Williams, elite boxers like Floyd Mayweather, and elite golfers like Tiger Woods. Nothing can be further from the truth. Anybody can afford a coach. It all depends on where you’re looking. Go out and look for a coach and you would have surmounted all the other mistakes in one fell swoop.

7. Lacking Mental Toughness: This is the toughness mistake to overcome. Newbies who lack mental toughness get easily discouraged and give up too soon. If you’ve not read the book, Acres of Diamond, borrow a copy from your local library and devour. Mental toughness means believing in your vision, mission, and goal. It’s noteworthy to say that Amazon lost money for 58 quarters (about 14 years) before it became stupendously profitable. If you lack all the other ingredients but develop mental toughness, you will prevail.

I have arranged these mistakes in order, with the ones easy to discontinue or discard at the top and the more difficult ones at the bottom. Mindset cuts across all the other mistakes. Take care of your mindset and your mindset will take care of the other mistakes. Do not just believe in your vision, start doing, start implementing, start executing, start getting your hands dirty! You don’t’ need more knowledge. What you need is full belief in yourself, believe in what you already know, and an effective coach to show you the tweaks, bends and turns of the internet and before long you would have carved out a piece of the internet cake for yourself and loved ones.

Nicole Thomas

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