The 4 Biggest Mistakes Holding Business Owners Back
I’ve been in the online marketing world since roughly 2009 and over the past ten years, I have seen both brands and individuals rise and fall in this space.
You may be familiar with one of my favorite phrases, “success leaves clues,” which refers to the notion that successes rarely occur overnight. Rather they are a result of strategic steps and routines that got the person or brand to the level you may be deemed as “successful.”
Look at any person you view as successful and see what you can find on their journey. Maybe paths they’ve diverted on, programs or products they’ve abandoned, lessons they’ve learned, you get the drill. The point is, success does not come overnight. It may feel that way to us as outsiders, but if you look hard enough, there’s a story there. (One you may want to take some notes on!)
But remember, success isn’t the only thing that leaves clues. Failure leaves behind PLENTY of clues as well.
Just to clarify, I really don’t believe there are any failures in online marketing. Sure, you can fall short of a goal, have a program that’s struggling, or have a product that doesn’t seem to be selling, but to me, the only failure is quitting. There’s always new strategies you can try, tweaks you can make, and new products to create and launch. After all, if you take an example of a successful entrepreneur you can bet they have about ten times as many failures as they do successes.
The reason I even used the term failure here is that that is the emotion many clients are feeling when they come to us at TCG. Some are brand new to online business, but some feel like they have failed thus far in their journey. And if that's the case, it’s our job to take a look at everything they’ve done up to that point in their business and reverse-engineer what has gone wrong for them.
After working with these clients for a few years now, I have definitely noticed some common trends. The 4 mistakes we are going to go through are by far the most common mistakes we see people making when they come to use...
Mistake #1: Getting paralyzed by perfection
This is by far the most painful mistake to see clients make which is why I want to start here. There is nothing worse than working with a genuine person or business who have gifts and knowledge to give to the world, only to have them delay getting their stuff out there for weeks, months, even YEARS because they’re waiting for everything to be “perfect.”
Spoiler alert: If you wait for everything to be perfect, you will be waiting forever.
Branding kits, websites, courses, podcasts, youtube videos, even Instagram and Facebook strategies and graphics have so many moving parts that I want you to STOP thinking of them as static things. Your branding is not a checklist item on your list, it should evolve as you connect with your ideal customer avatar.
Let's go with the example of course creation. Once someone finishes making a course, they often assume that their work is done. While this may seem or feel liberating to have your course done and out there, it is actually debilitating to some of us, because we feel like well, that's it. Whatever I put out there on that first launch is what people are going to see and experience FOREVER so it better be good.
But I don’t want you to think like that because that is definitely not the case. When we work with course creators, we truly believe in getting the MVP or the minimum viable product out there as soon as possible and work diligently those first few months surveying students, taking notes, and making tweaks and improvements.
And MVP is just a product or course with just enough content and features to satisfy early customers, and enough for them to provide feedback for future product development.
We’ve had plenty of clients who actually refuse to post on Instagram or Facebook until their branding or their message or their strategy is “just so.” Again, months or YEARS can go by before they feel ready and that means they’re not connecting with their ideal customers online, they’re not growing their audience and they are kind of just in this holding pattern.
Then, what really stinks for these people is one day they wake up and decide “OK, I am ready.” And those are, unfortunately, the people who launch to crickets, EVEN if they use ads, because they spent months or years waiting for perfection and their social channels are dormant, they don’t have an email list, let alone an email list they’ve been nurturing for months, and they just expect everything to happen at once.
But-- that’s not how it works. The longer the runway, the greater the launch-- just remember that.
You don’t need to have a photographer to post on Instagram. So your designer didn’t finish the graphics you want to use yet? That does not excuse you not searching for and engaging with your ideal customers. It doesn’t give you an excuse to not jump on stories and ask questions and just get your name and face out there. I don’t care if you don’t have a product yet or you’re waiting for your product prototype or to come up with the name of your product or for your website to be done.
So just record that video, submit that podcast, press publish on that website, start collecting leads, and LAUNCH your product already!
Mistake #2- Delegating the WRONG Tasks
Now I may get some crap for this one but I am OK with that, I’ve done this long enough and been behind the scenes of enough businesses to be able to say this with confidence...
It is NOT smart for a business owner to delegate every single step of a process. A lot of industry professionals come to us wanting to increase their income by introducing an online course or an information product. They either do one-on-one consulting or do something in their “day job” and they have knowledge people will value and they want to share it.
We have a nutritionist client, we will call him Mike. Mike knows he can scale his one-on-one local practice to the masses by introducing an online course. He has a small local social media following, maybe 100 previous clients on his email list, a website designed for appointment bookings, and no real content out there. So by content I mean he hasn’t been sharing tips on Youtube, through a podcast, or anything like that.
Mike hires us to design the strategy around his course launch and implement for him. Great. However, when we say “done-for-you” launches, we don’t necessarily mean we will take you from 0 to 100 without you lifting a finger, and this is a mistake a lot of people make. They hire a consultant or an agency to literally “do it all” and let me tell you why this is NOT an effective strategy.
People can see RIGHT through it a lot of the times and because the actual educator or expert was barely participating in this process at all, people will not connect with the content. Sure, maybe they hit “subscribe” or “follow” but they will not turn into raving fans or share the information with their friends, and they certainly won’t pull out their credit cards and buy.
We realized some things just CAN’T and SHOULDN’T be delegated or outsourced. Even the best copywriter in the world can’t write in a way that will resonate with someone’s ideal customer without input from them because if a customer DOES enroll or purchase, they will feel a disconnect between the launch experience and the actual product. And again, I am sure there are some very proud content creators and copywriters out there that will disagree with this and that’s OK- you do your thing.
Have we gotten sales doing a complete “done-for-you launch”? Absolutely. Did sales increase DRAMATICALLY, beyond our wildest dreams, when we made some tweaks? YES.
Ok, so let's break down what should and should not be delegated, and let me start by saying this will be different for everyone. It’s all about figuring out what medium you like to create content in and what resonates most with your audience:
DO delegate those 3,000 word blog posts, but script and record videos that blogs can be created from
DO ask for help making these videos ultra-engaging
DO have your team actually edit and post the content and optimize it for search
DO repurpose this video content in as many ways and places as possible
But most people will want to stop there. We used to let clients get away with that, but not anymore. And again YES you can make sales if you stop there but you’re leaving money on the table and driving customers to your competitors if you do.
So, what do we tell clients to do from there? We tell them to:
Answer every comment on youtube.
Every DM on Instagram.
Reply to EVERY email themselves.
Get on Facebook live and talk about it and answer questions.
Interact on Instagram and in Facebook groups
Figure out where your ideal customers are hanging out and show up for them.
Give value and ask for nothing in return
Follow them and reply to their stories.
So long story short- we don’t let clients off the hook with taking every single thing off their plate anymore because we know doing so would sabotage their sales and their business. What we DO do is give them the tools, knowledge, and training to create impactful content in a time effective way on a strategic schedule, and show up for their audience themselves when and where it matters most.
SO delegate anything you don’t need to do yourself, but don’t think to sell online can be entirely passive either-- your people want and need you to show up for them and they’ll reward you with their loyalty AND even more importantly, their referrals. Because we want to impact and help as many people as we can here right?
Mistake #3: Being TOO Reactive (Or “Content Consumption Overload”)
Now, this mistake goes hand in hand with Mistake #4, but you’ll see why I broke them up in just a second.
What does “being TOO reactive” mean? Well, it is basically the “shiny object syndrome” of the online marketing and business world.
We have had our fair share of clients who every time there is a new trend or strategy JUMP on it and feel the need to immediately implement it into their business. Now, to the credit of these clients, this really speaks to their enthusiasm about their business and their willingness to try new things and innovate which are definitely not bad traits to have. However, this can make some clients feel like if they don’t have every single “T” crossed and “I” dotted and every single possible strategy integrated into their launch plan before they can hit go, it can significantly delay the entire process and again leave money on the table and force potential customers to work with your competitors.
When you’re factoring content consumption into your daily routine, don’t go crazy. And Olivia, our content director, is rolling her eyes and laughing at this because I am SO guilty of content consumption overload at times. I love following trends and trying new things and the thought of applying a new method to better serve clients or customers lights me up like NOTHING else does in this business. I’ve toned it WAY back in recent months because I was noticing that, the more content I consumed, the less creative I could be, and the less imaginative I was feeling.
We learn and learn and learn but either just keep on learning and never take the time to stop and implement OR we implement and implement and implement and never actually finish anything to completion and just have a million unfinished chat bot sequences or email automation or maybe an abandoned podcast or Youtube channel.
There has to be a time when you STOP learning and start taking action. And not just regular action, massive action like one of the businessmen I admire most, Grant Cardone says.
Because if you want to make a massive impact, you need to take massive action. I used to dedicate probably 3 or 4 hours a DAY to courses and listening to podcasts but now most days I cap it at 1 hour because it was really holding me back from actually implementing what I was learning. And when I stopped consuming so much and started taking that time to just choosing a very small few things to run with, my results were better and I was actually moving the needle in my sales and my business.
Here’s the lesson: Whether this is your first launch or your 50th launch, you don’t need to do ALL the things to have the biggest impact and have the highest sales. What you do need to do is put a stake in the ground and put one hundred percent of your efforts into a launch strategy that is probably a whole lot simpler than you’re imagining because again, you can always add or make changes next time or later on.
Mistake #4: Abandoning instead of optimizing
Most strategies you will be implementing will take time and plenty of tweaks to optimize them before they actually work, which a lot of clients don’t realize. They launch a blog packed with keywords, for example, and wake up the next day hoping to rank #1 on Google for all of their keywords, because hey, they did everything right and followed the steps. But unless you’re pumping lots of money into ads, this just isn’t realistic.
Let’s use my Play Cafe Academy course as an example. I have blogged and released a new Youtube video, with topics and titles I came up with through keyword research, for OVER six months now. And yes, search anything about opening an indoor playground business on YouTube or google and you will find me there on page 1. But without ads, content marketing is not an instant bullet or a magic pill to success. I had given up in January just a few weeks after I got started just because I didn’t see instant results, I would have done both my own business a disservice and my audience a disservice because with time and consistency it did take off and is making thousands of dollars a month pretty passively.
Way too often we see clients go REALLY hard in one area, whether its podcasting or Instagram or Youtube and get super discouraged when they don’t see immediate results. They abandon their efforts and move right along to the next thing. This is when education and mentorship can be a great thing. If you KNOW a strategy can work for you, and you seem to be doing all the right things but can’t seem to crack the code, now you can invest in some training from an expert. But really give every strategy your absolute best and be patient before completely writing it off.
So here’s a quick recap of the 4 biggest mistakes we see clients making that have held them back and that could, in fact, be holding you back in your business.
Getting paralyzed by perfection
Delegating the wrong tasks
Being too reactive
Abandoning instead of optimizing
Looking for more? I talk through each category more in-depth and offer specific examples in The Digital Brand Envy Podcast. Connect with me on Instagram at @MicheleCaruana or join us directly in Digital Brand Envy.