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So you have decided to start selling online. You have done your due diligence, negotiated favourable deals with your suppliers and acquired a website domain. Now what?

Building an online business and customer following takes time. If you have an established brand or if you are starting out selling products online, it would be to your advantage to read this article. This is simply because no one ever said selling online is an easy endeavour. To prepare yourself, here are 7 common mistakes you need to avoid:

1. Fail to fulfil customer needs

People make the mistake of thinking that if they offer amazing products; customers will naturally flock to their website. However, the first thing you must ask yourself is whether you are actually fulfilling a need in the competitive market that will allow you to attract customers and grow. If your answer to this question is yes, read on.

2. The road is long, love what you do

Successful websites are not born overnight. They take hard work and dedication. Before you venture into selling online, make sure you love and are knowledgeable about what you are selling. You will spend a lot of sleepless nights working on your business so you better be passionate about what you do.

3. Failing to Market Your Product

Your product may the best on the face of the planet but how are you going to sell it if people do not even know it exists? Make sure you have resources put away for marketing your website. Presentation goes a long way towards the way your customers perceive you so make it count.

4. Not optimising your website

This is probably the most overlooked aspects of selling online. Think about when you look for a product. You see that blank search bar and you type a few key words right? Well, your customers will do exactly that. The higher up you are on search results the better the chance of someone finding your website, clicking on it and buying your product. There are plenty of resources online that can guide you through the process. If you are not knowledgeable about SEO, find someone who is. It is a small investment that can yield a potentially high return.

5. Failing to convert

Turn your visitors into customers. Make sure your website loads quickly. Go right into selling your products. Do not overburden your site with extra padding. People are there to buy your products. Make it easy for them to click on a few buttons and purchase them.

6. Listen to your customers

This may seem like quite an obvious statement but it bears emphasising. Not listening to your customers is like driving in the night with no headlights. No business is perfect. Running an online business, whether big or small, needs direction and your customers will serve as your compass. Create social media pages for your customers to express themselves and create a section for reviews and comments to help your business grow and meet the needs of your clients.

7. Not setting realistic goals

An online business, just like any other business, is a marathon not a sprint. Set realistic goals and meet them. You can reach for the stars but work your way up inch by inch. According to companies like CB Online, this is one of the most important lessons you have to learn when running a business. Otherwise, you may find yourself discouraged when you fail to see the progress you expected. If you set realistic expectations, you will realise that slow but sure progress is better for your business to thrive.



Offering a hefty paycheck is an excellent strategy for companies looking to lure in talent. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t always have the funds to pay high enough salaries to attract the employees they’re looking for. So they have to get creative.

When higher pay isn’t an option, companies can offer certain perks that cost little and still make employees happy. Here are some of the most attractive benefits employers can offer in the working sphere.

Pets Allowed at Work

Inviting Fido to work does more than save you money on pet care. Turns out, bringing pets to work reduces employees’ stress levels and boosts job satisfaction. Companies like Amazon and Ben & Jerry’s have implemented pet welcoming policies, reaping the many benefits.

A weeklong study was conducted at Replacements Ltd, a dog-friendly company consisting of about 550 employees. According to head researcher Randolph T. Barker, dogs can be helpful in the workplace: “The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”

While there are numerous positives of inviting dogs into the office, there are certain setbacks as well. For example, some people fear dogs, others have allergies and you might have to deal with dog waste. Consider your workplace environment before moving forward with a pet policy for your office.

Flexible Hours

A rigid 8 a.m. start time, while somewhat standard in the working world, can seem a bit rigid in today’s landscape. Offering employees a flexible start time, but demanding a full eight hours, leaves individuals feeling more relaxed. According to a discussion paper published by IZA Press, studies show that flexibility in one’s schedule correlated with greater positivity and higher job satisfaction.

A more relaxed approach to scheduling allows employees to feel more in charge of their work time, as if it’s more personalized. The individuals who aren’t fond of mornings will also benefit because they have more time for their brains to warm up for the day ahead.

Finally, offering flexibility allows employees to more easily balance their personal lives with their work. According to an employee at Qualcomm, a company offering flexible hours, “My work hours are flexible, which allows me to work remotely when I get good ideas at odd times of the day.”

Opportunity to Work from Home

Working from home, just like having a lenient start time, allows employees to feel in control; it personalizes the work experience. The same analysis conducted by IZA Press demonstrating the benefits of work flexibility also shows that working from home increases job satisfaction. A survey conducted by Brown University says the same thing: people are happier when they have the option to work from home. Not only are they more content with their jobs, but workers are more productive from home, too.

Companies like Greenrope and Pixelkeet are two of many companies now offering remote working options. According to their employees, working from home limits distractions and allows for necessary midday breaks.

Fun Work Events

Holiday parties, organized 5k races, volunteering sessions – events that allow employees to interact in a setting beyond the conference room increase camaraderie and office morale in general.

Friendships form and co-workers begin to really foster the feeling of being a team, or family, and can increase loyalty to the company. Consider such teambuilding exercises in order to boost job satisfaction within your company.

Fitness Opportunities

A free gym membership, organized in-office exercises or an on-site gym allow employees to better balance physical fitness with their full-time employment. An on-site locker room – equipped with a shower – is another great feature as it gives individuals the chance to exercise during lunch or run or bike to work.

Many companies have added to their comprehensive benefits packages, adding sponsored yoga or Pilates classes during work hours – on the company’s dime. Ryan Pirkle of Gravity Payments takes part in an organized weekly running club; employers can leave work for an hour to run around together. ”We find this helps clear people’s minds, provides a mental break, and increases camaraderie among employees,” Pirkle says.

Free Food

This trick has been used to lure people to parties, lectures and otherwise unappealing gatherings for years. As it turns out, using food as bait can actually lead people into your company, too (or at least make them happier once they are there).

According to a survey conducted by WorkSphere, feeding employees or having free edibles in the office made 30% of respondents happier at work. Google, Twitter and Facebook are among the many companies keeping employees happy with free snacks.

Comfortable Work Space

When employees are forced to work in the office, it better be cozy. Everything from the office temperature to the desk layouts can impact job satisfaction. A study from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that clutter negatively impacts work flow, and that physical space is important when it comes to productivity. Individuals should have greater control over the work environment because it also boosts job satisfaction.

Another thing for managers and business owners to remember: when it comes to the office setting, the little things matter. Functioning machines, enough light, even good-smelling hand soap in the bathroom – these seemingly tiny factors can make or break an employee’s experience. 

You don’t need to be the richest company on the block to attract the best employees; you simply have to understand what people want. Sometimes, the best things in a worker’s life really are free.

Sarah Landrum

About Our GE Network Expert - Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, sharing advice for young professionals and entrepreneurs looking for success in their ventures. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum and subscribe to her blog for more tips on all things entrepreneurial.


Did you ever ask yourself, “Why don’t people buy from me?”

The Biggest Marketing Challenge WE All Face

The biggest challenge we’re dealing with today is change. Things are changing so fast. As a result of this rapid pace of change people do not know who to trust!

There are six questions your prospects want answered before they will buy from you. These questions are designed to allow you to think like your buyer and speak with them so they know you are the right and safe choice.

Why the Six Questions are Important

When I started my business back in 2001, I lacked trust. What I really mean is that I did not know who could help me get clear on my ideal client. Every time I ask someone they said things I did not understand. I was confused and a confused mind does not take action. This is what we’re dealing with.

Stick with me as I talk about things you may not have thought about before. Keep an open mind because, to grow your business, you need to find someone you can trust.

Remember we stated earlier that “trust” is the biggest marketing issue we need to address. This is what marketing is about – helping our prospects to trust us so we can start the sales process.

Let’s jump right in.

The Six Questions

Question 1: What Do You Do?

What do you do? What would you tell me?

If you answered, “I am a financial planner,” or “I am an accountant,” or “I fix computers,” then you got it wrong. This is not what you do; it is how you do it.

People want to know what you do before they want to know how you do it.

For example, if you are a financial planner, here is what I would hope to hear: “I help people make the right choices about their money,” or “I help them make wise money decisions,” or “I build, protect and transfer wealth (my favorite).”

People want to know what you do before they want to know how you do it.

Question 2: Why should I care about what you do? Or, “What’s in it for me?”

If I asked a financial planner how he is different, what would he say? This is really important because there are thousands of financial planners that want my business. Why would I hire one over the other?

If you’re a business owner and looking for customers, you have prospects who are asking, “What’s in it for me?” Your job is to marry your skills and the outcome you provide to the prospects that have that need. Don’t make your prospect figure it out, tell them. That’s all your prospects want know. Don’t make your prospect guess.

Question 3: Why are YOU the Right and Safe Choice?

They’re going to want to know the answer to this question: “How do I know you are the right and safe choice for me, right now?”

The question of why you are the right and safe choice addresses a very powerful question for your prospects: “Can I trust you to do what you say you will do?”

They want to know how you will make them more effective and productive, how you make them right and how would you make them look good?

Business owners have a strong need to be more effective and more productive. Here is what you need to know. Simply ask them what they want to achieve and tell them how you will help them achieve that goal. When they understand how you’re going help them achieve their goal and how you can make them more effective and more productive, they are on board.

Question 4: What do you do better than anyone Else in the World?

You are unique. There is no one like you. The uniqueness you bring to the business is a great example of how to answer this question. It is not the only answer but it is a great place to start. Let’s look at a specific example.

How many people have heard the Southwest Airlines commercial where they discuss “bags fly free”?

What does Southwest Air do better than anybody else in the whole world?


Yes, Southwest is fun to fly, but what do they do that no other airline does? “Bags fly free.”  That’s really all it is. They are the only airline that does not charge for bags. This isn’t rocket science.

Question 5: Why is that Important to my Prospects?

Why is what you do better than anyone else in the world important to me?

When you answer this question, you’re moving into allowing the customer to buy from you. This is actually the beginning of the buying process.

Will you:

  • Make them more money?
  • Give them more free time?
  • Create more value?
  • Reduce risk?
  • Save them money?

This is the beginning of the business case of why you are the right person or your company is the right company.

It’s just that simple.

Question 6: Why Buy From Me? Or Prove It.

So here’s the last one question. Why buy from me? This is really the fundamental question; this is where the proof exists. Do you have the credentials? Can you say that you’ve done this for another company and can do the same for me? Do you have endorsements from others who will vouch for you?

If what you are doing is not working as well as you would like. Try this process. It works. The answers you create can be used to craft a killer 30 second commercial, create actionable contents for your web site and make it easier for prospects to understand why they should be from you.  There are 16 modules on answering the six questions. To make it easy you can purchase or rent this course at

Ron Finklestein

About Our GE Network Expert - Ron Finklestein

After a successful consulting career, Ron Finklestein has spent the past 6 years building his business AKRIS Inc and helping entrepreneurs and business owners build their businesses by helping them solve the tough problems that hold them back. Ron is called The Small Business Success Expert by his clients because of his passion for their success and his knowledge of business. Visit Ron's website at


When it comes to crowd funding, there is no faster or more exciting way to earn money for your startup.

A popular campaign on Kickstarter on Indiegogo can generate the awareness and funding your idea needs practically overnight, but many newcomers to the game find there are some unanticipated extras that come along with a crowd funding campaign. While the goal may be to raise money, by engaging your customers in a campaign you’re able to increase awareness in ways previously not possible for early stage startups.  But it isn’t for everyone and every idea. And while they may not have the same allure as crowdfunding, more traditional means of capital raising are still viable – and commonplace – as pointed out by this piece of research from AXA. Still interested? Then let’s take a deeper look into what you can expect.

Less Risk Involved

According to Forbes, crowdfunding is a great way to reduce your overall risk. When you run a crowdfunding campaign, you can get a sense for your market and whether people are actually going to be interested in your product or service. During a campaign, you’ll likely interact with potential customers, ask questions you might not have thought of previously, and find new avenues to explore within your business. Crowdfunding serves as a sort of test pilot for your business, and it lets you run a no-risk campaign to see your true market potential.

It Builds a Base

One of the most difficult aspects of starting a new business is getting the word out and gaining a customer base, one of the most common reasons why startups fail. While most crowdfunding donations initially come from friends, family and people you know, as the campaign grows this close-knit group expands into other areas. Highly connected people from outside your own network may come into contact with and have a chance to learn about your idea and contribute to your success. In the process, you build an initial customer-base of influential, socially active early adopters with no overhead or concerns about business failure.

Conduct Market Research

According to MassiveMov, One of the worst mistakes a business can make is the inability to anticipate issues that might crop up during the early stages. When a company is just starting out it is vulnerable to a wide array of potential mistakes. Running a crowdfunding campaign gives you the proof of concept you need to determine whether you have a sound business model. If your campaign fails, you can tweak it with nothing lost other than a bit of time. The customer feedback you receive is critical in helping you create a sound, effective business model.

Embracing the Unknown

When you start a crowdfunding campaign, you never know what new idea you may come across to help your business grow. Customers will ask questions about your business, and you can take these questions and identify recurring themes. This can reveal more insight into what your customers want before you put the first product up for sale. By vetting your ideas through the marketplace, you can be certain that your crowdfunding will result in a viable and lucrative business.

Ultimately, crowdfunding is a great way to test your business model and find out the level of interest from customers. A good crowdfunding campaign helps to raise capital and awareness simultaneously. Engage your customers and you’ll come out of your campaign a step ahead of your competition.


Being productive is a challenge for most of us in business today. Persevering and achieving your business dreams in the midst of a negative world is increasingly difficult. The uncontrollable negatives from riots to earthquakes to a tenuous economy assault us daily.

How do you focus your attention and achieve your business dreams in this doom-and-gloom environment?

Think of your attention as a finite resource like time. Become selective about to whom and what you give your attention.

Follow these 3 Keys to Increase Your Productivity today: 

Give Attention to Positive Thoughts

When you receive negative news, acknowledge your emotional reaction. Disappointment, anger, frustration, and other emotions must be processed to avoid blocking your emotional intelligence development.

However, do so quickly. Give yourself a little time to experience those emotions. Then flush them. Yes, multiple flushes are required sometimes. Sure, some emotions circle the bowl more than once.

Flush. Move on. Now.

As you flush quickly, you create room in your mind for what you can do to redirect the negative news. You focus on what you can control and influence, refusing to rent space in your head to what is beyond your reach.

Give attention to positive thoughts that are actionable.

Give Attention to Positive People

When you receive negative news, there typically is a messenger. If it’s technology-driven, cut it off. If it’s human, thank them and excuse yourself.

There are negative persons who enjoy delivering bad news. If there’s too much good news, they create negativity.

I call them Eeyore Vampires.

Their mantra is “It’ll never work.” They suck positive attention from you even when away from work trying to love what you do with those you love.

Treat Eeyore Vampires like they have a contagious disease and you’ll catch it.

Give your attention to positive people. Those persons who bring out the best in you, who have your best interests at heart, and who ask questions like, “How may I best serve you?”

Give Attention to Positive Outcomes

Each of us experiences outcomes that fall short of our expectations regardless of how hard we work or how much we prepare. When your negative news is of this kind, remind yourself of a previous experience when you exceeded your expectations and succeeded.

Celebrate that experience once more. Give attention to sustaining that celebrative attitude. Tell yourself, “If I did it once, I’ll do it again.”

Most likely, that positive experience was the accumulation of previous learning experiences of “bad news” like the current one. Reliving that success guides you to the next.

Give attention to positive thoughts, people, and outcomes, increase your productivity, and  achieve your business dreams today.

  Meet Our GE Network Experts!

Meet Our GE Network Experts!

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About is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.