Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

10 Online Mistakes That Can Ruin a Business

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

As they say, technology is a two-edged sword.  Use it correctly and it can help you build a business.  Use it incorrectly and it can ruin any business.  The problem today is that the Internet is a complicated and sometimes confusing marketplace in which to do business. To help you keep your business from making any costly techno-errors, I've come up with a list of 10 things you want to avoid online.

#1: Choosing the wrong name for your website. - What's in a name? That depends on who's doing the naming.  While a quick search of local businesses may inform you that the name you seek to register for your latest online venture won't step on anyone's toes, that doesn't necessarily mean you're in the clear on the Internet.  That's because there are over two billion websites online, some of which are trademarked.  Before you wind up scuttling your online aspirations before you get started, take the time to carefully research the name of your URL before you register it.  This way you won't be in for a rude awakening in the coming months by receiving a cease and desist order from an already existing company who claims legal rights to the name you chose for your website.  The best place to start your research is at the US government's Search Trademark Database. 

#2: Letting someone else register your URL. - While choosing the right web address is one of the keys to succeeding online, letting someone else register your URL could be a fatal mistake.  That's because he who owns the web address steers the business.  Let me explain.  Today you can find all kinds of freebies online. Everything from free website development and web hosting to free e-commerce plugins and social networks abound online. The problem is, while the price is right, the terms and conditions can limit a user's rights to do as they please.  Just as a Facebook or Twitter user needs to abide by the social nets rules and regulations, if you allow your ISP to register your company URL, you could later find that you won't be able to switch providers if you so choose.  Even worse, you may come to find that you don't really own your website or the content contained on it. 

#3: Failing to post your company's location. - While a catchy web design is important to attracting prospects to your website, if a potential customer can't determine where your business is located, they will probably be leery of doing business with you.  That's because there are all too many fly-by-night operations out there.  Even if you only sell online, you should include the physical address of your business on the homepage of your website or on your Contact Us page.  This will let prospects know that you aren't operating from a boiler room in a foreign country.  

Image courtesy Pixabay

#4: Not posting a privacy policy. - While it may seem that privacy online is a thing of the past, what isn't is the legal rights of consumers to know what you intend to do with any information you collect on them.  Posting a privacy policy needs to state clearly what your company and any other companies you are affiliated with will do with any data you collect.  Failure to do so could come back to haunt you since any visitor to your website that feels he or she has been wronged, misinformed or caused any intentional harm is entitled to compensation.  If you don't want to wind up in court, take the time to create and post your company's privacy policy so that it clearly states the type of information you intend to collect, the purpose of collecting such data, and how the data will be used and shared with third parties.  Then either post it on your homepage or include a prominent link that leads to it.

#5: Is your website ADA compliant? - People with visual and auditory handicaps not only deserve the right to peruse your website, they've been known to sue businesses who don't augment their sites to accommodate their needs.  That's the bad news.  The good news is this doesn't mean you have to spend thousands of dollars to retool your website.  All you need to do is have your webmaster add a widget at the top of your homepage that makes your website accessible to the disabled.  Better still is that many ADA widgets are free or cost little to use.  

#6: Did you check your mailbox this morning? - If not, you may have missed a vital communication from a prospect or client.  Even though email has lost its luster compared to texting these days, some people still use it to communicate with businesses.  It doesn't matter if your email box is stuffed full of spam, the one or two legitimate messages contained therein could be of vital importance to your business.  Failure to reply promptly could cause a client or prospect to post a complaint about your company online. An that's bad for business.

Image courtesy Pixabay

#7: Using social media inappropriately. - While you can advertise on the social nets, that isn't the primary aim of this kind of media.  If the only things you post online is information about your products and offers, chances are you'll find it hard to build a following.  Social media wasn't designed as an advertising conduit.  Ideally it's used to engage and grow an audience.  That means your content also shouldn't be all about you.  It should cater to the needs and wants of your audience.  Just as a first date will hit the rocks if all you do is talk about yourself, so too will a social media follower be turned off if all you offer online is information about your business and its product line.  

#8: Failing to protect your company's intellectual property. - It doesn't matter if your business produces no products or processes that are vital to its success, every blog, whitepaper, and image should be copyrighted to keep competitors from riding on your coattail.  While that could mean registering your images, blogs and whitepapers with the US Copyright Office, it doesn't have to be that complicated unless you intend to sell any of those properties.  Just listing a copyright symbol and date on a blog or paper will make it easier to enforce your rights to printed material.  As far as images are concerned, as soon as you save it on a phone, hard drive or memory card, it's automatically protected by copyright laws in the US.  However, if you wish to add another layer of protection to prove the image originated with you, consider adding a watermark to it before posting online.  This way if anyone ever disputes the ownership of your image, you'll have proof positive who created it. 

#9: Copyright Infringement - Just as you don't want anyone infringing on your rights, the opposite holds true.  If you fail to post attribution for any quotes used on company blogs or use copyrighted images without securing the rights, you could wind up paying a great deal when the owner of such material demands restitution or takes your company to court.  Even if you use royalty-free images that state that you can use them without attribution, always make sure you post the source with a linked URL to prove you had the rights to use such images.  It's better to be safe than sorry since blogs have a long shelf life and copyright laws can change at a moment's notice only to be retroactively enforceable.

#10: Mismanaging your business' reputation. - As hard as it is to build a stellar business reputation, it's even harder to maintain a one over time.  That's because you can't please all the people all the time.  Sooner or later, even the best business will disappoint a customer.  It's inevitable.  When that happens, it's all too easy for a disgruntled customer to post a scathing review of your business.  This bad review can soon come to haunt you if you ignore it or dispute it with the customer.  Better to resolve the issue and have the customer retract the bad review than stand on principle only to have bad reviews drag your online standing down.  The other thing every business owner should do is encourage their customers to post good reviews.  This way anyone checking out your business online won't find nothing but negative reviews.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at

1 comment:

  1. The rules for online business seem to change at the drop of a hat. It pays to stay informed if you want to stay in business.


10 Online Mistakes That Can Ruin a Business

 By Catherine Powell Image courtesy Pixabay As they say, technology is a two-edged sword.  Use it correctly and it can help you build a busi...