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What Sort of Website Owner Are You ?

Are you setting yourself up to succeed or to fail ?
Tony Simpson

In setting up a web business the owner often goes about it completely the wrong way from the beginning and set themselves up to fail rather than succeed.

Having worked with many site owners on the website design, optimization and marketing of their web sites I have often asked myself regarding a client - “What sort of web site owner are you ?

This question has revealed a lot about why some website owners will fail on the web even before their web site is launched.

But first, to understand why I would ask such a question I need to explain a little about my own background.

I am a professional design engineer well versed in design procedures and principles that have been proven to work over many years.

I also have a solid background in management, marketing, sales and financial accounting. All these different disciplines probably put me in a unique position to assess the viability of a business and the chances of its success.


Actual real-estate Versus virtual real-estate

But first, I need to distinguish between site owners who have an existing bricks and mortar business with actual physical real-estate like a store or hotel and the web site owner who has just virtual real-estate (VRE) on the web.

For the website owner who wants a website as an extension of their existing physical business they generally understand the financials. They have an understanding of profit and loss, what adds to the bottom line and are more focused on financial viability.

With such a website owner you can talk about break-even point and return on investment without having to explain the terms, or educate them on why these things are important in the decision on whether a website is a viable option for them.

With an offline business you would be advised to:

  1. Research the market sectors you are interested in.
  2. Determine if the market is big enough and whether you can reach the consumer.
  3. Determine if the consumer has the disposable income to spend on your product.
  4. Determine if you can satisfy a need or solve a problem with your proposed product.
  5. Create the product or a mock-up of it.
  6. Test the product with the target consumer.
  7. Establish the distribution channel to get the product to market (website).
  8. Promote and sell the product.

For the offline business the cost of entry to a market is frequently higher and this naturally causes more caution.

The other sort of website owner with ambitions on just creating virtual real-estate (VRE) and earning an income online usually has a lot less business sense and an entirely different mindset when looking to create a website.


Virtual real-estate website owner

The VRE website owner is frequently in a hurry and the barriers to entry, like the cost of a website, are low. For the VRE web site owner the process of creating their online business is somehow different to creating an offline business, when in fact the steps should be very similar.

For the VRE site owner the process often involves doing far fewer of the basic 8 steps for an offline business and doing them in totally the wrong order.

Instead of assessing the market and product viability first and creating the product and website last, the VRE site owner often creates the product and website first and frequently leaves out assessing the market or product viability.

The VRE site owners sequence is often like this:

  1. Base a product on their own knowledge or experience.
  2. Discuss idea with family and friends to get feedback.
  3. Create the product.
  4. Get a website from which to sell the product.

The problem for the VRE site owner with this typical 4 step approach is they have missed out some critical steps which can doom them to failure right from the start.

  1. They assume their product satisfies a need and has consumers looking to buy it.
  2. They assume they can reach the market with their website.

The single biggest mistake is assuming
the target market can be reached with the website

In addition they frequently under-estimate the resources needed to reach their target consumer. By resources I mean, know-how (knowledge and experience), money and time.

All too often web site owners invest a lot of time (but usually little money) in a product/s and a website and don’t realize they have little chance anytime soon, of being able to reach the consumers who might buy their product/s.

They have invested too much of themselves in the venture to stop now, even if they are told their plan has flaws and their website is more likely to fail. Or put more gently, will not succeed, but they still carry on.


The problems for the VRE Website owner

  1. Insufficient knowledge or experience to develop their website to get targeted visitors.
  2. A product with too low a profit margin to be able to afford to pay to promote it.
  3. Not enough funds to do much other than cheaply or for free

From the site owners viewpoint they usually don’t know
they have the first two problems listed above

If the website was created by a web designer, it probably matches what they told the web designer about how they wanted it to look and what they wanted it to do. Most web designers do what their clients want even if they know it to be wrong.

The web designer still gets paid, so why argue,
and besides the client won’t find out for months
the site needs to do more than just look good !


It looks good so it should sell !

The site owner also frequently assumes that because the site looks good it will sell well if only they can get the visitor numbers up.

In the site owners mind the issue becomes just about getting more visitor traffic and higher search engine rankings. After all that’s what everyone else tells them they need to do.

But the problems usually go a lot deeper and include:

  1. A website not search engine friendly (even when told it is)
  2. A website not optimized for keywords it can compete for.
  3. A website poorly optimized for the visitors it receives.
  4. A website design that converts far fewer visitors to buyers

Even when the site owner has someone who shines a spotlight on the problems, flaws and issues with their website and web business, they often still fail to take appropriate action.

It becomes a lot safer to do nothing, or keep doing basically the same thing in the hope that a breakthrough will happen.

In reality, on today’s web, the odds of succeeding without good advice and resources are against them.

To your Success
Website Auditor
Tony Simpson
Website Audit Expert


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Tony Simpson provides website optimization and conversion improvement advice through website audits to help site owners make their websites more people and search engine friendly, resulting in increased traffic and sales.
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