Online Business Owners: Are you putting all of your eggs into one basket?

online business strategy
Don't put your eggs in one basket!

I have involved in online business for 5 years. I can’t call myself as “experienced” or “expert” but I do know some things that will or won’t work. I also know some success and failure stories to learn from, and also experienced the ups and downs myself.

The one thing I would like to remind you who want to plunge yourself into online business arena, is this: Just like in brick-and-mortar business, you need to have a backup plan – even several backup plans would be necessary – to thrive in your online business ventures. The bottom line, you should not put all of your eggs into one basket.

Scary online business stories

I know some scary stories – including one coming straight from my long time business partner.

He runs a couple of successful line of online businesses, namely in online financing business and web directory business. Both make him a healty six figure annual income, as a sole-proprietor.

He has just told me one scary story about one of his web directories, which have been de-indexed by Google, and just got back up and running a couple of days ago. As you might have known, getting de-indexed by Google means your website is non-existent in Google search. In website ownership, this is doom.

To cut long story short, what he has experienced is due to unethical competition – something that commonly happens either in brick-and-mortar or Internet-based businesses.

On a particular search term, his directory rank first – so when someone search using that term, his web directory comes up as the no. 1 result. This means traffic and revenue – guaranteed.

So, what happens is that the owner of the directory ranked no. 2 for the same search term allegedly reports the directory in no. 1 to Google with the hope that Google will deindex the site – which it eventually did. This will naturally make the no.2 site into no. 1.

My business partner then contact Google and explain things – he had his directory re-indexed and is now planning to take legal actions.

That story is just one of several scary stories I know.

Here’s another one for you… I know a story of an online business owner got half of his websites – making money via Google Adsense – de-indexed by Google. De-indexing will also means that AdSense ads won’t show up anymore. No ads, no revenue. Ouch.

He then made an appeal to Google for reconsideration, and he finally won his case – after 1 month having his income dropped to cents. The reason of de-indexing? Google admitted that Googlebots (Google’s computer program that surf the web for ranking and indexing purpose) have made a mistake, thinking that his sites are low quality, spammy or scammy.

Lessons learned

From the 2 similar case studies above, it’s essential for us not to put our eggs into one basket.

We need to have backup plans and/or other income streams, in such a way that when something screws up, you still have others that can support you.

Here are some lessons learned from my own experience, my business partners’ and from my fellow online business owners/Internet marketers:

1. One bad experience doesn’t mean you suck
I’m not a fan of “if my online business failed, I just go back into the workforce” way of thinking. I always think that I MUST succeed in my online business venture, so if I failed, I need to pick up the pieces quickly and move on.

Successful online entrepreneurs are those who share at least these two common traits: Resilience and perseverance. You need those, especially in online business world.

2. Always seek to diversify and differentiate your business
Are you running blogs? Then it’s time for you to run other line of online businesses, too, such as online retailing, online business consulting, web creation service, web promotion service, etc. Maybe you also need to explore other type of websites, such as building directories, forums, etc.

The above will help you to survive when disasters strike on one or a couple of your online business ventures.

3. Don’t do it all alone – seek help
When you experience bad situations – content got stolen, websites got de-indexed, your business got sued – you need to look for help from others. The 2 case studies I mentioned above reveals that they can get through those bad situations by consulting with their colleagues, seeking for advices.

It’s also handy to form a relationship with a legal representative who is experienced in handling Internet-based lawsuits… because you’ll never really know what comes to your way.

4. Backup everything – including your emails and social media conversations
Did you backup important emails and your social media conversations? People are typically backup their documents, but not their email and social media conversations. When you are using Twitter, Facebook or other social media for business purposes, it’s essential for you to back them up – just in case.

5. Always use agreements in online business dealings
I’m no longer active in buying and selling web properties, but when I was still active I never sign any documents regarding the website sales or purchases. Well, just like in off line business, you should use agreements in your online business transactions. So, when things go wrong, you will always have something to refer back when things happen.

Again, I would like to remind you to allocate your resources to start a different line of online business. Focus is good, but as online business world is full of the unknowns, it’s better to have something else to lean on, just in case your main online business experiences troubles.

Ivan Widjaya
Online business strategy and management