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The Ultimate Internet Business Mistake

Sep 8, 2008
In the February issue of Entrepreneur magazine of the year 2004 was featured the Do's and Don'ts of Start Ups. The article by Mark Henricks gleaned from the experience of John Osher, a serial entrepreneur that has created and sold several businesses. According to Osher, "After I sold my [latest] business to Habro I decided to make a list of everything I had done wrong and [had] seen other entrepreneurs do wrong." He wanted to see if he could come up with the perfect company next time round. This was the source of an informal list of "16 mistakes start-ups make", since expanded to 17. He did go on to create a perfect startup. And the list has even been used in a Harvard Business School case study.

Here we will dwell in what would arguably be the ultimate business error. According to Osher, the number one reason for failing in business is not spending enough time researching the business idea to see if it is viable. He infact calls it the most important mistake of all.

"Viability of the business" may sound all technical but probably the late Gary Harbert would make it more plain. Gary tells of a story of a friend that has a friend that had invented a gizmo that lets you make stuff out of wood the same way a key making machine makes keys from blank metal. His friend was looking at Harlbert, the guru in direct sales marketing, to help in promoting this invention. And though Harlbert was willing to help, he did note to him that he was making the most common mistake of mail order business. Indeed this is the ultimate error in all kinds of businesses. What mistake you ask? The mistake of first finding or developing a product or even a business system and then, looking for a market to sell to.

Immediately after discovering the opportunity of the internet, we nearly always are too quick to "go into business". We assume because we find our idea novel that the market will also find it as such. But as an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to live in your own persuasions. As a business person you need to always think customer and what value you are giving the customer. If you have customers or a market, the only reason you fail in making profits is if your business system is flawed. And this can always be fixed. But having a product without customers is really a sticky situation many entrepreneurs find themselves in.

And since obvious markets already have stiff competition, researching a business adequately as recommended by John Osher will help you tell if you have a viable business. The market tells what it wants, how it wants it, when it wants and the price it wants it at. Simply creating a business system that satisfies these requirements will easily put you in the positive side of the profit and loss statement. Gary Harlbert summarizes it the best; to avoid the ultimate reason online businesses fail, find a hungry crowd and feed it. Do not make the food and then start asking around for those that are hungry.
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