There are many fatals flaws that can kill an online business, but one stands out as a sure fire way to set yourself up for eminent failure. The biggest mistake made by business owners online is what we like to call “building an empire on rented land”.

The term rented land, in this case, applies to digital property that you do not directly own or have access to. Some examples are websites built on 3rd party platforms and businesses that rely 100% on Facebook.

It’s stressful enough to worry about the stability of your own enterprise, and you shouldn’t have to also fear what would happen to your company if the owners of “rented land” you so heavily rely on come crashing down.

Tips For Taking Control of Your Kingdom

Build a self-hosted website
A self-hosted website is built on an open source platform that allows you to choose your own hosting provider. This luxury gives you full access to your FTP and Hosting Accounts, as well as the ability to update your website through a Content Management System.

Closed source platforms, like Shopify and Magento Go, require that you host your website on their servers, charge a monthly fee and do not provide full FTP access. This means the control you have over your website is limited and it will become costly (or impossible) to expand features and functionality to match the needs of your business. Also, if you cancel your service contract, your website vanishes.

Facebook is not a website replacement
All too frequently we are contacted by small businesses who feel that Facebook can replace the need to build a company website. There are some major concerns with this approach.

Facebook frequently changes its site functionality, advertising model and user agreement policy. This means you have absolutely no idea what regulations, restrictions or requirements they will unveil next.

Recently, Facebook changed the way their Timeline algorithm chooses which posts show up highest in user’s feeds. The update works hand-in-hand with their “Promoted Post” marketing efforts, which is a pay-to-play scenario that allows those with the most money to get the most recognition and fan engagement. This is bad news for small businesses without a lot of funds to throw around.

Lastly, Facebook is a (controversial) publically traded corporation with their fate tied to a volatile economy. Do you really want the success of your business tied to such unpredictability?

Don’t pay for access to your CMS
Be afraid (very afraid) of development companies that have their own “homegrown” Content Management System. Often, these companies charge a monthly licensing fee that includes use of their CMS, as well as hosting.

This scenario is dangerous for several reasons:

One, a homegrown CMS may not be build to standards and may be riddled with bugs and glitches that negatively affect your website.

Two, if you should choose to part ways with one of these companies and stop paying your licensing fee, your website goes bye-bye. You most likely won’t have access to your website code or database, meaning there will be no way to transfer your site to another provider.


by Fuze December 31, 2013