Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Side Business?

The beauty of the blogging community, the different inspiring individuals on Twitter, and the many forums out there is that you get to communicate with many like-minded folks.

I love chatting with other ambitious colleagues because we get to help each other, share feedback, and think of ideas that one person alone could never come up with alone.

Through my various chats over the years I’ve learned that I’ve done many things wrong.

Instead of getting upset with a criticism I usually do my best to apply it to my life.  This is why I’m comfortable with writing a piece on small business mistakes that we all make at the beginning.

We’re all guilty of making certain mistakes when first trying to launch a side business.

Are you making any of the following mistakes with your side business?

Worrying about the trouble makers.

There are going to be trouble makers no matter what you do or how safe you try to play it.

This is where the 80/20 principle comes into play.  This basically means that 80% of your results (likely income) will come from your top 20% of efforts (in this case, customers).

The rest is trouble makers.

We all have trouble makers in our lives.  We all have trouble makers affecting our business in one way or another.  The worst thing that you can do is worry about the trouble makers.

I was listening to a podcast with Seth Godin and he mentioned that he took comments off his blog because he would stall when writing because he would be thinking about what the critics would say.

Godin realized that it would take him much longer to actually publish a post.  Finally he decided to disallow comments on his blog and now he posts more than ever.

If you worry about the trouble makers, you’re always going to be afraid of getting your work out there.  Try to focus on those who matter.

Focusing on pointless tasks.

side business mistakes

What mistakes have you made in your side business?

There’s so much noise out there that we all get distracted very easily.

Between trying to create a colorful business card and thinking of clever tweets, we end up spending far too much time on pointless activities.

It took me a bit longer to write this guest article because I kept on getting distracted by Twitter and everything else that’s somewhat catchy online.  I ultimately closed all of the other windows and buckled down to bust out this piece.

Writing articles for my sites is the most important task for me.

Writing posts for other sites to build my audience is the next most important task.  I need to build my readership and have more to offer on my sites.

What I post on Twitter will entertain the few people that actually care about my tweets.

Not doing the right research.

There’s a huge difference between what’s important and what’s just interesting.

Researching a cool new idea or topic for your business is helpful.

Listening to any podcast that you can get your hands on or hanging out on Twitter all day, is mildly interesting.

You need to ensure that you’re doing the right research instead of just consuming a ton of useless information.


These days anyone can start a business, especially an online business.

You can easily start some sort of an online business with no money.  This means that there’s a plethora of competition out there.

As a result of this, it’s going to be next to impossible to stick out.  If you under-deliver and offer an average product or service, you’re never going to get ahead.

I’ve learned this the hard way with eBooks, articles, guest posts, and emails.  I’m slowly working on becoming known for over-delivering.

How can you tell if you’re under-delivering?

Albert Einstein said it best, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  If your results suck, it’s time to switch things up.

To sum up

It’s totally normal if you’ve made any of the mistakes mentioned above.

I’m not here to make you feel bad.  I want to help you improve moving forward.  To let you in on a little secret, I mentioned all of the mistakes that I’ve made over the years.

Are you going to start making changes?  Please share what you plan on doing below…

This was a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, a fun blog aimed at helping you figure out what to do after college. If you want to invest your hard earned money you can learn about screening tenants to protect your rental property.

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Published or updated May 11, 2013.


  1. It all depends on what you are referring to as the side business. In any real-world business, the “pointless” tasks such as crating marketing materials (business cards or brochures) and creating buzz (tweets or press releases) are essential tasks. Now if you are talking about strictly online ventures such as a blog or niche site, then the importance of such tasks is less so.

    I would definitely agree, without a doubt, that under-delivering is an enormous mistake, especially if you were to hype the business in such a way that anything short of extraordinary results would be considered a let-down. There is a common tenant in business to under-promote and over-delver, sort of a tricky way to add value to what the customer/client/reader will receive from your business’s service/product. This applies to all businesses regardless of form. If you claim to be the best source of info or the foremost authority on a subject but your business doesn’t relay that message, your results are more likely than not going to suck.

  2. I have used a tool called insights fromm google to see what people are search on google and try to change the communication of my business to match this searchs!

  3. Totally agree on the research point. I have “good” ideas all the time, but when I actually look to see if there’s a market for them, it’s not always there (and creating a market is even more of a battle!)

  4. The mistake I commonly run into is thinking a weakness is a strength and a strength a weakness. Understanding what you have to offer and how it helps customers is a key for business success, but very hard to understand.

  5. I’ve been blogging for a little more than 6 months, and while it’s not my only side business, it is the one that is the most challenging.

    I was definitely making the mistake of under-delivering. Not having written a lot for public consumption before, I started out my blog as a whiny turd. Lately, I’ve noticed how a lot of bloggers I like are discussing the same ideas I do on my blog but they write in a clearer, stronger fashion, which elicits more responses from the community and builds traffic faster. I checked out the presentations from FINCON11 and I learned a ton. So my #1 goal for 2012 blogging is to up my posts to a professional level – something I would not be embarrassed to show to anyone.

    I think I’ve spent so many years of my life dilly-dallying and wasting time online that it has been difficult to fully grasp that I can be doing something productive for my site all the time. Although Twitter is definitely a distraction when it comes to writing posts, I found the other PF bloggers, Yakezie and the whole community through Twitter, so I consider it to be my main interaction tool.

    Great article Martin!

  6. Thanks for sharing. I’m struggling with the pointless tasks portion myself. I’m currently working on another new idea and find myself spending far too much time polishing the logo.

    Fact is, I’m a logo designer and understand the value of a high end logo, but I do realize I’m ignoring other major tasks that, if not done, will result in no one ever seeing the logo.

    • I know I’ve had trouble with working on the most important tasks. It’s real easy to get caught up in something little and then realize when all is said and done that it cost you more in time than it was worth.

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