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Why online businesses fail?

By Riya Kanwar 11th October 2023

Starting a new business is an exciting venture, but it also comes with its fair share of risks. While there is no guaranteed formula for success, understanding the common reasons why new businesses fail can help entrepreneurs make informed decisions and increase their chances of long-term success.

By understanding these reasons, aspiring entrepreneurs can take proactive steps to avoid the same fate. In this blog, we will explore the top reasons why online businesses fail and provide strategies to overcome these challenges.

Top reasons why online businesses fail

The failure rate of online businesses is alarmingly high, with studies showing that up to 90% of them fail within the first four months of operation. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of why online businesses fail, there are common factors that contribute to their downfall.

Online business

Market Problems: Failing to Solve Existing Needs

Many startups fail when they do not solve an existing market problem. The main cause is that before starting up a business, they fail to understand the scope and demand of their product in the market.

To avoid this pitfall, it is crucial for entrepreneurs to thoroughly research their target market and identify a specific problem or need that their product or service can address. Conducting market research, gathering customer feedback, and validating the demand for the product are essential steps in ensuring that there is a market for the business idea.

Wrong Business Model: Failing to Acquire and Monetize Customers

One of the common causes of startup failure is that entrepreneurs are too optimistic about how easy it will be to acquire customers. They often believe that building an attractive website or service will automatically lead to success. However, success in business requires an effective business model.

A business model is a scalable way to acquire and monetize customers. It outlines the strategies and tactics that will be used to attract and retain customers, generate revenue, and ultimately achieve profitability.

Choosing the wrong business model can be detrimental to a startup’s success. It is essential for entrepreneurs to carefully analyze their target market, understand the competitive landscape, and develop a business model that aligns with their unique value proposition.

Also Read

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Absence of Business Goals

One of the critical factors contributing to online business failure is the lack of defined goals. Many entrepreneurs have a vague goal of making money or being profitable, but without specific targets, it becomes challenging to measure progress and make informed decisions.

Setting clear and measurable goals is essential for online business success. These goals can include financial targets, sales targets, or conversion rate goals. By defining specific goals, entrepreneurs can align their efforts and focus on activities that will contribute to their desired outcomes.

It’s important to start with realistic goals and gradually increase the level of ambition as the business grows. Additionally, it’s essential to identify the strategies and actions needed to achieve these goals. For example, if the goal is to increase sales, entrepreneurs should consider marketing activities, website optimisation, and product expansion.

Why Online businesses fail?

Insufficient Funding: Underestimating Costs

Another common reason why small businesses fail is lack of sufficient funding. Many entrepreneurs underestimate the costs of starting and running a business, leading to inadequate funding and lack of resources to sustain and grow the business.

To avoid this problem, conducting thorough research on the costs of beginning and operating a business, including equipment, inventory, marketing, salaries, rent, and other expenses, is essential.

Entrepreneurs should also explore different funding options, such as loans, grants, and investors. Developing a detailed financial plan that outlines expenses and revenue projections can help secure the necessary funding and ensure the business has the resources it needs to succeed.

Inadequate Business Planning: Straying from the Plan

A solid and realistic business plan is the foundation for any successful business. A well-crafted plan outlines achievable goals, strategies and timelines. It also considers potential challenges and offers solutions to overcome them. Unfortunately many new entrepreneurs either fail to create a comprehensive business plan or deviate from it too quickly.

It is essential to stick with the initial plan unless significant inaccuracies are identified. Making frequent changes and not following the established strategies can lead to increased expenses and a higher risk of failure. However, it is crucial to remain flexible and revisit the plan when market conditions change significantly, allowing for necessary adjustments and pivots.

Neglecting social media presence

Social media has become an integral part of the online business landscape. Neglecting to establish a strong social media presence can limit brand visibility and hinder customer engagement.

Social media platforms offer opportunities to reach a broader audience and build brand loyalty. By consistently sharing relevant content, engaging with followers, and running targeted advertising campaigns, entrepreneurs can expand their online reach and attract potential customers.

However, it’s important to remember that social media should be part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Relying solely on social media for customer acquisition may not yield sustainable results. Integrating social media efforts with other marketing channels is crucial for long-term success.

Also Read

Should I start a local online business in 2023?

Inadequate Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a crucial role in driving organic traffic to online businesses. Without proper SEO strategies, businesses may struggle to rank highly in search engine results and attract relevant customers.

To optimise their websites for search engines, entrepreneurs should focus on keyword research, creating high-quality content, and optimising website structure and metadata. It’s also essential to build quality backlinks and ensure the website is mobile-friendly. While SEO can be complex, seeking professional help from SEO experts can prove beneficial, especially for businesses operating in competitive industries.

Another common reason for online business failure is the lack of a defined business identity. Before starting a business, entrepreneurs must be able to answer fundamental questions about their offering, target audience, and long-term goals. Without a clear understanding of these elements, businesses may struggle to differentiate themselves from competitors and attract customers.

To define a business identity, entrepreneurs should consider the following questions:

  1. What is the unique value proposition of your offering?
  2. Why is it desirable to your target audience?
  3. Who is your ideal customer?
  4. How does your product or service benefit your customers?
  5. What are your long-term goals for the business?

By answering these questions, entrepreneurs can develop a clear and compelling business identity. This identity will guide their marketing efforts, help them stand out from competitors, and attract the right customers.


While starting a new business is inherently risky, understanding the common reasons why startups fail can help entrepreneurs make smarter decisions and increase their chances of success. By addressing market needs, choosing the right business model, securing sufficient funding, and sticking to a well-crafted business plan, entrepreneurs can navigate the challenges of starting a new business and position themselves for long-term growth and success.

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