It is hard to become aware of when your internet business is making the transition from the success stage to the decline stage. The symptoms are concealed very well and in the beginning, you will not notice the decrease in revenues or visits. That is why the “disease” of your website will be diagnosed at an advanced stage. Sometimes, there is a cure that can bring you back to the success stage but in most cases, the mistakes made on the internet are punished severely and the only thing that is left is to try to make the decline stage as long as possible before you are faced with the death of the website.
The management is again to be blamed for the website’s entrance into the decline stage. It does not matter whether it is you or the numerous other managers and experts, you have hired to advise you without them being acquainted with your business. Everyone in charge of the management of your internet business bears responsibility for its decline and death because the whole process of deterioration of the website is not natural, it is due to numerous actions or lack of actions.
Working at full blast with the ambition for higher profits and growth for the sake of growth is one of the factors that cause the biggest harm to your business. The reason is that instead of investing your time in monitoring and analyzing the market, in studying and developing innovations, all you think about is how to boost the profit faster, while this becomes much harder to achieve when the team is growing like cancer, ready to gulp down the young company.
In the restaurant business, all you are required to provide is tasty food, good service, and nice atmosphere. One attraction or another would definitely cheer the everyday life of your visitors but that is all. A high-quality restaurant chain may work for tens of years without changing anything in its work process, menu, or ingredients.
In the internet business, however, things are absolutely different. As a concept, the World Wide Web (WWW) emerged back in 1989 and became a reality in 1990 with the help of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). In 1996-1997, the internet actively entered the life of Bulgarians offering them mostly textual and graphics information. Ten years later people were able to watch high-quality live videos – something that sounded like science fiction back in the 1990s. Some 5-6 years ago, websites’ mobile versions used to be an apology for a website, seen through a text browser.
Now, even without having a designated mobile version, the new cell phones open all kind of website and even allow watching videos in real time. More than 15 years ago the landline telephone was compulsory to get access to the internet, about five years later the LAN-cable replaced it, while nowadays different internet providers are competing to offer wireless internet access to every single place in the country. The internet has come a long way since its birth. It went through several serious changes that affected our lives drastically.
You should bear in mind that sinking into a manager’s armchair and ignoring the changing world around you will definitely speed up your slump to the bottom. Innovations are something that can keep you riding the wave for a long time. Investing in the development and exploration of different innovations in your (and other) fields may guarantee a lengthy success stage – just like what is happening with Google, Apple, and Facebook. Investments in innovative products and developments can not only contribute to developing your business but also allow you to save a large amount of money, especially from hiring unnecessary staff. Remember that every business can be digitized and if this has not been already done in a certain field, it is not because it is impossible but because probably no one has thought of it or has rashly ruled out the idea as a pointless investment with an unclear goal.
The symptoms of the advanced decline stage are clearly visible. They are expressed in decreasing consumers’ interest in the product or service you offer, which is progressively declining for a continuing period of time – a year, for instance. If the downward trend in the traffic or command of your services continues for 12 months, it is a clear symptom that things have gone bad long before these 12 months.
It is possible the decline stage to continue for years and over this time you may continue making enough profit from your project but you should be aware that every next month is just a gift and you are getting closer and closer to the end.
If from the very beginning of your internet business you accept that sooner or later you will be faced with the death of your internet creation, you will overcome this stage much more easily. The lack of attention, care, and innovations will sooner or later bring your project to a level when it is practically unusable, except for being given as an example in online business books. There are many such projects both in my country and around the world. Some of them are still present on the web to remind us what we should not do when we reach the success stage and how small the step to the great failure waiting for us next is.
Hit.bg –This is one of the veterans on the internet in my country, which had its days as a web portal and a free hosting service. Thanks to this website and the services it offered, thousands of Bulgarian companies and enthusiasts launched their businesses on the internet. Hit.bg was a catalog for a website, a website hosting service, a search engine, and a starting point for thousands of consumers in my country. Currently, only about 1,000-1,500 people go through its homepage a day, tens of times fewer than with what it had during its best years.
Info.bg – A website catalog, which used to be one of the leaders on our local internet. There was an unspoken rule that you do not exist on the internet unless you are in this catalog. Even after Google’s active entrance, it was still considered a good recommendation if there was a link to your website on Info.bg. From its top position ten years ago, currently, the website is ranked 1,502nd.
Rambler.bg – The website started with the ambition to become the leader in the local internet market. With investments that were unprecedented for the time, the Russian company made a serious entrance on the market with all kind of services – search engine for websites and files, email, website charts, catalogs, and whatnot. Either because of the severe resistance, it was faced with on the local internet market or because of the distraction with the numerous services offered; only two years after its start, instead of this entire rich portfolio, the homepage of this website shows only this message:
“Despite all the efforts made to preserve Rambler.bg, the portal will suspend its existence on Sunday, March 31.”
Мошеник.bg [English: Swindler.bg], also known as moshenik.orbitel.bg – This is a website that my brother – Asen Nenov, and I created at the end of the 1990s with the major purpose to protect consumers against incorrect traders and discrimination. The website had a flying start because of the numerous frauds and reigning lawlessness back then. After the establishment of the Consumer Protection Commission and the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and the processes that harmonized the Bulgarian legislation and the EU regulations, the whole point of the website was gone and we decided to close it.
Zip.bg – This is a website of Investor.BG’s portfolio, which back in 2006-2007 had the ambition to become Bulgaria’s social network. It attracted hundreds of consumers very quickly and indeed it had the chance to become a worthy rival of Facebook and even stop the entrance of Mark Zuckerberg’s social network in the country. The lack of adequate and modern functionalities in the project and the website’s non-compliance with the latest market trends turned it into an internet corpse, which everyone envied for the name it had.
Spodeli.info [English: Share.info] – Although it was not the biggest website, this internet project had gathered numerous stories shared by consumers and generated notable traffic. One day the website woke up to the following message:
“Almost five years ago, on February 27, 2007, an idea was born and we named it Spodeli.info. We were motivated to create a place on the internet where everyone can share their problems absolutely anonymously. Unfortunately, today, almost 5 years after this significant moment, we saw that we have something that is absolutely different from what we wanted to create. We saw that Spodeli.info starts rather harming its users instead of helping them. That is why 5 years later we are motivated to suspend the project!”
Sometimes the projects suffer a financial collapse and disappear off the face of the Earth. Sometimes the websites are left standing until their end, kept by their owners on life support because of sentimental reasons or because they hope that someday they will be able to revive them or build a new more powerful project in their places, taking advantage of their fame. Others continue maintaining the websites so as to have something to show in their portfolios. Indeed, websites are rarely closed at the decision of their creators, not because of a bad financial state, not because they are unsuccessful, but because they believe that their life has ended up in their current form and they just decide to stop the project.
When you get down to your internet business, you should know that the chances of suffering a failure are big. If one day you are faced with the alternative to keep a corpse on life support or to let it rest in peace – please, turn off the machine and give the website some rest. This way you will do a favor to all internet consumers, who often enter dead websites that simply clog the results of the search engines. You will also do yourself a favor because once you decide to stop this project, there is no way back and you will stop fantasizing and daydream about what else you can do for your already dead “friend” to bring it back to its glory days when you worked and made profit together. If things have not gone well with this website, forget about it and start a new one!
As I already mentioned, just like the sailors, who do not like to buy sunken ships out of superstitions, real internet entrepreneurs prefer not to start a new business over a domain that has already suffered a failure. You should not listen to the advice of the SEO experts that this is a big trick – to buy a 10-year-old domain, where someone else’s website has been dying actively and in agony over the past 5 years, and how you will inherit all its positives as an old domain, higher ratings, links to the old website that will bring you traffic, and so on. You better acquire a rival that is still on the market and is actively developing its business than buying something the history of which you are not aware of and whose fate is unpredictable. Apart from the superstitions, here are several other reasons in support of the claim that it is a bad idea to buy dead websites:
- You cannot be sure whether the domain was used for some criminal activity in the past. This may cause serious troubles for the evaluation of the new website.
- You do not know how many attempts of replacing the website there were and although it is now indexed as a sewing machine, there is no guarantee that a month ago it was not a website for weapons or a concrete plant. Every drastic change of the topic of a domain causes extra harm on it, although it is hard to assess it.
- This is a major business for many Chinese companies – they register a domain, index it on concrete topics and sell it at a ten times more expensive price to naive SEO experts, who re-sell it to their clients. In the end, it is not the expert, who will burn their fingers, but you and your business.