It was not that long ago when a basic online presence was sufficient for most businesses, but these times are long gone. With business digitization well underway, the internet and social media present ample professional opportunities. So much so, in reality, that digital entrepreneurship has become increasingly mainstream and viable. More and more businesses, individuals, and freelancers now turn to digital places to seek their digital fortune.
But what is this new frontier, and how can you become a digital entrepreneur? Read on as we explore this subject in some depth.
What Is A digital Entrepreneur?
First things first, the basic definition of this term is pretty simple. A digital entrepreneur is an individual who conducts business using digital technologies. Like a traditional entrepreneur seeks business opportunities in physical settings, a digital one does so in the digital space.
However, going deeper, two distinct definitions of the term need some attention.
The first one holds that a digital entrepreneur primarily, but not exclusively, engages in business digitally. One can be a brick-and-mortar business owner, selling physical products but focusing increasingly on digital stores and marketing.
The second holds that a digital entrepreneur only conducts business online and only sells digital products. A business owner with a digital store wouldn’t be a digital entrepreneur; an individual who sells online courses or software through online means would be one.
Why this matters, of course, comes down to your plans, goals, and assets. You may wish to become one or the other, and your choice must inform how you approach the process.
How To Become A Digital Entrepreneur
Digitizing an existing brick-and-mortar business is more accessible than starting a digital-only business from scratch. Therefore, here we’ll be focusing on the second definition while hopefully providing actionable tips for the first.
So, let’s begin.
Explore The Market
First, explore a given market that interests you. What are you looking to focus on?
You may use platforms like Consumer Opinion, a base of different providers and services, as a starting point for this step. Google is undoubtedly your friend in this regard too.
The purpose of this initial step is to pinpoint the following:
- Problems a specific market, demographic, or customer segment has
- Possible solutions you can offer for said problems
- Room for innovation and additional offerings for said market or segment
If you cannot, you may wish to reconsider your plans. You may still be able to find your niche in other markets, by all means, so continue your explorations.
Engage In Some Introspection
After exploring the market, you may take a moment to introspect before moving further. Do you have what it takes?
This line of work does offer ample freedom, but it also comes with risks and challenges. It requires insistence and diligence, hard work and dedication, prudence, and risk-taking. What is a digital entrepreneur, if not a trailblazer with no boss?
For this step, examine your character and assets honestly and clearly. See if you have the entrepreneurship mindset and assets necessary to succeed, like:
- Unyielding stubbornness. There’s no success without insistence; giving up may deny you eventual success.
- An open mind. As the digital landscape changes, so must you; the pioneer adapts and adjusts.
- A risk-taking attitude. Prudence is necessary, but so is taking calculated risks; there’s no success without potential risks.
- Dedication to self-improvement. As the customer changes and the competition grows, so must you; entrepreneurs must constantly strive to improve.
- The budget to realize your plans. Depending on your goals, a reasonable budget is necessary; the digital market is more affordable but not free.
Once you’ve committed to your convictions and reassured yourself, you can move on.
Decide On Your Product Or Service
With explorations outward and inward in order, now you may decide on what to focus on. What will you offer to your market of choice?
There’s a vast array of options, and your final choice should not depend on any article online. Instead, it should depend on what you want to and can focus on and what you’re ready for.
Still, you may look for ideas to best use your skills and become a digital entrepreneur. In that case, you may consider such options as:
- Social media. If you’re active on social media, you can create a social media profile, like Facebook, TikTok, or a YouTube channel, and sell advertisements.
- Educational material. As an educator, you can consider tech trends reshaping education and focus on digital research, tutoring, and more.
- E-books and seminars. If you’re an authority in your field, you can instead create and offer online courses, e-books, and similar informational and instructional material.
- If writing is your passion, you can consider blogging – which you can monetize in various ways.
- E-commerce. If you have a physical store and would like to digitize it, you can explore Amazon and other eCommerce platforms – or create your eCommerce store.
These are, of course, just rudimentary ideas to get you started. If you feel you can innovate in new, exciting ways, the digital landscape will welcome it.
Having done so, you may next tackle the most pressing concern in practical terms; your budget. How will you fund your entrepreneurship?
This factor will inevitably, strictly depend on the following:
- Your choice of market, your offerings, and your final plans
- Production, maintenance, and other costs that follow
- Your existing budget, financing options, and possible secondary income
Ample articles on this subject will suggest you can become a digital entrepreneur with virtually no budget. Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth; you can certainly succeed with a small budget, but it will limit your options.
To make the best of what you have, you can consider the following:
- Starting small. Instead of rushing head-first into new frontiers, explore the waters first and upscale over time as you settle in.
- Investing smartly. A proverbial sea of vendors, agencies, and others will claim to be worth your budget; research thoroughly before agreeing.
- Expanding your income sources. The essence of entrepreneurship is diversification; consider alternative sources of income to fund your activities.
Business sustainability is a considerable challenge for many, so do not take budgeting lightly. At the same time, don’t under fund your ideas; if you’ve planned carefully, they’ll be worth it.
Explore Revenue Streams
Regarding budgeting, this note warrants its section, income sources. Which revenue streams can you leverage to fund your business?
Furthermore, your options depend strongly on your field, expertise, and budget. Still, an additional revenue stream can help strengthen your budget and let your business thrive beyond the challenging first stages. In this regard, among others, you may consider the following:
- Affiliate marketing. Once you’ve built an engaged audience through blogging or other means, you may explore this product promotion. If you’re good enough, affiliate marketing can generate passive income.
- Sponsored content. An excellent option for social media entrepreneurs and influencers, sponsored content can also work wonders. Just remember to keep your sponsors on-brand to keep your image consistent.
- Freelance consulting. If you’ve chosen to become a digital entrepreneur in a niche you’re experienced with, you can also offer consultation services to your peers. That does require some success to show for it, however.
As mentioned above, this step will have to depend on you. Nonetheless, it’s the principle that matters; unless you can afford to skip the effort, additional revenue streams will only help lead you to success.
Develop Digital Skills
Finally, as your plans come to fruition or even beforehand, you may acquire and develop relevant digital skills. What does your entrepreneurship require skill-wise?
There’s a wealth of digital skills you may make use of. Some you may already have, especially if you already run a business with some digital presence. Here, too, what you’ll need strictly depends on your chosen field – but you can consider some crucial ones, like:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A series of practices that optimizes content for search engines, SEO, can make a massive difference in online visibility. Adhering to SEO is a fundamental skill for any type of written content that seeks to rank in search engines.
- Writing skills. Beyond SEO specifically, writing requires impeccable skill and attention to detail. Even if you don’t focus on written content, writing skills are invaluable for digital marketing.
- Email marketing. The king of digital marketing for many, email remains a very lucrative marketing channel. If you want to become a digital entrepreneur of virtually any kind, familiarizing yourself with email marketing can only help.
- Analytics skills. Regardless of your chosen field, audience analytics and user engagement insights should always inform your efforts. Learning your way around Google Analytics, website heat maps, and similar analytics tools will thus be incredibly useful.
- Branding skills. With few exceptions, your entrepreneurship will depend on the broader brand you build and maintain. Therefore, knowing how to brand yourself and your business will often be imperative.
If this seems too much, remember to stay selective and take it one step at a time. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and insistence is key.
In summary, a digital entrepreneur is an individual who conducts business using digital technologies. Whether that’s exclusively or partly what they do alongside brick-and-mortar business depends on the definition you embrace.
As digitization advances, digital entrepreneurship is an increasingly viable path to success. As with all businesses, however, there are no guarantees of success. It’s not easy to become a digital entrepreneur, let alone succeed and thrive. It takes careful planning, dedication, and constant self-improvement to do so. Hopefully, this brief article helped outline why that is – and how you can carve out your path to success.
Description: Are you looking to become a digital entrepreneur but don’t know where to start? We’re here to help explain this career path – and hopefully inspire you.