Digital Entrepreneurship: The Beginner’s Guide
Dreaming of a life where you set the rules, call the shots, and enjoy the freedom of being your own boss? Well, I did too, and let me tell you, it’s entirely possible.
After trading my salaried job in Munich for the adventurous life of a digital entrepreneur in Cape Town, I’ve never looked back.
Now, from the comfort of my home, I run a thriving online business, connect with customers globally, and enjoy quality time with my family.
In this guide, I’ll share bits from my journey into digital entrepreneurship, highlight its challenges and rewards, and offer tips to kickstart your own online venture. Ready to dive into a world of endless possibilities? Let’s get started.
What Is Digital Entrepreneurship?
Digital entrepreneurship is the online version of regular entrepreneurship, where the business is conducted online and depends entirely on online commerce.
Digital entrepreneurs can own and manage a business that offers online classes, an ebook-selling platform, a company that creates games or apps, or a start-up. Many businesses adopt a hybrid business strategy, such as a physical bookstore that also has an online shop that delivers books to your door.
Examples of Digital Entrepreneurship
There are endless possibilities in the realm of digital entrepreneurship; it only takes a good and sustainable idea. Find below some examples of digital entrepreneurship:
- Creating content (becoming a YouTuber, Blogger, or Vlogger)
- E-commerce, affiliate marketing, or drop shipping
- Gig jobs or freelancing
- Selling art, music, or designer merchandise
- Digital marketing
- Writing, translating, proofreading, editing
- Teaching online
- Online coding
- Selling or testing websites and domains
- Selling photography online
- Becoming an influencer
- Selling e-books
- Offering online courses
- Digital consulting and other digital services
Types of Digital Entrepreneurship
Although all entrepreneurs share some characteristics in common like being independent, visionary, and innovative, there are a few different types of entrepreneurship that you can tell apart. The most significant factor that determines the type of entrepreneurship is its goals, for each type has its own.
These digital entrepreneurship types are as follows:
Social entrepreneurship is the type of business that is dedicated to giving back to society. Its primary objective is to help solve social problems such as famine, sustainability, or lack of education and healthcare. Social entrepreneurs try to address social inequalities, and environmental concerns, and support opportunity equality.
A social entrepreneur’s goals may have more to do with creating social change, rather than gaining financial profit. Some companies these entrepreneurs establish are even nonprofits.
Small Business Entrepreneurship
This type of entrepreneurship focuses on establishing and managing one’s own business. These businesses are frequently family-owned small-scale companies like little shops or boutiques.
The priority of small business entrepreneurship is typically making a living and supporting the family, rather than aiming at rapid growth.
Large Business Entrepreneurship
A large business entrepreneurship’s main objective is the continued growth of the company. The difference between this type of entrepreneurship and innovation entrepreneurship is that large business entrepreneurship aims at achieving growth in the existing business model, without bringing forward an innovative approach.
The primary objective of these startup entrepreneurs is to achieve rapid expansion in their businesses by employing innovative ideas.
Scalable entrepreneurs concentrate on filling the gaps they find in the market, making rapid and large profits, and appealing to venture capital. Customer perpetuity, rates of conversion, and high gross margins are some of the success indicators for scalable entrepreneurs because their priority is growth.
As their name suggests, these entrepreneurs aim to bring something entirely new to the market; be it an idea or a product. Here are some of the characteristics that innovation entrepreneurs share in common:
- They are good at troubleshooting
- They have a vision and they act upon it
- They concentrate on the change that their idea will reflect in society
- They have the capacity to make a change in their industry or introduce new technologies
Putting your priorities in order and understanding these five separate categories of entrepreneurship gives you a head start at realizing your goals.
Perks of Being a Digital Entrepreneur
Working in the comfort of your home and being in charge of your own time sounds more than enough! However, these are not the only perks that digital entrepreneurship has to offer. There are many, many more advantages to becoming a digital entrepreneur.
Let’s get into the subject and explore some of the too-many-to-count benefits of digital entrepreneurship:
- Working location-independent: Managing an online business allows you to work from any location in the world you want. So long as you have your laptop and WiFi, all the world is your office. You can travel the world or settle abroad while you work when you’re a digital entrepreneur.
- Flexibility: Your time is yours when you become a digital entrepreneur. You can manage your own schedule, and if you think you have the time and the energy, you can conduct a few businesses at the same time. If your mind is swarming with bright ideas, why not realize a couple of them simultaneously to see which one will advance?
- Chasing after your dreams: When you establish your dream business, you know what you work for, you enjoy working, and hence become much more productive. You can follow your dreams and stretch the limits of your business as you like!
- Having the chance to advance greatly in a new career: Starting your own business lifts all the boundaries that are set before you by your old regular job: both salary-wise and career-wise. Your business can expand and you can earn much better than a fixed salary. Meanwhile, you can advance in your new career.
Challenges of Being a Digital Entrepreneur
As there are many advantages to digital entrepreneurship, there are also challenges that are brought about by it. Find a list of these challenges below:
- Having the right mindset
- Regularly updating your plan
- Managing your time well
- Keeping the cash flowing
- Creating an effective website
- Managing social media
- Building a team
- Delegating the tasks
- Selecting the right services or products
- Getting the first customer
- Establishing a marketing strategy
- Establishing a strategy for scaling up
- Work-life balance
- Market uncertainty
How To Become a Digital Entrepreneur
You don’t need any formal education to become a digital entrepreneur. Everyone with a great idea can become a digital entrepreneur; that is, of course, if they follow the required steps with patience and perseverance.
Finding a Gap and Filling It
Discovering a need to cover is a crucial step for digital entrepreneurship to succeed. If you offer a product of which there are plenty in the market or services that every other company provides, your chances of growth will naturally be lower. There are a few ways of filling a gap:
- Finding a gap in a specific market and filling it
- Providing a solution to improve the living standards of a certain group of people
- Making an innovation that creates a positive impact on the world
Among these three ways your business can fill a gap, the first is probably the easiest. Familiarizing yourself with an industry that you’re passionate about first makes it easier for you to understand the market needs regarding that industry.
Training and Preparation
There’s no new career that you can blindly jump into and succeed without learning about it. As every other profession does, digital entrepreneurship, too, requires training, albeit it’s an informal one where you teach yourself. You can follow the steps below to educate yourself as part of your preparation process for becoming a digital entrepreneur:
- Reading articles and books
- Listening to podcasts
- Watching tutorials and videos
- Attending workshops and getting mentorship from experts
- Attending online courses or webinars
Producing, Testing, and Launching
Now that you know the basics of digital entrepreneurship, it’s time to design and produce your product or software. At this point, you also need to create a platform or an online store to sell your product. After specifying your service or producing your product, test it before you launch it.
Following the launch, comes the process of troubleshooting and enhancement. Always be open to getting feedback from both experts in the industry and your customers because getting feedback is the best way to improve a product.
Developing a Digital Marketing Plan
A product or a service needs a good digital marketing plan to be heard and sold. If you don’t develop a solid marketing plan, it’ll be hard for your business to succeed.
You need to establish a digital marketing strategy beforehand to be able to start conducting it as soon as your product or service is launched.
A good marketing plan is what keeps a digital business going. To find the best marketing solutions for your business, it’s best to conduct thorough research and pick from among the endless options of digital marketing strategies that are offered online.
Optimizing and Expanding
You’ve planned and established your digital business, launched your products or services, and activated your digital marketing strategies. On top of these, you’re filling that gap you’ve found in the market and you’ve started getting traffic and gaining income. Now it’s time to optimize and expand your business.
To keep an online business going, you need to constantly work on it and improve it. Troubleshooting, and fixing the weak aspects of your products or services will allow your business to grow.
Here are some optimization tips:
- Take feedback seriously to improve your product/service
- Bond with your customers for perpetuity
- Concentrate on the channels that receive more traffic to optimize the marketing strategies you employ
If you aspire to expand your business, on the other hand, you can employ the strategies below:
- Broaden your target group and expand into other locations or markets
- Increase the number of products/services you offer
- Prioritize your tasks and concentrate on the primary ones, outsourcing the rest
- Variegate your marketing channels
Skills That Digital Entrepreneurs Need
The training part and adopting the necessary hard skills aside, there are some skills required to become successful as a digital entrepreneur. These soft skills are as follows:
- Ability to conduct thorough research: To succeed in troubleshooting, you need to be a great researcher. There’s an answer online to every question. A good researcher sure finds a solution to every potential problem in a business.
- Adaptation skills: Digital entrepreneurs should be constantly adapting to evolving technology. They should also keep up with the changing market needs. The learning process never ends in digital entrepreneurship.
- Determination and perseverance: Achieving goals in digital entrepreneurship may take considerable energy and time. It may be tiresome at times and you can come across obstacles. The key to success is to never give up and keep going by clearing the way from one obstacle at a time.
- Persuasive skills: One of the most important skills required in digital entrepreneurship, and in fact in every line of business, is persuasion. Digital entrepreneurs need to be persuasive to sell, collaborate, and appeal to investors.
- Networking skills: Another crucial skill for a successful business is to build connections with people that share the same ideas and objectives as you do.
Digital Tools for Digital Entrepreneurs
Digital entrepreneurs naturally use the internet and digital tools as their means of conducting business. Different tools offer solutions to different problems. Let’s name some of these digital tools commonly employed in digital entrepreneurship:
- Facebook business
- Whatsapp for business: Instant communication
- Basecamp: Team and project task management
- Zoom, Webex, AnyMeeting, Google meeting: Video conference
- PayPal, RazorPay, GPay, PayU, PayTM, PhonePe: Making and receiving payments
- Zoho, Tally, QuickBooks: Accounting
- GoDaddy, Themeforest: Website and domains
- Trello: Project and task management
- Larksuite.com, Murai: Vide conference, chat, team collaboration
- Constant Contact, Mailchimp: E-mailing
- TimeDoctor, KickIdler.com: Monitoring remote employees
- Crello, Canva: Designing
- Udemy, Moodle, Teachable: LMS
Initial Investment for a Digital Business
There’s a common misconception about digital entrepreneurship regarding its requirement of the high initial investment. However, that’s not the case. Becoming a digital entrepreneur demands little to no investment. You heard it right! You can initiate digital entrepreneurship with zero dollars.
To initiate digital entrepreneurship, you need a website, web hosting, and a domain name, all of which you can build yourself using digital tools. If you’re not in a place to cover these expenses either, you can start with a YouTube channel, a blog, or a Facebook page. Then, you need to constantly promote your business on Google search and as many social media channels as you can. At this point, you may want to start building a team by hiring employees or freelancers that’ll handle the digital promotion and content writing.
You might as well start investing in small amounts on Facebook Ads and Google Ads. You can increase the investment as you start collecting income.
Getting Your First Client as a Digital Entrepreneur
You’re all set now, but how will you get your first customer? Below are some tips:
- Promote your product digitally on your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google, etc.
- Keep on networking. Build your network with influencers, business owners, and digital entrepreneurs on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
- Attend webinars for further networking. Connect with the people there and explain your digital business and what it offers clearly.
- Join online business networks.
- Test your product/service with a small validation group to get feedback to improve it for the better.
- Once you land your first customer, work for a hundred percent customer satisfaction and kindly ask them to give you a referral for you to find new customers.
Tips for a Beginner-Level Digital Entrepreneur
Digital entrepreneurship has its ups and downs, and they may interchange quickly and frequently. It’s good to hold on to a few tips on how to succeed as a digital entrepreneur despite the challenges.
Here you go:
- Set your goals: Having a vision, and a mission, and setting goals is very important for a digital business to succeed. Specify your goals regularly.
- Design your strategy: A regularly updated strategy enables you to keep up with the changes in the market and technology, paving your way to success.
- Plan ahead: Planning ahead and being prepared gets you a long way in case you come across an inconvenience. If you know your next move, everything will progress more smoothly.
- Get organized: It’s hard to keep track of everything at the same time. To avoid being overwhelmed and losing track of things, use project management tools that’ll increase your productivity.
- Don’t be afraid to learn from failure: You’re new at this. Of course, you’ll fail occasionally. Learning from your failures will improve your skills and business simultaneously.
- Try new approaches: Try new models, approaches, and techniques. If they fail, you can always try something else. Try not to miss out on any opportunities just because you’re afraid you’ll fail. Take the risk, it’ll be alright.
- Stay focused: Prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones, taking one thing at a time. Trying to split your mind and energy to deal with various tasks at the same time will decrease your productivity.
- Analyze your strategies and progress: Stop to analyze your progress from time to time. This way you’ll know which strategies allow you to achieve your objectives.
- Establish a healthy work-life balance: A healthy work-life balance is crucial for both your health and career. Getting overwhelmed or having health issues will decrease your productivity.
- Learn to collaborate: Collaboration helps businesses grow. Start dreaming big, and collaborate with other talented business people to advance in your industry.
- Establish a routine and stick to it: Being your own boss and in charge of your own schedule can be a disadvantage at times. Create a disciplined routine to be more productive and avoid having a weak work-life balance.
- Keep on networking: Attend events, seminars, and other activities where you can meet like-minded entrepreneurs. Having such people around you enables you to share experiences and ideas with each other, which will eventually do your business good.
- Familiarize yourself with your industry: Connect with the people in your industry to learn from their experiences and mistakes. Sharing ideas, projects, and stories is helpful to both parties.
- Get feedback and care for it: Feedback is the greatest propeller. Stay in touch with your customers and experts to ask for feedback. Getting feedback will help you improve your digital business, products, and services.
- Never, ever give up: It will be challenging, but you’ll get there! Don’t give up, giving up is the worst thing that’ll bring your business down.
Working with a reliable lawyer comes in very handy in many situations for a digital entrepreneur. Find below the reasons why digital entrepreneurs should have lawyers:
1. For e-commerce: E-commerce lawyers specialize in online business laws. It’s best to have an e-commerce lawyer to help you with legal issues such as trademark and copyright protection, contract negotiations, and regulatory compliance.
2. Protecting intellectual property: Digital entrepreneurship relies on intellectual property for the most part. It’s important to work with a lawyer to protect your patents, trademarks, or copyrights.
3. Protecting the online reputation: Online reputation means a lot to a digital entrepreneur. If it’s damaged by a negative review, for instance, it can damage your business. Having a lawyer will help protect your online reputation in case such an event occurs by filing a lawsuit to remove such content from the internet.
4. Dealing with legal problems: Working with a lawyer is an advantage in case any legal dispute that’ll interrupt your business arises. Your lawyer will protect your rights and provide you with a favorable outcome if such a case occurs.
5. Keeping the business in line with the law: Having a reliable lawyer will save you from the burden of keeping your business in compliance with the laws you’re not really familiar with. Being able to get advice from your lawyer regarding policies, procedures, and regulatory requirements will ease your tasks.
6. To help you expand your business: Providing you assistance and advice in terms of all five items mentioned above, a good lawyer will help your business to grow by making it operate better and within the limits of the law.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a successful digital entrepreneur is not a piece of cake: the process is full of challenges and obstacles. However, they can all be overcome.
All it takes is a great idea, hard work, eagerness to learn, and determination. The reward, on the other hand, is priceless. You’ll be your own boss, in charge of your own time and tasks. What’s even better is that you’ll be following your dreams, working a job you’re passionate about!
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a digital entrepreneur do?
A digital entrepreneur is someone who creates and runs a business online that is based largely or completely on digital technologies. This could be anything from an online store to a website that sells advertising space.
The benefits of digital entrepreneurship are many. For starters, there's the potential for much higher profits. A business that is based online can reach a global market, which means bigger profits with less overhead. Additionally, there are no geographical limitations; a digital entrepreneur can run her business from anywhere in the world.
Another big benefit is the ability to connect with customers in a very direct way. A business owner who sells products or services online can communicate with her customers via email, social media, and other channels.
What are examples of digital entrepreneurship?
There are many examples of digital entrepreneurship, but here are a few digital business ideas to get you started:
- Starting your own online business. This could include anything from setting up an e-commerce store to creating a blog or website that makes money through advertising or affiliate marketing.
- Creating and selling digital products, such as e-books, online courses, or downloadable templates.
- Launching a digital marketing or social media agency.
- Becoming a freelance graphic designer, web developer, or content creator.
- Developing and launching an app or software product.
How much does a digital entrepreneur make?
There's no one answer to this question, as the salary range for digital entrepreneurs can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, location, and type of business. However, according to a study by Payscale.com, the average salary for a digital entrepreneur in the United States is around $75,000.
That being said, there are many high-earning and aspiring digital entrepreneurs who make considerably more than that. For example, according to The Huffington Post, the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has an estimated net worth of $44.6 billion. And the co-founder of Google Sergey Brin has a net worth of $89 billion. So it's definitely possible to make millions if you're successful.
How do I become a digital entrepreneur?
First, it's important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your digital entrepreneurship. Are you looking to create a new online business? Or are you looking to create an online presence for an existing business? Do you want to generate more leads and sales through online channels? Is this a niche market?
Once you have a good understanding of your goals, the next step is to research the different strategies and tactics that are available to you. There are a number of different ways to create and market a successful online business, so it's important to find the approach that best suits your individual strengths and interests. You may want to start by reading some popular books on digital entrepreneurship, such as "The Lean Startup" or "Zero To One".
Why is digital entrepreneurship popular?
There are many reasons why digital entrepreneurship is popular. Some of the reasons include the following:
- The internet has made it easier to start a business.
- There are more opportunities to make money online than ever before.
- It's easier to get started than ever before.
- You can reach a global audience with your products and services.
- It's a great way to escape the 9-5 grind.
What are the disadvantages of digital business?
One disadvantage of digital business is that it can be difficult to create a physical presence. For example, if you are selling a product online, you may not be able to create a physical store to sell your product. Being restricted to digital space could limit your reach and growth potential. Additionally, because digital businesses rely so much on the internet, they can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks and other online threats.
Who is an IT entrepreneur?
An IT entrepreneur is someone who uses their knowledge of information technology to start and run their own online business. This could be anything from a small business that specializes in computer repair, to a larger company that develops software or provides online services.
What sets IT entrepreneurs apart from other types of entrepreneurs is their understanding of the technical aspects of running digital businesses. This includes things like setting up and managing a network, creating or using software applications and protecting against cyber attacks. Knowledge of these things can be the difference between success and failure for an IT-based business.
What is a digital entrepreneur boot camp?
A digital entrepreneur boot camp is a training program that helps participants create and develop their own digital businesses.
The focus of the program is on helping participants build and grow their businesses through online marketing, social media, and other online channels. The boot camp will also provide participants with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the digital age.
What makes a successful digital entrepreneur?
A successful digital entrepreneur is someone who has the ability to see opportunities and take action. They are creative, resourceful, and have a knack for problem-solving.
Digital entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to exploit technology and create innovative solutions that make people's lives easier. They are visionaries who know how to turn their ideas into reality, and they are not afraid to take risks. Online entrepreneurs are also relentless in their pursuit of success, and they never give up until they achieve their goals.
What are the opportunities of digital entrepreneurship?
Digital entrepreneurship opens up a world of possibilities. It allows you to work from any corner of the globe, significantly reducing costs and enhancing productivity. Automation of tasks, which was once a manual process, not only minimizes expenses but also boosts efficiency.
What is the difference between entrepreneur and digital entrepreneur?
Traditional entrepreneurs and digital entrepreneurs differ in the products and services they offer, as well as the funding and marketing strategies they employ. Digital entrepreneurs operate online businesses, which can range from e-commerce and content creation to blogs, among other online-based ventures.