Digital entrepreneurship: what is it and how to get started
Digital entrepreneurship grows as internet access increases. Find out what you need in order to start an online business!
Digital entrepreneurship grows as internet access increases. Find out what you need in order to start an online business!
Before we get into this text, pay attention to a few interesting headlines:
“47% of the world’s population is connected to the internet” – ItForum (2016)
“3 billion: approximately 40% of the global population actively uses social media” – TECMUNDO (2017)
“In the fourth quarter and in 2017 as a whole, U.S. online retail grew faster than it has since 2011. E-commerce represented 13% of total retail sales in 2017 and 49% of the growth.” Digital Commerce (2018)
If you search for terms such as digital entrepreneurship, digital marketing, or online sales on Google, you’ll find that there are many such articles, confirming what we’ve been talking about for some time now on this blog: Venturing on the internet is totally worth it.
But how do you enter this market? Is it safe? How can you stand out from your competitors?
For starters, we need to dispel a myth here: there are no magic formulas for “making money on the internet while you sleep”.
But if you are willing to really study the market and offer quality service to your future clients, we have put together a few tips that can help you in this endeavor!
At first, you’ll only need a computer with internet access to get started. But in addition to the equipment, certain features are essential so you can set yourself apart from the competition.
The word “curiosity” carries a derogatory weight, as if every curious person shows excessive interest in other people’s lives, but the origin of the word has nothing to do with this!
Curiosity is nothing more than the natural ability of asking questions and want to know more about a certain subject.
Have you ever noticed that when children start talking, they ask questions about everything? They just wants to understand the world around them, and sometimes we, as adults, go into automatic mode, especially at work, and we forget to ask ourselves why we are performing certain tasks.
Therefore, in order to undertake on the internet, one of the characteristics that you’ll need to cultivate the most is your curiosity, because it is only by researching a lot about the market and the behavior of consumers that you’ll find openings to operate and offer a solution that truly adds value to people’s lives.
It is common for people to study for a while and think they already know everything about that subject, ignoring that knowledge and tools are constantly changing, especially on the internet.
In other words if you are very curious but don’t like to study, digital entrepreneurship is not for you.
This doesn’t mean that you should spend hours of your day working on your computer. As with everything else in life, it is necessary to find the balance between learning more and using this knowledge to implement change.
To get started, read at least one hour of news about your market daily. Over time, you will feel the need to specialize in a theme that impacts your business the most.
“Entrepreneurship is associated much more with identifying problems and opportunities to implement an idea that causes positive impacts than being innovative and creating something never seen before.”
You probably have read that phrase in our post about working from home, and it makes perfect sense!
Think of applications such as Uber, for example. There’s nothing innovative about a taxi service, right?
But if you’re familiar with the subject, you know that their service is not only about getting people into a car to go somewhere, it’s about offering a more accessible, more practical and easier service.
A simple solution, but that generated a major positive impact. From now on, that’s where you should focus your efforts.
The main advantage is that you can manage your business from anywhere in the world, provided that you have access to the internet. With this kind of mobility, other advantages arise, such as:
Answer honestly: How many times have you missed or been late for someone’s birthday because you were working or because you got stuck in traffic?
In digital entrepreneurship, this can happen, but it will happen less because you can work from home if you prefer.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have a pre-established routine, nor that you can spend all day playing video games with your kids, but digital entrepreneurship will certainly provide you with more freedom to adjust your schedules and participate more in your family life.
At the beginning of your business, you’ll need to work hard to conquer your space in the market, especially if you manage the business alone. But working hard doesn’t mean working all day long, because no one is productive all the time.
When you a digital entrepreneur, you define your own schedules, work during the hours when you are more efficient, and even postpone an appointment because of an unforeseen event, which is much more difficult when you work from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
If you only need a computer with internet access to get started, you will save a lot by not having to lease a space for your company and all the expenses with utilities, taxes, etc.
Of course, the amount spent will vary according to your business model, but it is certainly cheaper to start an online business than to have a physical establishment.
According to a We Are Social, more than 4 billion people on the planet now have access to the internet. That’s more than 50% of the world’s population.
This clearly shows that doing business online is the best path to reach more people at the global level.
While in a physical business you would have your operations limited by geographic and mobility barriers, with digital entrepreneurship and a well-defined marketing strategy, you can reach out to various parts of the country and get more people to know your product.
Scaling a business means increasing the volume of production and sales, without increasing investments and the fixed cost for the same proportion.
Once again, this will depend on your business model, but it is undeniable that it is “easier” to scale an online venture than a physical store.
Thinking about an everyday example: Online courses as you probably already know, are educational materials produced to be consumed online.
After you have developed your material and made it available online, anyone who pays for it will be able to access it, without you having to record the lessons again. This type of product will also never be out of stock, unless you decide to delete it.
Unlike classroom classes where you would have to go to where the students are and would be restricted to where you live. With this example, it is easier to understand the concept of scaling, right?
Here on the blog, we have several specific posts about digital entrepreneurship models, so we won’t focus much on this topic. Our idea is merely show that there is a range of possible businesses, even for those who have never worked with sales on the internet.
Producers are those who create content to be consumed online. This material can be in various formats, such as e-books, video classes and podcasts. In order to become a Producer, you just need to have knowledge that is useful for others and wish to share it.
Learn more > What are digital producers?
Affiliates are professionals that promote third-party products in exchange for commissions for each sale made. This profession is highly recommended for those who already have online influence, but don’t wish to create their own content, as is the case of digital products, nor manage inventory, as is the case of physical products.
Learn more > What are affiliates?
E-commerce designates a type of commerce that is carried out online. Unlike the digital products we mentioned earlier, products sold in virtual stores are not consumed on the Internet, but rather delivered to consumers’ homes.
This is an example of a market that has been increasingly growing, following the changes in purchasing habits around the world.
Learn more > E-commerce: trends, platforms and better strategies
Startups are an example of business that can begin online and eventually migrate to a physical environment if the entrepreneur feels the need.
For a startup to be successful, first of all, it is necessary to identify a recurring problem in order to propose a solution.
This solution should also be simple to understand and put into practice. Otherwise, people won’t be interested in using it.
As a startup owner, you can also develop a variety of products, such as software, applications, and services, this will depend a lot on the type of problem you solve and the consumer profile you wish to reach.
Digital influencers are considered by many to be the profession of the moment, because they have no age limit or niches. You can have a blog or YouTube channel about makeup for example, and create partnerships with brands that have an interest in reaching your audience.
In addition to brand partnerships, these professionals can make money by running ads by means of Google AdSense. In this form of monetization, more important than the number of followers, is the amount of views you received on your page or video.
Digital entrepreneurship: taking action
No matter how much you prepare, there will always be those lessons that you only learn by practicing them.
Even so, there are a few steps you must take to ensure that your business doesn’t end even before you even get started. In this topic, we show a few points that concern all entrepreneurs, regardless of the type of activity you choose to exercise.
As we mentioned in the text, having an online venture is a lot cheaper than having a physical company, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t need to save money beforehand.
Consider that you are abandoning the traditional work market and labor benefits to invest in an idea that you don’t know if it will work, yet.
So if you don’t have any money saved or an investor to invest in your idea, we suggest you pay more attention to the management of your money from now on.
Ideally, you should save the amount necessary for your fixed expenses for at least a year. If you have a family, you should also talk to all of them, present your idea, and explain that certain budget adjustments will be made. This way, everyone will be on the same page and avoid unnecessary spending.
We share several financial management tips in in this post.
In order to be a digital entrepreneur you need to identify your strengths and weaknesses. To do so, there is a very good tool known as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
It is a simple template that you can outline by hand or on the computer.
To create one, draw a table divided into four parts, with two rows and two columns. In the first column, list the aspects that impact positively, while in the second, those that may hinder the development of your new business, as shown below.
However laborious it may seem, doing this exercise is very important because it helps you better visualize where you fit into the market and how you should position yourself in order to differentiate yourself from your competition.
Niches are segments with specific characteristics and needs within a broader market of operation.
Products for curly hair are a branch of hair products, which in turn, are part of the cosmetics market, which is part of the beauty market.
To find the ideal niche for you:
Here at Hotmart, we believe that everyone can become an expert on a subject if they are willing to do so.
But if we could give any advice, it would be: choose something that you enjoy doing and preferably something that you already have some knowledge. In this manner, the process of creating the enterprise isn’t only more intuitive, but is more enjoyable.
Therefore, the first step to choosing your niche is to make a list of the topics that you master the most. Try to answer the following questions:
– What are your hobbies?
– In which type of activities do you stand out?
– What type of subject do your friends ask you to teach them?
– What would you do if you had to choose a single activity to perform for the rest of your life?
Once you figure out what you do best, it’s time to understand if there is a demand for it. In short: if you started a business in this segment, would you have enough customers to make a living?
You’ll need to use online tools such as Google, SEMRush and others to notice the real demand for the product or service.
One helpful tip is to search for a particular keyword and check the number of ads that appear on Google. This can be an indicator that it is a term that is in high demand and therefore, has a broader consumer market.
Have you ever noticed that the way we dress changes a lot during the year? Whether it’s because of the season or cultural influences from other countries, we are always using certain pieces of clothing and putting others away in the closet.
As with fashion, there are certain subjects that are transient trends, such as news and memes, and others that always arouse people’s interest, regardless of when they are broached, such as food and health for example.
To enterprise online, it is important to identify themes that aren’t seasonal, so you ensure that you’ll have a demand for your product or service all year round. A good tool to do this is Google Trends, which shows the evolution of searches for such a theme over the analyzed period.
You can also visit websites and blogs targeted to your market and check which subjects are most recurring or engage visitors more.
It is not uncommon to read texts online comparing the business world to war, and competitors to enemies that needs to be defeated, regardless of the method you are going to adopt.
Although this is an exaggerated analysis, it isn’t about doing everything, but about doing what is right, we agree that knowing your competition well is the best way to gain a competitive edge over them and offer truly unique products.
But how should you do this analysis?
First, you have to ask the right questions. This is possible by outlining well-defined business goals in the first few months.
Those who wish to work in the fitness niche will find that there are several sites on the subject, with very different proposals: focused on exercises, clothing and equipment and/or food.
If entrepreneurs evaluate all these sites, they will invest a lot of time and effort to compete with companies that often don’t even relate to your target audience. Therefore, focus on sites and channels that are relevant to the audience you are targeting.
After filtering your top competitors, note what kind of content these pages share and how they communicate with their consumers on social media.
It’s worth remembering that this process of analyzing competitors is merely to identify best practices, not to copy what others are doing, okay?
Once you have completed all the analytical steps, it’s time to roll up your sleeves!
To get started, you’ll need to purchase a domain for your web page. This step is very important both for those who want to create a virtual store and for those entrepreneurs who will produce content.
Before acquiring the rights to a domain, you need to choose a name that synthesizes your business idea. This name should be short and easy to write, so users can easily find your page or recommend it to friends.
We explain the process of purchasing a domain in our post on how to create a blog .
If you plan to work with digital products, we have good news: you don’t have to purchase a domain because there are specific platforms to make your product available, such as Hotmart.
In addition to generating a super-complete sales page, Hotmart has its own form of payment and other features for Producers and Affiliates to stay in touch with their respective audiences.
– Does your product solve a problem? Which one?
– Can you execute this idea better than your competition?
– Is your idea easy to understand?
– If you put yourself in the place of consumers, would you buy your product?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, you should review your planning to find improvement opportunities.
After this step, you can create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), which is basically a simpler version of your website, product or service, with the minimum features it needs to operate. Beta versions of applications are examples of MVPs.
In order to validate your MVP, promote opinion surveys, get help from a market expert, and conduct A/B tests.
From the feedback received, you’ll be able to promote the necessary improvements and launch a product more in line with the market requirements, in other words, the greater the chances of success.
You have done all the testing, validated your strategic planning and found time to devote to your new venture, so now it’s time to promote your solution to people and sell your products.
A good advertising strategy is supported by three main aspects:
– The consumer’s profile;
– Useful content;
– Communication channels.
You need to find the right audience for your business and deliver useful content to them whenever they need it. And moreover, these people need to see value in the product or service you’re offering, in order to want to pay for it.
According to Statista, by 2019 there will be more than 2.7 billion social media users.
Does this mean that you’ll be able to reach everyone online? No, and you shouldn’t! Remember that your communication should be directed only to those you mapped for your business during the planning stage.
From the moment you’ve created a profile, whether on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube, make sure you produce specific content for these channels, taking into account the format required by each network and the way people consume this content, so that your communication isn’t irrelevant.
On Instagram, for instance, no one wants to read long texts (in fact, it has a limit number of characters for each posts!). People are looking for compelling images and short objective videos.
While on LinkedIn and other business-oriented networks, a technical and full text can be appreciated more.
An email list is one of the most valuable assets for the entrepreneur, because those who are there have given you permission to get in touch with them.
But these users can also turn against you if you deliver bad content that is incompatible with their needs.
In order to have an effective email strategy, you need to segment your list by dividing the leads according to their stage on the buyer’s journey.
And one last important tip: Never buy a ready-made mailing list. This option may seem like the fastest way, but you’ll only waste your time, effort and money on people who have no interest in what you offer.
Of course, there are many other steps involved in sending email marketing, but if you follow these tips, you will already be ahead of many entrepreneurs.
Ads are the fastest way of impacting your prospective buyers, but just like the previous tools, they will only be effective if you target the audience correctly and create attractive content that is the sum of straightforward text and a good image or design.
And your work doesn’t end after your ad is ready! Once users are impacted, you also need to ensure that it is directed to a page with useful content; otherwise, they will click on the ad but won’t perform the action that you expect from them. This shows how much quality content is important in your promotion strategy.
There are several networks you can use to advertise and increase the visibility of your business such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.
There is no minimum investment limit; everything will depend on your cash flow and how much you can spend on ads. But don’t worry, it is possible to optimize your campaigns and obtain good return on sales by spending little.
Content marketing is so critical for those who want to be an entrepreneur on the internet that it deserves an entire post dedicated to the subject.
This methodology basically consists of creating quality content for your leads and followers, answering as many questions as you can, until these users feel comfortable enough to become customers.
You can do this by email, having a blog, recording videos or creating rich materials.
Why is content marketing valued so much?
Firstly, because you can put it into practice without spending anything, only the time needed to produce the content; and secondly, because it brings lasting results.
While ads increase your visibility instantly, which is tempting, content marketing will help you build a relationship with your potential customers in the long run. These customers can become evangelizers of your brand, which will attract more people to your page, creating a positive cycle for your business.
As we have shown you in this post, digital entrepreneurship can be a good alternative for those who want to have their own business, but don’t have a lot of money to invest in the beginning.
Besides the reduced costs, the market has a great potential to generate income due to changes in buying habits, and is still relatively new; therefore, there are many segments that still haven’t been completely explored.
It is worth noting that although accessible, digital entrepreneurship requires a lot of dedication and study, especially at the beginning of your business, until it gains traction with consumers and you become a reference in the subject. So be patient and don’t get discouraged with the first results!