As we move into the 2nd quarter of 2021, the desire to become a digital entrepreneur is hotter than ever.
The pandemic has thrust more people into the joys of online work that now allows individuals to dream about working on a beach in the Philippines or mountaintop in India rather than a stuffy cubicle with the soundtrack of traffic blaring outside the window.
With faster internet speeds, improved infrastructure, and special visas issued by (currently) a small selection of nations, there has never been a better time to consider a path into digital entrepreneurship.
So what is a digital entrepreneur, and how can you break out of the daily 9-5 grind to realize your dream of being your own boss and only relying on a laptop and an internet connection?
Well, this article attempts to explain just that. From what defines a digital entrepreneur to 9 different online businesses you can start today.
We’ll also show you some free software tools you’ll need to get started and pose some questions you can answer to give you that all-important advantage when stepping into the digital world.
Digital technology affords digital entrepreneurs around the world access to infinite knowledge and data to create companies
What is a Digital Entrepreneur?
While “digital” refers to something in the non-physical realm such as the internet, and “entrepreneur” refers to an individual who develops and operates a business or businesses, often taking on various risk factors in the process. Combine the two – someone who creates businesses on the internet – and we have a digital entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship has grown in popularity over the last decade due to the financial rewards and security it can bring to those that succeed.
Coupled with the fact that the internet has drastically reduced start-up costs needed to become a digital entrepreneur. However, a lower price is by no means the only significant advantage of the internet.
Still, due to the sheer number of people online, the opportunity to reach billions of potential customers while easily refining and testing business ideas and gathering feedback has never been more accessible giving rise to more and more digital entrepreneurs.
Never before in history have digital entrepreneurs been given access to the tools and information they need to make critical decisions in real-time that affect the success of their business. Digital entrepreneurs today can try multiple variations of their business simultaneously and figure out what works.
Digital technology affords digital entrepreneurs around the world access to infinite knowledge and data to create companies and ads for precisely what customers need without them even knowing it.
These advantages then have lead to a wave of young professionals giving up the traditional demand of working in an office, to make money from anywhere in the world using new skills to create digital businesses on the web, using tech that allows for focus and improved quality almost daily.
The Tools You Need To Create An Online Business
Since cost is one of the great advantages of starting a business online compared to previous years, another benefit is taking advantage of the many free online tools you can use to help you begin.
One of the biggest challenges of digital entrepreneurship is keeping everything together and accessible.
Gone are the days of file cabinets, offices & whiteboards; you’re now relying on cloud-based software for business development needs. Let’s look at four essential tools you’ll need to get started today.
A Communication Tool
Communication is one of the most underrated skills in business and management. Without good communication, ideas can get lost, mixups can happen, and delays can occur in your business.
I’ve seen poor communication destroy relationships, cause deals to fail, and mistakes that lead to physical injury.
Without a proper communication method between you & your team or co-founder, your digital business could be doomed from day 1.
Start with these platforms;
WhatsApp: The ultimate messenger tool. Almost everyone I know has WhatsApp, and it works great across borders as well. As a digital nomad, you’re likely to be working with customers and suppliers from several different countries. I’ve found Whatsapp to be the most common communication tool. It loads quickly and works on your laptop as well. This is a no-brainer.
Telegram: If you’re looking for something a bit more secure, Telegram is a great option. With Telegram’s broadcasting function, you can update multiple customers and followers through text messages without dealing with replies. Use Telegram to offer products and services updates, hints, tips, and advice. The opportunities are endless and a great novel communication platform for digital entrepreneurs.
Slack: The ultimate workplace productivity tool. Slack was built for companies to integrate all of their internal communication needs. Each “workspace” can have different channels for different purposes. Think of a Whastapp group but for “Marketing”, “Research & Development” & “Management”. Slack also allows you to integrate other cloud-based apps, including Google Drive, so you can share documents and chat without leaving the app.
A Planning Tool
When planning your journey to take over the world, you’ll need a platform where you can place an idea and assign it to someone to take care of. You need a place to map out what you need to do and who needs to do it. Thankfully digital technology has your back.
To be a successful digital entrepreneur, you need to be both productive and organized, and the right planning tool can help you achieve both.
Asana: I’ve been using Asana for several years. Asana allows you to create multiple projects, add tasks and assign them to either yourself or others. With so much available on the free plan, you can use this not only for your professional life but your personal one as well.
Trello: Similar to Asana, Trello focuses on a Kanban-board style of project management. Developing a bit of cult following in the digital entrepreneurship space, Trello is a popular choice for successful digital entrepreneurs and could be for you as well.
Monday.com: The only platform with a limited free trial; however, I’ve spoken to many people who have fallen in love with the software from day 1. Integrating easily with automation platforms such as Zapier, Monday.com is a great visual tool to get stuff done.
A CRM Tool
A Customer Relationship Management tool is your ticket to building a relationship with your online consumers and allows you to identify holes in your sales and communication process. Truly utilizing one of these platforms is the real difference between successful and unsuccessful digital entrepreneurs.
As Jeff Bezos says, “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer.” A good CRM will allow you to do this while automating a lot of your consumer outreach, so you can sit back with a Pina Colada while the tech does the work for you.
HubSpot: Probably one of the most recognizable CRMs in the world, Hubspot has a free plan that allows you to track your customer’s journey, inquiries, and marketing. This will enable you to make better decisions as a digital entrepreneur.
Mailchimp: With a heavy focus on email marketing, Mailchimp is one of the world’s most popular email hosting platforms. However, the free version can be a little limited, but the premium templates and automated functions are excellent.
MailerLite: My favorite, MailerLite, is a free platform (up to 1000 subscribers) that allows you to import contact lists, send email broadcasts, create automations and workflows and contact forms that you can embed in your site for no cost.
A Website/App Tool
This is the only section where you may need to shell out some dollar. Depending on what kind of digital business you want to start will depend on where you build your website.
A new business needs a platform to showcase its products or services, and a website is the best place to do this. You can funnel customers to capture their information, sell your stuff online, offer digital products and services or post a blog with affiliate links. The list is truly endless.
Wix: Wix offers a straightforward and seamless drag and drop service. While the platform may be limited in its SEO capabilities and plugins, you cannot knock it for ease of use. Ideal for people who do not have many technical skills or the funds to pay someone to build a website for them.
WordPress: With about 1/3 of all websites on the internet built on WordPress, it’s safe to say that the platform has some huge fans. And it’s easy to see why. It’s free and has tonnes of free plugins, and applies fantastic SEO capabilities. You can almost do anything you want on WordPress if you have the technical proficiency to do so. Unless you have the patience and skills, you will need a web developer to help you build a WordPress site.
Shopify: If you’re looking to get into the e-commerce game, then look no further than Shopify. With a free 14 day trial, Shopify is the ultimate online store builder with brilliant integrations and an easy-to-use interface. It can get expensive after the 14-day trial, so unless you have solid margins and inventory ready to go, be careful using this platform.
MVP Development Service: Alternatively, you can seek an MVP development service. We’ve spoken about the advantages of MVPs at length here, so be sure to take a look. Outsourcing your website or product development is a great road to go down if you’re lacking the technical capability of doing it yourself.
While building an online business can be a long and arduous road, the lifestyle benefits can indeed be a game-changer.
The Benefits of Digital Entrepreneurship
There is a platitude of benefits when it comes to digital entrepreneurship.
Not to mention the flexible working hours and location, you can pick and choose who you want to work with and what you want to work on. If done right, the financial opportunities are endless, and you can continue to give yourself pay rises without waiting for a performance review.
Tired of wearing uncomfortable shoes and jumping on a packed subway in the summer to sit in an office? Then swap that for sandals, a motorbike on an open road, and a beach cafe with reggae music. Heard about an excellent spot for digital entrepreneurs in Argentina? Book a flight and go check it out. Saw a fancy co-working space in Bali with free surfing lessons; sign up tomorrow.
While building an online business can be a long and arduous road, the lifestyle benefits can indeed be a game-changer.
Work when you want to on a business you created yourself, build a brand that can provide a job to a person in need, and identify growing trends that can propel your business to the next level.
Digital entrepreneurship also allows you to build a network of other entrepreneurs in related or entirely different fields. Doing so can lead to more opportunities to collaborate as you both plot a course for online & digital success.
How To Start A Digital Business
So how can you begin? Nobody said that starting a digital business would be easy, but you can give yourself the knowledge needed to find out if your idea is likely to work by figuring out the following.
Find Your Niche
Finding a niche and creating a product or service for that particular area is the single most powerful thing a digital entrepreneur can do. The more detailed you can go, the better.
A niche could be anything from coffee for cowboys to yoga teaching for pre-natal American women between the ages of 24-32.
The more you can narrow down what market you want to create a business for, the less competition you will run into, and the more you can refine your product, service, marketing, and branding for your target consumer, the more you’re giving yourself a huge advantage to begin with.
Define Your Target Audience
Second to finding your niche, defining your ideal consumer is another effective exercise and one that is necessary. Understanding who your dream audience is will allow you to make decisions with them in mind.
When building a business in the digital world, most decisions you make are purely assumptions. You don’t know exactly what your user will want or what their behavior will be until they start using your product or service.
By understanding who they are earlier, you can help minimize the mistakes you’ll make in your offerings and start to narrow down exactly what they want. Ask yourself questions such as
- What is their age?
- Where are they located?
- What is their gender?
- What is their pain point?
- What is their desire?
- What books do they read?
- What are their interests?
- What do they do on the weekend or in their spare time?
- Are they single or in a relationship?
- Do they have children?
- What is their income & education level?
The more you can refine who your ideal consumer is, the better you will serve them.
Decide on a Product or Service
Once you have your niche and your ideal consumer persona, the next step is to decide what you want to offer. Before doing so, however, consider several things;
- Is there a real demand for your product or service?
- What separates you from the competition?
- What business strategy are you going to use?
- Are you going to compete on price or product differentiation?
- How does your product or service offer value?
- Is it easy for someone to copy your product or service?
While digital technology has undoubtedly made building an online business easier for the aspiring digital entrepreneur, it also means that someone else can copy your product or service with ease.
Big tech companies that seemingly have infinite resources could develop your product or service within a matter of days, so make sure you’re offering something that gives real value.
Find a Co-founder or Partner with an MVP Development Service
The next decision you need to make is whether or not you need a co-founder, someone to bounce ideas off or someone with expertise in another business area.
We spoke about the pros and cons of a co-founder here.
What you must also consider, especially if your product or service requires certain degrees of technical skills to develop, is whether you should partner with a development service or not.
There are many benefits when it comes to hiring a development service that you can check out by clicking the button below.
Types of Digital Products and Services
Now that we’ve covered how to start as a digital entrepreneur, let’s take a look at nine digital businesses you can start today.
Social Media Manager
Do you have a lot of experience with social media? Have you grown a sizeable following on your personal account?
Did you know you can manage the accounts of companies?
If you’re pretty snazzy with taking pictures, writing captions, or graphic design, a gig managing multiple social media accounts could be for you.
The art of buying something for $1 and selling it for $2. Done right, e-commerce can be highly profitable, and with platforms such as Amazon, e-Bay, and Shopify making it easy to sell and ship products around the world, it’s never been easier to set up an e-commerce store.
This one requires a bit more of a knack and understanding of the digital world, but if you know your way around Google & Facebook ads, setting up a digital marketing agency is an excellent method to collecting some big paychecks.
However, needing the technical know-how around such areas as email marketing, SEO, Google analytics, and data analysis, this hustle may require high technical skills. Alternatively, you could outsource everything.
Even though it seems like every man and his dog is selling an online course right now, if you have skills that you think someone else might be interested in learning, building online courses is a great way to earn passive online income.
The beauty of an online course is that you can create it once, and it earns you income over and over again.
While creating an app is not easy, if it’s successful, the rewards can be massive. Just look at successful apps such as Tiktok, Snapchat, Candy Crush, Instagram, and more. Luckily for you, App development companies out there can help take away all the stress around app development.
Websites have been around for years; if you have experience tinkering or designing them, building websites could be a great source of money. With some websites costing upwards of $2000, it’s not an area to dismiss.
Do you like writing or graphic design? How about editing videos or even acting in them? If so, you could build a career in content marketing. Content marketing refers to creating, publishing, and distributing valuable content for a particular audience.
In an age where ads and distractions come from all angles, quality content sticks out more. Companies are crying out for quality content, and as a digital entrepreneur, you could provide it for them.
Start A Blog
If you love writing and have a topic that your passionate or knowledgeable about, starting a blog could be the beginning of a beautiful dream.
Blogs can have a massive reach, with some bloggers developing huge followings. Blogs can be monetized in several ways, from integrating affiliate links to building an email list and selling a course. There are hundreds of ways to monetize a good blog, and the best digital entrepreneurs have worked out how.
A relatively new area, but one that is exploding right now. NFTs or Non-fungible tokens are storming the digital art world with some pieces selling for millions of dollars.
If you’re not sure what an NFT is, check out this blog here.
If you’re looking for a unique way to become a digital entrepreneur, I can think of no better place to begin than collecting and selling NFTs, definitely one of the stranger trends of 2021.
The Mindset Behind Successful Digital Entrepreneurs
In this article, we’ve defined what a digital entrepreneur is, the tools you need to get started, how you define your niche and your ideal audience, and some online businesses you can start right away.
However, to become a successful digital entrepreneur it also takes the right mindset. Digital entrepreneurs require grit and determination and the nerve to never give up in the face of adversity.
It will take long hours and hard work to develop a successful digital business, but the rewards can be huge.
Aspiring digital entrepreneurs should not expect overnight success. Instead, digital entrepreneurs should consider success more by making small gains, taking advantage of opportunities, and looking for areas to improve consistently.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Don’t compare your business to someone else’s. Keep moving forward, keep improving and never forget your goal.
The road to becoming a successful digital entrepreneur is littered with those that tried and gave up. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Always keep learning, keep improving and remember your goal. Do that, and you’ll be on that beach with a Pina Colada in no time.