The Digital Entrepreneur is NOT necessarily an IT-nerd. The Digital Entrepreneur is a person who has identified a number of key factors on how to use IT in development of new Business Models.
Building a business based on digital tools and a skill in how to use ICT in your specific business sector is more or less a question of winning or losing. It doesn´t mean that "everything" is ICT - but no matter if you own a local Flower Shop or a web-shop selling plastic flowers you need to consider the use of ICT. How you can use it, how your customers use it, how your competitors use it and how all the other players in the market use it. It is also very clear that ICT is "THE" key factor in internationalization of your business. The fact that a majority of the population in almost all regions of the world are online from time to time indicates that the net and all kinds of services available are bringing people together, shrinking the globe. Some use the expression web-entrepreneurs but I prefer "The Digital Entrepreneur".
The Digital Entrepreneur:
Finds Business Opportunities - Using ICT
Scanning the web as a way to keeping a watch out on the market, new trends and new ideas is for some of us as obvious as waking up in the morning. We know that "copy the winner" always has been a great way to develop your own business. On the net you can find tons of great ideas by just studying how others do. Remember to not only view your own sector but learn also from totally different sectors. Implement what others do into your own business model - and you will notice a change and your customers will keep on coming to you instead of moving to more "up-to-date" competitors.
Creates the base to reach them - Using ICT
Just take one example on how we work with finding prospects and turning them into customers and after that build the customer relations. Instead of just "having a system" to be able to work up a market you have gone through sophisticated CRM systems to now have fully automated web based systems. Buildings lists with auto responders to always be "just in time" with the best offer is popping up in all kinds of business sectors. The combination of developing the product or service and the digital support for running the business process is critical. Not just the products, not just the use of ICT - but a combination.
Finds Partners and Colleagues - Using ICT
Earlier it was required from us all entrepreneurs and business owners to visit fairs, go to local events and all kinds of physical meeting to increase the network and from that find out who could be a possible partner. Now you can easily manage that process from your desk in the evening when the family has gone to sleep. Networking and building relations over the net has become so easy and accepted by many of us. Of course a face to face meeting is always the best - but there is not an either / or but a both / and.
- Scanning in social media and web networks
- Starting the relation using digital forums and tools
- Getting closer in personal video calls
This maybe leads to face to face meeting in reality to close an agreement - but the whole process can definitely be web based.
Identifies Prospects and Customers - Using ICT
It´s always a "depending on that kind of Business you are running" issue here. As I have been in the Businesslife for a long time I remember where we actually studied telephone directories and bought pre printed address labels from database companies. A lot has happened in this part of our businesses. Using search engines, studying web pages, reading posts in social media are all possible ways to find a specific type of customer you are looking for. By offering these groups of potential customers a number of different ways to learn more about your business and your products will make them come to you instead of the opposite. You have got them some levels down the sales funnel and can focus on the motivated prospects instead of spreading out your resources on all levels.
Delivers Products and Services - Using ICT
We still have to send a box with bearings with DHL, UPS or some other logistic company, but how we create the order, how we secure the payment, how we keep control over the delivery etc... is totally changed compared to the traditional "Industry era". We now use third party partners and by using ICT all of the involved stake holders can focus on their part of the delivery chain. If we move over to digital products and services it is even more simple. We often hear the phrase "Disruptive businesses" and here is definitely one area for that. It´s not only SaaS (Software as a Service) it can also be KaaS (Knowledge as a Service) as we transform knowledge and experiences into digital products. eBooks are good examples of that - but today we have so many more medias and ways of distribution to choose from.
Develops Customer Relations - Using ICT
I have already mentioned how we can start relations with prospects, customers, partners and others using ICT. Today we can see all kinds of ways that Businesses use to tie customers closer and to keep them. We have had "Loyalty programs" in different versions for a long time - but now you don´t need to be American Express or British Airways to run such systems. Even the smallest Solopreneur business can now benefit from all kinds of automated customer relations systems. We are getting more and more used to hear expressions like "passive income" - there the process from finding and getting customers also lets us keep them and sell again and again to them. With Affiliate agreements you also see more and more of "cross-selling" - selling other businesses' products to your customer segment and vice versa. Sometimes it can actually work as a "self-playing-piano" once you have set up the systems and prepared the web sites involved. The dream vision is the Digital Entrepreneur resting with a drink besides the swimming pool - only checking the bank account every now and then. However - most of us still have to work hard for a success - but it is within the reach for all of us.
Becomes a Global player - Using ICT
All said above is of course considering the fact that the market is not limited to the local/regional market. If you start to think about what you can offer to an international market - your business can really take off. In this perspective we also understand why more and more of the startups we see are so called "Born Globals". They don´t even consider a local market. The target group is spread all over the world. Sometimes limited by language and sometimes by national specific laws and other conditions - but still so easy to reach from your home office desk. Still you need to set the alarm clock for a video meeting with the other side of the globe, but communicating and meeting others are not a problem any more. We can all be Digital Entrepreneurs on a Global Market! Don´t wait - start now!
NB: This publication reflects the views of the author.