A decade ago, the digital industry was a hatching experiment in the power of pairing technology with the Internet. Now, every major industry from health to media uses some form of digital services or products as a core piece of its business operations. But while the digital field is still in a growth phase, its strength and prevalence has attracted a myriad of competition for any entrepreneur looking to jump into the pool.
What can you do to solidify a platform for your idea and make the tough work of launching your enterprise go more smoothly and efficiently?
- Prepare Before You Pitch
Because digital startups represent a high risk field, it can be extremely difficult to get advance funding from banks or investors. For 82% of you, your initial funds will come out of your own pocket or those of generous friends. Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll need to keep your startup operations lean until you develop enough of a product or service to showcase your idea to potential lenders. Build and test your project as much as you can before you knock on an investor’s door. Acquire a reality-based grasp of your market’s needs and wants. Gather working data on the viability of your proposal.
Data is the most convincing part of a pitch in the eyes most banks and investors, and they are your gatekeepers to business loans, business credit cards and venture capital. Keep in mind that the number one mistake startups make is that their business models fail. The more you can prove your idea’s feasibility on your own, the greater the chance you’ll convince an investor to back you.
- Create a Strong Web Presence
For digital entrepreneurs, a strong Internet platform can be as crucial to your success as a viable venture. The Internet itself is your bread, butter and ultimate domain, and social media is one of the biggest access points to your audience. Today, 88% of young adults age 18-29 use social media. Boost engagement on your social media profiles by posting videos and graphics, tagging your bloggers or people you’ve quoted, sharing high-quality content from others, and tapping into your market’s emotions with your own content. Above all, make sure that everything you post is relevant to your brand or project, and that you tailor it toward your target demographic.
The added bonus to achieving a robust social media platform is that you can transfer it into crowdsourced funding options. Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Patreon can be enough by themselves to fully finance your project, but in order for most campaigns to be successful, they require an established, enthusiastic fan base that is ready and willing to dole out on your behalf.
- Consider Tech Assistance
Utilizing smart tech as a digital entrepreneur may seem like an obvious option, but it shouldn’t be understated. Aside from freeing up your time by taking care of micro-tasks in your personal life, digital assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa partnered with an Echo, can streamline your business’s marketing and development by instantaneously voice-searching your queries, and quickly collecting, analyzing and organizing data. ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-searches carried out by A.I. Digital assistants can also alleviate the stress on employees by expediting administration, customer service and product deployment tasks.
- Take Advantage of Word-of-Mouth
Some of the most effective marketing strategies at your disposal are actually free or very cost-efficient. Word-of-mouth is perhaps the most powerful of these. Statistics show that 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends or family when considering a purchase. 67% say they are more likely to purchase a product if a friend or family member has shared it on their social media. This means that the single biggest contributor to your profit margin is going to be word-of-mouth, one way or another. To get those mouths talking without having to launch an expensive ad campaign, engage your audience wherever they hang out, whether it’s on social media, blogs or forums, or consumer review pages.
- Remember the Importance of Security
Security in a digital world is imperative, both for you and your customers. A single determined hacker can bring down your entire operation. A fatal breach of information protection can decimate your brand’s credibility with users. Be sure to stay updated on all your systems, and to work with security products that secure your entire IT stack, from device and OS all the way up to cloud and data layers.
Most importantly, train your employees in correct security conduct. In the past few years, analysts have discovered that hacks most commonly stem from either a phishing campaign or a compromised device outside of computer systems and networks. This means that the people you work with are often the weak point in your security wall. Make sure that all sensitive information is gated behind authority-only access and proper encryption.
Digital entrepreneurs face a particularly hard battle in the abstract sea of information and Internet services and products. It can be extremely difficult to get eyes on your brand and funds in your bank. By taking an assessment of the tools at your disposal and using them smartly, you’ll be better able to run a strong campaign and bring your idea to the minds and fingertips of your audience.
This guest post is courtesy of Beth Kotz. She is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live, write and play. Visit her personal website for more information about her work.