Humanity never fails to surpass itself. Just when we think innovation has reached a pinnacle, there are challenges that push us towards finding new ways to reach new heights – Digital Entrepreneurship being the latest and best.
Emerging trends in hybrid lifestyles, where the private and work spheres have merged out of necessity are fast becoming the preferred ways to live. And technology has had to adapt and evolve.
With people confined indoors, remote work became a compulsion, putting the ball in employees’ court to remain alert about world news as well as work, which to a great extent opened Pandora’s box for greater Digital Entrepreneurship opportunities.
“A boom in e-commerce in India accelerated last year when the COVID-19 pandemic drove more shoppers online. Flipkart, in which Walmart invested $16 billion in 2018, and Amazon are among the top two players.” – Economic Times.
Being a technology expert and a compulsive entrepreneur, I believe that digital entrepreneurship is the way forward to identify and create markets, but also to help reach out to existing customer bases to push sales.
Take, for instance, the extraordinary rise of chatbots. Thanks to platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, etc., familiarizing us and connecting us with friends and family virtually, we’ve taken to chatbots naturally and easily. Thus, Manychat, MobileMonkey and so many more are helping businesses streamlining customer service.
On the internal communications front, e-learning platforms are helping companies generate around 20 percent more revenue per employee while they are still “at work”. Building an e-learning platform involves putting together a learning management system, a CBT instruction unit, metadata, author software, and other general components. Each phase is an entrepreneurial opportunity, and all are great examples of working effectively in the digital realm.
Essentially, the current scenario gave rise to new business challenges making the traditional economy look for immediate solutions for business continuity. And the IT industry after some initial blips is slowly rising to the occasion, refining new ways of working, living, and existing in a digital-first world.
Here are a few tried and tested methods that will help you too in taking that big leap towards digital entrepreneurship:
Digital entrepreneurship is never about one line item, it is an ecosystem. So, when you think of building a business, think about how you’ll build and exist within an integrated ecosystem of digitally powered ventures.
In the words of Julian Birkinshaw, Professor at London Business School, “One huge benefit of being an ecosystem orchestrator is privileged access to information about the entire ecosystem. You see what’s selling well, and you see how the market is evolving before others.” – Harvard Business Review.
The thing is when you shift your focus from a single need, product, or service; to creating a business ecosystem, you open the door to cultivating a diverse set of capabilities, and the innovation to resolve issues quickly.
Great case studies of hybrid models in digital ventures are companies like Alibaba and Amazon who first started as transaction ecosystems but catapulted themselves into other big ventures by adding further domains and offerings, but only after firmly establishing themselves.
The three main aspects to work on, while establishing any digital entrepreneurial venture are – focus, adaptability, and the tacit acceptance that you will remain a lifelong learner.
The growth scale of any company is the same. It begins as a startup, grows into teams, and then rationalizes to develop further; but what helps you stay in the game and grow, is a steely intent and focus.
“How to be successful: focus, choose a good market, believe in yourself, and learn to identify unproven talent”. – Sam Altman, CEO, OpenAI.
As an industry changes, and grows, so would your ecosystem, and the competitors you end up with may be different from the ones you originally targeted. And that’s ok, good even; because your focus is growth, not competition.
And it is a sign of success when you can adapt and still swim alongside others instead of sinking into oblivion. Remember you are charting your own course, there is no map to your destination.
If you find yourself willing to take that leap into the sea of digital entrepreneurship, then make these words your mantra, “No idea is a bad idea.” In the digital world, the idea is the king.
This is especially true when you look at something like building apps. Digital entrepreneurial ideas such as app-making are idea-intensive. You may be sitting in some nondescript place, but if it is with a good idea that has the potential to make millionaires out of entrepreneurs, then nothing can hold you back from leaping ahead.
And if you want to see an example, let me present Rohit Bhat, the founder of Robosoft, and an app maker from a town called, Udupi in India, who put his unique idea into action, and looped in Apple as one of his consistent clients.
“When Steve Jobs went on the stage in 2008 to announce the App Store, he showed the first 500 apps, and the five of them were built in this building, in Udupi,” – Rohit Bhat, Robosoft.
Innovation is of no use if it cannot trigger a change in mainstream living. There are so many innovations that have died a silent death due to lack of strategy or misappropriation. Taking that positive leap towards Digital Entrepreneurship also means being the window to innovation.
Work towards building new customer behaviors, but before that, you need to first identify and then marry two very different concepts or industries together.
For instance, the idea of building an app such as a QR code and using it for payment. Paytm became the change agent that brought this concept to the mainstream audience. They were also the change agents who introduced mobile payments to the public.
“We are the champions of creating new customer behaviors using cashback, using easy customer experience, using reach, which is unprecedented, thanks to the internet reach”. – Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder, Paytm (a mobile payment company).
Unless you dream big you won’t feel the impetus to act. Don’t fall into the trap of debating between the conventional and unconventional.
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring” – Marilyn Monroe.
Come to think about it, people like Steve Jobs were mad about their dreams, ideas, and innovation. They were so mad to the extent that after a point in time people labeled them crazy. But it was this “crazy” that helped Steve Jobs take the leap and build a digital venture.
Dreaming big plays a very essential part in building a business venture. At the start of my entrepreneurial career, when I used to approach the venture capitalists with my presentations, the first question that most of them asked was, “What kind of customers would you want to get if you had a magic wand?”
Does the same question apply to when taking the leap towards digital entrepreneurship – How big is your dream?
Because it is only when you aim high that you’ll know what lies outside that dream.
The only way your idea can take shape is by trusting your instincts and giving an opportunity to your team. That is also how you will build a worthy team.
“Strategy is not a solo sport, even if you’re the CEO.” – Dr. Max McKeown, Strategist, Innovator, Speaker.
I stay in the US, and most of my team works in India and other countries. Though we connect regularly, trust is a big part of making all of it work. People are working remotely; they have their own challenges to face. I believe that everyone should be given the fair chance to earn trust.
A worthy team has the potential to achieve any dream, no matter how crazy it may be. They’re a huge asset to the process.
Wrapping Up: Taking a Leap into Digital Entrepreneurship
In the end, I’d say that taking that first plunge is important because if you shoot for the moon, you will at least end up among the stars.
When I started my entrepreneurial stint, I too aimed high, as high as being the next Steve Jobs. And while my revenues may be a lot lower than Apple’s, I’ve led a decent life.
I had some successful startups, which ended up being sold for good money. But had I not tried to aim that high, I would not have landed where I am today.
You unlock the numerous opportunities that come with aiming high, and that magnifies your impact. But, unless you take the leap, you can never know what lies outside.
For the first ten years of my career, I used to work for a company, and despite coming from a family where nobody thought about “doing business,” I dared to do just that.
Today, if you ask me, what is that one thing that I would change in my life if I could go back; I’d say that I should have started my first company after one year of working for other people.
I hope Dear Reader, that these thoughts resonate with you enough for you to find the courage to take that leap!