Becoming an entrepreneur has never been so popular. With a quickly climbing number of 305 million start-ups annually since 2020, ‘becoming your own boss’ has started to trend across the globe.
As we step into a post-pandemic environment, Covid-19’s digital shift has made it easier than ever before to start an online business. As remote work continues to trend within the corporate sector and the gig economy booms, entrepreneurs within a number of niches are using popular digital platforms to create their own success stories.
(Image Source: Get2Growth)
In fact, over 69% of post-pandemic start-up companies are now created from the comfort of the home office.
The birth of the online entrepreneur is nothing new, however, as the highstreets dwindle and technological development has moved some of the globe’s largest sectors online, lockdown side hustles have quickly become competitors within a vast digital playing field.
Tech start-ups, in particular, have seen a significant burst post-pandemic, making up just over 1.35 million of the lockdown start-ups that continue to gather the most VC funding. From the e-commerce sector to corporate marketing and finance, niche opportunities for new digital-based ventures continue to crop up.
As hopeful entrepreneurial beginners strive for success, there are concerns mounting up regarding the future of the start-up boom. Did you know that over 20% of start-ups fail within the first year according to Investopedia, and a further 50% are abandoned after five?
While it may be easier than ever before to create an online venture, maintaining its success is certainly not an easy task. As social media continues to crawl with competitors and new digital advancements continue to benefit the giants within the niche, online entrepreneurs of today need to be built of tough stuff.
Read on as we delve into the future of start-up success and reveal how you can turn an idea into an empire in ten simple steps. From being frugal with your finances to developing an unbreakable business plan, here’s how to be an online entrepreneur that future leaders will look up to.
1. Develop A Growth Mindset
The first step towards success starts before you open your online business. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset does not happen overnight. It takes practice and experience to lead a team to victory and new entrepreneurs on the block need to be prepared to face the oncoming challenges with a strong and healthy growth approach.
A growth mindset is defined by Harvard Business Review as “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”
Developing a growth mindset is all about accepting failure and embracing new opportunities. A successful entrepreneur needs to learn from their mistakes and use each experience to improve their business strategy.
After popular start-up playing fields such as the e-commerce industry grew by 35% in response to the pandemic’s digital shift, competition is at an all-time high for fresh entrepreneurs. Start-up leaders need to be prepared to see slow-moving returns and be ready to accept failures along the journey.
With a growth mindset in place, modern entrepreneurs are able to see each failure as an opportunity to take another step forward, boosting self-esteem and company morale in the process.
Approaching a start-up journey with this mindset renders these types of entrepreneurs more likely to take on daring challenges and take calculated risks in order to stand out and see success.
2. Have A Solid Business Strategy
With a growth mindset intact, you’re one step closer to knowing how to be an online entrepreneur. However, while racing into the unknown may seem exciting, it’s time to hit the drawing board before hitting the live button on your start-up.
In an online landscape crawling with industry giants and creative competitors, entrepreneurs need a strong business strategy in place before they take a leap of faith within their niche. This includes market research, financial planning and of course a set of achievable goals.
The key here is to start by setting the bar low. Just over half of all global start-ups have less than $25,000 at their disposal when beginning a venture. In order to stay afloat long enough to see a successful return on investment, smart entrepreneurs need to be evenly allocating their funding across the board rather than placing all of their money on one creative idea.
Crafting a successful strategy is all about starting small and working your way up. New start-ups on the block need to step back and find a gap in the market that they can cling to, before launching their product or service amongst competitors.
Paired with a strong management team a realistic use of the resources at hand and a strong knowledge of the niche market and demographic the start-up is targeting, only then should online entrepreneurs send their company live.
Or should they? 67% of business owners have revealed that while their company is good at crafting a strategy, less than half believe that their organisation is successful when implementing a strategy.
Therefore, for new entrepreneurs, the lesson to learn here is how to implement a business strategy effectively. Around 5% of business strategy potential is wasted on poor planning skills. In order to see success, business leaders should be creating an actionable and trackable strategy plan than can be monitored throughout execution and edited according to the results.
3. Invest In the Right Niche
It’s no secret that start-up competition is on the rise. Investing your money into an online entrepreneurial journey may be easier than ever before, but only a small few are seeing success.
This is where tip three comes into play. Investing in the right niche is essential if you’re looking to see your start-up venture prosper. The key here is to not only find your niche but find a gap within that niche that you believe your product or service will fill.
(Image Source: First Site Guide)
It’s also important to invest your time, money and effort into a niche that holds potential within a growing online playing field. As you can see above, Healthcare based business ventures are currently having the most success on the back of Covid-19, followed up by transportation-based services such as air cargo companies who are meeting growing e-commerce demands post-pandemic.
Both the fintech and the AI industry also stand out from the crowd in terms of market interest. In fact, 60% of business leaders believe that AI innovation is the most promising start-up venture on the market, making it a great niche to jump into, but also one of the most competitive industries to make it within.
When creating a business strategy, entrepreneurs need to be confident that firstly, their chosen niche has the potential to grow and reach a profitable demographic and secondly that they can bring something new to the table.
4. Get To Know Your Audience
If you’re going to make an impact within your niche you need to know your audience.
Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of performing a detailed search into the market they are jumping into, but often forget to gather insight into the people who determine the niche’s success. The audience.
The age-old phrase of ‘the customer is always right’ applies to every new venture on the block. Whether you’re marketing your start-up to a B2C demographic or B2B clients, you need to start gathering insights into what makes your audience tick and click in order to see some serious engagement.
The key here is to start collecting actionable CX data. Whether you’re using Google analytics to monitor widescale demographic engagement trends or using social listening tactics to delve deeper into your niche’s topical conversations, utilising CX data to build a campaign strategy will see your start-up gaining the traction it deserves within the sector.
By prioritising a demographic’s needs and gratifications, a start-up that is in touch with its audience is more likely to create a personalised end-product or service that speaks to its customer’s values, boosting sales and improving that all-important customer retention on the journey to success.
5. Utilise The Gig Economy
For online entrepreneurs looking to test the water in such a competitive climate, it might be time to take the next step and invest in a flexible workforce, otherwise known as the gig economy.
Defined by Investopedia, “In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who often focus on their career development.”
The gig economy continues to prosper post-pandemic. In a business landscape that is still so uncertain, many new entrepreneurs want to try their luck in the start-up game without the potential costs of hiring and firing staff members depending on company success.
In fact, if gig work continues to grow at its current rate, more than half of the global workforce will be involved in it by 2027.
There are a number of benefits associated with utilising gig workers. As a high ROI business strategy, new entrepreneurs can quickly gain a large value-producing workforce without having to pay out for health coverage and bonuses that come with hiring full-time workers.
Better still, the digitalisation of the corporate sector has meant that entrepreneurs now have global scale access to gig workers, opening up the talent pool for more niche skilled employees that can list an entrepreneur’s vision off of the ground.
6. Prioritise WFH Wellbeing
Working from home has become the new normal. As more people than ever before swapping the office for their couch, WFH wellbeing has become a topic of concern for a number of new entrepreneurs on the block. In order to ensure WFH productivity, online-based business leaders need to be on top of their HR support, ergonomic care and most importantly their communication skills.
(Image Source: Finder)
As you can see in this recent study by Finder, the Covid-19 lockdown put over 60% of corporate employees into WFH conditions, quickly shifting the working norm and throwing a number of start-ups into the digital deep end.
As we step into the future, 26% of the WFH population are either planning to stay remote or have no choice as a large portion of the corporate sector has chosen to remain online post-pandemic.
For new entrepreneurs looking to create a start-up within the midst of this, it’s important to consider WFH wellbeing from day one. Staff members need to feel supported and connected if you want to see some serious value add. We’re talking about regular communication, wellbeing workshops and team-building exercises. A happy workforce is a productive workforce.
In fact, a recent study by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) revealed that only one in five WFH employees felt supported by their employer. In response, many start-ups have seen productivity drop and absenteeism rise as a result of not talking about mental health.
“It’s not surprising that in light of the pandemic that mental health is on peoples’ and employers’ minds,” comments Vivian Pender, APA President. “What’s worrisome is that given this discussion, many people, particularly younger people, are still worried about retaliation if they take time off for mental health. This is a stigma in action, and it has to stop.”
Therefore, new entrepreneurs need to have a well-being plan in place if they want to see a real difference in their workforce’s attitude. Investing in their well-being will see a great return on investment.
7. Prioritise Digital Aids
On the topic of WFH wellbeing, it might be time to start investing in digital aids, if you want to see success as an online entrepreneur.
From communication tools such as Slack and Zoom to full-scale immersive learning aids such as AR and VR, the key to prospering as an online entrepreneur is to use technological advancements to your advantage.
For example, over 40% of SMB businesses have already adopted at least one form of AR-based technology in order to improve employee productivity and training and 70% could be on board with immersive aids by the end of 2022.
Investing in digital tools for an online-based team is a quick way to get a new start-up up and running efficiently in competition with other vendors. New entrepreneurs need to think fast when it comes to modern-day business and tech implementation can save time, effort and money on staff training, communication and onboarding.
AR for example can add digital layering to the task at hand, guiding new employees through tasks efficiently without human intervention. VR immersion has also become a great onboarding tool for especially tech-savvy business leaders. By immersing potential employees within a virtual recreation of the workplace, entrepreneurs can train with ease, and quickly get a fully skilled workforce straight out onto the competitive playing field.
8. Be One Step Ahead Of Your Competitor
It’s a fierce playing field for new entrepreneurs on the block. If you’re striving for success in a vastly populated market, you need to know both your demographic and your competitors like the back of your hand.
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Smart entrepreneurs conduct lengthy research into their competition. In order to find quick gaps within their niche, business leaders that want to see success find out what their competitors can’t offer and provide an effective solution.
The key here is to get analytic. Consult your own customer data and compare it with the engagement metrics and the SEO score of their competitor site. See what is working and most importantly what isn’t and find a way to incorporate the solution into your content, products and services.
Entrepreneurs who spend time watching their competitors can quickly predict their next move and be one step ahead. Having a grip on your market niche can make it easy to anticipate consumer trends before they happen and quickly become a pioneer that your audience flock to.
Start social listening if you want to take it one step further. Being present on your social media platforms will give you an extra edge over your competitors. Find out your audience’s pain points and delve deep into their reviews and mentions of not only your services but your competitors too. If you can answer their problems, a customer will quickly jump ship.
9. Be Frugal With Your Finances
Did you know that 82% of small business closures are directly attributed to cash flow problems?
As we define how to be an online entrepreneur, it’s important to talk about financial management, as it is one of the key ingredients for success and also one of the most likely causes of failure within the venture.
New entrepreneurs need to maintain a healthy balance when managing their finances. It’s important to push the boat out and take calculated risks in order to jump above potential competitors, but stability has to come first.
Firstly, it’s time to separate your business, pleasure and private accounts. Many new business leaders are quickly brought back down to earth when they realise that they have just paid for their next getaway with company funds. Splitting your income into numerous accounts is a quick way to see exactly how much you’re playing with and will make it easier to allocate your spending to the correct sources.
Secondly, it’s important to take care of your core expenses before funding an innovative idea. These are your utility bills, legal fees, loan repayments and staffing costs. These need to be prioritised each month in order to keep the business afloat and stable, in preparation for future expansion.
Once these expenses have been taken care of, it’s time to start allocating your remaining funds to the sources that are most likely to contribute to growth and ROI. These are your marketing and advertising channels, any potential innovations, talent hires and consumer research.
While perfecting your products and services may be at the top of your spending agenda, it’s important not to forget about promotion. With a digital-based clientele, it’s important to keep those social campaigns running, PPC ads popping up and your content fresh. Investing money into your marketing efforts will see your ROI skyrocket, leaving you with a larger funding pot for expansion.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Last but certainly not least, new entrepreneurs should not be afraid to ask for help. Navigating a post-covid start-up landscape can be tricky for business leaders who have only just established themselves.
As market competition sits at an all-time high, gathering a swift return on investment on the initial launch of a start-up is unlikely. Creating the foundations of a successful business relies on adopting a growth mindset, learning from your failures and using the resources at hand to guide you forward.
One of the most important resources an entrepreneur can learn from is their competitors and connections. Did you know that over 70% of start-up failures are attributed to not seeking help or guidance from others?
An entrepreneur’s connections can make or break a business venture. Not only can a business leader utilise knowledge and information from a connection’s success, but they can also collaborate to see a quick return on investment for both parties.
Creating strong connections within your niche is vital if you want to see your online company rising up throughout the ranks. Building strong B2B relationships can improve market authority and brand awareness between a shared demographic.
The start-up landscape can be tough, but online entrepreneurs who calculate, communicate and collaborate are sure to see success.