As a young entrepreneur, I have had the opportunity to leverage the digital space to grow my business. In October 2016, I started an educational consulting practice to help people go to college, grad school or trade school with scholarships. Although I did a fair amount of networking and in-person negotiations, having an online presence and producing original content for my business was vital. Now with my latest venture, LinkedIn Strategy by Nnenna Umelloh, capitalizing on my digital assets is more important than ever before.
What is digital entrepreneurship?
Digital entrepreneurship is the new frontier of entrepreneurship. It focuses on delivering value through new technologies (almost like creating a tech startup, but not as capital intensive). The new technologies provide solutions that change the way we communicate, learn, play, work, shop, or do business. The core of digital entrepreneurship leverages existing assets like social media, big data, mobile, cloud computing and the Internet of Things to deliver this value. Digital entrepreneurship encompasses everything from using websites or an online shop to grow your business to providing solutions to virtual teams or teleworking professionals. Digital entrepreneurship also includes leveraging market research tools or digital products and services.
The services I provide as a Higher Education Consultant is not digitally intensive. Obviously, I use social media to promote my brand and services, but the value I deliver to my customers is done in person or virtually. The trick to finding viability as a digital entrepreneur is creating a technological solution. Ideally, this solution can be carried out independently from its creator. To what extent you end up using technology will depend on the service you provide and your target market.
For example, there is a start-up in Dallas, Texas that more digitally intensive. ActivTrak is a digital service that allows employers to track employees’ activities on company assets’ like computers, phones, virtual desktops, etc. Employers can use the information to track productivity and determine if their assets are being used appropriately. ActivTrak also helps its clients determine if there is non-compliant behavior taking place like removing company documents to an external source like Google Drive or Dropbox.
The Founders of ActivTrak, Herb Axilrod and Anton Seidler, embody the spirit and intention of digital entrepreneurship. They have created a digital product to help business owners address operational efficiency, workforce management, and insider threat detection without interrupting the natural flow of business. This solution can be implemented without the direct intervention from the Founders.
Growing a digital enterprise
Pursuing digital entrepreneurship has its perks. Since it is a digital product, entrepreneurs tend to spend less money and resources on the supply chain, inventory management, and production. They still need to maintain a responsive customer support team but even that can be managed by a small number of people in the beginning.
There are some inherent challenges that will take some ingenuity to overcome such as creating the technological infrastructure, ensuring proper levels of security and encryption, protecting intellectual property rights and respecting internet laws and ethics. These perks and challenges come with the territory of digital entrepreneurship. People who get excited to take on these tasks embody are natural born digital entrepreneurs.
Although the main assets of a digital entrepreneur are digital, this does not excuse them from networking like any other business owners. The heart of any entrepreneurial venture is the relationship the business makes with the consumer. Sometimes these relationships happen organically online through SEO or social media marketing, but getting out there in a social setting and meeting people face-to-face is imperative. Every business needs evangelists who believe in the product and are willing to tell their friends and families. No amount of social media advertising or Google AdWords can capture that type of value.
As an effort to take my educational consulting practice to the next level, I attended networking events prolifically in 2018. By the end of the year, I attended almost 80 different networking events. As you can imagine, my business saw more growth and recognition during the year.
With the launch of my newest enterprise, LinkedIn Strategy by Nnenna Umelloh, I am excited to engage with a whole new market of professionals and business owners. I have an existing network of colleagues and clients who can attest to the quality of my work and will help spread the word about my new services. This is the power behind building relationships in person.
The role of LinkedIn in digital entrepreneurship
LinkedIn is unique as far as social media platforms are concerns because it is specifically designed for professionals and business owners to connect and learn from one another. It captures the latest news and trends in various industries and provides a platform where anyone can go, learn and use that information to grow their own business. LinkedIn has made it so much easier for professionals from niche industries to connect and build relationships.
Unfortunately, many users end their LinkedIn engagement with their profile. Digital entrepreneurs can use LinkedIn to generate qualified leads, leverage competitors, discover industry insights and trends, build a favorable reputation, recruit top talent, and so much more.
The first step to tapping into all these resources is creating a home for your digital business on LinkedIn. This is done by creating a LinkedIn business page. Make sure all your employees have their profiles up-to-date and emphasize the solutions you provide and value you create for your target market.
As a LinkedIn Strategist whos’ job it is to help professionals and business owners build their career and grow their business on this platform, I do consider myself a digital entrepreneur. However, this realization came later as I was researching exactly what digital entrepreneurship entailed. Fortunately, those types of labels are not necessary to become an entrepreneur.
Before you consider any new business (digital or otherwise) ask yourself why. This “why” should light a fire in you and keep you optimistic for the future- especially when things look bleak. Then identify a unique value you can deliver to a target market. Finally, take a leap of faith and bring to life the vision you imagined.