Digital technology ushered in a new generation of entrepreneurs. The internet lowered the barrier for starting a new business by providing broader access to a global consumer base and more pathways to success, catalyzing the creation of the digital entrepreneur. Since the digital revolution is still evolving, digital entrepreneurs need to reinvent and adapt. How can aspiring entrepreneurs prepare for long-term success in the digital world? Here are four key points to keep in mind when embarking on a career as a digital entrepreneur.
1. Be Ready to Pivot
Failure is a badge of courage, or so they say. Failure may be a valuable learning experience in Silicon Valley, but not all cultures have as positive an attitude towards missteps. And the perception of failure also varies across genders. According to a recent European Commission study, women are less likely to start a business than their male counterparts due to fear of failure.
Yet failure, mistakes and change are part of the entrepreneur experience. Small Biz Trends found that 90% of start-ups fail. 90%! Most founders start an average of two businesses and many successful start-ups change their business models multiple times. In the fast-paced digital world, innovation and flexibility are essential to success, which means having the courage to stumble and pivot if needed.
Some of the most popular digital platforms are now a completely different product from their original purpose. Twitter was a podcasting platform. Shopify sold snowboard equipment. Netflix rented DVDs, via mail. These companies hit a roadblock and needed to make the difficult decision of what to do next; pivoting unlocked a new pathway for these companies to succeed.
2. Be Passionate About Learning
Digital entrepreneurs need to be passionate learners to stay ahead of trends and remain relevant. The digital world is full of information and interactions that are sources of inspiration and ideas. Continuous learning allows an entrepreneur to uncover new opportunities and explore new strategies.
Luckily, the digital age means access to new insights is just a few clicks away. Alongside the trove of information available on the internet, many podcasts offer valuable information and insights for digital entrepreneurs. For example, ‘The Digital Entrepreneur’ shares strategies to build digital businesses. In one episode, ‘Stop Being Afraid and Start Building Your Business’, listeners learned how to face uncertainty when starting a new business.
Another, ‘Entrepreneur Stories for Inspiration’, interviews founders across a variety of digital industries who share their life experiences and explain how they turned their ideas into success.
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn cofounder and Silicon Valley legend, hosts podcast ‘Masters of Scale’. Reid and his guests discuss entrepreneurship, strategy and management, complete with stories of failures and setbacks.
Spend time exploring the many resources and platforms available for inspiration, courage and ideas. And make sure you carry out thorough market and competitor research before launching. Luckily, as a digital entrepreneur, all of this can be done from the comfort of your own home.
3. There’s No Time Limit on Success
The typical profile of a digital entrepreneur is a young digital native – millennials and generation Z – in pursuit of flexibility and ready to push the boundaries of innovation.
Yet, this too is evolving. A recent study showed that the fastest-growing tech start-ups were founded by 45 to 50-year-old entrepreneurs. And there’s another emerging generation of digital entrepreneurs – seniors.
For the younger generation, these findings are reassuring, indicating both a long-term opportunity to carve out a career in the digital world and that success can be found both late and early in life. For those in their late 30s to early 40s, this is validation that it’s not too late to become an entrepreneur.
4. Surround Yourself with Experts
Building a network exposes you to new opportunities and ideas. Investor and author Pat Hedley believes so firmly that networking is part of our professional value, she has written a book ‘Meet 100 People’. Seeking people to learn from and finding situations and experiences that stretch your capabilities, places you in the path of opportunity. Although networking can feel daunting, the benefits far outweigh the fleeting embarrassment that can accompany those initial introductions. And digital platforms such as LinkedIn have been specifically designed to enhance networking opportunities and maximize the potential of every new connection you make.
Advance Your Career at EU Business School
One way to build a global community of passionate innovators and business visionaries is by taking an MBA program. EU Business School’s MBA in Entrepreneurship immerses students in the world of business, developing the skills to become a successful entrepreneurial leader. Students will learn directly from business executives and build vital relationships through peer-to-peer collaboration. Graduates of the program are equipped with a leadership and innovation toolkit to help them succeed in the digital world and beyond.