What Is a Digital Entrepreneur?

First Republic Bank
August 22, 2022

  • Digital entrepreneurs pursue business ventures exclusively on a digital platform.
  • Compared to traditional entrepreneurs, digital entrepreneurs offer different products and services and use different types of funding and marketing strategies.
  • Examples of online businesses include e-commerce, content creation and blogs, but there are many possibilities to build a business online.

Entrepreneurs have existed for thousands of years, dating back to the earliest instances of the bartering system. Digital entrepreneurship, however, is a new phenomenon. As society has progressed and novel technologies continue to evolve, so has the definition of what it means to be a modern entrepreneur. This is an exciting time to start and grow a business, particularly in the online space.

It’s important to know the specifics of what digital entrepreneurship is, the characteristics and examples of digital entrepreneurship and how it differs from traditional entrepreneurship — especially if you’re hoping to build a business venture in the digital space.

What does it mean to be a digital entrepreneur?

A digital entrepreneur pursues a business venture that's built exclusively on a digital platform. Digital entrepreneurs rely on web-based tools and information to build and grow online businesses — generally, digital services. These kinds of entrepreneurs are distinctly modern, as they take advantage of mass digitization to build new businesses in the online space.

What is a Digital Business?
A digital business is an online business venture that's built, run and grown on digital technology.

Characteristics of digital entrepreneurs

There are several distinct characteristics of digital entrepreneurs. They include:

  • Global vision: Visualizing how to globally grow an online business and reach scale.
  • Technological competence: Managing the digital tools and platforms on which a new business is built, and using this knowledge to strategize for growth.
  • Adaptability: Nimbly keeping up with constantly evolving technology and new additions to the online space.
  • Effective communication: Leading a team with different tasks to work toward a shared goal.
  • Open-mindedness: Staying open to new ideas and tools as technology changes and evolves.

Digital entrepreneurship vs. traditional entrepreneurship

There are a few similarities between both traditional entrepreneurship and digital entrepreneurship, such as having a strong business idea and developing a solid business plan. However, these two types of entrepreneurship and approaches to business ownership differ in several significant ways. 

  Digital Entrepreneurship Traditional Entrepreneurship
Business Presence Online business Physical business
Business Model Does not need funding for brick-and-mortar space, but rather for development of digital tools and services Needs funding primarily for a physical space and tactile goods, rather than to build online
Marketing Strategies Relies more on social media and digital marketing to reach intended audience Can rely on social media and digital marketing but may also be helped by print advertising
Time Availability Business can be accessed 24/7 Business hours are confined to a specific time
Product Access Products and services accessed online versus in person Physical inventory accessed in person

Examples of digital entrepreneurship

There are many examples of digital entrepreneurship, especially as the breadth of online business continues to evolve and expand, and new tools and technologies emerge every day. There are seemingly endless opportunities for building an online business, so they're worth researching to find your best fit. Here are a few examples:

  • E-commerce businesses
  • E-books
  • YouTube channels
  • Blogs
  • Social media influencing
  • Online courses
  • Online content creation
  • Digital technologies
  • Digital services and consulting

Tips for digital entrepreneurs

Again, digital entrepreneurship is different from traditional entrepreneurship, so it may require a unique approach when you get started. Conducting thorough research into the digital business world can shed light on how to best begin a new business in the online space. 

The following essential tips can help entrepreneurs establish and further their own business ventures:

  • Find a niche: Create a business in a sector with a defined need and customer base and become an expert in that specialized space.
  • Build your brand's online presence: Create social media accounts and blogs, and update them consistently so customers have something new to engage with.
  • Create a user-friendly website: Your website will be your digital front door, so create a simple, mobile-friendly website that will give customers the information they're looking for.
  • Utilize email marketing: To reach customers where they are, consider creating an email newsletter to keep them up to date with your business. You may use offers to incentivize clients to work with you.
  • Develop your digital skills: Keeping your digital skills up to date will enable you to utilize new developments to keep your business appealing and competitive.
  • Explore partnerships: Once your business is established, think about exploring complementary businesses that operate in similar spaces to potentially open yourself up to new customers.
  • Provide strong customer service: As digital businesses don’t often interact with their clients in person, having an exceptional customer-service presence online is vital in keeping customers happy and loyal.

The bottom line

Similar to any other type of business venture, building an online business takes time, effort and patience. Starting your own business, however can be extremely rewarding and worth the risks. Digital entrepreneurship is one of the most exciting ways to take advantage of the most modern tools and build out uncharted possibilities.  


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