You have already decided to undertake, and you believe that the digital platform offers the best possibilities to make your project take off. What’s next? Once you have defined your business model and turn, what are the next steps?
We talked with Jonathan Serrano, co-founder of beldot.com -an online gift table based on a crowd funding system-, about the keys that every entrepreneur should have in mind to start and consolidate his digital business.
1. Innovate, but do not take off the feet of the earth
In an environment as competitive as the current one, it might seem that innovating “just because” is the ultimate goal of any product or service. However, all innovation must start from a real need in the market. The creators of beldot.com took advantage of the high demand for virtual gift tables, but opted to give a twist to their project: they were based on a crowd funding model or collective financing. In this way, the guests contribute a certain amount of money, and at the end of the collection, the bride and groom receive the money in cash instead of the gifts in kind. “Many boyfriends do not like the idea of asking their guests for money, and prefer to do so through a website that conceals the situation. That’s where we come in, “explains Serrano.
2. Look for financing
Starting a business, even through a digital medium, can mean a strong investment: software development, site design, promotion campaigns in social networks, constitution expenses, hosting … There are currently several options for financing for technology startups, including crowdfunding and Venture Capital.
3. Go to any event that crosses your path
To obtain financial support, the creators of beldot.com went to Grupo Nummorum, an association that invests in technology startups. They met one of their representatives at Startup Drinks, a networking event organized in several cities in Mexico that takes place in Puebla every month. This person was interested in the project and provided funding for their marketing campaign, as well as support for the design of their site and advice.
4. Promote yourself with your friends, family and… all your acquaintances
At the beginning, a digital business must win the trust of the people, and this is only achieved with word of mouth recommendations.
At the dawn of a project, your acquaintances will play a very important role: they will test your product or service, they will offer you feedback and, if they feel satisfied with the result, they will share it with their own circle. In this way, they will become your main vehicle of promotion.
By launching the website, Serrano and its partners offered promotions to their friends who were married. They recommended the service to their own friends, and little by little, the circle expanded.
After about three months, the business began to walk and receive records of people who were not related to the founders.
5. Get to the idea that everyone will do everything
Of course, for a business to walk there must be a definition of roles. But at the beginning, the safest thing is that all team members have to do everything: solve technical issues, supervise accounting matters, answer emails, attend events, and deal with customers…
“At this stage the three partners still do everything. But the idea is that as the project takes shape, we can distribute the responsibilities, “explains the entrepreneur.
6. Hire an accountant
Save on what you can think of, but never on the administrative issue: this is the foundation of any business, and if it is not handled with all the care it deserves, it could tear down the entire project. If you do not have accounting knowledge, hire an accountant who has a thorough control of the income and expenses of the company, as well as tax payments. You will thank him later!
7. Win the trust of the people
This is one of the great challenges of the incipient businesses, and above all, of the technological startups. “The bride and groom and their guests trust large departmental stores, established businesses. Why would they give their money to a stranger? “Serrano and his partners asked themselves when undertaking. The strategy is, once again, to go to family and friends to recommend the business and thus form a kind of “chain of trust”.
8. Look for closeness with your customers
On the other hand, a digital business requires a great investment of time and effort to build a close relationship with customers. It is important that, even if they are never seen face to face, make them feel that behind the screen there are people of flesh and bone. Find a way to personalize the experience on your website, to give them confidence.
“At the beginning, on our site all communication with customers is by email. Once they create their gift table, I give them my cell phone and tell them they can call me whenever they want. I add them to WhatsApp and thus we maintain a constant and more personal communication”, explains Serrano.
9. Lean on digital tools
This is one of the great benefits of digital business: they can be managed from anywhere. But it can also be a double-edged sword if tasks are not well organized and close communication with the rest of the team is not maintained.
Digital tools are a must for every entrepreneur who works from home. The basic ones according to the creators of beldot.com? “Dropbox to share files, Evernote to organize our tasks and Slack to keep in touch”.
10. Form partnerships with agents in your field
Detect the authorities of your field, the so-called influencers, and approach them to establish alliances and expand the prestige of your brand. “We created an affiliate program that benefits both parties: we contacted wedding planners, photographers, florists, in short, people who are in the middle, and offered to collaborate with us. We give them a code and, if they recommend us with their clients, we give them a percentage of the profits. So we all win, “shares Serrano.
What other question do you consider basic when starting a digital business?