Facilitator Themba Jay

Business as we know it has always existed in a state of change. From bartering economies, to colonialism and industrial revolutions – major shifts in human society have always been succeeded by changes in the way people do business. 

A History of Currency in East Africa (from the-star.co.ke)

Today, with a digital revolution disrupting everything from the way we shop, to the way we deal with our issues as a society (#Cancelled: Read about it) – organizations like Digify Africa  are changing the world by empowering young Africans with the digital resources and skills to shape their society. 

The Path to Digital:

Whether you’re putting an offline business -> online or starting digitally and hoping to grow into something with a tangible presence, the endless benefits of embracing modern technology could propel your hustle to the future.

To get you there faster, from Digify Africa – here is A 10-Step Guide To Unlocking Your Digital Business:

1. Lay The Groundwork 

As with anything, you need to get clued up before you go digital. If you’re innovating, make sure you don’t “invent” something that has been around since 2002.  Otherwise, researching the successes and failures of similar businesses will help you bridge the experience gap quicker. 

E.g. If you’re starting a ride-sharing service; research what Uber & Taxify have learnt from doing business in this sector.

2. Bring Whatever You Have

Bring whatever business, professional or personal insight/ experience you have – and adapt that for digital. Working in retail can put you in the best position to creatively improve those processes and start your own digital retail business.

3. Collaborate

Form mutually beneficial relationships with other entrepreneurs where you can share skills, contacts and grow each others’ businesses with what you already have.

4. Don’t Limit Your Options

It may seem like there are a limited number/ type of digital business models, but as far as we know, anything can be adapted to digital – as long as the structures to support it are available.

Content. Influence. eCommerce. Advertising...

5. Mind your Business

With so many interactions, data and digital are almost inseparable. Staying informed about your business’ records, statistics and other figures will be crucial to your pitches and early discovery of problem areas.

6. Image Is Everything

Present yourself in a way that fits your business goals. Be it the way you speak or operate, ‘the face of your business’ will always be challenged to stand out in a pool of infinite opportunity.

“I rented a digital office in Sandton to have a credible business address.” –Goodness Mashala

7. Make Every Team Member Count

Work with valuable team players and not friends. With limited spots on your team, fill them with specialised skills, at the proficiency required by your business. 

E.g. A friend who was ‘good’ at Accounting in high school, (may or) may not be the best person to handle the books of your business.

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Lead

Don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers or hold people accountable. Business is not a popularity contest. 

9. Learn Your Environment

Prepare to enter new environments/ industries with their own politics and relationships.

I didn’t even know there was “travel blogger’s community”, but I was already being ostracised for speaking out on social issues within the industry. - Katchie Nzama

10. Marketing

  • Living in your head is dangerous, you need to know what’s happening outside of your digital bubble. Study your market and focus on their needs, you can’t be everything to everyone!
  • With social media audiences spoilt for choice, sharing authentic experiences (not aesthetics) could help you connect with your audience further.

E.g. Even if your travel content is not the most glamorous, it could be exactly what your target audience relates to.

And Finally… You, The Fearless Leader:

I’ve never understood how someone can only have two days to themselves in a whole week. –Boitumelo Rametsi

  • Protect your health
  • Have a strong work ethic
  • Focus on personal development
  • Develop a self-starter attitude
  • Learn to welcome rejection
  • Prepare yourself for the stresses of modern business, multiplied by access to the entire planet.

Just as both money and bartering systems required the sharing of value, many of the general rules of entrepreneurship still apply to digital businesses. But just as the Industrial Revolution stretched the possibilities of production, transport and other factors, the digital landscape brings with it audiences and capabilities we’ve never dreamed of reaching.

Checkout digifyafrica.com to see how far they’re pushing Africa’s Digital Skills Economy. And don’t forget to hug @hivejoburg for more news, stories and everything you need to take YOUR hustle forward.

Written by: Lungelo Hlela (I am Multeemedia) // Images taken by: @dayphotolife

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Lungelo Hlela is a Digital Copywriter based in Johannesburg, South Africa. When he’s not writing for brands, most of his work includes themes about social issues, history and popular culture. Follow him @lungelosam for more of his existentialist ramblings and romantic ideals.

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