How to start a digital marketing business in South Africa

Discover what you need to know about starting a digital marketing business in South Africa.

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How can you start a digital marketing business in South Africa?

Times have changed. Today, if you think big and have the skills, you could start your own digital marketing business within months. Digital advertising is the way to go, seeing companies are spending vast amounts of money on this.

We spoke to Steve about his experiences starting his digital marketing business to inspire you to do the same.

Be motivated by what Steve had to say about starting his business.

What led you to start your own business?

"I was tired of struggling financially and I saw no other way of growing the way I felt that I needed to grow."

What personal qualities do you need to start your own business?

"You have to be honest, tough, curious, disciplined, enthusiastic, and not be scared to work hard."

Did you have an informal start to your business? 

"Yes, it was a side hustle for a while before it grew enough to sustain me full-time."

What challenges did you experience when starting your business?

"I had a few challenges. I struggled a lot to keep a balanced lifestyle. Getting the hang of the admin side of running a business is not fun. I was naive and too trusting in some cases."

Why did you choose to have a digital marketing business?

"I love digital marketing and I can't see myself doing anything else. I was just tired of making other people rich while I struggle."

What are the benefits of having your own business?

"There are a lot of benefits.

  • "Not having to commute to work and be stuck in traffic for hours five days a week.

  • "A higher earning potential compared to a full-time job.

  • "Flexibility - I once worked from a time zone that was 9 hours ahead of my clients in South Africa.

  • "No internal politics - you can just get on with your work and keep your clients happy.

  • "No one can hold you back."

Are there disadvantages to having your own business?

"Yes, you don't get sick leave and you are never 100% off days when on holiday.

"Also, you have to stretch yourself to learn new abilities, from client services to finance to technical-type services."

What advice do you have for starting a digital marketing business in South Africa?

  • "Have a dream and create a plan for you to make it happen.

  • "Be patient, work hard, and learn new things that empower you daily. Anything worthwhile takes time.

  • "Work your way to your ultimate goal a little bit every day.

  • "Choose a mentor in your industry who can inspire you and teach you the skills to grow.

  • "Don't let anybody crush your ambition. Be humble and kind, but it is not a crime to be ambitious.

  • "Believe in yourself even when those around you don't.

  • "Be the best at what you do.

  • "Never stop learning - continuously upskill yourself.

  • "Happiness comes from within the person you have always been.

  • "Make sure that you have a trustworthy and competent accountant."

How did you fund your business at the start?

“I didn't have any funding. My business funded itself.“

Learn more about small business funding

Read about business loans or other lending options.

What makes South Africa great for starting a business?

"South Africans have a can-do attitude and are generally friendly.

"There are three generations of entrepreneurship in my family in this country.

"You have the freedom to forge your own path in a place you call home."

Is it worth it to have your own small business in South Africa?

“Yes, it is. South Africa has its challenges but we always find a way to overcome them.”  

What security tips do you have to secure your office?

"I take security very seriously. I have double electric fencing, high walls and various alarm systems with armed response.

"I follow best practices for online security."

We had an interesting chat with Steve and we hope you enjoyed reading it.

Do you have unanswered questions? Keep reading to learn more.

Learn more about starting a digital marketing business

So you are thinking of starting your own digital marketing business? Find out more about how you could make it happen.

Get the skills you need

You can't wave a magic wand and instantly start a company. The best way to start is to have a job or two for a while to gain the necessary experience.

You’ve got to get the digital marketing world under your skin. Learn about designing ads and building landing pages so that you can provide great professional services.

First be a contractor and then a founder

While you have the security of a full-time job, it is good to do some contracting on the side for some time, obviously after hours and over weekends.

In this way, you can afford to make mistakes without losing your job.

You’ll learn how to build relationships. When the business becomes established, it makes it easier to become its founder.

Build a business model that suits you

Starting a digital marketing business involves how to invoice your clients.

Many digital marketers invoice their clients per hour but avoid this as it can start to fail if things become more complex.

Having a flat retainer involving a monthly fee is the most basic of all pricing models.

The percentage of spend model is most attractive to agencies because it takes care of the business growth (scalability) and growth potential of a client.

To become commission-based means you’ll only get paid when a client makes money from a sale.

But you’ll be fine as long as you keep it as simple as possible.

What’s your niche?

In the beginning, it’s difficult not to take on any business. Still, you need to specialise in one aspect to begin to stand out. In this way, you’ll develop your skills most effectively, and make that your selling point.

An advantage is that it also clearly describes your client. Remember, competition is fierce, with many low-quality agencies vying for work. Your developed niche will give you that competitive advantage you need.

How will you expand?

Don’t rush into opening an office - start off with baby steps. Gain experience first by managing your own accounts for a while. In this way, you’ll understand what it takes and so will be able to get the proper assistance later.

You’ll need to find out how to get hold of new clients. Avoid hiring an employee at an early stage of your business, but instead, it’s best to find contractors.

Many skilled people are out there who can help you with your work, which will free you up for important work facing you. These contractors may eventually become your full-time employees when your business has grown enough.

Do you want to know more about how to start a business?

Read more about starting businesses in South Africa.

Yoco, the champion of the underdog

We have the experience to help you, having assisted in the growth of 230 000 businesses across South Africa. And we will get the cash to flow to your business.

Will you take onsite card payments or use other online ways to get paid? We have a range of affordable card machines and other payment tools to choose from now. So, contact us and find out more.

Source: 5 Keys to Starting Your Own Digital Marketing Agency

Yoco Card Machines and Online Payments

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