Inspired Minds Want to Know

What does it take to get inspired to start an online business?  This is a question I asked three entrepreneurs who have started e-businesses?  Each of the businesses varies greatly, but they all utilize an online platform by which to reach their audience.

Patrice Morgan, a seasoned entrepreneur started ShowOff Magazine as an in print periodical in 2004 and went on to launch the magazine online in 2009.  Patrice stated she was inspired to start her online business because she “wanted to increase accessibility for people who could not get a physical copy of the magazine.  The magazine focused of fashion and lifestyle trends for Bermuda’s youth.  Patrice indicated that being online allowed her “to reach a broader market especially college students and others who were away in school.”  This foray into the online arena and her passion for fashion encouraged Patrice to continue her entrepreneurial journey by establishing Bermuda Born her online market for hand crafted leather goods in 2013.  Currently, Patrice is utilizing Facebook as a means to interact with her customer and introduce products to them with plans to develop a full website www.bermudaborn.com.  Although Patrice admits that an online business is “financially a lot easier to start because there is no high cost of rent” she cautions that it is also a lot more work because “you have to utilize various mediums to let people know that you are online and it can be a lot more work to keep your presence on the web alive.”  The competition is greater because you are not just competing locally you are competing with the world.”

E-trepreneur, Courtney Bushner, started her online business out of a need to create a flexible source of income that allows her time to spend with her young son.  She stated that “Online businesses don't have the same constraints as a brick and mortar store, especially for start ups. People have access to your information 24/7 and it’s visible from any location. Also, it doesn't tend to take as much time or money to get things up and running.”  Courtney took a leap of faith and entered the Rocket Pitch Competition run by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) during Global Entrepreneurship Week in 2013 to launch her business, Odd Jobber, an online marketplace for vendors and freelancers.  She competed in the Rocket Pitch business idea competition and came second.  Courtney stated “I am really proud of myself for entering the BEDC Rocket Pitch Competition and maintaining my drive for making my dream a reality.   Hopefully I can inspire others to do the same.” Shortly after launching her business, Courtney faced something all entrepreneurs face – competition.  Another similar website with a similar name was launched; however this did not deter her.  Courtney, re-focused, partnered with talented marketing agency, the Orasi Group and set out to re-launch and rebrand her business.  The new business, www.Cahoot.bm , provides vendors and freelancers with the same opportunity to showcase their wares, but with increased functionality to sell and advertise.  Courtney advised “the hardest thing is the "starting" process.  It’s been a year and it still feel like I'm still in the "starting" phase but consistency is key.  Remember that sticking to it will be worth it in the end.”

Get Into Bermuda with Nhuri Bashir who not only was inspired to start one eBusiness but several.  Nhuri’s first online venture, www.travelerspricecard.com, a Bermuda based tourist incentive program, was inspired out of necessity.  He stated “I was passionate about business and recognized that the best avenue to connect with my audience and for sales is through the web.  Our target customer is typically off island planning their vacation; therefore, in order for our product to reach those persons abroad planning to visit it was necessary for us to set up our main presence online.”   I asked Nhuri how he knew that his business was a success.  He shared that “Traveler's Price Card had the opportunity to work with The Natwest Island Games by providing specialized discounts for all of the visiting participants. It was awesome to see hundreds of people walking around with the product in-hand and using it. Also, working with larger local tourism vendors like Fantasea Cruises has broadened our reach to hundreds of tourists on a weekly basis during the summer months. I think that local companies/organizations working together and mutually benefiting is always a success story.”

Continuing on his e-trepreneurial path, Nhuri has joined forces with partner Andrew Kirkpatrick (www.burnthousepro.com) to form INTO Bermuda (well known for producing the "Bermuda Happy video" that went viral with over 200k hits). INTO Bermuda is now the parent company for both Traveler's Price Card and Burnt House Productions and aims to take marketing Bermuda to the next level. Nhuri shares some words of advice to inspire future e-trepreneurs stating - "Do it smart" - research, plan, test and implement.  The time that you spend at the drawing board will save you time trying to fix things. Also, start a business around something that you are passionate about. Without passion then when the times get tough you will quit.”

All three of these e-trepreneurs represent examples of individuals who were inspired to follow their dreams.  I hope the experiences shared in this article inspire future e-trepreneurs to seize the opportunity today to make their e-treprenurial dreams a reality. 

For more information about starting a business visit www.bedc.bm or www.inspireebusiness.bm.

Jamillah Lodge is a Business Development Officer for Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. She specializes in providing aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with business development advice and loan guarantee assistance.