Being an entrepreneur is tough. Not only do you have to run your business – with all the administrative, financial and legal implications that entails – you also have to market your business too. Research conducted by Heavy Chef and xneelo within the Heavy Chef entrepreneur community shows that 46% of e-commerce entrepreneurs rate their marketing and sales skills as poor to average. This should come as no surprise. People with the vision to become entrepreneurs have probably not spent a lot of time working on their sales and marketing skills as they’ve been too busy hatching their great idea. And yet sales and marketing are an integral part of any e-commerce entrepreneur’s success.

46% of e-commerce entrepreneurs rate their marketing and sales skills as poor to average.

Heavy Chef E-commerce Entrepreneur Education report

Digital marketing is, at its core, simply using your website as your primary marketing tool. So it’s important to ensure your website is as cohesive and compelling as possible. Luckily, there are three questions that any entrepreneur – marketing savvy or not – can ask themselves to set their business on the right track.

Why would people visit your website?

For your website to be the hub of your marketing efforts, you need to differentiate your business from your competitors and give your customers a reason to visit. If you’ve developed a content marketing strategy, where you offer helpful industry insights, top tips or advice that you know your visitors need, that could be your differentiator. If you’ve found a way to solve a problem – by aggregating information, or displaying it in a simpler way – then that could be the difference. It’s important that you can answer the question: what makes our website different?

How will they find your website?

Next we turn to value – and how people will understand your website’s value. First they need to find you, which means you need to either invest in the content marketing strategies mentioned above, in Google ads, or focus on social media to grow your reach. Remember that value doesn’t only mean price. While your competitors might have a different pricing model, you could offer them a more seamless process, a greater sense of trust, or better quality.

How does your website make their lives better?

And finally, meaning. The most important point of all. Does your website offer a cohesive brand experience that provides value to your customers? How do you make their lives better, or easier? This is when it’s essential to return to your roots and figure out why you started your business in the first place, what difference you wanted to make in people’s lives. Are you clearly expressing that on your website’s home page? Can you immediately share that information as soon as people interact with your brand, in a way that feels authentic and natural?

52% of entrepreneurs wished they had invested earlier in their ability to use digital tools and innovated to market their products better online.

Heavy Chef E-commerce Entrepreneur Education report

A digital toolbox

Once you’ve pondered over these questions, it’s time to leverage the tools needed to bring your vision to life. The Heavy Chef E-commerce Entrepreneur Education report revealed that 52% of entrepreneurs wished they had invested earlier in. Here are a few of our favourite digital tools that entrepreneurs can use to their advantage.

●        A website for your business: if you choose a trusted web hosting partner, they’ll enable your business to grow and empower you toreach your digital potential.

●        Easily create social media graphics: Canva is an easy-to-use tool that can help you do that, as long as you don’t just use their templates without adding your own touch.

●        Coordinated project management: If you’re looking for coordinated project management within your team, Google Workspace is an excellent place to start. Once you’ve mastered it, you can start adding on other Google tools to help you grow your business.

●        Project planning tool: Keeping track of all those projects, and their deadlines, is also essential. That’s where a project planning tool like Asana, Trello or comes in.

●        Spreadsheet tool: For those who grew up speaking Excel, a simple spreadsheet will work. But for those who are looking for more of a visual interpretation of their data – or an opportunity to search via different (colour-coded!) filters, a tool like Airtable might be more helpful.

●        Newsletter: Hubspot’s report on email marketing said that 64% of small businesses use email marketing to reach customers, and 4 out of 5 marketers said they’d rather give up social media than email marketing! Mailchimp remains the most popular option, and offers a free service up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends a month.

Start your digital marketing strategy today

While it might feel intimidating to have to master digital marketing on top of all the other things on your To Do List, this is one area in which effort really does result in reward. You don’t have to master it all in one go, but if you can answer these three big questions about your brand and website, and start using a few of the simple digital tools we’ve outlined, you’ll be well on your way to success.

The Heavy Chef E-Commerce Entrepreneur Education report was created by the Heavy Chef Foundation and xneelo to map out the learning needs of e-commerce entrepreneurs in South Africa.

 “Xneelo is passionate about enabling South African entrepreneurs

with the tools and knowledge they need to create and grow their businesses. We’re proud to be associated with Heavy Chef and their community of entrepreneurs. We believe that every successful business creates a multiplier effect for society to thrive,” says xneelo CEO, Philip Delport.

To download a copy of the report visit