DIVERSIFYING EXPERTISE ON TEAMS IS KEY
Digital natives are heavily focused on content, and the majority of their team members are journalists. Yet there is clear evidence that adding even one person focused on driving revenue can make a significant difference on the bottom line.
Content-driven teams miss business opportunities
With few exceptions, the journalist-led digital natives in this study under-invest in sales and marketing, even when they have high enough traffic to suggest an advertising initiative could drive significant revenue.
Many complain they don’t have the money to hire sales staff, but the ones who do are reaping the benefits.
One of our most dramatic findings was the impact of hiring at least one sales person. When we compared the median revenues of those who reported having a paid sales person with those that don’t, the numbers speak for themselves:
The median revenues of ventures with at least one paid sales person: $117,000 per year.
The median revenues of those with no one dedicated to sales: $3,900 per year.
This finding was confirmed when we compared the overall structure of the teams at each of the four tiers identified in this study. The top two revenue tiers had a median of two people in sales, the bottom two had none.
Sweat equity supplements small budgets
Most of the media in this study can only afford a small staff, although some benefit from volunteers and alliances. The median number of employees across the study was 13, but their teams range from one to 172, although not all are full-time employees.
Again, there were a couple of outliers, including Linguoo, which because their crowd-voicing model draws on more than 160 people who read information for their audio news service.
Because most of the digital natives in this study were launched with little or no initial investment, it is fair to assume most have relied on the sweat equity of their founders, at least in their first few years.
Some of these journalists turned digital media entrepreneurs seem willing to work for little or no financial compensation for years at a stretch. The problem is that means they also have no working capital, and they are more vulnerable to closure because of financial pressure.
Founders have little experience in business, yet they are often the only one driving revenue
Most of the founders interviewed for this study have backgrounds in journalism or other social sciences, and 44% of them are the only member of the team working on building the business.
The following represents the professional experience reported by founders:
53% Journalism, communication, content production
20% Business, marketing, or administration
12% Humanities, literature, social sciences (political science, sociology, etc.)
11% Web technology
4% Audio visual production, design
These findings strongly suggest that you could improve the odds of success for a large percentage of the digital entrepreneurs in the region by providing training in business, sales, marketing, and management.