Scaling a Digital Products Business from The Ground Up
with Francis Wolff
with guest Francis Wolff #MakingBank S5E50
In the world of entrepreneurship, tapping into affiliate marketing and digital products can be highly lucrative in today’s virtual landscape. Often, the challenge is less about how to simply generate income, and more about how to grow your business without hiccups while your income scales.
Francis Wolff is the CEO and co-founder of Digistore24, one of the world’s largest automated reseller and affiliate marketing platforms. He has valuable experience in digital advertising, email marketing, and affiliate product launches, and is an international partner to 15 of the United States’ top digital publishing brands. In 2020, Francis helped grow Digistore’s sales to eight figures per month.
During his interview on Making Bank, Francis shares the innovative ways of thinking that led him to license, translate, and distribute digital products in France, Spain, and Germany before recently expanding into the United States. Instead of painstakingly researching and perfecting a digital offer of his own, Francis rallied a network of like-minded partners and businessmen to bring the best existing digital offers into international markets. From dealing with translation, to the technical side of digital business, to growing sales and HR teams, to thinking out of the box to keep scaling during the pandemic, Francis shares his top tips and personal experiences to help digital products businesses scale and grow with abundant success.
Make Business Your Business
Having a strong foundation and grasp for the basics will pay dividends as your business grows. If you’re starting from nothing but sweat equity and you’re not raising capital, you’ll need to learn to “bootstrap” to scale efficiently, as Francis says. He shares, “It’s much harder to bootstrap and scale a business than it is to start out with a pile of money and decide what to spend it on in order to grow.” Growing a business and setting yourself up for graceful scaling is as tactical as a chess game: you need to be thinking ten moves ahead, your risks should be carefully calculated, and you’ve got to be able to prioritize so you know where to make sacrifices.
Maintain momentum by flexing your entrepreneurial muscles and thinking about creative problem solving for any hurdles along the way. Francis shares how, in the early days of Digistore, his girlfriend was able to translate their digital offers into French. But as the company grew, they learned that working with seasoned professional translators was a big expense for their bootstrap operation. Instead, they often trained native speakers themselves to become new translators for Digistore which was more cost-effective while they were growing.
To Niche, or Not to Niche
Midway through his interview, Francis weighs the pros and cons for committing to a smaller niche versus appealing to a broader demographic.
Having a smaller niche is great for jumpstarting growth, especially if you can take full command of that market and independently resolve all the pain points that niche may be facing. However, the smaller and more specific the niche, the more challenging it can be to scale over time. An angle with more mass appeal will put you up against more competition, but opens you up for more rapid scaling. All things considered, while reflecting on his past business experiences, Francis says, “Knowing what I know now I’d much rather go into a market that has mass appeal than something that’s very laser focused.”
Of course, if you can capitalize on the best of both worlds, you might strike gold. Ask yourself, what are the pain points in your market that aren’t being addressed by anyone? Francis got the idea to start Digistore24 when he noticed how saturated and lucrative the United States’ digital products market was, and how simultaneously, no one was really bringing those offers to the German digital products market. By licensing the best US offers for translation and distribution in Germany, Digistore24 was born, therefore solving a hole in the market no one else had figured out how to fill yet.
Focus on the Wins
As an entrepreneur, it’s all too easy to focus on what’s not working, but that’s a “really quick way to lose your shirt,” according to Francis. Your priority should always be to focus on what’s working well, where is business thriving, which processes are working the best, and continue to expand and improve those aspects.
Francis knows the two main pain points for anyone in the digital products realm is the drive to gain more affiliates, and the desire to have a ready-made and efficient process for continued growth, without needing to reinvent the wheel. Those are the two pain points Francis and his co-founders set out to solve with Digistore’s platform; it’s truly made for scaling. He proudly shares about its potential for digital products businesses, “Digistore is a platform where you can literally take a business from $50K a month to $500K a month to $5M a month without any major hiccups.”
From learning to bootstrap and make strategic decisions as you grow, to committing to a platform like Digistore24 to help you scale gracefully and quickly, cultivating a lucrative digital products business can be a labor of love. With the right leadership, niche strategy, and business sense, your company can dominate any digital market, even if you start with zero capital on day one.