From Zero to Hero: Independent Imers, And Keeping the Economy Moving Forward

With only Rp 200,000.00 in his hands, Anton used it as an investment for design an advertising campaign through the Facebook Ads platform. Anton the founder of WOU Group, has successfully achieved a minimum of 11,000 orders in a month from the batik and fashion product sales sector. Initially, Anton started his business by only taking photos of batik products from various suppliers. He then promoted his products (which then were only in photos) through Facebook Ads. His effort paid off, and the products were sold effectively. Fashion products such as gamis and hijabs were able to reach sales levels up to 2000 packages per day, while sales of batik products reached 300 packages per day. Today, WOU Group has grown into a company with a total of 67 employees working under Anton’s leadership.

Anton’s success story in reaching his pinnacle of success has sparked a fundamental question, do we have the potential to become the next “Anton”.

Anton is part of a new phenomenon that has emerged and grown rapidly over the past 20 years called Imers. Imers or internet marketers are one of the million waves of economic reformers who are profiting by utilizing internet technology. Although the definition may vary, in a simple terms Imers is someone who starts an internet marketing business by advertising various kinds of products owned by others on the internet through Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and email. Imers as a profession is not as popular as other professions but it provides a great opportunity to achieve success for anyone who can master the strategy. Not only that, Imers is able to grow its business in a faster period of time compared to conventional business models. Imers’ ingenuity lies in the business scale-up mindset that accelerates the success of achieving billions of turnover in a relatively short period of time, namely 1-3 years.

However, not all Imers who start from scratch can be like Anton, many of them remain stuck at a meager income and non increasing monthly turnover. So the question arises whether there is a roadmap that can help someone start their imers journey to reach Anton’s status? What would the stages be and what would become the problems during the journey.  

To get answers on how Imers can grow from Zero to Hero, Evermos collaborated with Center of SME Movement (Cosmos) to interview various Imers. From those interviews can be found that there is a real pattern that Imers go through to be able to “upgrade” from one stage of Imers to the next stage. Each stage promises significant increase in Imers’ monthly turnover. These stages are:

  1. The Hit-and-Run: the hit-and-run
  2. The Survivor: the Survivor
  3. The Pioneer
  4. The Rising: the New Challenger
  5. The Challenger: a challenger to mainstream businesses

Currently, based on Industry insight, it is estimated that the number of Imers activists is close to 25,000 individuals, and what is also interesting is that out of all Imers, very few individuals can reach the Challenger level. Referring to the data that we have collected from Evermos (2023), almost 95% of individuals are stuck at the Hit and Run stage followed by The Survivor with 4.5%. The ratio gets even smaller for The Pioneer, which is only able to collect 0.42%. The remaining stages, The Rising and The Challenger are each at 0.03% of the total population in the world of Imers. The significant difference in the percentage of each stage raises another question regarding the background of what caused this to happen.

Figure 1. Imers’ Life Stages and full profile of each stage

Based on the graph above, the career path of Imers is divided based on the average monthly turnover range. The exponential blue line shows Imers’ average monthly turnover. The fluctuating green line illustrates the fluctuation of Imers’ monthly income. At the beginning of Imers’ career, precisely at the Hit and Run, Survivor, and Pioneer stages, Imers’ income tended to be unstable and experienced many ups and downs. Over time, Imers who can survive through this unstable phase will find an equilibrium point at the Rising and Challenger stages. Meanwhile, the information that wants to be shown through the red line is information related to the crucial point for Imers who are experiencing a downfall. At that point, Imers must immediately move on to “upgrade” to the next stage because the potential for bankruptcy at that point is quite high. 

As explained above, there are five stages of Imers’ career until it reaches the equilibrium point of average monthly turnover. In order, these stages are Hit and Runner, Survivor, Pioneer, Rising, and Challenger. Each stage has a different profile and characteristics. In this article, we will discuss the profile and characteristics of Imers, the challenges faced, and the key success factors at each stage of Imers. 

The Hit and Run

The first stage is the hit-and-run stage. At this stage, Imers is still running all of her businesses alone because the turnover generated is still minimal, which ranges between 0 – 100 million Rupiah per month. Imers still act only as a dropshipper or reseller who sells a variety of goods without having a superior product focus. Most of the capital allocation is used to advertise products on FB Ads and Google Ads and look for superior products. Imers’ mindset at this stage revolves around generating turnover shortly soon, selling overclaimed goods without thinking about cash flow and the sustainability of the business. Very rarely do Imers have a team at this stage because they are not too aware of the importance of a solid team and still don’t have much experience in internet marketing. Typically, an Imers will form a team of no more than 3 people consisting of customer service and admin.

The Survivor

The next stage is the survivor stage. In this second stage, Imers started to grow and have a team although most of them only consisted of Customer Service and Admin. This zone is a critical zone for Imers. If it wants to survive, Imers must start thinking about a more progressive strategy and start thinking about pioneering its products. If it does not immediately get out of this zone, Imers’ business will likely fail at this stage. The interview results show that most Imers at this stage still act as dropshippers and resellers, but the product categories offered have begun to focus on certain products only and there is already a target to have their products. Imers at this stage already have an awareness of the importance of a neat cash flow. 

The Pioneer

The Pioneer stage is the third stage of all Imers stages. Imers is no longer struggling to find superior products but has focused on developing its products/trademarks. Armed with enough experience and knowledge, Imers dare to develop products and teams massively and progressively. Some of the imers we met, already have cooperation with Maklon to be able to meet large-scale market demand. The largest capital allocation is for product development. Significant obstacles they face at this stage include limited production capacity and distribution of goods, in some cases, it was found that products from Imers The Pioneer were counterfeited by certain individuals.

The Rising

One of the final stages of an Imers is in the Rising stage. Imers at this stage have a similar feel to SMEs where the focus of their business is on developing their products and slowly stopping selling products from other manufacturers. At this stage, Imers has already partnered with several makers to meet the growing market demand while pioneering the construction of their factory. For some Imers, they already have offline stores spread across several regions in Indonesia. The biggest capital allocation is for product development and updating production technology. The biggest problem they face is fighting against syndicates that counterfeit their products. This is because their products already have a big name and guaranteed quality. 

The Challenger

The peak stage of an Imers ends at The Challenger stage At this peak stage, the products sold by Imers have become top-of-mind products because they are driven by strong branding. Not only producing one or two superior products but having several downstream products sold. Quite often at this level, Imers is already a corporate group. Offline stores of Imers products can be found in major cities in Indonesia. Imers’ business target is very ambitious, which is to dominate the domestic market. Most of the capital allocation is used for product development research and updating production technology. The business at this level is quite stable because all of its essential systems have been maximally fulfilled. Obstacles faced at this stage 

Before the imers industry, it would have been impossible to imagine business growth as fast as Anton has achieved without the need for large capital. However, the advent of the imers industry opened up a wider range of opportunities for individuals. While the initial capital required has become more affordable, it does not mean that growth in the imers industry is simple. In this context, it requires individuals who are diligent and willing to adapt to emerging developments continuously. 

However, the success of the Imers industry does not only affect the individuals involved, it also has the potential to increase local production in partnership with Imers. This is especially important in Indonesia, where many MSMEs need help in growing their business due to a lack of understanding of market desires or the ability to read trends. These two shortcomings of MSMEs are precisely the key capabilities of successful Imers, so collaboration between Imers and local MSMEs has the potential to increase Indonesia’s economic growth. Therefore, the key to improving Indonesia’s competitiveness in the global business world may be through Imers. 


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