Building any start-up into a successful business is a challenge, including tech start-ups. There was a time when tech was the most popular industry to start a business in, but thanks to this boom, there is now a lot of competition. If you’re developing a new product or technology, then your company needs to stand out and be well run if it’s going to survive and succeed. There are common obstacles that all tech start-ups will face. Here are some tips to help you, whether you’re ready to launch a start-up or are stuck in a rut with an existing one.
Create A Business Plan But Be Prepared To Steer Away From It
In the traditional business world, it is highly recommended that you spend the time creating a proper business plan, to give you a road map to get your business going. In the tech industry, things are more relaxed but is a good idea to get something on paper even if it isn’t a standard business plan.
A good compromise would be to create a presentation of around ten slides that clearly lays out the problem your company aims to solve, the solution you’ve come up with, your business model, how you’re going to reach your goals, the competition, and similar subjects. This can be adjusted as you grow and can be used to refocus you on your goals, or as a quick guide to your company for potential investors or partners.
Figure Out A Distribution Strategy Once You Have An Idea
When you have an idea that you’re excited about, try not to jump straight in. Before you get started, make sure you have a few ways to grow your business planned out. There’s no point in coming up with a great idea if you can’t get it in front of people. For the fastest growth, you will need to work out how you can get your product or service in front of as many people as possible for the least amount of effort. Could you partner with another company and use its user base. For this to work, your product needs to offer something for the other business in order for you to secure a deal that works for both of you.
Use A Law Firm That Will Defer Their Fees Until You Raise Investment Capital
Some legal services can be paid for on a one-off basis, but these fees can add up quickly. A good way to keep your budget manageable when you’re starting out is to find a law firm that will allow you to defer their fees until you have investment capital raised. Expect there to be a cap on how much you can defer, but even a little helps.
Speak to a few firms who offer a program like this for start-ups, and choose the one you are most comfortable working with. This is a good way to stretch your budget when you have limited resources at the beginning.
Make Sure You’re Building Something That Customers Actually Want
It’s essential for any business to get feedback from your customer base. There’s no point in building something that nobody wants to use. You can get customer feedback in lots of different ways such as feedback tools like surveys, analytical tracking tools, or purchase decisions. However, you choose to gather feedback, make sure you do it, and use the information that you get back to help to develop and improve your offering.
Make It Easy For Customers To Contact You
Start-ups can be inaccessible to their customers, which is a mistake. Customers need to be able to reach you with questions, concerns, and complaints. Being able to talk to your customers also makes it easier for you to get their feedback.
Put a ‘contact us’ box on your website, or have a chatbox on an app. Set up social media channels and keep an eye on them. Set up a business email, and list a phone number on your website. In the early days, don’t worry about a complex phone system. A mobile on an affordable plan like a SMARTY sim is fine to get you started.
Build A Moat
Moats were used to prevent enemy access to a castle. Think of your business as your castle, and the moat is something different you have that your competitors do not. The moat could be a patent on a special feature you create, an exclusive distribution deal or your large customer base. It should be something that your competitor can’t replicate quickly. Whatever your moat is, build one.
Get The Right Systems In Place
A small business takes as much work to build as a big one. The only difference is the approach. If you’re trying to build a big business, you need to think about how your business can be scaled and replicated with compromising on the level of service you can provide as a small business. To do this, you need systems in the core fabric of your business as a template, as if you were building a franchise. This keeps things consistent, whether you layout the correct way to make a sales call or how to acquire a new customer. These systems need to be consistent, predictable, and excellent.
Trademark Your Company Name
Your brand is important, and another company exploiting your name can be very damaging. If you want your company to become a brand that people recognize, you need to protect it. File a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is easy to do once USPTO has searched their database to check that your company name is not already in use. Doing this stops someone else from using it.
Use Equity As Currency
In the early days of a startup when you don’t have much budget, you can offer equity in exchange for professional services. Create an employee stock option plan to encourage top potential employees to apply to work for you. Be careful when you do this though. If you think your business is going to be successful and worth a lot of money, give away equity sparingly, so you’re the one who benefits most from your success. Speak to an attorney for advice on the best way to use equity as an employee incentive or in lieu of cash for services.
Don’t Expect Others To Be Able To Sell If You Can’t
As the founder of a startup, you need to be able to sell. Sales can be difficult, especially if it isn’t where your natural talents lie. However, sales are something you must learn as a business founder. As the founder, you know your business and product best, so if you can’t sell it, you can’t expect anyone else to be able to either.
Sales skills will be needed for selling your product, securing investors, attracting employees. Learn to handle rejection, as unfortunately, hearing no is all part of selling.
Take Hiring Slowly To Find The Right People
Hiring employees is one of the biggest decisions you will make as the founder of a company. If you’re trying to fill a position in the company, take your time. This might mean keeping your own workload high for a while but hiring is best done slowly. The people you hire will separate you from your competition. Hiring the right people preserves your company culture, as well as getting you someone who will be the best person for the job.
When hiring, create a checklist to make the process into a system. This will help you to shortlist candidates. You should be using rigorous screening and interview questions to find the best employees who will fit the company and the job role.
Empower Your Employees
After that careful hiring, you should have a team of capable individuals. If you don’t, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. Of all the candidates you interview, only hire the very best who will help you to grow your business. You need to empower these people to use their skills and expertise. Trust them to do their best, and empower them to make decisions and tackle problems on their own. Remember why you hired them in the first place, and step back and let them work.
Being a business owner means you can create your own company culture, so make some room for enjoyment. If coming to the office is enjoyable, you’ll have a more motivated team and feel more motivated yourself as well. Build exciting products, arrange team lunches, go on team-building days, have beers on a Friday, and find ways to engage with your team outside of meetings. Taking things too seriously can limit creativity, so while you should be working hard, you should make some room in your day for some fun and games. Positive company culture is good for morale and staff retention, so it is well worth making the effort to do. It won’t limit how much work gets done if you balance things properly.