Anyone who decides to launch their own company is bound to experience challenges along the way, and these challenges will all be different depending on what sector you decide to tap into.
For me, I knew launching a tech start-up in one of the most exciting and rapidly changing industries would be an exciting prospect. I knew I was bound to make mistakes but also understood the importance of learning and developing from them.
If you are thinking of starting your own business in the tech space, here are six key steps I’ve learned on my journey, turning a ground-breaking idea into a fast-growing and successful tech business.
1. Ask yourself why
‘Why?’ is one of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself. If you wholeheartedly understand why you are working to achieve your business goals, then you will find the motivation and resilience to succeed.
In business, interrogating the pros and cons behind every decision before you make it is key. It might seem an obvious thing to do, but it’s incredible how quickly logic and due diligence like that can go out the window, particularly in a fast-moving industry or sector where you feel beholden to think and move fast to stay ahead of the game.
Teaching yourself to constantly ask, ‘Why?’ – both of yourself but also of those around you – at least allows you to objectively explore the advantages and disadvantages of any situation, whether it’s a long-term goal you’re working towards or a seemingly simple day-to-day decision.
Self-awareness like that goes a long way in enabling you to keep a cool head, and you’d be surprised just how naturally staying on your desired path towards your objectives follows.
2. Know your audience
It’s surprising how many entrepreneurs start a business without really defining who the business is aimed at. Again, it might seem obvious, but it’s vital to understand exactly who your target market is and the most effective way to reach it.
Demographics can be diverse, but having a good understanding of your audience’s age, gender and roughly where they live in turn tells you how your product or service can appeal to them, and therefore how to sell to them.
This is crucial information that must factor into any decision made, particularly on how to spend your money and the routes to take when marketing your business. Adopting a customer-centric approach is something I’d always advocate – whether it’s running customer insights workshops or capturing data when they buy or enquire about your service.
As a business, investing time into your customers and their opinions shows you care and stand for something, and can also bring about some objective revelations you’re too close to the business to see by yourself.
3. Find your USP
If you don’t have a USP, you might as well shut up shop now and save yourself the trouble and risk of launching a business.
Whatever sector you’re in, there’s so much competition that it’s incredibly difficult to stand out even if you do have something unique to offer. It could be an innovative product, a novel approach to dealing with your customers, or even a one-of-a-kind hire on your C-suite that shows what you stand for.
If you’re struggling to define what this is yourself, it’s going to be even trickier to help your customers understand and ultimately to sell your product.
To put it into perspective, we launched Shift into the crowded ‘man and van’ marketplace – needless to say there’s untold amounts of competition.
But we knew our differentiator from the very start and we stand by it: we’re changing the way people think about moving, and for the first time, we’re simultaneously empowering Britain’s self-employed workforce to take back control over their working lives, whilst enabling Brits to move anything, literally anywhere, at any time. All at the touch of a button. Who could argue with that?
4. How you plan is critical
It’s important for any business to have both short and long-term goals to measure success and ensure the continued growth and development of your idea – and it’s key that these goals are realistic.
Think of it as being on a diet. If you set yourself unattainable goals in unattainable time frames, you’ll quickly become disheartened and you won’t make any progress. It’s the exact same in business.
Setting out milestones against objectives enables you to have a clear sense of purpose with realistic timelines for success.
In my experience, one trick I’ve picked up is planning towards a realistic goal whilst also having a contingency in place that allows for growth that’s five times bigger than what we’d anticipate achieving. It allows us to be realistic and at the same time offers us a scalable solution for the business.
For me, listening and taking on board advice from others is one of the most vital things that’s continuing to drive my business forward. Without that guidance, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
I’d advise any entrepreneur to have a mentor that can offer an external view on their business, but also act as a close confidante. There are ever increasing decisions that have to be made when running a business, and to have someone who has a wealth of knowledge operating in a business can bring an entirely new perspective that you could have missed.
Being an entrepreneur comes with challenges, so it can work to your advantage to listen to the advice of someone with more experience and insight into how your business can develop.
6. Be flexible
You should always allow a certain level of flexibility in order to let your business adapt and keep up with your key competitors. It’s important to accept when you need to change direction, and not see this as a failure of your previous strategy.
The ability to react quickly to a changing market in a world where technology is evolving every single day is vital. In order to keep your tech business afloat, you must already be one step ahead of the game, and ensure your company and products are adaptable and ready to evolve too.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Jacob Corlett, CEO and founder of innovative tech start up, Shift, the UK’s on-demand shifting service for people on the move.
More help on starting a business
ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of starting, funding and running your own business. Check out some of our most popular guides;
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- 10 advantages running your business as a limited company has over being a sole trader
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- Preparing to raise finance for your business – 6 Steps to success
- 5 Ways to unlock finance for your startup
- How to prepare your business for crowdfunding
- 6 Things you need to know before launching a crowdfunding campaign for your business
- How to finance your new business – funding advice for start-ups
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- Use this 12-Step Action Plan to stop customers from paying you late
- A Guide to business credit cards and using them as a short term funding solution
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- How NOT to Network – 7 Business networking mistakes to avoid
- Making your small business a BIG hit online – A Digital marketing guide for small business owners
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