By: Keith Krach
Every year, a new crop of entrepreneurs seeks to leave its mark on an industry with seemingly infinite opportunities. They understand that along with these opportunities comes a fair amount of risk, as the digital landscape shifts on a regular and rapid basis. Because the tech industry is a difficult and often unpredictable one to navigate, startup owners can benefit from learning from the success and failure of others.
Entrepreneurs new to the tech industry should seek out as much information as possible, sift through it, and determine what will truly improve their company. With that in mind, here are few pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in the digital space to consider.
1. Understand the difference between a startup and a business.
Entrepreneurs should set the goal to develop their tech startup into a business as quickly as possible. A venture can’t stay in the “startup” phase forever — a company needs to arrive at a clear understanding of its product, its customer base, and how it makes money in order to grow. In the earliest stages, entrepreneurs are often confused about these things and may experiment with many different tactics or products. That’s natural — but for a company to scale, it needs a firm plan based a clear understanding of these critical aspects of its business.
2. Embrace the leap of faith.
Launching a new business does not happen without signing a dotted line, giving the green light, or taking the proverbial plunge. Entrepreneurs know this, but it can be daunting to make commitments, as there’s always an element of risk involved — nothing is for sure. However, entrepreneurs must make frequently make leaps of faith to keep moving forward. Accepting this fact early on will help them develop the fearlessness and courage they need to persevere, even when the going is tough.
3. Look for feedback at every turn.
Feedback plays a crucial role in any industry, and technology is no exception. Entrepreneurs should proactively seek out input on their ideas from the very beginning, and they should reach out with the same energy to their customers once their product or service has hit the market. Sometimes those who criticize the most will offer the best direction on how to improve.
4. Build a diverse team of employees.
One of the best ways that an entrepreneur can generate valuable feedback is to build a team of diverse individuals with unique educational, professional, and personal backgrounds. Having a wide variety of perspectives and opinions can be invaluable in the tech sector, where only the businesses that continually innovate are able to stay relevant.
5. Choose a manageable workload.
Entrepreneurs often wear many hats when their companies are very young, but they must determine where to set boundaries. Trying to do everything at once almost never works out well. Instead, entrepreneurs should establish a workload they can manage. This may involve outsourcing some functions, hiring more people, or investing in time- and money-saving digital platforms.
6. Truly learn from failures.
In Silicon Valley, business leaders and executives often extol the virtues of failure — “fail fast, fail often” is an oft-repeated mantra. It’s true that mistakes and missteps can yield invaluable lessons, but perhaps this focus on failure should be put in proper perspective. Failure only yields benefits when approached with genuine hope for eventual success. Take time to analyze what happened and why, and apply the lessons you’ve learned.
7. Avoid asking too much of the customer.
Some of the brightest and most talented individuals in the world work in the tech industry, and they are capable of creating technologies that represent giant leaps forward in terms of sophistication. When entrepreneurs set out to introduce a new product or service, however, they need to take into account how much it will ask of the customer. The best offerings serve as a sort of bridge toward the future — they provide an intuitive solution to real problems that customers face.
8. Invest in user experience.
In the digital age, user experience ranks among the most important elements of a product, yet many businesses still overlook it. Standing out in a highly competitive market like technology requires offering a truly authentic and genuine experience — and the foundation of this is making and keeping promises to your customers.
9. Practice pointing out the problem.
Successful entrepreneurs address a problem or a gap in the market. They either present an original fix or an improvement on their competitor’s. However, just as important as creating a solution is effectively pointing out the problem. Some problems aren’t even perceived as such because people don’t realize that a better alternative is possible. People won’t pay for a solution if they don’t see a problem, so it’s important to learn how to articulate problems to your potential customers.
10. Constantly stoke your curiosity.
Entrepreneurs setting out in the tech world will quickly learn that ideas are as valuable as cash flow. Reading, networking, and simply taking time to think are a few ideas for maintaining an open mind and keeping the brainstorming process going.