Entrepreneurs learn quickly that starting a business requires tireless commitment, hands-on learning, and plenty of trial and error. Even then, only about 18 percent of first-time entrepreneurs succeed, according to Small Business Trends.
Over the past two decades, technology startups have changed the landscape of how people live, work, and play, and they’ve garnered billions of dollars in revenue. As the tech sector continues to provide new opportunities for startups, more companies open their doors with dreams of becoming the next big thing, and the entrepreneurs at the helm invest time, passion, and money into the projects.
One way to increase your odds of succeeding is to learn from others who have blazed the trail before you. Seeking out good advice early on is critical for success and could help you avoid costly pitfalls. Business veterans consistently recommend five methods to improve your odds of success as a tech startup.
1. Bring in Outside Help
Hiring a consultant or working with a startup incubator or local entrepreneur center provides necessary insight into what you need to succeed. Ron Sturgeon, a successful serial entrepreneur, author, and business consultant, says that failing to get expert help can doom your business from the start. “I would never start up a new business without bringing in someone who has already been successful in that field,” he says.
2. Hone Your Skill Set
Knowing your industry is crucial, but it’s not the only area of professional development that factors heavily into your success. Working on qualities that may not come naturally to you, such as collaborating, managing people, accounting, and marketing, makes a big difference as your business grows. “It also takes a strong work ethic and the ability to execute your plans,” Sturgeon adds.
3. Think Fundamentals, Not Just Funding
Securing funding is necessary to move forward, and according to entrepreneur and advisor Murray Newlands, many entrepreneurs in the tech space struggle with acquiring adequate funding. However, as a consultant, Sturgeon says he has seen many companies who have larger fundamental problems that must be addressed first.
“If a company has a flawed business plan or is being mismanaged, more money is not going to solve the problem,” he says. “It only delays addressing the deeper issues and fixing the problems.” Working with an experienced outside party can help you develop an objective assessment of your business plan and operations and uncover areas in need of improvement.
4. Listen to the Market
“The marketplace will quickly tell an entrepreneur” whether a product or service is viable, Sturgeon says, but business owners often don’t want to listen. “It is not a lack of data, but rather a lack of willingness to accept unwanted negative feedback. But it’s crucial to listen.” He says it’s never too early to begin gathering feedback, and he encourages entrepreneurs to collect and assess feedback from potential customers as early and as often as possible.
5. Maintain Your Vision
Having a solid mission statement and a clear vision of what you’re going to accomplish is essential. It helps guide your path to success and serves as a reminder of your focus. “Your mission statement should be expressed as plainly and simply as possible,” Sturgeon says. “And if your direction or focus changes, your mission statement should [change], too.”
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Ron Sturgeon, email@example.com