If you’ve been affected by layoffs, COVID-19, or simply want a career change and think that now is the time to start your business – you are 100% right. Now is the time (and as a matter of fact, NOW is always the time), and that’s why we wrote this article to provide tips on starting a technology business for your startup.
But what does it take to start a technology business? What skills will you need as a non-technical founder? Will your fears of a non-technical background being a disadvantage prove to be true?
The answer to this is no – at least, not if you prepare yourself. We’re here today to help provide tips, insights, and steps for non-technical founders to prepare themselves for launching a technology company. If you’re looking to start a tech enabled business, then this article is for you.
Step 1 – Defining the Vision
The vision is the most important part of a business, NOT the technology.
Let me repeat that again, the vision is the most important part of a business. Many founders start out believing it’s all about the technology they use, the app they’ll build, or the product they will manufacture – but I can assure you it’s not.
Matter of fact, almost every successful product out there has been copied 10+ times.
Challenge – Can you name one product on your phone that does not have nearly identical competitors?
So what makes the difference between a successful company and a non-successful company? The difference is you, and you are the only person that can set the vision for your company.
There’s a great video by Simon Sinek on “Start with Why” – how great leaders inspire action. I highly recommend watching this, and try to answer the following questions:
- Why is the business you’re creating important?
- Who does the business serve?
- I.e., who are the people that will benefit from the business?
- How will the business serve this community?
- What will your product be?
The product is the last and least important piece. I know many of businesses who have succeeded without building a product initially. They only built a product after the logistics of handling their existing business made it financially viable to do so. So consider this before initially investing.
Step 2 – Find a Technical Advisor
After you establish your vision, it’s time to find a technical co-founder or technical advisor to help you with your journey. Notice I say co-founder OR advisor, because you truly don’t need a technical co-founder working full time.
Some of the most successful relationships I’ve seen have been non-technical founders enlisting the help of a technical advisor for ~5 hrs / week, who will then help guide a remote team or agency in product requirements, communication, and project planning.
There’s a great article I wrote on how to form a partnership, set expectations, and establish a form of reimbursement or payment for early stage founders. Check it out before you approach your founder so you can start on a good foot, and feel free to share these tips on starting a technology startup business with them as well – the more transparent you are, the better for everyone!
Step 3 – Creating a Clickable Prototype
It’s important to remember that for most products, you’ll want to get feedback before you invest 100% into building the product. This advice comes with a couple of caveats, which I’ll list below:
- Caveat #1 – This does not apply for video games
When my team first started building www.startupwars.com, we went through our normal process of Wireframes –> MarvelApp –> Development –> Deployment. We had a ton of interest form from our peer groups, but at the end of the day we were building a game – and guess what? The gameplay sucked!
So we went back to the drawing board and tried instead a series of rapid iterations of building, testing, building, testing. This approach works much better for video games.
- Caveat #2 – Not all feedback is created equally
If you’ve ever read the 4 hour workweek by Tim Ferriss you’ll have already learned this lesson, but in a nutshell you can get all the feedback you’d like, but at the end of the day no feedback is as valuable as an actual purchase. There are methods of having consumers go through a purchase flow without making a purchase that may be viable for your product.
Remember, your friends and family will probably say they love your application, regardless of whether or not they would buy it. This feedback does not help in the long run.
What we’ve found does help is feedback on whether or not the product can be understood, if it’s aesthetically pleasing, etc.
- Caveat #3 – Sometimes it’s better to build an MVP as opposed to a Clickable Prototype
Some projects simply can’t be conveyed usefully as a clickable prototype (such as games, virtual experiences, etc) so there are many times in which an MVP is desired.
My advice here, is know that the initial MVP may have to be scrapped by the development team. When a developer focuses entirely on delivery date they will need to sacrifice quality, and this can come around to bite you in the ass in the long run.
Step #4 – Be Prepared for Handling User Feedback
We have an article written on Handling User Feedback here, but in a nutshell it’s important to have a plan in place to receive user feedback and process it in an efficient way.
This is doubly important when you have a team involved. What happens if you email User A one thing, and your partner emails them another? The confusion abounds!
Step 5 – Be confident and dedicate.
Being half successful does not equal success. You should be confident, the only difference between the people who succeed and those who don’t is action and luck. Luck you can’t control, but action you can. Just. Do. It.
I hope this helps you in your Startup Journey, and remember we are always here to help. If you have any questions or comments or would like more tips on starting a technology startup business, you can reach our team @openforgemobile or me personally @jedihacks.
Good luck founder, you deserve it!