Many people dream of being the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. They think, “I have a great idea for an app, or a technology product. I should think of starting a tech company and making it a reality.”
However, before they begin, there are a few honest questions they should ask themselves.
Do I Have the Necessary Technical Background?
Many aspiring tech entrepreneurs tell themselves, “I have a great idea. I can find a programmer to make it a reality.” However, developing new technology is a complicated process, and it isn’t enough to have an idea and pass it along.
Creating a new technology involves a detailed understanding of the possibilities and limitations of current software and hardware.
Without this knowledge, you will lack the necessary foundation to understand the technology that you are creating and how to share your vision with others.
Can I Recruit the Team That I Need?
Even if you are tech-savvy, it is unlikely that you will be able to do everything yourself. You will need to hire programmers, designers, and other experts to create your product. Your ability to evaluate their skills and effectively manage them will be dependent on your understanding of their work.
You don’t have to be an expert at everything, but you should be able to know what to look for when you make your crucial first hires. Also, while the talent you need is out there, finding that talent isn’t as simple as posting a help-wanted ad.
Finding the right talent will require an intimate knowledge of your specific industry.
Can I Retain the Team That I Need?
It’s not always easy to retain the technical staff that you will need. Good programmers and technicians are in demand, and many will be tempted by offers from more established companies.
Also, keep in mind that in the early days of your company you will need a team that is adaptable and flexible. You may need a programmer who can also run a sales meeting, or can effectively communicate the potential of a product to an investor.
For these team members to be able and willing to embrace this level of flexibility, they will need to be well compensated, or have a sense of ownership in the company.
Can I Find, Train and Retain a Sales Team?
Selling technology needs a definite skill set. Unlike traditional products, a new technology can’t always speak for itself. A good sales representative needs to be able to truly understand the capabilities and limitations of the technology that they are selling.
It takes time, practice, and support from the team developing the technology to effectively train a good sales team.
Your sales team needs to have the capacity and the desire to learn the new technology, and the ability to effectively communicate what they learn to potential customers.
Remember, if you’re creating a new technology, your sales team will need to play a role in developing the sales pitch. They can’t just be working from a script; they have to be able to help write the script.
Can My Technology Adapt?
Technology changes every day, and your technology must be able to keep pace with that change.
For example, many technologies emerged that fought for control of the marketplace for physical storage for home computer systems. Desktop hard drives, Zip drives, and USB storage products were everywhere.
Then cloud-based technologies emerged. Suddenly physical space was no longer an issue because all the data existed in virtual space instead of physical.
You can’t predict the future, but before you start your company, look at the predictions of what technologies might be around the corner. If your technology can adapt with these changes, great. If not, you may find yourself obsolete before you even begin.
Is My Technology Built on a Need That is Permanent?
As previously mentioned, technology has always been driven by change. Unfortunately, many tech companies forget that the market can change just as quickly.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Blockbuster Video was a household name. As the nation’s largest video rental franchise, they had stores in every city and town in the U.S.A. The problem was that the underlying technology began to change.
As streaming video became more accessible, fewer and fewer customers felt the need to go out and rent a VHS tape or DVD. Blockbuster tried to reinvent itself by offering a streaming service, but by the time they were able to make the transition, the market had already been dominated by companies like Netflix.
While you may have a great idea for a technology that works in the present, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself, “will this technology be necessary five, ten, or twenty years down the road?”
Starting a new business can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It is also not a prospect to be taken lightly. Starting a company that focuses on technology only compounds the challenge.
If you have an idea for a new technology that you feel has value, don’t be afraid to explore it. Just be sure that you understand what you’re getting into before you start.
Anita Anand was born, raised, and educated in India as an electrical engineer. She earned a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. She worked as a programmer at CMD Technologies and Printronics, where she rose to the role of senior software engineer. She is currently VP of sales for MecSoft Corporation, a leading CAD/CAM software solution provider that is now used in over fifty countries.