Unicorns like DJI, Grab, and Tanium in the world of technology are exactly what the term implies – impossibly rare. Yet that is the status some of us could reach by embarking on the road of entrepreneurship. But how many can really succeed?
In the United States alone, almost 700,000 businesses are started each year. Ignoring the number that will potentially fail, that’s a massive amount of potential competition. Will you be the big fish in the pond you choose, or bait to feed the others?
Before you step foot into those murky waters, ask yourself a few questions to see if you’re the right material for tech entrepreneurship.
1. Why Are You Doing This?
There are potentially a million and one reasons people give for hopping into business ownership. Some are trying to escape from a dreary job or life. Others dream of the riches a self-owned business can rake in.
The similarities of profiles like these are that they are looking in the wrong direction. If you want to succeed, you need to have confidence in the concept or product that you’re bringing into the business. Not simply looking at a possible endgame that gets you away from where you are at now.
2. Are You Moving into the Right Space?
By this, I don’t mean space as in industry. After all, you’re considering technology right? Entrepreneurs often enter a market space following their capabilities. Younger ones like Zuckerberg aim to disrupt. Those with experience seek to improve or update. Are you thinking of entering a space that isn’t the right fit for you?
Consider the case of a web hosting company that sat amidst a highly competitive industry.
They offered what many others did, from Shared to Cloud Hosting. They were experienced and instead of disrupting an industry, introduced improved tools that aimed to break a monopoly held by others.
The takeaway from this isn’t to create doubt, but to let you know that however old you are – 18 or 48 – opportunities exist at every level.
3. Are You Prepared to Work?
Let’s be honest. Unless you work for a real slave driver, chances are that life on the job is pretty cushy. By that I do not mean that you’re idling in the office the whole day, but you clock in from nine to five, spend an hour at lunch, then go fishing on the weekends.
As an entrepreneur, even handling the most demanding boss in the world will seem like a walk in the park. Forget working hours, family weekends, that long trip away with the buddies, or any other semblance of normality.
You need to have the drive to succeed and the willpower to pursue every opportunity – plus try and create them when none exist.
4. Can You Afford It?
Unless you’re walking into a business with contracts in hand, how long can you survive if you put everything you have into your business? Even for those who live alone and have minimal commitments, staying alive takes cash. Building a business takes cash, even if you work from home.
While you may get by for an initial few months on savings, how long before the idea you have comes to fruition? What happens if the great idea ends up a flop – is there a Plan B? Entrepreneurship is a relatively lonely road and there is not much support along the way.
Ultimately, you need to be prepared for the worst. But if this is the choice you have already made, perseverance is the long game you will need to play.
5. What Role Will You Play?
Unless you have the capital to go all out and hire a full staff, entrepreneurs often handle everything themselves. At least initially. For many of us, we still handle many things on our own even a few years down the line. The business is our baby.
You may have the skills to build the greatest tech product mankind has ever seen. But can you face the business end – building the supplier network, the retail network, and everything else in between?
Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Being a tech entrepreneur will make demands of you outside your expectations. You will have to be the manufacturer, marketing, sales, and administration, so get ready to learn some new skills.
Your vision when heading into the tech entrepreneur space shouldn’t be diluted by the questions you need to ask yourself. If you’re determined, use them as a guideline in helping prepare yourself further for the journey ahead.
Keep the ideas that you have big, but always bear in mind that success comes by taking small steps forward. Taking too big a leap can result in a catastrophic fall – something that most entrepreneurs can’t afford.