As the focused founder of a technology business, you’ll understand the technical challenges you are trying to overcome and the great potential your product has to positively change outcomes for your customers. You can’t wait to get started. You’ve most likely not yet experienced all of the challenges of running a business, from controlling cash flow to managing people and that can be a scary prospect to many.
And it is mostly about CASH and PEOPLE!
Getting any business off the ground is challenging enough without adding in the extra dimension of solving a problem and creating a product that generates its own momentum with high volumes of sales. When you have a business that is fed by referrals from an army of early adopters who become raging fans you bring in high levels of recurring revenue. This is the ideal model that becomes a “no-brainer” to invest in.
Often inventors and founders are so focused on the product, they do not focus enough time to learn about the rest of the business proposition or appreciate how demanding it can be. Many founders (regardless of industry – this is not just a technology sector problem) are not well equipped to be a CEO and quickly find themselves floundering as the business grows.
If you recognize yourself in this situation, then you are in the right place!
For ambitious technology business founders, the roadmap to success is often seen as:
- Having a great idea
- Building an investor pitch deck
- Selling your soul to a Venture Capital Fund
- Work 24 hours a day fuelled by caffeine, adrenaline and sheer willpower
- Get an app or product out there and hope for it to go viral
The harsh reality for many of technology businesses, which can have great ideas at their heart, is they either:
- Struggle to get adequate funding and never really get off the ground
- Bootstrap in the hope of being picked up by one of the tech giants as part of their portfolios until they run out of cash
- Remain little more than a hobby and never realise their full potential
90% of all technology start-ups fail!
In many cases even if they get some funding, they fail to generate any revenue at all before sinking into oblivion – drowning the founders dreams. In some cases where funding has been acquired, the business goes down, sinking millions of investor funds with it.
The one thing I understand is the problems that technology companies and their founders experience when they are trying to get their products developed. Having built my own companies from scratch and come to the rescue of technology and engineering companies who are figurately on their knees (the owners are usually literally on them!), I know what it takes to get from distress to success AND how to avoid businesses getting into distress in the first place.
If you are already in a hole, the best thing to do is stop digging and let someone lower down a ladder. I am the ladder-carrier for business! If you are just starting and you have the spade in your hand – STOP, do not dig! It is much easier, cheaper and quicker to build success from the ground up and not start below sea level!
That said it is not easy, a technology business is still hard work
When I started writing my book, How to Build a Unicorn, I was approached by the founder of a technology start up with a big idea (and I mean massive!) The founder, let’s call him Andrew, had been working on the prototype for over 18 months and everyone he spoke to was enthusiastic about the value it could generate. As a tech-guy, in his own words, Andrew had never run a business properly before and had another company that had been running for several years on a survival basis – always just getting by and tipping from one crisis to the next. He had an angel investor on board and had incorporated the company. He had employed some development and sales staff, found flexible office space and had been thinking much bigger than in his previous companies in terms of how to grow this fledgling idea into a global business.
On the surface of it, the proposition looked great. A product was being developed that offered great value to potential businesses. It wasn’t a completely new idea, but it was focused on a specific niche market, which meant it was addressing a known problem in the industry. He used the right language to articulate and identify the solution to some of the key problems experienced by potential customers. More importantly he quickly and easily showed how using the product could give customers a return on their investment.
Employing a development team to get on with making it happen meant Andrew was released to go and get more funding, customers and strategic partners. Very quickly he was no longer working on the aspect of your technology business but dealing with staff, managing cashflow and investor expectations AND trying to find potential customers ready for the launch of the first iteration of the product.
Within a few months, the initial investment funds were almost gone. The rapidly growing development team was not producing the product as quickly as planned. The product launch date was constantly being deferred. With the focus on generating customer interest, which was an education process for the niche market, Andrew had taken his eye off the product development progress. Handing over responsibility to a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) who was technically skilled but didn’t have the people management skills required for a rapidly growing team, and Andrew found himself dealing with petty squabbles and poor performance. He felt he had to be everywhere and was working really hard but getting almost nothing done. His energy levels dipped, he felt despondent and lost focus. Within a year the next round of investment was due and because of lack of progress the angel investor decided to halt further funding. The CTO left with almost no notice and things really started to fall apart.
The journey from fire-in-the-belly excitement to soul-crushing redundancy conversations took just a matter of months. The company was left hanging on by a thread and open to being taken over, with all the intellectual property, for a song. Andrew was reacting not leading and it reflected in every aspect of the business.
How do you increase your chances of success and reduce the risks of failure?
Use a tried and tested framework – B.U.I.L.D. – adapted from the techniques used by some of the biggest and most successful technology companies in the world to produce top quality, customer focused products and services that generate the level of revenue streams that allow a business to thrive.
Each stage of the process allows you to review and refine the product development stages and either progress or “halt and catch fire” without wasting precious time and funding on a lame duck or lemon that is going to sink your company and the investor funds.
You’ll also learn how to build the company, so you can enjoy the process and get more value along the way (this is the stuff they don’t teach you in your MBA!)
Life is hard enough without having the extra pressure of learning how to run a company effectively when you don’t have a lot of experience or knowledge – or the time to learn. This book takes the pressure off by showing you what you need to pay attention to BEFORE the proverbial “poo” hits the fan! It is much better to be prepared and be proactive than constantly fire-fighting issues. You’ll be less stressed, more productive and a much better leader of your business as a result – and your family and friends will thank you for it too!
“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing”
Are you stuck in the day-to-day of your business with no time to plan for the future? A Professional Business Mentor is just the leverage you need to get out of the rut and flying. Discover how you can make your business worth more AND avoid leaving money on the table when you finally leave your business. Click here to contact Christine by email alternatively you can book a call with the Business Mentor of the Year 2020, author and speaker. Who helps business founders get their businesses exit ready so they can enjoy a happier, richer future. She saves them THOUSANDS and increases the value of their businesses by MILLIONS.