The IT industry has been growing, evolving since the inception of the Internet in 1983. And it’s still expected to grow many folds in the coming year.
The US tech industry accounts for 33% of the market share and is now worth around $1.6 trillion. The entire tech industry is expected to reach the $5 trillion mark by the end of 2021. And if we add artificial intelligence to the mix, then the IT industry can add around $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
With the rapid innovation in augmented and virtual realities, big data, machine learning, and voice search, it’s quite possible to see this industry grow beyond the expected numbers. And we have tech entrepreneurs to thank for these numbers and innovations.
But their journey is not easy. It’s full of hardships and challenges which we are going to discuss in this article. Along with the challenges, we are also going to discuss innovative and creative ways entrepreneurs can use to navigate such challenges.
8 Challenges Every Tech Entrepreneur Faces and Ways to Navigate Them
1. Reaching the Initial Goal
Technology is always changing. One day people can’t get enough of desktops and the next day we see smartphones being responsible for almost 44% of total IP traffic making desktops look like age-old technology. These days smartphones can literally do everything that a desktop does and more.
So there’s a possibility that you might not be able to reach your initial goals while building your tech startup. You almost don’t want to give up. You try changing directions, adjusting your goals, and everything that’s possible to save your startup but all in vain. You almost don’t want to give up because you don’t want to fail but accepting failure is the part and parcel of this deal.
It’s always better to accept failure rather than leaving it as a loose end and expecting something that might not be possible.
How to Navigate Through This: Most startups fail because they are trying to solve a ‘current’ problem without thinking about the future. It’s imperative as an entrepreneur to be a visionary, to be able to predict the future state of affairs for the problem you are trying to solve.
2. The Constant State of Flux
Tech entrepreneurs are always under a great deal of pressure to move quickly and out-smart the competition. Mostly because of the rapid changes that occur in technology on a daily basis.
The window of opportunity in this industry closes fast so every entrepreneur needs to execute on their ideas at godspeed to be able to capitalize on them. In order to capitalize on ideas, it’s also necessary for them to be on the lookout for the other players who also might be trying to solve the same problem.
How to Navigate Through This: Always, always get feedback from experts in the industry on your ideas, goals, and the path you’ve decided for your startup. And then adapt accordingly.
3. The Right Skillset
Let’s say you are from a tech background trying to build a tech company. That should set you up for success, right? A tech person running a tech company. If it’d be this simple, every tech person would be running their own company.
Even if you are running a tech company, you need a 360-degree understanding of how to run and scale a business and that includes finance, management, customer handling, supply chain, hiring and people management, and a little more.
How to Navigate Through This: Figure out the set of skills you’ll need to run and scale your startup and start taking online courses, network with the industry experts, get involved in peer discussions, and seek out mentors whom you can trust your problems.
Here’s a List of Useful Courses Every Tech Entrepreneur Should Take:
- Startup School by Y Combinator
- Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs by University of Maryland
- The Lean LaunchPad: How to Build a Startup by Steve Blank
- Technology Entrepreneurship: Lab to Market by Harvard University
4. Cyber Security
Doesn’t matter what space your startup is operating in, your customers and other businesses are going to rely on you to run things smoothly which means you are going to need robust and secure data and network infrastructure. More importantly, cyber-attacks are on the rise. Around 90,000 websites get hacked every single day.
How to Navigate Through This: While a good antivirus software and comprehensive firewall can and will protect you against most cyber attacks, you will need to train your employees to follow cybersecurity protocols. As your startup scales, you will need to hire a cybersecurity firm for extensive security measures.
5. Managing Finances
The main difference between a successful and an unsuccessful startup is cash. Money is an enabler and a differentiator that can help you turn your ideas into reality. When you have sufficient bankroll, you can hire the right staff, invest in the right tools and technologies, rent out office spaces, and create a positive and flourishing culture.
How to Navigate Through This: Always, always keep a track of where you are spending and where the money is coming from. Investing in accounting software is always the smarter decision. You can always explore methods to limit your expenses. You can also opt for business loan services but make sure you are doing your due diligence before trusting anyone with your money. Look for companies like SmartBiz and then decide the right service provider for your startup.
6. Creating a Network
Networks are perfect for boosting your brand awareness, seeking out industry-specific advice, or even for funding (if you are really good at networking). Building a network is as crucial as having a good idea so make sure you are allocating enough time for the same. But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Especially if your startup operates in a niche.
How to Navigate Through This: Offer help, become a resource on social media, include your customers in your processes, attend industry events, do in-person meetings and conferences (don’t forget to wear a mask), participate in small business communities, and always be ready to share samples or present product demos.
7. Time Management
When you are running a startup, your time is money, quite literally. So struggling with time management is not an option. You can lose opportunities just by not being on time for a particular meeting or forgetting to reply to an investor’s email on time.
How to Navigate Through This: Before taking anything in your schedule, ask yourself – can it be done by anyone else? If the answer is yes, delegate. Don’t even think twice. And if the answer is no, then only spend your precious time doing that task.
8. Dealing with Competition
Competition can be intimidating especially when your startup is in the infancy stage. While it can get frustrating to see your competitions grow or evolve, being patient and cool-headed will pay off in the long run.
How to Navigate Through This: See your competition as a source of learning – understand what they are doing, why they are doing, and how your target market is responding to their offerings. This will help you gain insights into what works and what doesn’t with your target market.
And never make the mistake of ignoring your competition. It might look like a good idea at the moment and might even boost your ego, but always, always pay attention to your competition if you want to play the long game.
Lastly, Learn Continuously
It’s quite imperative to be flexible and open-minded if you want your startup to be successful. And the best way is to always keep learning which helps in building the ability to adapt quickly, execute well.
“Being delusional will not get you there. Skill, persistence, and a bit of time and luck are needed.” – Jeremy Colless, founder of Australian equity crowdfunding platform VentureCrowd