It can be overwhelming for a business owner to launch their product or service in today’s world. The fast occurring changes in technology can create many hurdles for a startup, however, researching, understanding the needs and utilizing the right technology can help a company move towards success with an accelerated speed. It does not matter whether the company is run from home or it is well established in the market; the use of technology can help your company upgrade and improve the quality of work being done and delivered. Although technology can be confusing and it may seem like a sea of unknown from a distant but with just a little research one quickly realizes that it is a sea of uncharted opportunities, simply waiting to be discovered. Technology can serve as the backbone of a company; supporting every aspect of the business and providing assistance in every department of a company and making every step of the process more smooth and time effective. Technology can also aid in reaching the right audience at the right time and in making sure that your company’s security remains intact. Here is a list of the most common issues face by companies when they start and set shop:
THE BUSINESS OWNER
A business owner who has a background in business or management may find it difficult to understand the jargons of the tech world, let alone the fast changing trends and many new technologies that hit the market each day. It might also become difficult to manage the work being done and grasp how to efficiently cater to the technical requirements of the company. On the flip side of the coin, an owner with a tech background might be unable to grasp the management, financials or the workflow of the office which are essential components for building a full scale business. These issues could create huge gaps in the growth of the company and need to be monitored in the very beginning. There are certain ways in which technology can be used to solve these issues. A tech business owner can benefit from courses online that focus on capacity building, understanding business modules, peer discussions and online mentorship to help understand the basics of how business works, time management, leadership qualities to work on and what shortcomings should be expected. A non tech owner can utilize the internet to get a crash course of all the technology being used and how it works. The internet can help a business owner understand the upcoming trends and the efficiency of the different languages being utilized by the company as well as new tools to incorporate in the workplace.
THE RIGHT TEAM
The world of start-ups is not like the rest of the corporate world where everything runs smoothly in its own structured way. There are swift changes in the industry and the needs of the new customers change even more drastically. There is a boundless range of technologies being used in the market and the clients that come to a company have requirements that may lie anywhere in this pool of options. This leads you to make constant changes in the direction of the company, the marketing strategies used and the product or service upgrades. This demands that the tech employees in a start-up are more hands on and fluid in their expertise, compared to employees in a larger firm where being great in one domain may be sufficient, start-ups require a team where people have a wider range of expertise and an understanding of every technology being used in the modern day. Hiring the right employee is becoming an increasingly incommodious task. Identifying who will fit into your office culture and have the same ardency for growth burning in their chest is a cumbersome task. Along with a drive for greatness, the employee needs to have the right skill sets for the job and with the technology shifting so quickly, it is becoming difficult to find employees with the appropriate training or experience.
When conducting the hiring process, analyze the available technical talent in your region and the trend of education of expertise that people have. Also analyze the pros and cons of alternate technologies and where working with a tool will be beneficial. While hiring technical employees, companies should look for some additional qualities on top of the skill set. For example, ability to see the bigger picture, willingness to deal with a culture of continuous adaptation, enjoying new challenges, ability to think outside the box to overcome obstacles, time management and a conscience to design products while keeping in mind the ‘psychological safety’ of the users that will interact with the product or service. There should be a manifest alignment on metrics for growth and ethics in product/service development. The company should also incorporate continuous technical training in the long run. Using the latest technology is only possible if the talent present is equipped to work with these new tools.
HAVING AN IMPACTFUL DIGITAL PRESENCE
Many startups do not pay heed to the importance of an online presence. Setting shop is one thing, having an application or a website where your clients can approach you is another. Firstly, a website helps the company reach a larger audience in the most efficient way possible. A company may feel that this is an added expense or requires additional work but it is worth every effort to create your digital space and that too in the most professional and thought out way possible. A website is a company’s first impression and it can make or break a company. Certify that the website or application runs smoothly and is aligned with the company’s goals, vision and mission. It is always a good idea to get a professional to create your website or application for you, someone who specializes in this domain will be able to design a splendid page for your company, one that keeps users coming back.
“First we thought the PC was a calculator. Then we found out how to turn numbers into letters with ASCII — and we thought it was a typewriter. Then we discovered graphics, and we thought it was a television. With the World Wide Web, we’ve realized it’s a brochure.”
― Douglas Adams
Startups tend to ponder over the instant impact technology is going to have on their work and productivity, which is usually significant. Which is why consulting an online marketing company, like Solaris Technologies, to start with is a good idea, however; they also need to keep business growth in mind. The technology choices you make early on will impact scaling your business throughout your journey while minimizing costs. These choices can include integration, security, technology migrations, and numerous other aspects that have proven to be quintessential when starting and growing a business. The use of social media can help your company stay in touch with the trends and keep the users engaged with the brand. LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram and Twitter are some of the many sites where a company can create a presence. Startups should engage in marketing through content and write articles or guest blogs for relevant websites and events that can later redirect the audience to your page.
Startup managers need to learn the basics of search engine optimization, SEO, so that users searching a product or service, which the company is working on, can be directed to the company by finding them in the top results of the search. It is essential to keep on networking continually. The online world requires you to be present throughout otherwise the engagement will shift away from your page to the next. For a start-up and even for any other company, engagement is key. You need to understand to keep your audience coming back to your content and that will enable you to create a loyal customer base.
KEEPING UP WITH NEW TECHNOLOGY
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
Keeping up with technology that is ever changing is an immense task for any business. There is always going to be pressure to move swiftly and to adapt or adopt new technologies, however; this can also become a hurdle for startups from achieving their primary business goals. It is easy to get side tracked with technology when you try to work on everything and incorporate all the tools available at once. A startup is already going through many hurdles without the added stress of trying to do everything all together.
The solution is quite simple: ensure that you are realistic about whether the technology tools you are adopting in your business will address your business requirements in the short and the long term, and make sure that incorporating this new technology is worth the time and effort and it will have a positive impact on your business goals. Envision the bigger picture when choosing technology in the early phases of your growth and make scalability a key factor for considering a technology. A thoroughly thought out and researched technology will prevent a headache in the future. To successfully grow in business, you need to continuously indulge, build, and even educate your team and adapt with the changing technical needs of the market.
When keeping up with technology it is also important to be aware of security concerns that need to be catered to. Cyber security cannot be ignored in a world that is shifting online. Many incidents of hacking, loss of confidential information, stolen work and files provide significant proof that cyber security cannot be ignored and should be implemented at some phase of the company’s growth. Startups should keep cyber security and risk management their top priority as a start-up does not have a strong foundation to fall back on like most well established companies do. Many companies offer solutions for startups to secure their devices, software, cloud and online workspaces. This is also beneficial as different states has various strict and nonflexible laws about the privacy of the user’s data. Start-ups should clearly trace and keep books of all the user’s data that is being consumed and saved to help steer clear of scrutiny from any internal or external auditor.
Signing a company like Solaris Technologies can help start-ups efficiently utilize different technologies and incorporate the latest tools to cater to their growing business’s needs. A new business using an outdated technology may create a less engaging marketing approach and make the technology less efficient.
“You have to work on the business first before it works for you.”
― Idowu Koyenikan
THE COST OF TECHNOLOGY
One of the most obvious hurdles for startups when it comes to technology is budget. The average cost associated with buying, creating and maintaining new tools can be very heavy on the pocket, especially as your business starts to scale. This may even discourage many start-ups to ignore technology and slow down potential growth of the business. It is also easy to waste money on the development of unnecessary tools and technology that does not benefit the company enough. Add the running cost of the technology and this may become an issue for a startup that needs to be extra cautious about every nickel spent. To cater to this issue start-ups should consult a company that has immense experience in the field of developing technical tools and delivering top notch products. Every dollar spent on technology should be meticulously considered, not only in the short term but also in the long term. Of course, it is not going to be a cheap route to take, but it is necessary to spend your valued budget on a route that will be able to increase profits and help earn enough capital to make the initial investment seem small and essential. An expensive technology will never be an issue for a start-up, however, the wrong technology even if it is cheaper will be useless and slow down the company’s forward momentum.
HAVING A PRODUCT MINDSET
In the end of the day a start-up needs to realize that the customers do not really care what technology is used – all they wish for is a product or service which can meet their needs and standards. This requires a start-up to have a product mindset from the very beginning, which will eventually lead to branding of the product in a manner that is attractive for the customer. Technology must be viewed as an enabler, a tool that helps the business get where it needs to go and not an end product in itself. In the process of utilizing technology it is easy to get lost in the spiral of tech advancement. Companies like Solaris Technologies aid their clients by guiding them towards creating tools and using technology that will best serve their purpose and that also by taking the most cost effective route. Viewing the strategies of product first companies such as Microsoft and Google can help you to understand and design a company model that will value the product over any other thing. Incorporating a project management software can help move things along the desired path smoothly. Scoro, Asana, Podio, Smart sheet, Proof camp and many other such softwares are available online. As the company scales, it can also benefit from a custom made software that can manage the projects of the company rather than trying to use a predesigned software that may or may not encompass all the requirements of the company. The management of tech projects is a difficult skill, and many young startups may flounder in the beginning. If you do not wish to integrate a technical project management software, a project manager is an essential team player for a start-up. Project managers can overcome a few of the challenges faced by the company with frameworks such as lean, agile, scrum, design sprints, directed discovery, and kanban.
The world of technology is changing fast. Every other year there seems to be an improved, new programming language, operating system upgrade, stack architecture, development framework or SMAC update. For software engineers and computer scientists, learning tech skills does not end when they get a prestigious degree – that is just the beginning of their learning journey. Tech employees need to devote a significant amount of their time to understanding and learning from online courses, tutorials, conferences, books, experimentation, and peers. A number of websites offer such courses where you can get certified or even audit the course free of cost. As the start-up grows, they should develop conferences and initiate hackathons which will offer their employees hands on experience to polish their skills. Helping your employees grow will eventually develop into a more sophisticated team for your company.
Ignoring the technology is the worst decision that an emerging company can take. Technology has become the very air that new companies need to breathe in order to survive in this cut throat market. It can help cut down on time, cost, management lags and even help the company detect future hurdles and plan accordingly.
OPEN SOURCE VERSUS PROPRIETARY
When a company starts to incorporate technology in the business, it is faced with a confusing question: Should a proprietary code be used or an open source code should be implemented. There are convincing arguments from both sides, based on the context; this extends to APIs and standards as well. Comparison can be made on various aspects that include quality, robustness, customer support, cost, upgrades, market penetration, and current trends.
Both sides have their own benefits and shortcomings. It is essential to understand what the needs of the start-up are before making a decision. An open source code is the more cost effective route to take for a business and it can really cut back on the cost of the work. On the other side, a proprietary source is more beneficial for an innovative new product as it provides more control and privacy over the data as the publisher can keep the intellectual property rights and they are not shared on the internet. This stops potential competitors from using your software and creating a similar product or design. Like the secret sauce recipe, it acts as a shield against copycats which helps you keep your product or service one of a kind. For the start-ups that wish to use open source code, they can use Mozilla Thunderbird for email management, TurboCASH for accounting requirements, WordPress for publishing on the web and LibreOffice to provide functional modules for spreadsheets and word processing.
“Forewarned is forearmed…”
― Samuel Shellabarger
To sum it all up, there are many different issues that can arise when a company is starting its journey and launching in the world. It is becoming increasingly necessary to be aware of the above mentioned challenges, hurdles and types of crossroads that a company will have to face in its early stages and taking corrective steps is key for startups to harness the transformative power of technology. Being aware of the hurdles is the first step of planning a preventative methodology that will prevent any pitfalls. It will equip a start-up to better prepare for the issues at hand and those to come. This can also provide a blueprint for taking the small and large decisions in a company. Researching a company’s needs, hiring appropriate team members, utilizing the budget in the most growth centric way and in a pool of technology, never forgetting that it is the product that is the end product; the most essential asset of the company which every technology should be working for. This can help startups to learn not just from their own mistakes but from others’ mistakes as well in an effort to keep their tech foundations intact. A company that can cater to these different hurdles and overcome these issues effectively will accelerate their growth and be able to fully enjoy the fruit of the internet.