IT Startups: 7 Growth Tips for Your Budding Business
July 22, 2016
There is a twofold challenge when it comes to growing your own IT startup. On one hand, information technology seems to be everywhere, and it’s in a constant state of change and opportunity.
But just because technology has such a significant presence—particularly in the last two decades—doesn’t necessarily mean every IT business will have the same access to it.
In order to be a successful IT startup, this process applies:
- Predict what will be in demand
- Find how to supply it
Sounds vague, but it’s really about supply and demand. And learning how to execute the two successfully is a crucial step for most IT startups. Let’s take a quick look at some growth tips to take into consideration as your business develops.
1. Be Educated in The Market
Despite the perception that information technology is everywhere, it’s not on a leveled playing field for everyone. Simply stated, some regions are more advanced in IT services than others.
The World Economic Forum released a Networked Readiness Index for 2015, which is the assessment of countries that are more prepared to adopt IT services than others. Singapore is at the top of the list, followed by Finland and Sweden; the United States is 8th, Japan is 10th, and Canada is 11th.
Last on the list are Burundi, Guinea and Chad. It doesn’t necessarily mean these regions can’t benefit from IT startup companies, just that their readiness to do so is less than others. For some information technology startups, this might be seen as an opportunity rather than a setback.
2. Know Your Niche
According to the 2016 Technology Industry Outlook by Deloitte, there are two competing forces that play in today’s technological landscape. As industry expert Paul Sallomi explains it, on one hand, there’s the small group of companies who essentially control everything. And on the other, there are the smaller IT startups operating in niche areas.
Specifically, according to Sallomi, there will continue to be a demand for affordable and accessible technology, which smaller startups can readily provide. In addition, smaller tech startups usually excel at developing prototypes, providing outsourced manufacturing and logistics, as well as accessing global markets where larger companies may not yet have a foothold.
3. Don’t Always Follow the Crowd
Sam Altman, president of technology incubator Y Combinator, says that about 70 to 80 per cent of technology startup companies are chasing the current fad, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that, if you want to do what everyone else is doing, such as providing video streaming tech services or social platforms, expect a lot of other people just like you to be doing the exact same thing.
Instead, Altman points to the timeless formula for success in startup companies: Do what no one else is doing. As easy as that might sound, there are two factors to evaluate when assessing a service or product that few others are doing. One is the cost. Some new technology fields are still costly and less hospitable to technology startups. The other factor is cycle time: the quicker, the better.
4. Accept the Growing Pains
All startup companies experience their share of growing pains. The challenge for businesses is to know how they apply specifically to the IT industry. Lavanya Madras Purushothaman started her own information-technology company, ATS Solutions, in the United Kingdom.
According to Purushothaman, one of the biggest challenges for any IT startup is that you have to do it all on your own: There is no secretary to handle all incoming calls, sales or marketing teams to handle business acquisition, or office assistants or managers to handle scheduling and administration. As an independent IT startup, expect to handle all these responsibilities yourself. As daunting a challenge as this may seem, it’s also one of the rewards of working for yourself, going out on your own, and proving to the world that you can stake your claim successfully.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Because of the constant demands that come with maintaining and developing an IT infrastructure, there will always be assistance available to IT startups. This can come in different forms, from private venture capital to public crowdfunding campaigns. Governments, both locally and nationally, have a vested interest in helping IT startups provide needed infrastructure services, so public assistance is always available.
Do you have friends from school that have their own IT startup companies? Are there local businesses you could reach out to for advice and counsel? You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to give you a helping hand—all you have to do is ask.
6. Piggy-Back Your Services
When starting your own business, you are literally free to do whatever you choose and to seek whatever opportunity you please. For some, this means doing something completely new for people that have yet to use the service. However, for others, it might simply mean attaching yourself to one of the big boys in information technology.
Specifically, chief information officers (CIOs) have become increasingly popular for IT startups. One of the reasons why outsourcing has become so widespread, including in IT, is that sometimes it begs the needs of innovative, experienced professionals. Sometimes, looking for this resource externally is beneficial for the business at that time.
7. Make Your Clients Happy
A study published by Aalto University in Finland looked at the specific benefits to information technology startup companies of focusing on what’s called service design. For IT startup companies, design can apply to the way in which you plan and execute your service to the customer, rather than simply focusing on product delivery. Because, ultimately, that’s what most customers are looking for: a service that meets their specific needs. If you can successfully design such a service, you may well have a competitive advantage over other IT startups that lack such vision.