Ah, the tech entrepreneur. An idolized, often misunderstood personality type of our current reality. They’re celebrities in their own right, appearing on magazine covers and in tabloid headlines. They’re even going to space.
But what makes a strong entrepreneur? What about their personalities, skill sets, or DNA gives them the ability to persist beyond the many obstacles of starting a business?
And more importantly, how do we know if we could be one?
Something tells us if you clicked on this headline, you may have a hunch about yourself. You may believe, somewhere inside of you, is a tech entrepreneur waiting to enter from stage right. Or maybe you already are one, and you just don’t know it yet.
Feeling like you need a guide to get there? Keep reading; you’re in luck. We wrote a tutorial on how you can start working towards space—or whatever it is that you’re dreaming of.
Obsessively Consume: Curate And Diversify Where You Find Inspiration
If you’re interested in becoming a tech entrepreneur, you’re probably already some degree of obsessed with the industry. Entrepreneurs have a dedicated, passionate energy. They’re not afraid to experience failure and are always chomping at the bit to get in on the next big thing.
Still, becoming an entrepreneur is a calculated risk, and before you jump into the game, you can start preparing by curating the media you consume. Take a look at the tech industry and find people who are doing what you want to be doing. Are they investors? CEOs? CTOs? Are they developing products, applications, or software? What has the trajectory of their career looked like?
Follow them on social media and get a sense of how they think about the market and evolving technology. Read interviews, watch talks, and (if they’re accessible) slide into their DMs.
The truth is, there’s no secret strategy that enables all tech leaders to succeed. Many entrepreneurs struggled in school or traditional careers. Stay open to as many perspectives as possible, and remember that some of the greatest wisdom can come from unconventional players.
Focus On Your Ideas: Make Problem Solving Your Central Goal
Entrepreneurs are serial problem solvers. Once they start to notice a pattern of frustration with an existing model, service, or product, they get fixated on finding the right solution.
Not every idea you have is going to be destined for greatness, but you should pay close attention to the ones you gravitate towards. If your gut is telling you there’s something great there, explore it. Don’t let the dust settle on the post-it note.
It can be easy to fall into a pattern of loving an idea and then getting discouraged when you realize someone else is doing something similar, it’s flawed, or it’s just simply a challenge.
It’s important to test your idea and make sure it’s feasible, but don’t lose faith when you don’t get the answers you were looking for. Some questions to consider when you’re pressure-testing an idea:
- Who is this for?
- What problem does this solve?
- What technology is required to make this happen?
- Am I the right person to bring this to life?
- How will this idea change people’s lives?
Stay honest and open to criticism when you’re developing an idea, because that’s how you’re going to grow. Ultimately, it comes down to your execution—your idea is important, but anyone can have an idea. Having that followthrough is what’s going to allow you to succeed. Never stop brainstorming and solving problems; it’s what entrepreneurs do best.
Build a Reliable Network: Get the Word Out and See Who is Interested
Once you have an idea you’re excited about and the beginning stages of how it can come to life, don’t keep it to yourself.
When something matters to you, it can be tempting to keep it private while you’re still working out the kinks. Many of us struggle with a desire to present only the most finished and polished version of our ideas. But that’s a barrier that will keep you from getting the support system you need to make the idea happen.
So talk to as many people as you can.
Find connections in the sector your idea activates in and ask for meetings, advice, and feedback. Talk to your friends, family, former colleagues, and college classmates. You never know if you’ll meet someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help bring your idea from concept to reality.
Bottom line, get comfortable shaking hands.
Choose Your Partners Wisely: Join Forces with Someone Who Can Do Something You Can’t
You don’t need to be a technological expert to innovate something special. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Many successful businesses are founded on the relationship between an Ideas Person and a Skills Person.
If you’re not willing or interested in learning a technical skill like coding (though we’d recommend taking some beginner courses so you can at least talk the talk), look for a partner who can execute.
Remember to look for commitment. You’re not just searching for someone who can execute the code; you’re also looking for someone who is excited to. Passion and morale are essential to a tech startup’s viability.
Fundraise, Fundraise, Fundraise: Find Capital and Fast
Your first issue as a tech entrepreneur is going to be overhead, so it’s vitally important that you make funding an essential priority of your new venture. Walking up to an angel investor and securing a check is easier said than done, and so you have to do some leg work to make your idea both appealing and secure:
Develop Your Business Strategy
Have an answer for how and when you see the business making money. Think one, five, and ten years out.
Present a Marketable Idea
Don’t underestimate the power of sleek and well-designed marketing materials. You want your idea to be readily understood and easy to share. Investors may pass on your business, but if you provide them with the right image and information, they may move it around their circles.
Carefully Manage Your Personal Finances
This is a delicate balance. You want to get some of your own money into the mix, so you have some skin in the game. But try to maintain a safety net. Many businesses fail, and if you’re going to be a resilient entrepreneur, you have to be ready to lose. Make sure you don’t lose it all.
Know Your Strengths and Stay Humble: Get Comfortable Being Wrong
This may be the hardest pill to swallow in tech entrepreneurship, but if you can manage it, the reward is well worth it. Try to put forward a relentless sense of self-awareness and honesty, and you’ll learn two things:
- Your Strengths: You’re here for a reason. Investors and partners want to know what you’re good at, so make sure you have a clear skillset to bring to the table.Are you good at converting sales? Or translating tech-speak to English? Or telling a story people can believe in? Execute on what you do best and earn the trust of those around you to do so.
- Your weaknesses: On the flip side, you should be radically honest about what you’re not as good at. You’ve probably heard of the phrase, “fake it til you make it.” Allow us to strongly disagree.Confidence you can fake. But an ability to code? You probably shouldn’t fake that. Once you overcome ego, you can free yourself to ask questions, get answers from people who know better, and build business relationships based on trust.
Nothing earns respect faster than a leader who’s willing to learn. A tech startup is all hands on deck. Check your ego at the door and stay humble.
Take a Deep Breath: Release Control and Trust Your Team
On that note, get used to feeling like you’re standing on top of a teetering tower of Jenga. That is to say, get comfortable with chaos.
While tech entrepreneurs and leaders need to know the nuts and bolts of their business, they’re not required to work the machinery. If you’re confident in your hires and stand by your partners, don’t get in their way. Let them do what they do best and have faith that no matter what challenges you’re faced with, you can figure them out together.
You won’t be able to control everything. The sooner you get wise to that, the sooner you can focus on what you can manage.
Stay Adaptive: Don’t Get Too Attached To One Strategy
Probably the most common characteristic of successful tech entrepreneurs is a motivation to stay on the move. The market changes all the time, and sometimes, the problem you initially set out to solve changes with it.
Never stop researching, learning, and following your role models and competitors closely. And in true entrepreneurship fashion, as soon as one idea becomes solvent, start working on the next one. If you value adaptation and resilience, you’ll start seeing challenges as exciting progress points for your business instead of career-killing obstacles.
So, Are You Ready to Become an Entrepreneur?
We get that there’s safety in working for someone else. A desk job at a big corporation can be the right place for you to gain experience and watch other leaders succeed and fail. But if you’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit inside of you, eventually, you’re going to have to get off the sidelines.
Let’s review what we’ve discussed on becoming a tech leader:
- Find role models and read everything you can about them and their lifestyles. This can also help you curate media and content for others to consume.
- Refine your ideas, and never stop coming up with them.
- Network like it’s everyone’s business.
- Find a partner who can build the technology.
- Secure funding ASAP. Develop a business presentation that you can do in your sleep.
- Stay humble and honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
- Get used to not being in control.
- Adapt and then adapt again.
If you’ve read this far, you’re on the right track. Feed that hunger inside of you. We can’t wait to see what comes of it.