Shifting gears and deciding to start a business during the “mid-point” of a career certainly presents a unique set of risks and challenges. But, for those who want to do this specifically in the technology industry, there are a plethora of elements to consider and keep in mind to launch a successful venture.
In my own experience, as the president of an investment advisory firm, I saw an opportunity and need to develop a scientific risk tolerance assessment technology tool – one that I could use with my own clients, but also a tool that could serve other advisors in their everyday work with clientele. With that, Tolerisk was born, but along the way in paving the path for this tech tool to be successful, there were a handful of lessons learned that are important for up-and-coming tech entrepreneurs to consider.
Document everything…in painstaking detail. Any time you are working with a developer, you have to be meticulous with documentation. Why? Any ambiguity will create decisions that haven’t been contemplated, and stretch out the timeline of the project’s completion, ultimately driving up costs. Document in a much greater level of detail than might be intuitive – it will streamline the process, help developers and/or other vendors stay the course, and help to avoid any impromptu mistakes or costly missteps.
The completion of your product is not the finish line. So you’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years seeing an idea through to fruition. It’s a great feeling knowing that a tech product may be close to distribution, but that does not mean that the process is over. In fact, you are far from the finish line. Tech entrepreneurs should understand that while the development stage is complete, there are a handful of other important decisions that need to be made to see the product through to next steps and long-term success. Consider marketing, public relations, and future development needs. Not to mention, the technology platform you created will likely have future updates, new rollouts, etc. to make it a viable long-term business. Development is only phase one – from there it’s all about getting a product into the hands of the audience, and maintaining it there.
Partner with vendors that truly understand and align with your long-term goals. This might look like an obvious strategy, but it is easier said than done. It’s critical to ensure that partners and outside vendors are truly aligned with your entrepreneurial goals and overall product. One strategy that worked when we launched Tolerisk was to look at these partners as though they were employees at our business – review their resumes, gain comfort in seeing and reviewing past projects they’ve worked on, and look into references. In order to build an all-star team, entrepreneurs should do proper due diligence and make sure they are bringing on the best resources in terms of work effectiveness, but that they also will seamlessly align with business philosophies and long-term product goals.
Understand that technology is never “done.” The reality is that the technology industry is ever-evolving. If you stand still, everyone will pass you by. You have to keep moving, keep developing, and keep improving a technology product to keep pace and remain the leader among your competitors. Understand that a tech product is not a static, “one-time” build out, and shift your mindset to want to supply clients with the best, up-to-date technology that you can provide.
Entrepreneurs looking to burst into the tech space at the mid-point in their career will face challenges, as they would in any industry. By understanding a few key takeaways and strategic tips, coupled with an intrinsic passion about technology, the rewards can be fantastic.