July 13, 2018
It’s no secret, but the software and tech industries are the clear favourites when it comes to sourcing investment for their startups. See, I told you it was no secret.
In stark contrast, non-tech startups tend to be Cinderella-like figures, last to be invited to the ball when it comes to investment funding. But why is that?
One of the main factors behind this is the fact that figures are already resolutely stacked in favour of the tech sector. The history is already there. This can be a disappointing element which disparages investment and involvement in non-tech startups. But how does a non-tech founder bring their idea to fruition?
Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise – Horace
First, we have to remember one important fact. From the thousands of startups springing to life each day – both tech and non-tech – most will fail. And just because your startup happens to be non-tech it does not naturally follow that it can’t, or won’t use technology at its core to achieve success. If you don’t believe me, ask Uber, or Airbnb.
As sure as art imitates life, so does business. Some businesses succeed beyond all expectations while others fall flat on their faces. And, it doesn’t matter whether your business is tech or non-tech, people fail; it’s as simple as that.
Business founders and owners who tend to be successful in the non-tech world share one thing with entrepreneurs right across the board – they don’t give up. Resilience is the common characteristic shared by all successful people; in business, sport, the arts, and academia.
Being impaired by a lack of technical knowledge can be daunting for any start-up. Especially if you’ve made a decision that your business is going to be non-tech orientated, that fear can be even more profound. However, non-tech founders who face this fear from the outset tend to stand a far better chance of success and competing with their competitors.
Get it wrong to get it right
If you’re prepared not to give up; I mean, really not give up, if you’re prepared to fail again and again until you’ve mastered what it is you’re trying to do, there’s a very good chance that you’ll eventually master that task. No matter what walk of life you’re involved in, persistence pays dividends, and why should the non-tech startup be any different? To put it simply, there’s no reason.
Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with great people
Once again it’s no big secret, but, successful people tend to surround themselves with other successful people. There is a group energy radiated from successful people, an energy which raises all boats and those in them. If you strive to be successful, it is the positive energy of successful and good people around you which can help you achieve your goals. But the opposite is also true; surround yourself with negativity and lack of vision and watch your plans and dreams stall and die.
Remember, technology doesn’t have a heart – people do
Don’t let technology cloud your vision, it’s the people around you who really matter. While technology can ease the path, it’s people who walk with you on that path; helping you when you stumble and offering encouragement to carry on when all seems lost.
It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness
It might seem like a pretty obvious thing to say, but you’d be surprised how many people never light that candle. Embrace the problems which come your way. Learn to love them in fact; these are the challenges, the darkness which will make any non-tech startup ultimately better and more prepared to compete successfully.
Learn to explore the problems with which you’ve been presented; examine them from all angles and never be afraid to ask for advice. There may be no one clear-cut manner of surmounting any obstacle which can arise; there may be multiple means to realise the required change, so, learn to embrace the problem and explore it until you secure the solution that’s right for you. Try to keep in mind that it may be this specific problem, and its ultimate solution, which presents you with the edge allowing you to shine brighter than your competitors.
Be the absolute best you can be, and then be better
Sometimes it’s possible to bring a product to market that has been done a hundred times before.
Take bread for example: it’s been around for tens of thousands of years, but a new variety or brand appears on our shelves every other day. If your business idea happens to emulate others around it, make sure that you offer something which others don’t. Something better, something innovative, or something more appealing to trend, price or society. There’s always room for improvement in everything we do.
Is technology the answer or the problem?
Many startups have no requirement for technology but still manage to bog themselves down searching for technological answers to problems which don’t exist. Some functions and processes are still best performed in the manner in which they have been for years – without the need for mechanisation and modernisation.
Examine your process well, and decide the best route for you, your business model, and your product or service. Do not be afraid to go back to basics, attempt to eliminate the need for high-end prototypes or 4D modelling, use the tools at your disposal, with the necessary respect due for your product and your eventual goal. Even with this in mind, you can compete as a non-tech company employing technology as a means of delivering your product or service.
Whatever you do, don’t give up
“Mr. Steinbeck we have decided not to publish your novel, the seminal American masterwork of the great depression, The Grapes of Wrath.” And so reads a letter from Random House Publishing, the rest is appointed to history. Steinbeck didn’t give up and neither should you.
Yes, dreams get damaged and even broken. Investors walk away. Markets often aren’t ready for you or your product. Whatever life throws at you be prepared to rework your plans, dust yourself off, and get back on that horse. Do not give up!
Sometimes the failures are your fault – fix them
Really great products are born from a need, and through innovative or simple design. If there happens to be a problem with any part of this equation, things are going to get difficult.
However, once a problem has been logged it becomes a necessity to analyse exactly what went wrong, where it went wrong, how to fix the problem and get back on the market as quick as possible. The fact of the matter is that most products never make it to market without some changes to their initial design or marketing plan; it’s just the way it is. Accept it, change and move on to the next stage.
Once upon a time, there was a…
Usually, the first few lines of a story are enough to capture the attention. Those first words grab your interest, engage you entirely and demand you know more. In business it’s your job to be those words; to engage colleagues, investors, and mentors with great storytelling. Leave them wanting more.
Most great start-ups are accompanied by great storytelling. Take Apple’s launch of the Macintosh personal computer with a video directed by Hollywood mogul, Ridley Scott, and set in a dystopian future in the style of George Orwell’s ‘1984’. The advertisement was aired on US television as the last piece of the night on December 31st, 1983. A great story, great timing, launching a revolutionary product, in the most visually stimulating of manners.
For most start-ups storytelling on the scale of Apple is but a dream, but remember, a great story is just that; a great story.
Try to be compelling, to educate, to solicit an emotional response, or to launch a movement or campaign.
Keep it simple and develop a style that suits your start-up and appeals to your customer.
And most of all; tell your story with the passion with which you build your brand.
Brendan Harding is an Irish-born content creative living and working in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. As content creative with Teamgate CRM software his role is to discover new angles for telling interesting, informative, and educational stories from the world of business.