Business people are becoming increasingly attracted to technology startups. We dream of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or the next Instagram. I spoke with an undergraduate the other day who quit during his third year of college to pursue a technology startup in Silicon Valley.
Business people need to realize that we are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to technology startups. We can’t code the technology, we don’t understand the principles of usability and experience, and we aren’t graphic designers. We’re at the mercy of the product, which means that we’re not in control of our company.
Early stages of a technology startup
The ideal technology startup is founded by three people:
While the engineer and designer build the product, the CEO does everything else: raises funding, finds clients, finds users, does the accounting, the legal, and recruits talent.
There is an opportunity for a business person to become the CEO of a technology startup, but from my experience, it’s extremely beneficial for the CEO to be an engineer as well because they can help build the product, help recruit other talented engineers, and they tend to get more respect from investors.
What about sales or users?
During the early stages of a startup, sales is all how to find a first mover and how to get a customer to pay for your product. It’s the process of discovery, of figuring out what your target market wants, and more importantly, if you’re going after the right market. Therefore, it’s extremely important that the executive team is involved with the initial sales process: the CEO, the engineer, and the designer.
Do not hire a sales person. It’s a waste of money. At the early stages of a technology company, you have no idea what to sell and who to sell it to. Sales people should only be brought on board once you have figured out what you’re selling, to whom you’re selling to, and how much you’re selling it for.
It’s of vital importance to get the Chief Technology Officer on sales calls and meetings. They need to understand the target market’s mindset to know that the product the company is building fits the needs of the target market.
What is a business person suppose to do?
First of all, stay away from technology startups.
Instead, a business person should seek to build a company based on their skills and abilities:
- The ability to network
- The ability to sell a product
- The ability to drive traffic to a website
Furthermore, the business model of the company should not be based on fundraising at the beginning in hopes of making money eventually; instead, the business model should focus on profitability from the very beginning.
In essence, the business person should focus efforts on building a lifestyle business.
How to build a lifestyle business
The first step is to truly understand the intersection of the following:
- What do you like to do
- What are you great at
- How can you make money
Everyone is different. I’ll give you an example of the intersections for my lifestyle business:
- I like to travel
- I can drive traffic to a website better than anyone I know
- I can monetize the traffic through affiliate deals
Take care of yourself before you take care of the world
I have great respect for entrepreneurs that want to fundamentally change an industry or that strive to make a positive change in the world. But many of these entrepreneurs are struggling to make ends meet, focusing more on how they can help others as opposed to how they can help themselves.
My suggestion is to first establish a lifestyle business, one that generates sustainable income and allows you to focus your time and efforts on what you really want to do.
Jun Loayza is the Founder of Tour Woo, the easiest way to book a tour online. In his startup experience, Jun has raised over $ 1,000,000 in funding, sold two internet startups, and lead social campaigns for Levi’s, Sephora, and Whole Foods Market. Read his blog to learn how to build a lifestyle business.