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The start-up world for many looks fast paced and exciting. And thanks to shows like Silicon Valley – perhaps even glamorous. As the founder of start-ups that have both failed and succeeded, I can tell you first hand that the reality is far more layered and complex.
Most of your days are spent facing new challenges and overcoming hurdles. Through the experience of failed ventures, false starts, achievements and successes; I have honed in on what I believe are five musts for anyone founding a tech start-up.
Vision and purpose
The foundations of your start-up are an unshakeable vision for your business, with clear reasons why you are about to devote the majority of your waking hours to this idea. There’s a lot of sacrifice involved, personally and professionally, and it’s your passion, and your values that will ensure you overcome the obstacles that every business encounters.
Through my own experience starting a tech business I found my business purpose and it hasn’t changed since I started six years ago. Empowering women to have the confidence to step into the tech space and be educated on how the industry works is my driving purpose and shapes every business decision I make.
Never stop learning
As an entrepreneur, you learn every day by doing. But make sure you also grab any opportunity you can beyond this to build your knowledge. You can always make more money, but using your time to gain knowledge that will push your business forward cannot be overestimated.
Every opportunity to keep learning should be taken – courses, workshops, videos, helpful articles, and even conversations with relevant experts. Learning never ends.
Seek out mentors
Whatever your goals are now, there are other people who’ve been there. Finding other successful tech entrepreneurs to guide me through my own journey has helped me immensely. Research the experts in your industry and reach out! Ask them for coffee. Successful people have mentors themselves. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to extend that relationship to someone else. Having mentors expands your growth through different perspectives on the same issues.
Develop a solid support network
Choose your support system carefully. You’ll need people who love and support you all the way. As well as mentors, you’ll also need people who understand what it is you do, and many of your friends won’t, initially anyway. If you surround yourself with people who run their own businesses, ideally similar to yours, you’ll find many sources of support to guide you through. Talking through challenges with people who get why you do what you do is essential for the best solutions to what you’re going through.
I based the Tech Ready Program on the infinite value that a support system provides for tech start-ups and it’s proven to be one of the strongest elements of the program for all the graduates.
Make time for yourself
I know you’re working hard and probably feel like you don’t have a moment to spare. I often feel like that, but also know that burnout is a real thing, so I find time each day to do something just for me, outside of my business. Just like you recharge your phone, you must recharge your body, and your mind. Whatever it is that helps you feel invigorated or rejuvenated – make sure it’s a part of your day.
As you progress in your journey as a tech entrepreneur, these musts will remain vital so that once your start-up is successful, it will be able to grow with longevity. And you will be able to enjoy the process!
About Christie Whitehill
Christie Whitehill, is a leading entrepreneur and mentor in the Australian tech startup space.