Seven Growth Factors for IT Startups

There is a twofold challenge when it comes to growing your own information technology startup company. On the one hand, information technology seems to be everywhere, and it’s in a constant state of change. So, opportunities are always presenting themselves for IT startup companies.

On the other hand, despite some common perceptions, opportunities in technology aren’t always ubiquitous. In other words, they don’t exist everywhere and all the time. Often, it’s a matter of knowing who needs what and when regarding technological infrastructure.

In order to be a successful IT startup company, the formula that works for most startups usually applies:

  1. Successfully predict what will be in demand.
  2. Find how to supply it.

Yes, it’s about supply and demand, and learning how the two can be utilized for successfully is crucial for most information technology startups. Let’s take a quick look at some of these successful factors in tapping the growth potential of your own information-technology company.

Know Your Market. Despite the perception that information technology is everywhere, it’s not a level playing field out there. Simply stated, some regions are more ready for information-technology services than others.

The World Economic Forum has produced a Networked Readiness Index for 2015, which is the latest assessment of which countries are more prepared to adopt information-technology services than others. Singapore is at the top of the list, followed by Finland and Sweden. The United States is eighth, Japan tenth, and Canada eleventh.

Last on the list are African countries Burundi, Guinea and Chad. It doesn’t mean these  regions can’t benefit from IT startup companies, just that their readiness to do so is perhaps less than others. For some information-technology startups, this might be seen as an opportunity rather than a setback.

Know Your Niche. According to the 2016 Technology Industry Outlook provided by Deloitte, there are two competing forces in play in today’s technological landscape. As industry expert Paul Sallomi sees it, on the one hand, there exists a small group of companies that essentially control everything. On the other hand, the continuing fragmentation of the global economy means smaller information-technology startups will always have opportunities in smaller niche areas.

Specifically, according to Sallomi, there will continue to be a demand for affordable and accessible technology, which smaller startups can readily provide. In addition, smaller technology startup companies usually excel at developing prototypes, providing outsourced manufacturing and logistics, as well as accessing global markets where larger companies may not yet have a foothold.

Don’t Always Follow the Crowd. Sam Altman, president of technology incubator Y Combinator, says that about 70 to 80 percent of technology startup companies are chasing the current fad, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that, if you want to do what everyone else is doing, such as providing video streaming technology services, or a social-network platform, expect a lot of other people just like you to be doing the exact same thing.

Instead, Altman points to the timeless formula for success in startup companies: Do what no one else is doing. As easy as that might sound, there are two factors to evaluate when assessing a service or product that few others are doing. One is the cost. Some new technology fields are still costly and less hospitable to technology startups. The other factor is cycle time: the quicker, the better.

IT Startup Growing Pains. All startup companies experience their share of growing pains. The challenge for the information-technology variety is to know how they apply specifically to the IT industry. Lavanya Madras Purushothaman started her own information-technology company, ATS Solutions, in the United Kingdom.

According to Purushothaman, one of the biggest challenges for any IT startup is that you have to do it all on your own: There is no secretary to handle all incoming calls, sales or marketing teams to handle business acquisition, or office assistants or managers to handle scheduling and administration. As an independent IT startup, expect to handle all these responsibilities yourself. As daunting a challenge as this may seem, it’s also one of the rewards of working for yourself, going out on your own, and proving to the world that you can stake your claim proudly and successfully.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help. Because of the constant demands that come with maintaining and developing IT infrastructure, there will always be help available to information-technology startups. This help can come in many different forms, from private venture capital to public crowdfunding campaigns. Governments, both locally and nationally, have a vested interest in helping information-technology startups provide needed infrastructure services, so public assistance can always be available.

Do you have friends from school that have their own IT startup companies? Are their local information-technology businesses you could reach out to for advice and counsel? You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to give you a helping hand — if you just ask.

Piggy-Back Your Services. When starting your own business, you are literally free to do whatever you choose and to seek whatever opportunity you please. For some, this means doing something completely new for people that have yet to use the service. However, for others, it might simply mean attaching yourself to one of the big boys in information technology.

Specifically, chief information officers (CIOs) have become increasingly on the lookout for technology company startups that can provide needed services to their IT departments. One of the reasons why outsourcing has become so widespread, including in IT, is that sometimes the needs of corporations can only be met by innovative, flexible and hungry startups — from the outside.

It’s About the Service. A study published by Aalto University in Finland looked at the specific benefits to information-technology startup companies of focusing on what’s called service design. For IT startup companies, design can apply to the way in which you plan and execute your service to the customer, rather than simply focusing on product delivery. Because, ultimately, that’s what most customers are looking for: a service that meets their specific needs. If you can successfully design such a service, you may well have a competitive advantage over other IT startups that lack such vision.

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