How to Start-up (and Run) a Small IT Business

So you have decided to start up your very own IT Company? Congratulations! Taking the step out of your 9 to 5 routine and into self-employment is a big decision. You no longer need to face authoritarian bosses telling you what to do and when to do it. However, if you’re thinking: no more pressure – freedom will now determine my new lifestyle, you are both right and wrong.

In fact, it’s true, the great news is that you didn’t just get rid of your boss…you BECAME the boss! However in the same way that you are now the boss, you have to assume all of the associated responsibilities, as being freelance is by no means a walk in the park.

it business startup tips
photo credit: taminator

What we are talking about a massive change in your life, perhaps THE most important change ever. The feeling is overwhelming: freedom, excitement, creativity, a whole new meaning in life. Nevertheless, you know, or you might suspect that the excitement and the honeymoon feeling won’t last forever. This is because, providing all goes well with your fledgling business, routine will soon kick in. If it doesn’t (as great as that might sound) it may well mean that you’re set to face big problems.

All things considered then, before slipping your resignation letter, on your current employers desk, you really do need to have a plan, a very detailed plan at that and you also have to make sure that you’ve taken reality check, because in spite of the romanticised perception you might have about it, running your own company is hard work. So, no matter how tired you are of your moody boss you shouldn’t forget that being someone’s boss is even harder.

So, first things first, let me set the record straight – I am not saying: don’t even consider starting up your own business, as doing so is one of the most rewarding projects that life can offer you. This said, before you embark on this journey you have to make sure that you know what it will entail, and what will be required of you.. You will never be able to prepare yourself for everything, but you should at least try.

Before you get into all of the details you have to understand that you are not Steve Jobs, you are not Apple or Microsoft or any other well-known brand. You are a person with your own, very unique talents, or maybe a small team of people, who hopefully have some great ideas and definitely have a lot of courage. So, don’t try and compete against the big guys, instead, make use of your very own skill-set and unique your situation. Start small but don’t forget to dream big. Get the basics right and learn as much as you can about the details.

An office building, company meetings, company policies and business insurance are obvious things that you have to think of. These things are sorted out easily: If you still need help you can see some options for business insurance by industry. Nevertheless, you should not forget about some, frequently ignored, but, very basic, factors.

It is all about ideas

The first and most basic step when starting out is your business idea. Do you really want to copy a well-known brand? Of course, it worked for big companies but why should you constrain yourself to copying something that already exists? Who needs yet another trendy app with yet another fancy name, that basically does, exactly the same thing than an existing, well established app already does? Yes, you guessed it – no one. You are, as yet, still an UNKNOWN brand and in order to become KNOWN you need to add value to the market.

The most effective way to add value is to come up with a brand new, unique product. It might be a challenge, but, if you get your business idea right, not much can go wrong. Or can it?

Have you thought about your team?

Another key to success is your team. If you are planning to work entirely on your own you can skip over this section – and I’d advise you to start seeking out some company in your spare time, because you might feel pretty isolated at work.

If you have talented people around you whom you trust and who trust you and you can go into business with them, or just work alongside them then you have the perfect conditions to be successful and enjoy what you do. Having said this, however, starting up a business with your best friends can be dangerous: for your business and your friendships.

Friendship might help in other areas of life but work is not about friendship – it is about working as a team. There are many teams out there who don’t socialise with each other and who have very different interests and hobbies. These are often teams made up of people who would probably never even enter into contact with each other if it wasn’t for work, but they work amazingly well together, because, from a work point of view together they make up an incredible team.

When it comes to your team, simply bear in mind that not everyone can be a leader and the centre of attention. Fortunately, not everyone enjoys attention; however, every team does needs a leader… someone who IS responsible, keeps an eye on everyone and is not afraid of ‘serious’ talks if things go wrong. You will need dynamic people who can convince, fight and be aggressive. Nevertheless, you also need hard workers, who do all the dirty work and don’t mind not getting any attention whatsoever.

Putting together a team that operates according to everyone’s particular skill set is hard work as it requires understanding the talents and weak points of every single team member. It is challenging but nothing works better than a well-balanced, motivated team. Moreover, if you are friends on top of that you have a valuable asset that you can be proud of.

Keep going

Once you have started your business successfully, you might start to enjoy this new routine that appears to work well. Nevertheless, you should also be wary of routine. It’s true that after a nail-biting start-up period, having a routine can be comforting, however, if you lean back for too long new dangers could creep up on you.

What you need next is a development plan. Whilst all of the points I have made so far could be valid for any business a good development plan is absolutely crucial in the case of IT companies. IT is THE industry today and new IT start-up companies are constantly popping up. This means that, as just one of many people who have decided to start up their own IT Company you can’t afford to relax as you have to keep up with the rest.

What is more, the quicker you press ahead in terms of your development, (taking care not to rushing into anything too quickly either) the better prepared you’ll be to face the competition. So, don’t just sit back, have a plan in mind, set your daily/weekly/monthly/annual goals and do your utmost to meet them. In a nutshell…never ever stand still.

Unfortunately headlines can sometimes be misleading; let me explain: working in IT you’ve probably come across many ‘how-to lists’. Nevertheless, there is no sure and fast method or guarantee when it comes to creating a successful business. However, provided you bear in mind these very basic points and develop them in more details according to your personality, team and product, your chances of success will be much higher. The most important thing that you can do is try and give your very best every day.