Starting your own technology venture or joining a tech start-up is an ever-more viable career option, as large corporations trim back and the Government backs innovation. The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) recently paid out £10,000 each to 18 London-based SMEs this week and has promised funding for start-ups across the country.
The rewards are huge for the successful, with the chance to cash in stock options for employees there from the outset. It’s not an easy path, though. Roughly 80% of new companies fold within 18 months of creation. Most make a profit but run out of cash. Some have the cash but the founders lose the will to go on.
Before you join a tech start-up, or even give up the day job and start your own, check whether you've got what it takes.
Can you talk the talk?
Listen to the language that you use, says Mike Duckett, managing director of Coaching for Success. It will indicate whether you have the enterprising spirit – or not. Entrepreneurs and procedural thinkers sit at either end of a scale that ranges from innovation to execution. So if you use words like ‘options’, ‘opportunity’ and ‘choice’ and constantly think forward, chances are that you have the mindset to be an entrepreneur.
Have you got the motivation?
Entrepreneurs work for reasons other than money, points out Dr Rob Yeung, business psychologist, Talentspace. Bill Gates has billions stashed in the bank, but doesn’t rest on his laurels because has an innate need to succeed. You also have to be robust and able to take the knocks.
Only a certain kind of person can keep getting up and keep knocking on doors. Are you a non conformist? Entrepreneurs do not follow the usual avenues through life. A resistance to the bandwagon will probably show from a young age.
Joining a start-up: who’s hiring?
It’s less a question of joining the right company as hanging out in the right area, as start-ups typically cluster together geographically. London’s Old Street, fondly known as Silicon Roundabout, is host to 170 tech companies and the figure is rising fast. The number of start-ups in the cluster has doubled in eight months, according to Eric Van Der Kleij, CEO of the Tech City Investment Organisation.
"Every one of those companies is perhaps two or three people, working in low-cost shared workspaces, making a product, selling a service. That means something like 1,000-1,500 new jobs," Van Der Kleij told PC Pro.
Skills for a start-up
Most internet businesses need raw programming talent to keep their digital platform souped-up and ahead of the competition. The must-have language for the majority of start-ups is C#; other Internet skills including the web application framework, ASP.NET, Java and SQL Server are also high on the wanted list of start-up recruiters.
Marketinvoice, an online market for trading invoices as a means of raising cash, began business in February and is recruiting more developers. The company looks for gifted C# developers who are also have design and user experience as well.
Start-ups hire at different levels. At the founding stage, the majority like to bring in a chief technology officer to ensure the technology platform is sound. They’ll not only be experienced and gifted technologists but have business acumen and be hungry for success.
Once a business grows it will draft in more developers to scale up the architecture or develop new features. “We traded £900,000 invoices in the first six months, but we expect to trade more than £1 million a month in the future", says chief marketing officer of MarketInvoice, Joao Belo.