Updated: Jun 10
“There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.” – Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote
Tech startups can be amazing. They are innovative, creative, and can become very lucrative if done right. Not only that, but they often have a great work culture and are constantly growing.
Twenty years ago, Blockbuster was at every corner of every shopping plaza in America. Now they’re obsolete because of software services like Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services. It’s 2021 now and technology is a major part of our society and culture. It’s time to take advantage of using it to grow your own business. But what if you’ve never worked in the tech field before?
Don't worry about it! Tech startups operate like any other business, so proficiency in sales, management, operations, and marketing will all come in handy. The first thing you need to do is have a good grasp of these processes and the skills involved. If you are looking to learn more, check out The Emotions of Business or Experience of an Effective Leader.
Without any tech background, it isn’t going to be an easy “fall-into-place” kind of job. You will definitely need to put in the extra grind to be able to compete, but we know you're committed and want to change the world. We're more than excited to help individuals like you on their pathway to success, so here are the 5 Essentials to create a successful tech startup with no tech experience!
1. Networking and Connections
“Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. They’ll be the richest, the most successful, the most connected, capable and influential among us. We’re all publishers now, and the more we publish, the more valuable connections we’ll make. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Fitbit and the SenseCam give us a simple choice: participate or fade into a lonely obscurity.” – Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your startup. If you don’t know tech, then you need to know people who do. Start connections wherever you can. A good place to start is by using networking tools like LinkedIn, Meetup, or even Facebook groups. Switch up the way you talk, share some common interests by reviewing their profile and bring it up to make a good first impression (not in a stalky way). By consistently sending custom messages to people you feel are in a great position for your personal endeavor, you ultimately skyrocket your chances of potentially finding your future Co-Founder.
Networking with people is not only a great method of recruiting people who are interested in helping grow the business, but it’s a method of marketing your business and your individual self. Make connections with universities to talk with teachers and leaders along with prospective students. Even use Instagram and Twitter; use all your online networking resources! Don't be shy, these are the tools that can take you to the top of your game. Think about it all you need is one "yes" to form an official team, so shoot your shot and don't miss!
Email the leading professors at your university about your interest in the field you’re looking at. Ask them for recommendations or any advice they can give to propel you further into the field. Show them your drive and they may connect you with additional resources.
Do you have a mentor? On average, some of the most successful people have had half a dozen mentors or more in their lifetime. Having a mentor will expedite your own growth. You can use a website like growthmentor.com to pay someone to be a mentor in your field. Either way, mentorship will fast-track your skills to the next level.
Social Media is one of the easiest places to make connections nowadays. Nearly everyone uses some form or another and you can connect with people in every walk of life through the entire world.
Start by using topic-related hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. Consistently make professional and relevant posts to grow a following. Look for influencers and professionals in the same field to replicate. Then you can search through their comments, likes, and follows and followers to find potential connections!
Facebook and LinkedIn can also be used in similar ways. You should keep both platforms very professional, but there is more lax to Facebook. Facebook can offer you group connections that you can casually immerse yourself within, LinkedIn is a much more formal platform to make direct connections with individuals. Send a laid-back message explaining your goals to people who might be interested in your company to start a dialogue. Just be sure to keep it business-casual; never salesy or pushy.
You may have a world-altering idea, but without the skills to make it happen, that idea isn’t worth much. Find people who you can learn from or who would want to work with you to make your ideas become reality.
2. Create Something Tangible
“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” - Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup
You have a great idea to revolutionize how people buy candy online. You have the schematics and a full-proof plan, but you need investors. Who is going to buy all the candy that you will be shipping out? Where are you going to ship the candy from?
It takes a lot of time to find the perfect partner to start this dream candy shop, and not many people will devote their time and resources to something that they cannot even see. You need to create content to show people you mean business.
This may mean just setting up a website using Wix, WordPress, SquareSpace, or others. It’s a simple step that also creates a holding place for what’s to come once you do get that tech backup on your side.
Once you have a domain, market yourself and your business. Creating interest in something that doesn’t have any profit or data to show could be difficult. Starting with something tangible makes it easier. Get followers or prospective clients on social media or your website to show investors your high potential.
3. Learn All The Basics
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” –Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
You are not going to be expected to understand the full depth of coding, formatting, website building, and all the other aspects that go into building a tech startup overnight. In fact, you may not be expected to know these details at all. Just because people don’t expect it does not mean it isn’t needed though.
You might think that since you’ve found a hard-working and dedicated engineering team to do the tech portion of your online candy shop for you, you don’t need to learn any coding anymore. Maybe you don’t, but you’re the problem-solver and the idea-maker. If there is a tech problem, shouldn’t you be the one to help solve it?
Use your resources. All those connections you’ve made with people in the libraries, on Facebook, or in those conferences are useful. You spent days and weeks networking to build long-lasting connections; all that time spent isn’t for something temporary. Use them as much as possible. Utilize your team, Social media, Podcasts, and blogs to help you learn the basic hard skills.
4. Know The Competition and Find Your Niche
"Move fast. Speed is one of your main advantages over large competitors." - Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator
This is a basic building block for any company, not just a tech startup. Since the internet is littered with startup SaaS models, not only do you need to know all about the companies that offer the same thing your idea may offer, but you also need to know why yours is better.
Maybe your online, subscription-based, worldwide sourced, Candy Store is a brand new idea that you’ve never seen before! You should know about other similar businesses and be prepared to have other people replicate your idea down the line. It’s essential to know what your business model is and how it makes a profit. Bonus points if you are aware of similar businesses in-depth and know how they work inside and out. That way you can always stay ahead of the game.
Another good tactic is to look at your product as a customer to get a better understanding of their perspectives and opinions. Do the same with other businesses. You’re not the only Candy Shop in the world, so don’t act like you are. You can use the same resources as listed above to find similar businesses. Look at them from as many perspectives as possible to create a detailed idea of how you can improve. Read through the competition’s reviews and suggestions and make note of them constantly.
Try to be aware of new trends too. All these movements and changes that we see every day are a good indicator of how people are feeling and adapting, so be sure your concepts and ideas are able to change and adapt as needed. Next week there may be a decision to add a new tax on imported candy- know what’s going on in the world and make the changes needed to make sure your business is successful.
5. Don’t Negate Your Own Skills
“Life doesn’t always present you with the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. Opportunities come when you least expect them.” – Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube
You’re starting your SaaS startup with no experience in a tech background, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience. To be successful in a startup of any kind, you need a plethora of soft skills. Communication, emotional-intelligence, critical-thinking, people skills, are all important to lead your company.
The fact that you are reading this post and (assumedly) doing other research shows your dedication to succeed. You can go to school to learn coding and other useful tech skills, but motivation, innovation, and dedication are three skills that cannot be taught.
You’ve got to hone your natural skills as much as possible. Read books, watch educational content, listen to podcasts, and utilize your mentors. You are a problem-solver and have useful skills to bring to the company so make sure you stay at the top of your game.
Are You Ready?
Using these tips, you’ve got a good team where everyone has their own specific skills, talents, and roles. Your online candy shop or any other online business you plan on starting now has a great start-off point. Make sure you get investors to show interest and market your idea to the right people. Even though you started off not knowing a lick of content creation or SaaS development, you now have an up and running business.