Ever since Tim Ferris published The 4-Hour Workweek and Zuckerberg got us entangled in his social network, Geeks have become the new hot currency. They the only ones who can conceive and build fast growing technology based businesses that are taking the world by storm.
Most of the new fastest growing Fortune 500 companies today (see Google, Apple, Yahoo!, Amazon, Facebook and the like), were started by normal middle class Geeks in their basements, garages and bedrooms, with no initial financial investment, but an innovative idea, a technologically inclined brain and hundreds of hours writing code and developing the project. These new internet and technology entrepreneurs represent the evolvement of entrepreneurship and the innovation in business today.
Those are the kind of people I met at the 4th Open Coffee Cyprus* networking event a few days ago, where 280 people gathered to network and exchange ideas on technology and entrepreneurship specific to internet Start-ups** The speakers, individuals with experience in setting up successful international Start-ups, gave us an insight on what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur in this fast growing online era.
The ideas discussed at the event, are not local to Cyprus or any other country. They are the new global norm of the high-tech online business game and apply specifically to setting up a successful startup, but also include some all time classic values of successful entrepreneurship.
If you are aspiring to be an internet entrepreneur, setup a successful startup or build any kind of business in today’s market, it will take more than an innovative idea to succeed. The tools that we have today however have made it much easier to get your idea out to the world, than it was for the previous generations of entrepreneurs – if you follow certain steps.
The Top 10 Rules of New Entrepreneurship
1. The Team – start with building the right team, comprised of people who have the drive and skills to bring a big idea into fruition. The most important part of this team if you are building an online business is the developer/programmer and if you are not one, ideally at least one of the co-founders must be a great developer.
2. Be Highly Specialized – You can’t win by being too general. The best way to start is to find a niche and build your innovative idea around that specific niche. You must also strive to become the absolute best (ie be people’s No1 selection or the search engine’s favourite) in the niche that you choose.
3. Ideas Vs Implementation – Don’t fool yourself that there are no other people in the world who have the same or a similar idea as your cross their mind, or be scared-off by the fact that your idea can be easily copied and stolen. Ideas are everywhere; the truth is though that most people haven’t taken any steps to implement them yet. So its not about the idea that you have, is having the drive, skills and passion to be the one who will take action and implement successfully.
4. Ask the experts – You can’t ask someone to teach you how to be better in sex, if they have never had sex in their life. It doesn’t matter what university degrees you have, you should look to learn from experts, from people who have done what you want to do. There is a wealth of knowledge available in books, courses, articles and other resources from people who are succeeding right now in what you are trying to do, that is way more relevant to anything that traditional academics will teach you at universities.
5. Get connected – At some stage in the growth of your business, it will be down to the network you will build. Make it your goal to get to know everyone who is anyone in your industry. These new entrepreneurs and technology investors, have an open-door policy to examining good ideas in their industry. Each and every one of them can be useful to your business at some stage.
6. Think Global –You can start local, but make sure you think global right from the start. There is nothing that limits you, other than your mindset. The internet has opened the door to every single person on the planet to become a successful global entrepreneur, work with that idea in mind.
7. Mentors – It’s important in the journey to build your business, to have a good advisory board comprised of experienced people who have build successful businesses before. One of the ways to have mentors by your side, is to give shares to your growing business, so that you can have them on your advisory team.
8. If you build it you will fund it –At some stage, your big idea will need to get funded by investors to move on to its next level. Websites like Kickstarter have made funding of good ideas easier than ever. Your focus should be to first build your big idea into something investors would be willing to seriously look into and then move on to attract the funding, not the other way around.
9. Do not fear rejection – You will have to knock a lot of doors and encounter rejection, especially when promoting your idea to people who can help you (even to your family) and when presenting it to investors. Keep your vision, focus and passion strong. Every successful person on the planet who has build something big and innovative from scratch, have gotten rejected numerous times, but didn’t give up.
10. Stay hungry, Stay foolish – Steve Jobs couldn’t have said it better. Growth, innovation and success comes by staying hungry and foolish, whatever you encounter along the way.
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*Open Coffee: The Open Coffee event is global initiative taking place in many countries around the world, which brings together people interested in technology, entrepreneurship, internet and start-ups, to network and exchange ideas.
** Start-up: the term startup has been associated mostly with technological ventures designed for high-growth. Paul Graham, founder of one of the top startup accelerators in the world, defines a startup as: “A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.” – from Wikipedia