There has been a rise in technology entrepreneurship as a movement since last 10 years in India before which new technology businesses were essentially due to business expansion by corporate and business communities in India. Now, we are witnessing the rise entrepreneurial community at grass root level comprising of technocrats driven by innovation and passion to make a strong impact on socio-economic development of India. A number of constraints which previously acted as a road block to India’s Entrepreneurship Story have been overcome by paradigm shift in technological, business and political environment. India is producing more number of quality engineering and technology professionals than ever before who are empowered with technology and information to solve problems at the regional, national and global level. Capital which is one of the key factors for starting and running business is not a barrier now because of better availability of funding than ever before.
Now as one can expect conducive conditions in India to start and run his business, the question arises; Is today’s technology professional ready to take up the entrepreneurial challenge in such a highly competitive business environment? This question intrigues us to ponder upon the key skills professionals should particularly develop to face the common business challenges and emerge as a successful entrepreneur.
Developing a solution that solves problems
The best entrepreneurs don’t come up with great ideas, they solve market needs. Unless a technological innovation doesn’t satisfy a substantial need, it doesn’t make any business sense to start business on that idea. Engineering and technology professionals are trained to solve problems. New businesses are born when technology solves the problem being faced by the public and corporate. Hence, the success of every business is management’s ability in taking the solution to the market and selling the same which is bound to happen if solution fills a void. Professionals should develop marketing skills to assess the market needs and commercial viability of the solutions in the real time market.
Know when to detach from engineering function
A not so perfect technology solution is not among the common reasons for business failures. Technologists as entrepreneurs need to know when to detach themselves from engineering function and focus on business aspects. You need to focus on customers first before maximizing the functionality. Technocrats engrossed with the engineering tend to lose business focus. I could observe business failure from my personal experience with a solar power consulting start up in India where due to excess focus of the top management on engineering function as they themselves used to spend considerable time in engineering job that they lost time for focusing on customers and developing new business. Technical person can’t expect to do an engineering job themselves all the time. However, you need to focus on business and mentor the technical professionals you employ to increase functionality gradually. You should understand and learn to prioritize and manage diverse business functions like business development, project management, human resources management etc.
The hardest part is the ability of taking the solution to market and sell
There is a famous old adage by engineers, “If we build it, they will come”, doesn’t hold true today. However, today’s reality is that unless the value is proposed appropriately to the targeted customers, customers will not get connected to the offerings and even if got connected but the offerings are not communicated aggressively through multiple channels available customers will be swayed by competitors’ offerings due to effective marketing and customer engagement. With excessively available information these days, selling is always required. You need to understand the marketing channels (print, digital, radio, tv) to select apt channels and use them effectively. Secondly, you should learn selling aspects related their industry, effective selling process, negotiation skills and related analytical and sales support tools like CRM, BI, web analytics, social media analytics for prospecting, making sales closures and serving customers.
A common personality attribute particularly observed among engineering and technology professionals is introversion which can be quite detrimental to the business success as no business survives without relationships since it’s of utmost important to get out there, build relationships with suppliers to supply goods and services to serve your customers, financiers to fund you, employees to help you attain business goals, customers to trust you for buying your goods and services, mentors to give you strategic direction and corporate & government agencies to support your business and partner with you. The good new news is that introvert professional can turn into extrovert one by taking proper training and practicing. You need to understand the value of relationships in business and develop related skills to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the stakeholders.
Keeping your control to keep your idea alive
As an entrepreneur, you would never like to be in the situation as faced by Steve Jobs where he was asked to leave the company he founded by the board of directors. Outside funding causes loss of control and excessive pressure to deliver. Funding is quite indispensable for a start-up during the growth stage to scale up the business. Investors’ interest lies in earning returns from the money invested in the growth of company by scaling a proven business model of entrepreneurs, and they tend to avoid funding for R&D. You need to learn business, financial and legal implications of funding to able to bring in the right amount of funding from the right kind of investors to achieve common business interests to keep the idea alive for which the venture was started.
Today stars are in your favor to be entrepreneurs. In this well connected world by technology where everybody has easy access to information, the skills can be developed and insights can be gathered quickly by already trained professionals like engineers and technologists to face the toughest challenges thrown by highly competitive business environment at national, regional and global level. With the economy on the growth stage in India, we need more and more technology entrepreneurs to satisfy our rising demands and solve the basic as well as intricate problems using technological solutions. It is time for you to make a real contribution to India’s socio-economic development.