Tech entrepreneur Levon Antonian, CEO and co-founder of Halian – an IT consultancy built up by Levon from scratch to a £30m turnover, 500-employee multinational – shares his top 10 tips with fellow tech entrepreneurs.
Here’s his top advice:
- Don’t expect your product or service to sell itself – you have to sell, differentiate, add value or die. Winning new customers and keeping them for the long term is vital whatever you are doing.
- Do build a top team of people around you who understand and share your vision and who will help create a culture. Make sure they pass the “beer test” – would you enjoy having a few beers with this person – you’re going to work with them eight hours a day and spend more time in their company than you are with your wife.
- Don’t get too clever with the taxman – minimising your tax bill is good practice but don’t let it wag the dog’s tail or drive you to the wrong side of the law.
- Don’t stretch yourself too thinly or try to do everything yourself – the art of being hands-on and in the detail on everything, at some point delivers diminishing returns. You have to trust others to do what they are paid for.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of a good Finance man – collecting cash is king but getting the accounting done is right up there. Otherwise it’s like driving in the dark without the lights on.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no” to a customer who wants you to cut your margin to an unreasonable level. Better to be willing to negotiate on other variables in the deal or walk away.
- Do write a business plan with a clear vision of why you are in business and what you what to achieve – share it with your top team, review it constantly and change it in the light of real life feedback.
- Do see the wider global market opportunity – we all need to compete internationally and may find better opportunities overseas. Brexit or not, we live in a globalised marketplace.
- Do use technology as an enabler and equalizer – from email to AI apps, technology is all pervasive and all conquering if used well. Customers expect to be able to buy from you as easily as from Amazon.
- Do stay close to your family – when the going gets really tough, you will really need them to be there for you. “Money can’t buy me love”. Being a successful entrepreneur can be a lonely job. It’s even more lonely for a divorced entrepreneur.