Top 10

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.