The internet doesn’t make global markets ‘accessible’ or ‘easy to break into’...It makes it possible.
"If you’ve started your own business, you’ll know there’s no shortage of people willing to give you advice – whether it’s from professionals or amateurs, friends or foes," says Simon Baker, founder and CEO of CricHQ.
“Too often the most readily available ‘advice’ comes from people who have never founded a business, taken a risk, or done the hard yards themselves,” says Baker, who founded CricHQ in 2010.
“What I’ve learned is there’s no guarantee of success, he tells CIO New Zealand.
“Entrepreneurship may start with an idea, but execution and hard work is what determines success,” he says on the key themes he discusses during such forums.
His recent speaking engagements include the Collision Conference in New Orleans and the RISE conference in Hong Kong. The latter had more than 10,000 delegates from 70-plus countries.
Baker says good advice in one situation might be bad in another. He reckons, “the best tool you’ve got is hindsight, ensuring you don’t make the same mistake twice."
With this in mind, he shares his “top five tips to set you up, not trip you up” when starting a business.
First, “Trust your instincts.”
“Entrepreneurs are often overwhelmed with advice that can distract them from acting on their own insights and understanding of their industry,” states Baker.
“When seeking advice, make use of informal networks and remember to trust your instincts. Don't rush to appoint paid advisers or appoint a board. And take time to choose the right people and partners with the experience to help your business grow and prosper.”
When looking for investment, we need to bring our A-game from the outset if we want to compete with startups coming out of Asia, the US and the UK.
Second, “Stay on top of the numbers.”
“Many people advocate getting a financial adviser involved early because of their ability to help manage the business and raise capital.
“Great CFOs with the right experience and networks are hard to find,” he says. “To start with, get a good accountant, part-time or full-time as required, and explore Virtual CFOs (as a service) when the time is right.”
Third, “ Global customers have fishhooks.”
“The internet doesn’t make global markets ‘accessible’ or ‘easy to break into’,” he explains. “It makes it possible, but the more markets you enter the more time zones, geographic barriers, and cultural differences there are to overcome.”
He says CricHQ has more than 100 staff across six countries. “We’ve chosen our markets carefully and it has paid off.”
Fourth, “Know when to protect, or share IP.”
“Trademarks and patents can cost a huge amount of time and financial resource to establish and often there is little value,” says Baker.
“In fact, some of the best gains I’ve made have been because I’ve trusted others with my ideas rather than keeping these close to my chest. A better use of your time and energy is focusing on strategies that overcome the competition, rather than protect against it.”
Fifth, “Professionalise your offering and look for investment abroad.”
“New Zealanders are lucky that we value innovation as a nation and that seed investment is relatively easy to attract,” he states.
“Beyond this, too often our ‘number eight wire’ approach does us a disservice in the international market.”
“When looking for investment, we need to bring our A-game from the outset if we want to compete with startups coming out of Asia, the US and the UK,” he says.
New Zealand has a great international reputation, and there are plenty of investors looking for great ideas in our market, he adds.
To ICT professionals who want to tread the entrepreneurial route as he had (Baker’s previous employers included Telecom [now Spark], Fujitsu and Civica), he advises:
“Starting up a business takes a huge amount of commitment and sacrifice… If you're in any doubt as to whether this is for you, it's probably not. “
Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap
Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.