Why one say “No” to IT start-ups?

I have personally interviewed a lot of students and asked them why they do not want to join a start-up or SME. I have even asked many IT professionals why they always prefer joining IT MNCs and not SMEs/start-ups.

I will not elaborate much on this, but just in brief would want to share with you the reasons for someone not joining a start-up.

80% of the candidates feel start-ups (1-7 employees) are more interested in “Profit Maximization” rather than “Wealth Maximization”. Hence they feel in secured. Few of the candidates say that start-ups need to be professional (not casual). Some of them feel that start-ups are not “stable” in nature. There are even cases when candidates do not prefer joining a start-up because of peer pressure of the society.  So all these negativity spreads via word of mouth and goes viral, almost like a grapevine,  because of which a candidate does not dare to take the “risk” of joining start-ups (No, I am not blaming the candidate for not taking the risk).

Let me assume 80% start-ups are ambitious, they have a future plan, they are working ethically and are thriving hard to achieve something. But may be out them one player has caused a problem, ill treated a candidate or did something unethical, which in turn spoiled the brand name of the entire IT start-up community.  

Branding does not come by building a glossy website or having a presence in social media. Branding should be an “in-ward – out” approach.  Branding is an evolutionary process and fragile in nature.  So next time if you are not getting any resource to work for your start-up, do not blame the candidate. Let us accept our mistakes (if we have done any) and correct them, minimize the problems as much as possible and let us hold hands to build a strong IT start-up community.

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Background check – Why many entrepreneurs will fail?

I know “failure is pillar of success” but let us for a moment analyse why many entrepreneurs or start-ups will fail. You will get to read many blog posts as “Why start-ups fail” but let us go to the fundamentals and find the root cause of the problem.

Note: When I say start-ups and entrepreneurs, I mean IT start-ups/IT entrepreneurs with a team strength of 0-10 people.

If you do a dissection of a typical IT company there are 3 major parts each of which can be further sub-divided.

1. Business Promoters/Business Development Heads – their designation may vary from company to company.

2. Support – Finance Personnel, HR Personnel, Facilities Personnel.

3. IT professionals – Developers, Designers, Testers – (primarily)

The trend has been found that 60-70% of the IT start-up entrepreneurs are from last the segment – IT Professionals. Lets dive deeper into this:

Situations:

1)      IT Professionals just hop from one company to another. Life becomes monotonous. They start thinking that they know everything after staying in the industry for just about 4-5 years and then they move out to start their own IT Start-up. In many cases, they move out stealing client base from their previous companies. Sometimes these IT professionals move out because “they had a fight with the management.”

2)       IT Professionals stay in an IT organization say for about 10-12 years or may be even more and then they feel it is time for them to do something good for the society. So they move out to start their own start-up, without even understanding the “business”.

3)      Another trend which is seen recently is that students are discarding their education and getting straight into building start-ups. When asked why have you discontinued your studies? They reply “look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates”. In some cases students with poor marks cannot get into IT companies and end up starting their own venture. Many start calling themselves “Next Gen-Entrepreneurs.” Even they will fail because 80% of them do freelancing projects and freelancing is not entrepreneurship.

The initial 1-2 years is exciting for these so called entrepreneurs but slowly the problem creeps in – financial issues (because they do not understand business), human resource related issues (cannot recruit people nor can they retain them), marketing/sales (majority are “technical” and have never done sales/marketing in the past), operational issues (output affects).

Advices:

  1. Think a number of times before you start your venture. Journey ahead is not easy.
  2. Knowing technology does not mean you can start a business. Give more weight age on business. After all technology is just a tool.
  3. Think who will work for you before starting anything new.
  4. Motivate students to work in start-ups first, which is the need of the hour rather than telling them blindly “go start your venture”.
  5. Do not build something or start something just because you like it (just to satisfy your creative urge).  Indentify the need first.