The millennium has provided fertile ground for tech entrepreneurship. There are plenty of opportunities these days to make your ideas see the light of day. But as your company gains momentum and gets its fair share on the market, the question on the agenda is how to not exhaust your thirst for innovation and uphold the entrepreneurial spirit; how to keep team collaboration personal as that of a start-up as your company advances the growth curve. Chris Howard - CEO of Softeq software development company and an eternal tech entrepreneur at heart - kindly shares his way to succeed in doing all of the above.
I founded my first company when I was 24, and I was definitely puzzled. Apart from business or technology problems posed by the market, I was constantly challenged by my staff and partners. How do I inspire them, and how do I keep them motivated and responsible for their obligations? With my most successful business, the same challenges are aggravated by the hyper growth curve we're on. And guess what? My family experience helped a lot, and here is what I learned.
1. Keep an Open Door
My goal from the early days has always been to maintain a very open-minded and friendly atmosphere within our teams. Anyone can stop by and say "Hey Chris, I have an idea" or an issue. I have five kids and ultimately an understanding of how crucial and effective it is to listen.
2. Trust and Empower
Selecting a C-level team can feel like navigating your way through a mine field. You don't want to mess with the wires and the wrong combination may blow up in your face. Once the choices are made, I'm often asked how to ensure your senior executive management team is as efficient as it can be. The answer is simple: trust the people you hire. Given the agile and innovative nature of the high-tech industry, we're constantly evaluating our performance and needs, and bring in new talent to fill in any gaps. Our senior executive management team brings a wealth of experience to the table, and for me the key is to make sure they are all empowered to drive the company forward using each of their unique talents. This trust and empowerment inherently leads to highly motivated employees.
As a student co-op at IBM, I quickly became the "expert" on the department's new PC because I was one of the few who took the time to "Read The Fine Manual." If innovation is your business strength, it's essential to invest a lot in R&D. But it's just as important to hire and promote people who understand the industry and love the challenge of constantly educating themselves. Ask a potential hire about his hobbies and what they do on their off time for some clues. Knowing the technology before your clients emerge with related projects is one guarantee they will recognize you as an expert.
4. Be a Role Model
Another thing I learned from parenting is to do what you said you were going to do and when you said you were going to do it. If you can stick to this rule yourself, your team will follow. It's persistence, belief in your own ability, and attention to detail that cements any relationship -- be it inside or outside your company, or among family and friends. Do what you said you were going to do. It seems so simple, but ironically many people just can't do it. Practice this and you'll stand out above the crowd.
5. Stay Ahead of the Curve
We work a lot for clients from the Electronics, Technology, and Manufacturing industries and they are really humming now. Technology is changing every aspect of people's daily life and business operations and these three fields are traditionally the early adopters. Listen to visionaries, predict trends, be a step ahead, and you'll be able to inspire your associates, impress your clients, and drive their innovative initiatives.