The Startup Mentality from Adam McKenna, lead developer at Zetec IT Solutions and second year student at the University of Sunderland.
The word startup has become quite the buzzword in the last few years, and rightly so. The ‘startup mentality’ means so much to so many different people, and I believe this is mainly due to how accessible it can be to create and nurture a startup venture, no matter how old you are, it's never too late to say "I want to start my own business", and you're never too young, either. Zetec IT Solutions is a digital firm offering beautiful, bespoke, modern and fully responsive website UI/UX and development and app development solutions, myself and my business partner, Dane, who is currently a first year Web Design and Development student at Northumbria University, started up the business in 2014 and have never looked back. We have learned so much, had some great experiences and are looking forward to the future! Often, though, many people are shocked that we started up so young, and while studying, but in this day and age I really don't think it should be a shock anymore, but more of a norm. Plus, we’re tired of being the youngest in the room at every event. It's (probably) easier than you think! When we first planned on starting up the business, some questioned the decision with statements such as "starting up a business is really hard, you know?” They weren’t mistake, as I discussed during a talk at an Enterprise Day event at Sunderland College, it does require hard work, determination and resilience. But, fear not, as there are many solutions out there to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and evolve their startup venture into a fully developed business. First off, there are a large amount of support options out there for startups, Zetec IT Solutions were supported extensively by the University of Sunderland's Enterprise Place, who offered us office space, business support, advice sessions and loads more to help us get moving. There are many more options across the country, so if you're thinking about starting up, it's worth seeing what's available in your area. Understandably, one of the biggest concerns for startups is finance. Alas, there are options here too, for example, there are loan options, such as the Virgin StartUp Loan, or if you have a really good idea, you could go down the business investor route. You could even start the business part time, using your job as financial support until your business takes off. I’m certainly not a financial advisor, just providing some food for thought. I would recommend speaking to someone who knows their stuff to see which route would best suit your business. The age old line “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” partly stands true when starting a business. Sure, it’s nice to have technical ability, but futile if you have nobody to offer your expertise to, likewise it’s great having a database full of contacts, but futile with nothing to offer them. It’s about keeping balance, make sure that you focus on increasing your contacts and connections, whilst ensuring your business offering is solid, efficient and good value (for both you and your client). In relation to the building contacts, there are a variety of methods, the first and natural choice is networking – there are countless networking events hosted on a daily basis in our area, it’s worth checking out what’s available. However, for us, networking is certainly not the best source of work. For us, it has been about essentially ensuring that everyone we know and meet is aware of what we do, and you never know, they might need your services, or even know somebody who does. Some of our best projects have been via referrals from people we have met in a social context, or via mentors, family members, friends, etc. Planning is important too (yes, even startups have boring stuff to do!). Writing a solid business plan is always a go to option for most startups, as it outlines a variety of aspects, including the offering of the business, financials, staff, etc. and ensures that every basis is covered, confirming that the business is a good move, or identifying areas of weakness, that could be improved or changed. As alluded to earlier, starting a business does not require years of experience in industry or business, sure, it is nice to have experience in your relevant sector, and we would strongly recommend doing so, even if it’s unpaid, but it’s not a decisive factor in starting your own enterprise. Some of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time started with little/no work experience and very, very young – including greats such as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – founders of Apple, Bill Gates and Paul Allen – founders of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin – founder of Facebook, even Sreelakshmi Suresh, an 18 year old web designer from India, who started her business at age 8. If you’re seriously thinking about birthing your own startup, regardless of your background, age, financial predicament, I urge you to give it a go. (But be smart!) If you’re ever looking for bespoke web UI/UX design and development or app development, we’d love to have a chat, find us at www.zetec-it.com.