Everyone has an idea for an application. Whether that idea is a great idea or a bad idea is always up for debate, but most people have a sense of what they would love to build if they could. The main perceived stumbling block is the lack of technical experience, and the time it takes to get the idea up and running.
But that does not mean that you cannot start a tech company with zero experience, as I have done it myself. Here are some quick and most importantly practical tips for people who are keen to take on the challenge.
#1 Take A Break From Netflix, YouTube, Video Games And Nights Out
Starting a company is long term commitment, and you need to get into the mindset of working on your evenings and weekends. You will have a lot to get done if you want to get through this list, and the only way to be efficient is to give up the various distractions surrounding you. That is not to say give them up permanently, but you might be surprised at how much you get done in six months without all the noise.
#2 Gain Some Basic Technical Skills
A basic understanding of technology is not hard to come by. Try to focus on areas relevant to your particular idea, you will not need to become an expert, but you should have a rough idea of how your idea will function and how it will be built. Spend the first month or two of your newfound spare time taking an online course in the relevant field. I can recommend Harvard’s CS50, which is free and provides a great overview of computer science or Xccelerate, which provides part-time and full-time courses in person.
#3 Improve Your Soft Skills
Meet and talk to people in the industry. Do you have a friend in the field, or can anyone recommend you to someone? Meet that person for a coffee and talk to them about the latest trends in the industry. Ask them to introduce you to 2-3, more people and this will quickly grow your confidence and your network. If you struggled in the previous section to identify areas to focus on with your idea, then this is the time to ask people to help you identify what you need to learn.
#4 Research Your Idea
There is no point spending the next six months on what you think is a great idea only to discover that there is no actual demand for it in the real world. Engage with your target audience to find out what is missing in their field and where the opportunities are. Try to meet people in person as much as you can but remember that you can also do a lot of this online as well there are loads of focused Facebook groups you can join to get started.
#5 Figure Out Your Motivation
First, you must understand that starting a company is long term commitment. Forget any ideas of building up a company in two years and then selling it at a large profit. This is just not practical unless you are an experienced entrepreneur. You must be in the mindset that if this company is successful, it may take up the next decade of your life at least.
Hence money is simply not a sufficient motivator to make your company successful. That is not to say that money should not motivate you, but if you do not enjoy what you are doing, then you will not have the willpower to push through hard times (and things will get hard). So, whilst you might have plenty of money-making schemes in your head, make sure the one you pick is one that you can stick out for the next 5 to 10 years.
#6 Build An MVP
A minimum viable product is basically a functioning version of your idea stripped back to the bare minimum. This does not need to look pretty or even function perfectly. It only needs to serve as a validation that your idea can work and be successful. There are a few ways you can build this out.
- You can build it yourself, using your newfound technology skills. Potentially build it as the final project for one of these online courses.
- Partner with someone tech-savvy. There are a lot of tech-savvy people that lack the soft skills necessary for running a business. They will need you just as much as you need them.
- Hire out the building of an MVP to a Digital Creative Agency. This will not cost as much as you may think since you only need the barebones of an application to be built, rather than a fully developed and tested application.
#7 Start The Company
You will never get anywhere unless you have the courage to take risks. Get started by incorporating a company and the impetus will carry you along. In Hong Kong there are a variety of things you need to consider:
- Choose a Company Name: Check to see if another company has already taken it in the Companies Registry (icris.cr.gov.hk).
- Find a company secretary: They must be someone independent from yourself and they must reside in Hong Kong. Choose a reliable friend or family member that can help you.
- Fill in the forms and get registered. Ask a friend who has started a company before, read some of the tutorials online, or outsource it. To start a limited company, you will normally need the following three things:
- NNC1: A form that outlines the company name, directors, shares and address.
- IRBR1: A simple form that gives notice to the Business Registry
- Articles of Association: You can use the sample copies available from the E-registry website.
#8 Get An Online Presence
In the modern world, businesses that do not have a strong online presence tend to suffer. Most customers will research your business on the internet before they decide to do any kind of business with you. Let us get you set up with some steps:
- Register a domain name for your company. Check the provides GoDaddy, NameCheap or HostGator to see what is available. Note that .com, .com.hk, and .net websites tend to provide your business with an air of legitimacy.
- Set up email accounts through the same provider. I would recommend getting an email for each director and a general info address as well.
- Set up a website. Look for YouTube videos about setting up a simple WordPress website for your company (the above providers will integrate with WordPress). WordPress is free and open-source so there is plenty of support and templates to help you. Consider getting your website professionally made as it will become synonymous with your brand and is generally considered one of the best ROI that a start-up can make.
- Start your social media pages and keep them updated! Choose some of the following: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube. Try to post at least every two days on one of the accounts to gain more support and followers. Research social media strategies online and come up with a marketing plan, or simply outsource it to a Digital Creative Agency and let them handle it.
#9 Complete Your Company Admin
Now that you have started your company and set up your online presence, now you need to get into the day to day running of the business. There are few things you need to keep track of:
- Start maintaining your financial records. Start recording all your costs and start keeping your receipts. Get an Excel spreadsheet going that tracks all your company spending daily.
- Get business cards: You can get some cheap ones for about HK $400 to $600. Google some free templates online.
- Download relevant contract templates: Google some free templates for contracts related to your business or get a free trial at Bonsai to generate some.
- Get a company bank account: This will be hard to get from bigger banks in Hong Kong but NEAT will provide start-ups with a company bank account.
- Build a slide deck: This is a PowerPoint of about 10-20 slides outlining why your company is brilliant. You can google examples of companies like Airbnb, Uber and Facebook.
#10 Start Pitching!
Not having the money is also no excuse not to start a business. All the above points can allow you to start your own business for as little as HK $2500.
But if you need more cash to further scale up your business, there are various government grants like the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund, Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living and the DesignSmart Initiative.
There are also over 1600 start-up accelerators in Hong Kong, such as Beatatron and Brinc. What these grants and accelerators require is a slide deck and an MVP. Two things you should already have by this point!
And from there on out, the onus is on you! Come up with a good plan and work on it, but never be afraid to throw out the plan if other opportunities come your way. Speak to any entrepreneur, and you will find that starting a company will have had twists and turns that you never expected or predicted. It will be on you to navigate them as is best for your company.
If you are thinking about starting a company and want some advice or assistance, then reach out to us at RH-Studio for a chat. We aim to help a new generation of people to become their own technological entrepreneurs.