How to Become a Successful Technology Entrepreneur


First you need the basic knowledge:

For a high technology business these days, this may mean a university education or equivalent in the right area. If you are studying Engineering then make sure you also pick up the basics of business. One very effective method is the use of business simulations. The best ones provide excellent experiential and quantitative learning of the key ingredients, profit and loss, balance sheets, marketing, financing the business and most importantly – bringing all the skills together by team working.

You need the skill base.

Anders Ericsson postulated the 10,000 hour rule – that works out to be 5-10 years working in the relevant technology. Specific examples; The Beatles and Microsoft’s Bill Gates are given in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  The key element here is that you need long enough to know what works and what does not. Interestingly this period will probably include some initial failed attempts – very important learning. Frank Williams at Williams Grand Prix engineering is just one a classic example; early failures did not deter him.

You need your team

Invariably you alone will not have all the detailed skills required, or the desire to do all that is needed to be successful in business. Building your team is extremely important as they can make or break the venture. They can also “steal” the business so great care is needed (and a fair dose of paranoia).  Choose the skills you need carefully – typically you may need, finance, marketing, sales, manufacturing, technology, logistics etc. Try to get the best there is and don’t be afraid to pay them more than yourself- this is not about pay prestige, it is about results. Short term consultants can also work.

Clarification of team roles, rewards and time scales is very important. One very important, rarely mentioned reality is the transient lifetime of any team. A successful venture will grow quickly and as it evolves will require new and different skills. Some team members will need to go and new ones to come in, at all levels, perhaps eventually even you. Be prepared for this, plan ahead and keep on learning, regular sessions on the business simulator will always be beneficial – like sessions in the gym.


Goes without saying that you also need a clear vision for the business, along with drive, ambition, courage and determination.  Most importantly, you also need to conduct your business ethically, with concern for your employees, customers, suppliers and the society and environment you operate in.

Tags: entrepreneurial skills, how to succeed

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