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Do you have what it takes to lead a tech start-up?
Feeling like you're back to the same-old, job? It's frustrating when your ideas at work go unrecognized, for reasons outside of your control. What if you were making all the decisions? Do you have what it takes to lead your own tech start-up?
Here are six qualities that make a successful tech entrepreneur, coming from those who've broken the mold of what it means to be one.
1. You embrace diversity and don't let your gender hold you back
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The tech industry benefits from diversity. But there are still perceived barriers for women, like lack of role models, stereotypes and inflexible working hours. The good news? Change is underway. A new Kaspersky study shows over half of women working in tech feel women are represented in leadership roles, and 7 in 10 feel confident and respected at work.
There's some way to go to having gender-balanced tech teams: only 1 in 10 work in female-majority teams, while 1 in 2 work in male-majority teams. Let's be the change we want to see – don't place limits on what you want to achieve in your career.
2. Uncertainty doesn't faze you
Starting a tech business is riddled with uncertainty. You need to be able to make a plan when the goalposts, and the ground beneath your feet, are moving. And you'll need to be able to adapt to change fast. You'll never have all the answers, but you'll still be able to see ways to move forward. Did you know that Tesla and SpaceX, both flagship companies of Elon Musk, came close to failing? The first electric car created by Tesla, the Roadster, had big production problems and SpaceX had many launch failures before its final effort was a success.
3. You're willing to develop, improve and even throw out your ideas
Tech entrepreneurs don't decide their 'baby' is the right solution and doggedly cling to it. Stories like that of Elizabeth Holmes – inventor of the blood-test biochip that never existed – show just how destructive hanging onto a dud idea can be.
Great tech entrepreneurs want to solve the problem more than they want to be right about how it's best solved. They're more interested in being useful than in being popular.
4. You can be persuasive, but you're more substance than style
When you run a start-up, you need to win people over to your idea, time and again. From securing funding to motivating your team, you need to be tireless in inspiring people to give you their best. And you're not just selling your product, you're selling yourself.
Contrary to popular belief, leaders don't need star quality – experience and skills predict success better than charisma. But you do need to make people believe in what you can do.
The famous author and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
5. You're happy to do whatever needs doing
Early in the life of your start-up, you'll need to turn your hand to all kinds of tasks that won't feel like what you were born to do. If you're the kind of person who tends to think, 'that's not my job,' or you've developed advanced skills in avoiding tasks you don't like, tech entrepreneurship may not be for you.
Did you know that the search engine and company we know as Google today, has started as a PHD project? At the beginning, the world wide web wasn't that big. As a matter of fact Larry Page, one of the founders of google collected the links on the web by hand. He didn't know exactly what to do with it but it seemed to be a good idea, because no one had ever collected the links before. This seems inconceivable today!
6. You can cope with imperfection, and you're willing to put your ideas to the test
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Gone are the days when entrepreneurs jealously guarded their ideas up until the moment of a giant, glitzy launch. Perfect is the enemy of good. And in tech, it's usually much easier to get a prototype or beta version out to gauge the response than it is with other kinds of products.
As anyone who's done user research will tell you, the biggest shortcomings of products often aren't what the team thinks they are. Testing with real people isn't a luxury; it saves time and money.
Leading your own start-up almost always means working long hours and testing your skills to their limit. Few succeed, but if you have these six qualities, you have a great chance of being among those who do.