In The News

Tue 3 May 2016

Here’s Why a Lack of Tech-Savvy Skills Stops Female Entrepreneurs From Succeeding.


Business Planning & Strategies

Does a lack of tech-savviness stop you from pursuing your online business goals?  If you’re like most switched-on entrepreneurs, you have a great idea but can’t find a way to bring it to life because you lack the tech skills to even formulate the right questions to ask a tech person, even if they were standing in front of you saying ‘what do you want to know?’

This chicken-and-the-egg issue is a big problem, especially for women. Study after study shows we lack the confidence to tackle even the simplest tech issues whereas most men will at least give it a go. I speak from experience.  If my computer shuts down, so does my brain.

If you look at the list of the start-up success stories, the founders are overwhelmingly men and invariably, they have a tech background.  Why does a tech background help? Because at the heart of every internet venture is technology, and for those who understand how data, websites and programming come together to enable disruption, the opportunities are vast.

I’ve interviewed dozens of Australia’s top online entrepreneurs for a new business book and can say with certainty that those who can harness technology (or have the smarts to engage others who do), are the ones who succeed.

My mission as an author was to discover the unique qualities that made them successful and to find out what role technology played in that success.  Here’s three of them.

The top three personal qualities behind Australia’s most innovative online entrepreneurs:

  1. They know what business they’re in.

A key reason why some start-ups succeed is because they know that at heart, they are a data company first and a retailer second.  When I asked Australia’s leading online entrepreneurs what business they were in, they said:

  • ‘‘We’re an analytics company that sells shoes.” (Gabby Leibovich – Catch of the Day.)
  • “We’re a data company that sells creative services.” (Matt Barrie – Freelancer.)
  • “We’re a logistics business that sells appliances.” – (John Winning – Appliances Online.)

Making this key distinction has a knock-on effect when making other key decisions like hiring. More on that later.

  1. They outsource the technical.

Even the most technically proficient entrepreneurs know that they don’t have to manage all the technical aspects themselves.  By outsourcing the technical work from sites like Freelancer.com, it frees them up to do other high-value work like building the team and working with clients.  Sure, they could easily do it themselves but if others can do it more quickly, for a fraction of the cost, why would you?

  1. They hire wisely.

For start-ups on a limited budget (and aren’t they all?)  the need to hire people to get things moving is important but costly, so it pays to hire slowly and fire quickly (if the need arises). To this end, Andre Eikmeir, co-founder of online wine retailer Vinomofo wishes he’d done things differently starting out.

“We employed the wrong people at the start and it cost us big time. We are as much an internet company as we are a wine company and if we had realised that from the start, we would have hired a ‘hacker’ who can code and a ‘hustler’ who can sell and made them equity partners so the start-up phase would not have been so cash intensive.”

You’re in the box seat:

The key lesson in all this is that you don’t need to have to know it all or do it all to build a successful online business, so don’t let a lack of tech-savviness stop you from pursuing your online business goals.  Collaborate, get clear about what knowledge gaps you have and work hard to find the right people to fill the gaps.

Bernadette Schwerdt is an online marketing strategist, keynote speaker and the author of the new book, ‘Secrets of Online Entrepreneurs (How Australia’s Online Mavericks, Innovators and Disruptors Built Their Businesses…And How You Can Too.)  To download a sample chapter, go to www.BernadetteSchwerdt.com.au.


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