If you’re a budding entrepreneur considering going solo with a passion for all things tech, there are some great opportunities for you to build on your skill set and turn that brain power into a thriving business.
While the last 18 months have undoubtedly been a challenge for businesses across most sectors, the demand for digital innovation has seen a huge uptick as organisations relied on technology to help them either survive or thrive. That means that the opportunity is there for those with innovative new ideas who can leverage tech in their favour.
Tech trends on the rise
While it was already on the up long before the pandemic, cloud services have seen massive gains over the last 18 months. Gartner has predicted cloud spending to reach $332.3bn (£250.5bn) in 2021, up from $270bn (£203.5bn) in 2020, as businesses looked towards digital solutions that were faster, more agile and secure to deploy. And as businesses were forced into dramatic pivots and decision-making as they sailed the stormy waters of 2020-21, the cloud was a natural accompaniment when it came to digital innovation.
Salesforce, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have all seen massive increases in revenue in that period. More businesses started using their software. And with much of the global workforce likely to remain remote, even on a hybrid basis, once restrictions ease and the world returns to normal, the demand for video apps such as Zoom and Teams, and the platforms that support them, will continue indefinitely. The opportunity to enhance those offerings is also there.
Not only that, but the shift to even more reliance on digital consumer services will also remain. We’ve all downloaded apps for local restaurants and are used to packages constantly being delivered at home from online purchases. While that trend may slow as we eventually return to eating out and visiting shops, it won’t disappear completely. Similarly, we won’t ditch the extra entertainment services we’ve subscribed to in order to keep us entertained—indeed, as a lot of working lives change with the benefit of a better work-life balance as a result, there’s a chance they could become even more important to us.
AI is also on the rise
That’s not to say the cloud is the only area of tech that’s seen a surge in demand recently. There was a time when artificial intelligence (AI) may have been seen as something from the future or even to be feared, but the reality is that it is now simply part of our everyday lives. Now, PwC has predicted that AI has the potential to contribute $15.7trn (£11.7trn) by 2030.
From voice-activated personal assistants such as Google Home or Alexa, to chatbots on website, it doesn’t just stop at consumer-facing products like these, as businesses are also increasingly relying on it to spot trends and inform decisions behind the scenes. It’s safe to say that the reality of AI, whilst still incredibly innovative and exciting, is very different to the dystopian vision that may have been portrayed 10-15 years ago. For the technically minded among you, this is another great area to step into while it’s still in the relatively early stages, as there is still massive potential for growth.
From an entrepreneurial point of view, the landscape is also incredible encouraging. For anyone with a unique idea and a deep understanding of AI, the opportunity is there to develop new technologies with a practical application. Whether that’s automating manual tasks, reporting or even using speech recognition in a unique way, there’s a good chance you could make a successful business out of it.
The ups and downs of entrepreneurship – have you got what it takes to go it alone?
There’s no doubting that technology remains a sector full of growth potential across different niches and ecosystems. However, you should bear in mind that it’s one thing to have the technical ability, it’s another thing entirely to have the drive and ambition to start up your own business. It takes a special kind of person to take on the responsibility and the challenge of building a business from scratch. You need to have the passion and motivation to push through any obstacles; it’s a real departure from the 9-5, where you can switch off when you leave work at the end of the day.
However, when it comes to making the leap and hiring your first employee, it’s also worth considering the world of work has changed dramatically over the last year. Your working week may no longer resemble a 9-5, but there’s a good chance your employees don’t want theirs to either. So, before you even post a job ad, think carefully about the sort of package on offer and how it reflects the ‘new normal’.
Are you able to offer a remote or hybrid approach to where people are based, and flexible hours around that? If so, you won’t just appeal to the usual candidates, but you’ll be able to draw from talent pools that can be restricted by a full-time, site-based role. The plus side is that despite the skills gap in technology, diversity remains a major area in need of further improvement—appealing to those outside of traditional hiring patterns will put you in a great position to get the jump when it comes to recruitment.
As you can probably gather, there’s much to think about when it comes to entrepreneurship beyond just having a brilliant idea. Look behind any overnight success and it’s rare that it is just that—the moment the light appears to flicker on is usually the result of months, years or even decades of hard work. That period may see slow, steady growth until momentum carries you to success, but it’s also likely to be accompanied by mistakes and bumps in the road. So, you need to be prepared to learn from those in order to move forward.
The good news is that despite the scare stories about the economy at the beginning of the pandemic, there’s little doubt that opportunities are there. Ensuring you’re adaptable and willing to roll with the punches that are still coming in, as well as being prepared to work harder than you ever have before, is the best way to make sure you’re geared up for success in the long-term.
Sign up to receive content on how to start your own business
This piece was updated in December 2021 by James Lloyd-Townshend, chairman and CEO of Frank Recruitment Group.