DISRUPT HQ: The business basics all developers should understand in the modern age

Disrupt HQ is a comprehensive ten-part series designed to give Australia’s new generation of innovators the advice and guidance they need to successfully grow their business. Proudly sponsored by Braintree, which has been powering payments and helping thousands of next gen businesses like Uber, Airbnb, and Github grow from their first dollar.
SEEK co-founder Andrew Bassat

The power and reach of modern technology has altered the dynamic of starting a business. Whereas once you may have needed an MBA, now coding experience and a good portfolio can set people apart. Some of today’s biggest, most exciting companies were founded and run by technologists — Google, Facebook, Twitter and so on.

But no matter the aptitude of the people involved, certain business basics remain. We consulted a panel of Australian Australian entrepreneurs and investors to ask what all developers should understand about business.

Blue Sky Venture’s Elaine Stead thinks effective communication is a must-have for all business people. Being able to describe a vision of the future and instil passion are vital skills in getting the best out of any team.

“I think the companies that are successful are the ones where the founders have done a great job distilling to the broader team precisely what their business is, who they are competing against, why they have a competitive advantage and how the team members role contributes to the broader vision,” says Stead.

“That’s when you really see the broader team execute well on the plan and remain super competitive.”

Muru-D co-founder Annie Parker is concerned with scaling. Business people need to be designing their businesses from the ground up to be replicable in as many markets as possible, as fast as possible. Australia’s domestic market is small, so the only choice for most Australian business people is to be thinking about global domination from the start. “They need to be thinking global from day one,” Parker says.

Annie Parker

“This means making sure that they design their solutions so that they are repeatable in other markets – not just here in Sydney or Melbourne. Could this solution work in other larger scale markets with very little changes? If they can prove this, not only will it be much easier to attract the best investors, but they will also significantly improve the valuation of the business as well.”

But the business qualities necessary to be a leader aren’t that dissimilar to those of any employee, according to Tyson Hackwood, head of Asia for Braintree Payments. This is especially true in startups, which often feature small teams and tight deadlines, requiring everyone to pitch in.

Having said that, those same tight deadlines and small teams require a lot of communication. Communication is key to effective leadership, and this is especially true when you’re a startup trying to take on the world.

“Having a shared vision and understanding of what you’re trying to achieve is always key,” says Hackwood. “When you need to move quick and work hard you want to be confident that everyone is working towards the same goal.”

There are multiple layers to this kind of communication. There needs to be acceptance that not everyone is similarly skilled or knowledgable, that not everyone works or approaches tasks similarly, and that all of this can be beneficial.

There’s no special tool, platform or service that can accomplish this. It’s an approach you have to take to communicating with your team, no matter the medium of communication.

Hackwood adds:

“Clear and transparent communication is a must. Understand that not everyone in your business will have the same level of technical knowledge as you. Communicating regularly and clearly what your individual goals are will keep the ship pointed in the right direction.”

Understanding that there’s a time to collaborate and there’s a time trust in your colleagues that they’ll get the job done is a fine balance. Making sure that you have a good working rhythm as a team will keep you productive and the team moving forward.

Acknowledge that you don’t know everything. Be open to others views and find the right partners who specialise and can support.”

Mobilise your payments, globalise your business. Accept credit / debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay and whatever’s next.

Our global platform powers payments for thousands of online and mobile commerce innovators including Airbnb, Uber, Github and Lyft. Merchants in more than 47 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia can accept payments in more than 130 countries and reach more than 184 million PayPal users. To learn more, visit Braintree at www.braintreepayments.com.

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