How to start a tech business on the side: tips to help your startup succeed

How to start a tech business on the side tips to help your startup succeed.jpg

To say that the tech startup industry is competitive is an understatement. The ever-evolving nature of technology means that entrepreneurs have to run hard and fast to get their idea of the ground.

It’s a jungle out there – and sadly nine out of ten tech startups fail. The top reason for this is that founders fail to ensure there’s a market need for their product.

If you have validated that there’s a need for your idea, and you’ve developed a clear proposal, there’s no reason to get discouraged by scary statistics. Working on something that you’re passionate about is a dream most harbour.

While the startup road may be poised with challenges, there are steps you can follow to ensure your idea has the best chance of making bank.

For instance, did you know entrepreneurs that remain employed are a third-less likely to fail? Why? Because a steadily paying job provides a safety net for your business.

The tips below will help you set up your tech business on the side and ensure it has the best chance of success.


TIP 1: Don’t quit your day job

This is our top tip and bears reiteration. There are a number of reasons why a startup should be a part time venture in the early days.

Firstly, a startup should be entered with a degree of financial security. This will reduce pressure early in the game, which will put you in a better frame of mind to take risks. Financial pressure makes it hard to remain objective and when it comes to making important business decisions you don’t want to feel as if your back is against the wall – you want clarity.

Secondly, remaining employed will help you build connections within a controlled environment. Richard Branson himself advises that before your business becomes a sole source of income you need investors and partners who can help you execute your idea. And who knows, if your employer isn’t in direct competition with your idea they could even contribute financially, or in an advisory role.

TIP 2: Understand your intellectual property rights to the letter

Protecting intellectual property (IP) rights is one of the most common legal issues startups face. Yet according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 74.6% of businesses with zero to four employees fail to protect their IP.

When developing a business on the side of your 9-5 job make sure that you fully understand your employee contract or manual. Specifically around intellectual property. In most cases anything that is developed on company time, or using company property, belongs to the company.

IP is a complicated area and it’s common for startups to make mistakes. Find yourself a qualified intellectual property rights lawyer to help you negotiate IP. This will help you identify your rights and ensure you’re protected when you begin to take on employees.

TIP 3: Organise your time

When working full-time 9-5 and part-time 5-9 you need to be brutal with your time.

To maximise your time, list and analyse the tasks you need to complete to launch your business. Estimate the complexity and time of each.

From here, outsource the tasks that are simple and time-consuming. For instance, an intern can help with data-entry and a bookkeeper can sort out billing and invoicing. This way you can focus on business critical tasks.

TIP 4: Build relationships

The saying that no man is an island is especially true for entrepreneurs.

To secure revenue and traction down the line you need to build and nurture relationships. When you’re time-poor, networking events will help you market your idea quickly and easily.  

TIP 5: Keep it simple

Don’t try catering to a huge audience early in the game. Keep your features simple and cater to your target user. Stick to features that will provide the most value. While gold plating may be tempting, the bells and whistles can come later.


  • Use company computers to send emails. WHY? You’re furthering your business with their tools. This could present legal challenges down the line.
  • Don’t feel pressured to leave your job. This should only be done when the business is sustainable.
  • Forget to relax. Juggling two roles is tricky. To avoid burn-out plan downtime into your day. Whether it’s a coffee break, or a walk around the block, taking a break will actually improve your productivity.

CeBIT Australia How to launch a start-up