Remaining agile is a key component of growing a successful business, especially in an environment where everything is changing, from technology, to various flexible working arrangements and the way a business invests in office space.
In our latest report, Building agile businesses in a changing world, we delved into what it takes to be an agile business, garnering feedback from some of today’s emerging tech firms on why agility matters, the obstacles they face, as well as why preparation is crucial to long term success.
We’ve uncovered four key areas that high-growth tech companies should keep in mind when it comes to planning for agility and avoiding the pitfalls associated with it.
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When it comes to recruitment, look for change-ready talent
Over the past decade, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) created a stir in the employment arena. This is especially true for the role of robots in the workplace and the debate between human employment and the reliance upon technology to create a more efficient workforce. The findings within our report pointed out that 91 percent of employers favour permanent employees over the latest in AI technology when it comes to building out a team.
The reason? Long-term employees can be trained and developed around the company as it changes. Loyal and permanent employees will be able to adapt to the shifts in the business having a greater grasp over the company. Securing a change-ready team is a critical first step for remaining agile.
Understand your business and the supply chain associated with it
It’s also important for growing businesses to have full picture of the industry they operate in in order to know what you’re up against. This means conducting primary research and recognising how quickly the market may move. Surveying customers and prospective clients on a regular basis means you’ll have an accurate and up-to-date report on what it is the industry wants and where your objectives should be focused. Relying upon data you’ve gathered first hand will be more reliable than hearsay. Understanding what your customers want will only come from asking them directly.
Identify and protect your IP from the outset
Identifying the Intellectual Property rights you create and should retain is key from inception. Many companies run into the issue of not securing the IP rights to the technology that underpins their business, running the risk that a customer, competitor, or even worse, a disgruntled former employee, has the ability to use on departure from the business. Understanding your IP rights will help build value in the business and protect the business and its products in the future, giving you ownership over what is inherently yours in the first place.
Prepare for investment and international growth as early on as possible
Finally, a tech firm’s usual trajectory is developing a product or service that serves a gap in the market, followed by securing investment opportunities. Early investor conversations can progress quite quickly from preliminary interest, to the offering of seed funding or a Series A round.
Ensuring you retain investor confidence during these conversations, it’s important you go into the process prepared. This includes making sure you understand what you’re willing to sacrifice as a founder in return for funding. Outline your stance on things like the vesting of shares, shareholder rights and outside investment opportunities. Also, be sure to bring your legal team in early on to ensure you understand your rights from the initial Heads of Terms Stage. Having a plan in place for securing funding, also means being equipped for what investors may expect.
There are a number of ways tech companies can plan for agility. The more a business prepares to be agile, the better prepared it will be to avoid the pitfalls that arise in the course of events of change.
Mark Blunden is Partner and Head of the Commercial and Technology Group at Boyes Turner
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Mark has led the firm's Commercial and technology group since 2008. Specialising in technology law, he advises clients on strategic issues regarding the commercialisation of their products and services and has particular expertise in knowledge and information based sectors, including areas of outsourcing, licensing, and product and brand development and protection. He is a great leader and passionate about technology.