Did you know that Share IT was founded as an agency with only one employee?
What started as a solopreneurial adventure slowly and steadily grew into a successful web development business that gathers many talented people under one roof. It took us some time to get where we are now and we are proud of the way we handled and nurtured our growth. Nice and easy.
If you’re reading this, then the idea of starting your own software company probably crossed your mind. There are some great reasons to do so: the market is lucrative and it’s expanding healthily; competition may be big but so is the demand.
Unlike many success stories out there that offers quick tips on how to get rich overnight or reach six-figure income in record time, the story of how Share IT became what it is - is not as glamorous or flashy. But it is true and it provides great lessons that could be very valuable to aspiring entrepreneurs who like keeping it real and don’t shy away from hard work.
So, if you’re wondering how to start a software company but still not sure where to start, keep reading. We hope the tips from our founder and CEO Stevan Bebic will be helpful to you.
Too often we see people, especially of young age, who are so eager to become successful entrepreneurs. They are impatient or feel like they need to act quickly to make their idea happen; otherwise, some precious business opportunities might be missed.
While agility is a good trait to have, it’s important to understand that time is not your enemy and you shouldn’t fear it passing by. Shortcuts to success may exist, but the lengthier roads are the ones that help you gain crucial knowledge for wise business management.
Before getting started, you need at least some experience, and that takes time. Our founder and CEO Stevan was first a consultant for another software development company, focused both on perfecting his SharePoint skills and mastering other technologies. He followed industry happenings regularly and committed to lifelong learning.
Given the fact he worked as a contractor, he needed to establish his own legal entity which was a form of solopreneurship-type agency. You know that famous saying attributed to Seneca - success is what happens when preparation meets opportunity? That’s pretty much what happened here, as Stevan explains:
“I took that opportunity to start my own business and potentially to have more than just one client. Soon enough, one client became two clients and then the third came around, so I realized I needed help. That is how Share IT started its growth.”
How to start a software company without an initial investment, you may ask?
Well, it’s not easy, but it is doable. Actually, a lot of companies that don’t mind growing slowly if it means the growth is steady, have been bootstrapped. Our founder Stevan shared how exhausting it was to take care of everything in the early days of Share IT:
“When Share IT was a one-person company, it was hard to wear multiple hats and provide quality work in all roles. I struggled with being the Sales, PM, Developer and Tester all at the same time. The workday was never 8h, it was close to 15-16h. I remember it was really difficult for me to ensure everything runs smoothly.”
Logically, being a one-man band implies handling all the possible processes, including client acquisition. It was clear to our founder that, while proactivity in this domain is something worth pursuing, devoting yourself entirely to your current clients is the best way to reach new ones.
The power of recommendation and just being present online is invaluable in that sense:
“Our first client came from one of the freelance networks. After that, clients were coming from all sides: Linkedin, Share IT’s website, and especially through recommendations. Our satisfied clients were happy to share their experiences and honestly recommend us as a great web development and software company. You can’t put a price on that type of marketing. But we honestly like to nurture long-term relationships with our clients. That is why our very first clients are still with us and our bond is greater every day.”
With so many technologies out there, it’s hard to ask yourself how to start a software company without asking - what type of services am I actually going to offer?
To answer this question, start by identifying your own expertise and map out the limits of your current skills. It’s always a good idea to start a business on the familiar grounds, and then move your way up.
Although our services are not limited to only SharePoint, we specialized in it. Wondering why SharePoint? Here’s what Stevan has to say:
“My first job in development world was for a software development company, where I worked as a SharePoint Developer. Back then, SharePoint has just made its appearance and started to gain momentum, and at that time - it simply grew on me. It was a very interesting and yet very powerful product, which had the potential to grow into something very big and hugely important. Needless to say, 10 years later - I still enjoy working on the SharePoint platform and indeed it is one of the most used Microsoft Products among Fortune 500 companies.”
But, is specialization a smart thing to do in the IT world?
“Absolutely. Working exclusively on SharePoint for 10 years made Share IT gain expertise that is very valued by our clients who can leverage our knowledge and be sure that we are capable to complete any task that’s put in front of us. Most of the software development companies nowadays are doing everything. Well, at least the outsourcing ones. So, if the client asks them if they do PHP and they are in the .NET world, they will say yes and find a developer to hire on a project basis. I do not recommend this.
I feel focus is extremely important for the success of any software development company. For me, the most important thing that you are selling is the quality of your service. Personally, I can only vouch for technologies which our developers know like the back of their hand.. In our case, it is SharePoint and Office 365 with a new modern approach using Front End frameworks like React and Vue, altogether with Azure and its services. It’s not good to be greedy: stay focused on quality, sell your expertise and what you can truly deliver.”
When you’re a hardworking person who’s really self-initiative and truly loves their job, it’s not unusual to experience burnout. Looking back at the past, Stevan remembers it took him 9 months to figure out that it is time to hire someone to help him out.
Better late than never, right?
Assembling your team is one of the most challenging tasks you’ll need to handle in the process of starting your own software development company. There are so many things that need to fall into place. Plus, it’s a very competitive landscape we’re talking about and true talents in the development world always have multiple options to choose from:
“It is very difficult to find the right person to join your team. It is hard to match different personalities, and on top of that - be satisfied with the skill set that applicant has. Share IT’s first employee was someone who I knew for a long time. I was positive he would be a perfect match and I was right: he is still a proud member of Share IT and one of the leading developers we have. The next few employees came by recommendation. After that, we were exploring the local talent pool and are still trying to find the right people for our expansion. Since talented developers are indeed rare birds, we always have a few job ads open.”
Unlike many IT and software development companies, at Share IT - we’re not big fans of the cliché startup cultures with big open spaces and large glass surfaces, slides, bean bags, and multiple game areas. We prefer offering our employees a healthy work atmosphere and never disrupt their work-life balance.
You cannot really ask yourself how to start a web development company without asking yourself what company culture you would like to create. It might seem insignificant, but it can affect your work relationships, the level of your employees’ satisfaction, and most importantly - the quality of your delivery.
“At Share IT, we agreed to deliver only the best quality services to our clients, to encourage open and laidback communication between the team members, to enjoy every single day at work - even when we have tight deadlines and we have to go the extra mile. New team members are screened not only on the technical side. They need to show other qualities as well. The most important one is that they are indeed team players.”, says Stevan.
If you’re really serious about starting your own software development company, you have to understand there is no magical formula for success. Starting from scratch means it will take some time before you become profitable, but it also means the direction of your business growth will change multiple times, as Stevan explained:
“We weren’t always focused on enterprise-level clients as much as we are now. This type of clients are different and have specific needs, so it is mandatory to follow client procedures wherever they have them in place. As an outsourcing company, we try to collect as much information as possible to delight each individual client. Of course, due to the GDPR (to which we are complaint), we do not collect personal information or process them.”
For us at Share IT, it was very important to grow gradually so that we don’t get ahead of ourselves and to preserve great control of everything that’s going on. As Stevan said, it takes courage to become responsible and plunge into the world of entrepreneurship:
“For sure, it is a very bold move. The market is tough and you need to fight with competitors on multiple levels. On one side, you need to fight for the new talents to join your team, and on the other - you need to fight for market share.”
As if it wasn’t already clear enough, managing your software development company is not all rainbows and butterflies.
*“Your work day will jump from 8h to 15h daily in a heartbeat. If you need to wear multiple hats at the beginning, try to stay focused and organized. You will begin to value time as your resource very much. My advice? Do not expand your business if you feel uncomfortable about it. Keep minimal growth instead. That’s what worked for us and I’m very proud of this business approach.” *
Thank you for reading our story from top to bottom. We hope you learned a few new things! In case you are looking for software development services, reach out to us today!