Welcome to the Entrepreneur Insider Series! Over the coming months we’ll be presenting interviews with entrepreneurs from around the world, from those just starting out to those dominating their industry. They will give us insight into how the started their business and their vision for the future. Kicking off the series is Michelle Romero from projectCREATE.
Michelle Romero, 32, is from Sydney, Australia. She started her software development company, projectCREATE in 2012. projectCREATE specialises in app and software development for SME and government organisations.
Starting the Business
Q: Where did the idea for your business come from? Where were you in your life and career?
A: While and after graduating university (in software engineering) I worked in the family business, and decided after 11 years it was time to stretch myself.
I wasn’t exactly sure what my next move was, I was tossing up consulting or working for a corporate. Then one day I was talking to a work associate about what my next move was and they mentioned they were looking for someone to create a software product and I said, I can do that! And it started from there.
So I had my one client, but knew that wasn’t going to pay the bills immediately, so I kept a part time job while building projectCREATE.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting out?
A: Wow, there were so many!
I think the 2 biggest challenges were finding my team of developers while juggling a paying part time job and working in and on projectCREATE full time.
I knew from the outset I couldn’t manage the programming and sales and marketing and everything else in between. So I hired a developer, but found communication an issue. I re-hired, then I found design was an issue and then I re-hired and then quality was an issue—I couldn’t seem to find developers with all 3 qualities, which was a must. 7 programmers later, I found my team.
Trying to juggle calls and emails during the regular business hours was tricky when at my day job. I didn’t want my clients to think I was small time and know I had another job to support me. Then my part time job got a little bit more than part time which meant sleep became a luxury! Once there was enough money to pay myself a basic/modest salary, I quit my part time job! Best decision ever.
Q: What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started the business?
A: How to systemize and delegate/outsource.
You can save so much time, by writing up a system of regular tasks you do and training your team to do them.
My business mentor’s motto is: “If someone can do something 70% as good as you, then have someone else do it”.
Q: What would you consider your first big success in the business?
A: Landing my first government client and I still have them.
Q: What is the toughest thing about getting to the top / staying on top in your industry specifically?
A: Staying abreast of the latest trends in the app and software industry. Ensuring we are innovating and staying ahead of the trend. The technology industry changes daily!
Q: Where do you see your industry heading in the next 5 years?
A: I see the industry growing steadily, specifically the mobile app market. The Windows platform is making traction which means most apps that are currently available on the Apple and Google store need to be built for the Windows platform.
Then we have businesses, even the small ones, embracing apps because statistics show mobile usage is growing each year.
Saas, software as a service, is also now widely accepted instead of the tradition upfront license model. Businesses are spending time and resources to create a Saas product for their business to create a constant income stream.
Q: What do you plan on doing / changing in order to keep growing in this time period?
A: We plan on providing various packages to suit various businesses, to capture more of the market.
As well as providing more educational content around technology, it’s not about making a sale on first contact, but creating a relationship with our audience.
Q: What does ultimate success look like to you? How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
A: For me, right now, success looks like a $1,000,000 p.a. turnover in the next 3 years with 20% net profitability. That’s while sustaining a balanced healthy lifestyle, where I am not working 70 hours a week.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs in the near future?
A: Getting your message heard amongst all the others out there trying to get your (potential) clients’ attention, and standing out.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in your industry and wanting to make it to the top?
A: Get started and don’t hold back, don’t wait to have the perfect product/service/branding/content/website, it will never be perfect, so launch. As my business coach says ’fail forward’.