7 Tips for Launching a Tech Company in Santa Cruz

Photo by Jules Holdsworth Photography

Photo by Jules Holdsworth Photography

The news that Looker was acquired by Google was just the latest signal that Santa Cruz is, indeed, a tech hotbed.

So what does it take to successfully start up in Santa Cruz? What insights can be gleaned from companies that started, and have successfully scaled, here?

We spoke to Chris Miller, Rocket Scientist at Cloud Brigade and Launch Brigade, to get his top tips for young tech startups launching in Santa Cruz.

1. Don't Trip Over Dollars to Save Dimes

We all know how cost conscious we are when we start a business, but one thing you can't buy is time. Your time is much more valuable than the monthly subscription fees you pay for tools that streamline and/or automate your business.

2. Hire a Bookkeeper From Day One

While you need to be well-aware of your finances, you probably don't want to spend your time doing bookkeeping tasks. Outsource this to a freelancer as soon as you can, and you will have more time to focus on what you are good at.

3. Don't Spend Money on Marketing Until You Create a Comprehensive Marketing Plan

You should be spending 7-9% of your revenue on marketing, and that money goes fast. Without a multifaceted plan, you will likely take linear "stabs in the dark" at individual marketing activities that most likely won't yield a result.

4. Track Your Time

Track your time with a web-based time tracking and reporting tool (We like Harvest.). Even if you don't bill your time to customers, it's critically important to understand where you spend your time. Reviewing your time burn within a concise set of categories will help you focus on what's important.

5. Use a Task Manager

Use a task manager (We like Asana.). Your never ending task list will grow, and a task manager will help you to track them all and allow you to (re)prioritize tasks to reach your goals.

6. Use An Invoicing System

Use an invoicing system that fits your business needs. Invoice at regular intervals and automate, if possible. Cash flow is king and invoicing is often complex and even painful. As you grow, invoicing can become a crippling bottleneck if it's a manual process. This will happen sooner than you anticipate. Late billing alienates your customers and threatens your relationships, referrals, etc.

7. Get Help and Support

Hire a business coach and/or join a peer group (We like Vistage.). Life as a founder is lonely, and it's important to be able to bounce your issues off of others who understand these problems at your level.

Cat Johnson is Santa Cruz-based a brand storyteller and content strategist focused on community, coworking and social impact.

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Cat Johnson