Chris Kite is President of Code 9 Media Inc., where he manages a large portfolio of internet businesses.
We recently asked for the advice he’d give aspiring tech entrepreneurs on navigating their careers. Here’s what he shared:
Can you talk to us about your career in tech? How has it evolved since you got started?
My tech career began at AT&T as a support analyst. I was quickly drawn to the development side because of their ability to create solutions to problems. I taught myself database (Oracle/MySQL) and web development (PHP) languages so I could move into a development role and I eventually did. From there, I began creating my own online businesses on nights and weekends because I loved being able to create! Two years after I started my first online business, I left AT&T to follow my dreams of being an entrepreneur.
What excites you about being an internet entrepreneur today? What are the most interesting trends or innovations you’re following?
The opportunities are absolutely endless! With the low barriers of entry that an online business provides, anyone can get involved with little capital. Creativity, ambition and courage are key traits of an internet entrepreneur. I’m following the same trends I did from day one, identify niches with low competition, create or acquire products/services that are better and execute!
The latest trend that is exciting is mobile. There are endless opportunities to target “new” mobile users in countries that are now able to get online for the first time. An internet entrepreneur’s target audience is limited to only their perception. The reality is, the entire online world can be your target market with the right approach.
What advice can you offer tech entrepreneurs who are just getting started? What do you wish you’d learned early on in your career?
Google is your friend! Bootstrap your startup instead of taking investor money by learning to do it yourself. Everything can be found by research and a desire to learn. I have started two companies, both bootstrapped. The first, I taught myself how to code, search engine optimization, monetization tactics, conversion optimization and other web savvy skills. With the second, I taught myself how to acquire internet businesses vs. building to quickly scale a company from $0 revenue to $50k/mo in less than a year. You don’t have to be smart, you have to be driven to succeed no matter what and when you learn that everything you need to know is a Google search away, your approach changes.
What skills do you think are essential for tech pros no matter what their background today? What should tech pros be learning today to make sure they’re marketable in the future?
How can IT pros make themselves more valuable to the companies they work for?
Take an entrepreneurial approach and take ownership. As an employer, the best employees are those who take ownership and feel they are part of the company. If they don’t, they will do the bare minimum, but if they feel they are rewarded as the company grows, they will work like they own the company. As an employer, this is a very valuable trait in an employee.
What are the most common mistakes you observe tech professionals making today in their careers? How can those mistakes be avoided?
Expecting others to do work for them by asking questions to short cut their path to success. Or, to put it simply, they don’t put in the work. Stop chasing others in forums and just do it yourself. I have never been a forum guy, in fact, I think they hurt more than they help. I have implemented SEO tactics that work because I don’t do what the “pros” recommend on all the top blogs. Routinely following others to find out what works and doesn’t robs you of your ability to think outside the box. You have to be creative and unique and that comes from doing it yourself, not by following the experts.
What advice can you offer on approaching salary negotiations as a tech professional?
Keep notes on everything you have done that you believe affected the bottom line and provide your argument on why you should be rewarded as such. If you are going into a new position, provide the same examples and explain you can do the same for them.
What tools have you found to be the most useful for determining what your work is worth?
As an entrepreneur, the proof is in the pudding. The most important tools I use are financial indicators such as profit and revenue. If my margins remain strong I know I am running an efficient business. If my profit is strong, I’ve done my job.
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