By Caleb Coulter: Caleb Coulter is passionate about sharing knowledge. As a writer, he always seeks to satisfy the curiosity of his readers. Writing for CyberXLTR combines both Caleb's love for technology and the written word.
You don’t need to be a brilliant hacker to start your own cybersecurity company.
While being the next Steve Wozniak certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances, there are other, more crucial skills one should have to realistically begin a career as a cybersecurity entrepreneur. Holistically, there are five skills that stand out as must-haves.
1. Risk assessment
Risk assessment means taking an in-depth look at the security of an organization or technology. It involves several steps, including identifying risks, analyzing them, evaluating, then documenting the risks. This will become your “action plan” for how to properly secure the organization or technology.
Cybersecurity risk assessment can take many forms depending on your niche field. Automotive cybersecurity will have a quite different array of risks than IT cybersecurity, for example. Understanding your niche intimately and which unique threats exists there is crucial.
2. Tech Skills
Believe it or not, when building your own cybersecurity start-up, technical skills aren’t the first priority. However, it is still critical to have a firm understanding of certain concepts and tools used commonly in cybersecurity.
Ideally, you should be comfortable working with Linux. Distributions like Kali, Parrot Security OS or BlackArch are most used for IT applications, but this may not be the case for your sector. These distributions can be best suited for digital forensics and similar applications. Some cybersecurity professionals even use AltasOS (a stripped-down version of Windows) for their work if they find it to be more practical.
Knowledge of cryptography is another must-have, as encryption and authentication are crucial parts of a good cybersecurity platform.
Understanding cybersecurity governance can lead to some of the most major improvements in a company or technology’s cybersecurity structure. This skill cannot be underrated – a good governance system can continually evolve, ensuring risks are properly addressed without requiring major, costly changes.
Businesses and investors are paying more attention to a cybersecurity company’s governance skills. Taking a holistic approach to governance can truly set your company apart from others. Clients and investors will trust a cybersecurity company more when governance is emphasized – after all, the results speak for themselves.
4. Soft skills
Leadership can make or break any start-up. If your leadership is effective, your employees and contractors will go the extra mile to ensure work is completed properly. However, poor leadership and micromanaging can kill a good company before it gets off the ground.
Learning leadership can be challenging, but patience, listening and understanding can go a long way. A good leader should understand the abilities of their team and utilize them effectively as possible. Managing your time can become difficult but learning to value to time of your clients and employees will often cause them to value your time as well.
Taking the time to listen to leaders in many different industries can be very productive for an entrepreneur looking to build their own cybersecurity company. There is a wealth of Ted Talks, YouTube videos and seminars one can take knowledge from to employ a mature, effective leadership style.
5. Sales and marketing
Every start-up will need to attract both clients and investors. To be an entrepreneur means selling your product or technology. However, borrowing a quote from siberX Mahdi Raza, sales are both an art and a science.
Taking a formulaic approach to pitching your sales is important. This is especially true now, since Zoom calls often replace face-to-face meetings. Knowledge of the product you are selling, creating great presentations, charisma and reading the room can elevate your sales ability to greater heights. If you don’t enjoy making sales, hire someone who does – your company won’t survive without successful sales.
Not to be forgotten either is the role of cybersecurity marketing. This is a challenging field, as immaterial products are hard to advertise. Using pull marketing as opposed to push marketing can often give better results per dollar. In the world of cybersecurity, Instagram Ads won’t do you much good. Instead, focus on building a professional, trustworthy brand to draw more clients through word of mouth and testimonials.
Spend your marketing budget on a solid, engaging social media presence rather than aiming for maximum impressions. At the end of the day, your conversions will begin with a conversation, not a click.