10 Year Anniversary - 10 things I've learned over the years
Wow, it’s hard to believe that the last 10 years have flown past so quickly. It feels like yesterday when Philip and I were sitting at his kitchen table planning the launch of ITWORX. I remember how excited I was to be taking the leap into company ownership, although a little apprehensive too that it might not work and I’d end up out of work and looking for a job. There was never any doubt though that it was the right thing to do and thinking what would I regret more – starting the company and have it fail or to never have given it a try?
Here we are 10 years on with a thriving business turning over in excess of 2.5 million, 20 staff and a fantastic client base which I think it’s fair to say has exceeded both of our expectations at the outset.
Working from home over the last few months due to Covid-19 has given me a chance to reflect on the business and how far we have come. I feel extremely lucky to have such a great team around us which has enabled us to adapt to this new way of working with very little disruption to both our own operations and that of our customers.
It’s fair to say that the road hasn’t always been smooth to get us to the point we are at today. I personally have been on a huge learning curve making the transition from Cisco Engineer to Company Owner/Director. I thought I’d share some of the key points/things that have helped me on this journey. With that said, here are 10 things that I have learned over the last 10 years... in no particular order!
1. It's ok to make mistakes
This is something that I truly believe in, I think you can learn an awful lot from what has gone wrong and you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. The key is to learn from the mistake and put those learnings to good use moving forward.
2. Pause and think
It’s really easy to react to a situation and give a knee jerk response. Taking time to respond to situation with a clear head and not emotionally usually has a much more positive outcome for all parties and keeps the stress levels lower too 🙂.
3. Two ears one mouth
Really listening to what people have to say and not over communicating just to be heard. It really helps build solid business relationships.
4. Staff are the heart of ITWORX
This is so important, it’s our staff that make the company what it is and why our customers enjoy working with us. I feel truly thankful for all the efforts they put in on a daily basis, without them there is no ITWORX.
5. Look after your suppliers/partners
Our suppliers/partners are an extension of our team. We work really closely to build strong relationships which means we both get the best out of it, passing on many of the benefits to our clients along the way. We have also been fortunate enough to have been recognized by many of our partners by winning various industry awards which is the icing on the cake.
6. Have good business systems/processes
When we started the company we managed the business using excel spreadsheets. This served the purpose but we quite quickly recognised that we needed robust business systems and processes in place. It was quite a big undertaking to make the transition both on capital outlay and the time investment to put this in place but we reaped the rewards very soon afterwards and have never looked back. The management reporting and visibility we now have is worth its weight in gold.
7. Cash flow
Say no more, manage your cash flow. Sounds easy but when you have staff to pay, building rent, suppliers etc etc etc it does need careful management. Point 6 above plays a pivotal role in helping us stay in the black.
Back in the early days we were consistently working 14-16-hour days, eating unhealthily (lost count of the amount of Costco pizzas we must have gone through) and had very little time for anything else. This dedication and commitment helped us get ITWORX off the ground but wasn’t sustainable. We recognised that taking time out to look after your own needs is just as important and recharging the batteries makes you more productive in the long run.
Following on from Point 8, holidays and a break from work are extremely important. For the first two years we worked non-stop and were almost fearful of taking a break in case the company collapsed in our absence. We soon learned if you have good staff then the company WILL survive without you and allow you a well-earned break. I still haven’t quite mastered ignoring the emails on my phone though, but I am a lot better than I used to be.
10. Have fun!
When we all spend so much of our time at work, I’m a great believer in having fun. Work can be fun as well as productive, in fact letting off steam now and then makes for a much happier and relaxed office environment all round.
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