What sorts of systems did you have in place to help you with fast growth if it arose?
We decided from day one that as many of our systems as possible would be cloud based to give us the ability to access them from anywhere and to scale rapidly as required. We currently have no onsite 'line-of-business' applications. Our experience helping small businesses choose their IT systems in the past helped us decide what we needed to do to be successful. Our accountant, Gilbert Robertson, from Robertson Chartered Accountants, gave us some great advice when choosing our accounting system -Xero - which has ended up being the foundation of decisions for all our other systems.
We have worked hard to build up an extensive library of procedures and checklists for everything we do so that regular work is repeatable and quality outcomes happen by default.
Have you experienced fast growth and what form did it take?
We went from humble beginnings working from the living room of one of the former directors, to winning the Nelson Chamber of Commerce emerging business award - all within one year. We then went on to win the Chamber of Commerce Service Excellence Award two years later. Our revenues grew from nothing into a six figure turnover within three years and profits have been growing consistently over the last five years.
The customer base has grown steadily over the years and we now have a focused business development manager role to continue the growth and look after our current customer base.
Who did you bring in to help you?
We've had help from many areas over the years, including our accountant, lawyer, banker, Business Mentors NZ, NZTE funding and suppliers. It's great to know there are so many people out there who can lend a hand when required. Asking for help is one of the most important things a business owner can do.
Where do you see growth happening in your business?
There are a number of avenues we are currently exploring. Exporting knowledge overseas is a great opportunity for us, one of our biggest customers is based in the Netherlands and there are huge opportunities in the UK due to current contacts. Our time difference but commonality in language gives us a great advantage over many other countries in this part of the world. Cloud or monthly charged services are also a huge opportunity for us as well as being a potential threat to older break/fix models of IT support.
And with precious customers in mind, next week, our topic of discussion is going to be customer service. What can SMEs do better and why do they sometimes do it better than their corporate competition?