New Year & Changes Needed - Career Change or Business Help/Partner Possibilities???

rockits

Member
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6,829
Well the time has come to make some changes. I have been having thoughts that things need to change for me for some time now. However, due to a constant workload higher that what I ideally want to allow time/opportunity for other things I need to stop thinking about changes and start making them. My current issue is by not having enough resource or time I'm not moving forward or being able to be strategic at all. Just churning through the work that the customers keep calling with and firing in. There is and never has been a shortage!

In essence I constantly struggle to keep up. I need help. I have tried various different things having engineers young/old, sales guys, relinquishing shareholding to incoming Directors and never really found the right people or fit. One thing I can always rely on is me (Mr Dependable!) but it becomes wearing being under constant pressure to keep churning through the work.

Business is good, we always have lots of work and there is tons more potential to grow and do more but the additional resource isn't there to achieve this. The business has always been profitable with demand, revenues and profit all good, not weakening and will stay static or could easily increase.

All sounds great right? Well.....I have been in the IT/Tech game for over 25 years now and seem reasonably decent at it. Currently I am a little bored, unchallenged, over burdened and that is not me. I have always had loads of energy, determination and always deliver. I need to get my spark/mojo back and get the motivation back into play to get my energy back. I cannot and won't continue as I am now for much longer. I will end up going crazy if so.

So I have some choices and am hoping some of you guys have been in a similar place and made some changes, or are in the same place so have some thoughts. Or maybe even there is a possibility of taking on one or two staff or maybe a business partner or someone to help share the business and grow it to move it forward a bit. I think a business partner would be great for the right person and I have recently offered a deal to an old contact but he wasn't prepared to take the plunge opting for a cushy number in London!

It is an established business and we work for some great large businesses. We work for the Inter IKEA group, did lots of work for King.com for many years and many others. We are a non-typical IT VAR providing sales, support, maintenance and consultancy. We provide Internet Lines, IPPBX, Backup Services, Access Control, software, hardware, wired & wireless networks, point to point links, detailed wireless surveys and many many things. We turn our hands to anything pretty much.

I am 47 and started the first business in 2002 and a second in 2008. I have tons of energy, ideas, motivation with lots of skills/experience. It would be easy for me to sell up, ship out and take a fairly cushy well paid job for a big company likely in London. However that is not really me and is the reason I have never really done this before only working in London twice really for about a year each time 20 years ago.

I want to try to build a house soon. Also want to look at other things outside of IT/Tech or maybe using the tech in other industries or another business possibly automotive related. We have a decent plot of land here and I have a small detached office for myself and an accounts person who works for me. I spent many years getting FTTP to the site so we have lots of decent cost effective connectivity. Just thinking of moving our 42u rack from a Cockfosters datacentre to a mini datacentre here. Also looking currently a creating a much bigger office with toilets, kitchen, lounge/dining area so a much nicer place to work.

I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts and opinions so fire away.....I'm all ears. Also would be really happy to chat to anyone that maybe wants a change to join me in the business.
 
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768
Send me a DM with a phone number and I am happy to share thoughts on your situation. It is quite a complicated situation that needs careful consideration.
 

rossyl

Member
Messages
2,668
Dean - can't offer specific advice, except to say

Well done on deciding to make a change if you aren't happy.

Also, speaking from experience, be wary of taking career advice from those not in/do not understand your industry. I've first hand experience of extremely confident folk, with outstanding track records, giving me advice but not understanding my industry. Needless to say, the advice wasn't overly helpful.
 

Scaf

Member
Messages
1,574
I have never experienced the situation you are describing but don’t underestimate a transition from running your own business to being a humble employee (how we cushy / well paid), it rarely goes well.
I imagine the answer will involve keeping the business and getting through this, perhaps you will find the idea business partner on this forum........ good luck.
 

zagatoes30

Centenary Club
Messages
13,660
Being unhappy is never great, so good on you deciding to do something about it.

So many small companies seem to get to this point, the business expands to the point that the owner driver motivator can no longer do or drive or manage everything and they need to bring in additional mgmt support to grow further and this can be a challenge. I seems you know this and hence why you have tried different ways to bring new people on board and you seem to finding it hard to find the perfect fit. One question you need to ask is why can't you find that fit, is it those people are not out there (unlikely), or you're not looking in the right place or are you giving them a fair chance? Not everyone will do things the way you do, it is hard to delegate especially if you think you can do it better. Don't be a control freak, if you want to grow the business or step back to give you time to do other things you have to let go and let other people take the reins, never easy but if you don't the business will stagnate or worse fail.

I think you will be fine, there will be some one out there who will fit, just keep looking
 
Messages
768
Dean - can't offer specific advice, except to say

Well done on deciding to make a change if you aren't happy.

Also, speaking from experience, be wary of taking career advice from those not in/do not understand your industry. I've first hand experience of extremely confident folk, with outstanding track records, giving me advice but not understanding my industry. Needless to say, the advice wasn't overly helpful.
And also beware of offers of partnerships. An offer must bring additive value - more customers, more new business, expansion into a new segment. A partnership shoukd never be "to share the current cake between us".
 

MrPea

Member
Messages
2,314
Well done, Dean.

I agree about the helpful people who don't understand your field being ultimately unhelpful (usually) and that any potential partnerships should be looking at pooling of two different, but complimentary, offerings that provide a new business and market angle.

Knowing you, I'm sure you'll get to something pretty cool and I do hope it brings your work spark back for you and a normal life outside of that.

Looking forward to seeing where this thread goes.

S
 

rockits

Member
Messages
6,829
Dean - can't offer specific advice, except to say

Well done on deciding to make a change if you aren't happy.

Also, speaking from experience, be wary of taking career advice from those not in/do not understand your industry. I've first hand experience of extremely confident folk, with outstanding track records, giving me advice but not understanding my industry. Needless to say, the advice wasn't overly helpful.
Thanks and agreed. I tend to research, find and feed all that information into my pot then make my own judgement/decisions so no danger of me jumping off a cliff if someone tells me too ;) I too have first hand experience of plenty of people that are very 'successful' but I wouldn't consider them knowledgeable or any good. Also certainly wouldn't likely find much of their advice or opinions useful.

I have seen and done a fair bit with so many companies I/we have worked for in all industries for all sizes so have a real broad exposure to so much. Has allowed me to glean and learn quite a bit over the years. I have met many interesting people in many walks of life so it has been a great constant learning curve over the last 25 odd years. Just conscious that at 47 I'm old but young and have many many years hopefully to live and to do/achieve so much more.

That being said we had some terrible news this week. A couple of ambulances appeared to my neighbour then an air ambulance landed in his garden next to us. Quite suddenly and shockingly the husband and father of two sons (13 & 11) passed away as we discovered on Weds. I think he was 51 so this was the final straw for me to kick off the need for change. I still don't think it has sunk in yet and the reality that it could easily happen to me at any time is very real.
 

rockits

Member
Messages
6,829
I have never experienced the situation you are describing but don’t underestimate a transition from running your own business to being a humble employee (how we cushy / well paid), it rarely goes well.
I imagine the answer will involve keeping the business and getting through this, perhaps you will find the idea business partner on this forum........ good luck.
Thanks Sam. I think you are right in your assumption there. I think the route forward is to get through it and find someone that well help get the business to where I know it can go and where it should be.

It hasn't been for the want of trying as I have tried many many things/people over the years. The cycle of cost financially, emotionally and mentally is great when it doesn't work as you envisaged or hoped. It doesn't prevent me from dusting myself and trying again at all. It just takes a certain amount of time to recover, get back to a nice place and try again. It is frustrating but if it were all too easy any idiot could do it!

I don't think I could work in an environment where I couldn't make decisions quickly, had to accept anything less than the best or had to endure poor performance or commitment which I see often in the companies we work for. I am a harsh critic for sure as some people don't get paid much, some not as much as they should and some too much. However often you just see people don't care or commit and you wonder how the heck that business makes money or survives. Often they don't.
 

rockits

Member
Messages
6,829
Being unhappy is never great, so good on you deciding to do something about it.

So many small companies seem to get to this point, the business expands to the point that the owner driver motivator can no longer do or drive or manage everything and they need to bring in additional mgmt support to grow further and this can be a challenge. I seems you know this and hence why you have tried different ways to bring new people on board and you seem to finding it hard to find the perfect fit. One question you need to ask is why can't you find that fit, is it those people are not out there (unlikely), or you're not looking in the right place or are you giving them a fair chance? Not everyone will do things the way you do, it is hard to delegate especially if you think you can do it better. Don't be a control freak, if you want to grow the business or step back to give you time to do other things you have to let go and let other people take the reins, never easy but if you don't the business will stagnate or worse fail.

I think you will be fine, there will be some one out there who will fit, just keep looking
I think you are right Andy that there is someone out there. I can't tell you why what has been tried hasn't worked as the reasons are often different in each case.

Sometimes the person was good but especially in IT they can then earn much more money elsewhere than we can justify to pay or afford. They then can't step up the next level that we would really need to make the numbers work as we could make those numbers work with changes.

Sometimes the person is in fact pretty useless or lacking to what we need. In our world/business it shows pretty quick. In bigger companies it is often masked or can be hidden. No such luck in our environment!

I think we have always given people a fair chance and given them plenty of the tools that they need to do the job. We always spend when we need to and don't compromise to give false economies. We buy demo/test kit when needed and give time to train then learn before going to customers with products/solutions. However we can only assist/carry people for so long before we have to make a judgement call on if we see light at the end of the tunnel and can justify waiting longer. Unfortunately as self funded/financed with no lucrative investment we don't have the luxury of too much time. However I feel we have always give plenty of time at our considerable cost often.

I have made a ton of good decisions and I guarantee and know many bad ones.

My biggest change was bringing in two new additional directors to the 1st business in 2014, relinquishing a 60% majority stake in the business so 40% to one and 20% to the other. They paid for their shareholdings via customer and business they brought with them so it worked OK for both sides. We pretty much quadrupled turnover in that subsequent year and all was OK. However the costs were immense as 40% came with his wife working full time as well at a cost of circa £10k per month. The cashflow games each month and cabling project work was challenge to keep on top of. It then starts to emerge that 40% Director has expensive tastes and lives a rich life. All fine when the sales/business was coming in but after 18 months the tap turned off. Each month we were hemorrhaging cash and heading quickly to insolvency. I took some tough and difficult decisions to protect the business from imploding as it would certainly have done so. The 40% Director's wife was first to go as wasn't delivering and we had to cut costs quickly. This caused the obvious following friction and heated discussion and 40% Director then resigned. Set up his own business with his wife using our company name/brand and took a great deal of business customers that had been generated while with us for 18 months. It turns out a contract for a wireless refresh with Marstons of £1m over next 2 years went and maybe he would have done this anyway. Solicitors, court and all sorts for a while but then I just kind of took it on the chin, learned from it all and moved on. Neither Director are with us any more.

That kind of thing just highlights what you need to get through and over. It took maybe 18 months+ of hard graft to get the business back to a nice place again. I have been beyond breaking point many times but not broken. Although I had every right to and could easily have done. I suspect many might have broken. I have been in tears many times and sat there wondering all sorts of things. I have been in some dark difficult places thinking all sorts of things so understand all that some people go through and can be put through.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I am not so sure it makes you stronger. It makes you stronger in some aspects and more resilient/tougher but does make you weaker in other aspects. It can be a very lonely place and you certainly need to be a tough, resilient and determined character to continue for sure.

I have seen some businesses where partnerships don;t work. My dad had one with my uncle for years and I worked there for 3 years after leaving school. I have seen many business that it really does work and 1+1=3.

The benefits to having your own business can be massive. It seems like the highs can be very high and the lows can be very low. It can be pretty extreme. You can move, change, morph and grow so quick with the right product/service/plan that it is always possible to create a multi million pound business you sell for many many millions in a pretty short space of time. You don't often get that with a regular 9-5 job but there are many ups you get in compensation.

Thanks for all your support, advice and help. It really helps and keep it coming. It helps to get out what is in your head and maybe opportunities may create themselves.
 

rockits

Member
Messages
6,829
And also beware of offers of partnerships. An offer must bring additive value - more customers, more new business, expansion into a new segment. A partnership should never be "to share the current cake between us".
100% agreed and I am aware of. I was always aware of luckily but am more aware now than ever.
 

hashluck

Member
Messages
682
Applauding this and wish you well. It is complex and personal but I think from above you have thought it all out and even had first-hand experience of what can go wrong. I have done something similar this last year and fortunately it is a 1+1 = 3 scenario and also with both of us continuing our day jobs whilst we build it. Bloody hard work and long hours but great fun and worth it. I also have a supportive partner who also runs her own business which is a massive help.
 

JonW

Member
Messages
2,639
No advice from me - but like others I applaud the realisation that you’re not happy and you need to do something about it...

I also think talking about it, and being open, is a big positive as internalising it all can be bad for mental wellbeing, etc. I hope you find a route through it all that works for you and you get back to having a spring in your step....
 
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Wattie

Member
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3,634
Wish you well in whatever direction you choose to follow. You clearly have skills that will serve you well on the journey!