Chris Dunning, Managing Director
Tech Quarters, The Home of IT Services
SMB Global Microsoft Cloud Partner Winner 2013
I run a business called TechQuarters, we are a highly energetic, young and dynamic IT Services business. I set the business up with the aim of educating and helping businesses adopt the cloud. The timing was perfect with the recession beating at everyone’s door and the cloud giving the businesses another option to costly old style IT upgrades. I’m a massive fan of technology that works and the IT market has dramatically changed over the last five years to a whole new way of doing things. I’ve employed many Facebook generation super techies and they love it because it’s so adaptable not to mention the end result being a happy customer because they are saving and technology is helping their business to be more productive.
· What do you currently do?
I am mainly involved in implementing strategy for the business and helping us to grow in a controlled manner. I still lend a hand in larger sales opportunities as I think it’s essential to listen to customers and spend some time at the coal face, so to speak. The cloud is evolving and we have backed the biggest game changer with Microsoft online, it's a paradigm shift for some business owners that I meet but when they hear about the possibilities it reveals for their business, I frequently see their eyes light up.
· What is your inspiration in the business?
I have had a varied career working in IT, and the Property industry. I love working with bright, fast paced go getters and the IT sector has always delivered on this front for me, in fact I have filled the business with them. It is always changing, so it keeps the goals moving and you can’t get settled in your comfort zone for too long. I’m inspired by the fact that the market is growing exponentially and TechQuarters can be a big part of it.
· Who do you admire?
I admire my Mother who at 74 by day works as a PA to an entrepreneur and by evening looks after my father in a dementia home. I admire Ben and Simon, two of my team leaders, who are doing the London Olympic distance triathlon with me this summer but who have never done a mile swim in the London docks. I admire entrepreneurs who make it big, lose it but come back fighting and make it again because the tenacity, fearlessness and drive to do this is awesome.
· Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I would probably have moved out of the office in my second bedroom, when we were starting TechQuarters, a little earlier as having five engineers working in your flat every day was fun but gave me no respite. I'd also have selected bigger office space as we've grown so quickly. I'd also probably be a little braver and selective with certain types of customers to be bring on board but when you first start getting the cash rolling in tends to be number one priority.
· What defines your way of doing business?
We are all goal driven and there are no plodders in the business. Everyone works hard but we have a fun and relaxed atmosphere. I encourage everyone to have a voice and ensure that no dreams or ideas are trampled on. Of course it’s essential for everyone to know our direction, which I frequently reiterate and at the core we must be process driven, otherwise the growth will be hampered. In essence if your people are motivated this rubs off during customer visits and is infectious to all. People like working with people who are helpful, fun, diligent, reliable and like them.
· What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The fundamental for me is make sure you don't dream too much and have a solid grasp of your market and how you will sell into it. You must be able perform sales yourself or have enough cash to pay a trusted salesman to do this for you. I started TechQuarters and gained a customer by selling our services before having any other employees and you must be willing to do this and research your market to know there categorically is one there for you, otherwise it’s all talk and you could easily waste a lot of your earnings. Above all, don't worry about not knowing all your products or services that you will eventually sell, they will come through listening to your customers and market during your growth.
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The problem that I, personally, have with anything involving "clouds" is that there just isn't enough transparency and, therefore, not enough security information for me to trust at the end of the day. Is there anything that could be done in that regard?