How to start a business with great infrastructure
This guest post is from Mark Wright – Mark spearheads the rapidly growing SEO Agency – Climb Online.
Hello, I’m Mark Wright.
First, I ought to identify who I really am. I’m not, as some might initially suspect, that The Only Way Is Essex guy! You won’t find snaps of me in the papers getting loved up with Michelle Keegan – but you might just find me enjoying a different sort of company, liaising with my business partners and clients to deliver the very best results for them.
I’d like to think I’ve got a lot to show for that hard work – I enjoy a wonderful lifestyle, meet great people, having tasted considerable business success in just a few short years and, of course, won The Apprentice here in the UK, an incredible honour that I will always be immensely thankful for.
However, I wouldn’t be talking to you about my backstory in this blog, if it wasn’t in order to provide a certain amount of context. You see, if there’s one thing that I think I’m a dab hand at knowing, it’s how to start out in business – and when I mean ‘start’, I really do mean start, right from the beginning.
A little bit of backstory…
For the benefit of those who don’t know me – whether because they don’t watch The Apprentice or simply haven’t encountered me in my business dealings – I’m not from around here. I’m Australian! Like many compatriots before me, I left this country for Blighty in early 2012, even if my family didn’t realise that’s what I had intended to do at the time.
Cutting a long story short, after six months of doing the whole globetrotting ‘thing’, I ended up in a hostel in the Victoria area of London – raring to find work in this country. With little more in my backpack than two pairs of board shorts, four T-shirts, two pairs of jeans and a tie, together with £190 burning a hole in my pocket, I knew I had to find work – quickly.
By hook or by crook, I achieved my goal – working for a big Internet marketing agency. Up until then, I knew that if I ran out of money before getting a job, I’d have to trawl back to the hostel and quite possibly return home. It was the same situation again, two years later, when the opportunity came along to appear on The Apprentice – an opportunity that I quit my job for and grabbed with both hands.
Taking a chance on starting from scratch
A risk? You bet it was. The chances of me actually winning – even against the 20 final candidates – were not high, and I’d worked myself to the top of my then-employer, with no shortage of blood, sweat and tears. And yet, I took the plunge, and eventually claimed the spoils. It was a hard slog, but I would never have made it without that determination and willingness to begin all over again.
Much the same can be said of the process of starting a business. In many ways, it’s a stupid thing to do, and yet, also the most wonderful thing that you could do – going out there, in the big wide world, without a parachute, and taking on the biggest challenge of your life.
And succeeding in business is a challenge – be in no doubt about that. I’ll be the first to admit that someone merely reading my story, without knowing about all of the blood and guts that came with it, might think that business success is a cinch. But there’s so much mundane stuff to deal with in any business, and when you’re starting out, one of the biggest obstacles is having the right infrastructure in place.
Don’t neglect all of that essential preparation
Just recently, after leaving The Apprentice, I began my own SEO company, Climb Online. Things have been going well so far – we’ve already turned a profit – but the process also reminded me of everything that goes into establishing a company and building up the right infrastructure.
I went through all of the things that you might have already gone through yourself as a business owner, or are expecting to: the analysis of the market and the putting together of a business plan, the choosing of the right business structure, picking a great name, getting the website up and running with all of the most appropriate branding as well as, of course, making sure that our actual products and services were as good as they could be.
That’s not all: we also had to make sure that we had the right finance in place, had the right people by our side – including our first employees – and secured the right business premises. We landed a great spot on Bishopsgate, off Liverpool Street, in the glorious capital we call London. Your firm might not be somewhere quite so high-profile – but regardless, it is important to choose somewhere that is well-located for your business objectives and makes a lot of practical sense.
Infrastructure: all-important for any business
I draw particular attention to the matter of finding the right premises, because it might be the first substantial piece of physical infrastructure that your firm invests in. A great business premises will have it all, at least in the context of your actual physical needs: space, comfort, facilities, a smart appearance, working taps… all of the things that will woo clients and candidates to your firm and make it a great place to work (alright, I’ll admit that mere working taps aren’t quite enough).
With all of that said, no business space can really have it all as far as infrastructure is concerned, and nor should it necessarily have it all. This brings me nicely onto the subject of Cloudamour – a company that knows a thing or two about the tendency for not all of a firm’s important data and software to be kept on-site. Indeed, many of the most dynamic companies these days would do no such thing!
It takes a serious amount of hard work to get the right business infrastructure together, so why would you risk all of that by putting it all in one place – at the mercy of fire, brimstone or just an opportune intruder? These are the questions that modern business owners are asking themselves, as cloud computing becomes more mainstream and solutions like Microsoft Office 365, Skype for Business and SharePoint Online help to make startup infrastructure headaches a thing of the past.
You will also have the advantage of ensuring that your team is incredibly mobile, and therefore in times of long hours, they can work where is best for them, increasing overall output.
I think that for any start-up, the ability to have an infrastructure that can expand when you need it to, or streamline when necessary is really important. You will also experience the key shift from CAPEX to OPEX and in doing so you will have more funds to invest.
Lastly with the cloud with great tools like Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite, you are able to ensure that even those staff members can have access to information from wherever they are, you have the pace of mind in knowing that they cannot take it with them if they leave. Such control is really important for when you grow, otherwise it can quickly be unmanageable.
They are also all solutions that just happen to be offered by Cloudamour, who are some of my greatest friends in business. Through services ranging from cloud migration and hybrid integration to planning, consultancy and support, Cloudamour has long helped to take much of the hassle out of putting together the right business infrastructure from the very beginning of an organisation’s life.
When it comes down to it, can you afford not to have the most flexible, secure and powerful infrastructure in place from the moment you start your business? I think not, which is why I would happily recommend to you the services and expertise of Cloudamour.
Good luck with your business!