“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term successful enterprise.”, says Peter Turley of SALEStalk.
In absolutely the same way, you shouldn’t see another business as your rival or competition, you need to form strategic partnerships, to enable yourself to nourish from other’s experiences and join hands to form stronger alliances to better serve your customers.
It has been greatly misunderstood by accidental and new entrepreneurs, that they have started a business for themselves, they were good at their job as customers of previous business have told them “You should start your business, you are very good at what you do”. So, they think they can get their business to high flier status in a matter of days, if not hours.
It all seems encouraging, but the day an accidental or new entrepreneur starts their business, they find themselves in a deep maze, from where, neither they can really escape nor they can stay at it, as it becomes, most of the time, a personal ego matter, and their only rival and competition is their previous boss for whom they have worked for perhaps many years.
At the time of leaving, they have 3 basic things in their minds:
Firstly, if I am not in this business, it will collapse, so I better start my own business.
Secondly, I am hugely underpaid, whereas I should be getting a lot more and will be getting a big salary working for myself.
Lastly, the most dangerous part, they solicit customers of their previous employer.
New entrepreneurs understand the third point as unethical, unprofessional and unnecessary, but normally, not for at least 2 years after they have done it. At this stage, while it may have resulted in an initial influx of new customers, soon they start vanishing, simply because, when you are wearing 2 hats, a business owner and a baker; a business owner and a technician; a business owner and a mechanic, it is very hard to do justice to yourself, to your family and to your business.
They often start with no idea how to do the bookkeeping of their own business, how to deal with suppliers, how to create good relationships with banks or how to grow a professional network.
A simple reason behind this failure is that they haven’t delegated the other necessary work, and they have not focused on building up a team. When we start building a team, in my opinion, other business associates are our team; references and referrals are our marketing strategy, and introductory emails become our sales strategy.
Where does this kind of thinking come into the areas of IT and GDPR?
Being a business owner, regardless of a ‘been there and done that’ approach, we are facing 291 new threats every second. There were 2855 unique ransomware signatures identified in 2017 alone and Pyotr Levashov, Ruslan Stoyanov and Marcus Hutchins were amongst some high profile Cyber Crime arrests and were behind Kelihos Botnet, Treason (Kaspersky Exec), Kronos Banking Trojan Cyber-attacks. (Source: SonicWALL 2018 Cyberthreat report).
We must ask ourselves a question: HOW MUCH DO WE TRUST OUR IT PROVIDER? IS OUR IT PROVIDER DOING EVERYTHING CORRECTLY?
Should we be asking them for a guaranteed response time? We should be asking whether they are proactive or reactive? Will they do a project within the agreed time or revert to you with a revised invoice when the project overruns? Do they have 24/7/365 monitoring or leave you with 9-5 Monday to Friday monitoring?
We should be looking to have monthly reports provided to identify any issues and what steps have they taken to remedy them. Have they provided a complete and comprehensive network document? Does it contain your full and complete asset detail? Have they defined 1st assigned engineer, second assigned engineer and other lead contacts?
All the above questions are not only for accidental entrepreneurs, they are the questions every business owner should ask their technology partner, meaning IT provider. To me, an IT Service Provider is a core team member of your business. Imagine not being able to do the completed tender document, because a printer shut down, or your computer/server crashed which held the key ingredients of the tender document.
There are three equal stakeholders in the success of any business: An ‘auld fella’ from a Solicitor’s office, a ‘sullen’ Accountant and a diligent IT Service provider.
It is our IT services provider who is going to get us over the looming GDPR hurdle.
Our technology partner should take us through every aspect of GDPR, which demands at a minimum, a professional firewall (properly configured by a certified firewall professional). We should have a segregated network and shouldn’t allow our guest network to align with our corporate network.
We should have a system with security and third-party updates completed regularly in a manner that doesn’t undermine daily productivity. We should be securing our network devices and data in transit, using complex passwords. (I know, I know, we all hate our IT guys who ask us to change passwords every other month and make them complicated, like we are going to be attacked by some Dark Force sitting in another corner of the world).
Being an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ is not an excuse. GDPR won’t spare us being ignorant. Time is running out. ACT NOW! Get your technology partner to perform a GDPR and IT Security Audit.
4% of our turnover could be a very bitter pill to swallow!