Derby Hub member Owen Conti shares his answers to questions asked at this year’s Small Business Saturday event.
Earlier this month, Derby Hub was proud to host Small Business Saturday UK, where, alongside Derby University, we were joined in celebration by local businesses, officials and budding entrepreneurs.
An important element of the day saw key members of Derby Hub open up the floor to questions about running a successful business. Craig Barker (Koobr), Suzanne Dixon (Kedleston Safety), Owen Conti (Code 56) and Justina Nurse (Stuart Mobility) all took to the Hot Seat.
Incase you missed it, we’ve asked each of the panelists to share their answers on our blog. With his own experiences and insights, here’s what Owen Conti from Code 56 has to say.
How significant do you think social media is to the success of SME’s?
Ultimately my answer is: it depends on your target market & where they chose to get their news.
Rather broadly, if your target is Gen-X, or Millennials or younger, I think Social Media ought to play a big part in your marketing strategy, and I think that part will only continue to grow as me and my fellow Millennials age.
If your target market are Baby Boomers and older, I’m not sure social media is as critical, unless you’re trying to market to them through their younger relatives, because, broadly speaking, that’s not where they get their news. You may be better off looking at more traditional options.
Ultimately, I think the trick to a successful marketing strategy is using a mixture of organic content — be that Instagram post or editorials in a local paper, along with targeted advertising, be that targeted Facebook ads or adverts in a monthly community magazine — to keep your business “top of mind” for when someone in your target market makes a purchasing decision.
It’s being “top of mind” that will be the key to success for a business, regardless of the platform.
What was your biggest fear when starting your business?
My biggest fear was not being able to make things work out. But I took the leap of faith and things started happening. Now the ball has started rolling I’m learning how to guide it in the direction I want it to move, instead of being lead by it.
I don’t always get it right, but frankly failure is part of the journey and it makes us better.
How have you coped with the change in marketing? I.e. Social media overtaking traditional methods.
Honestly, the shift towards Social Media is great for us. As a small business we don’t have the kind of money that some of the big enterprises do, but I think social media kind of levels that playing field a bit.
Who inspires you?
Part of our code is “Hang out with people that inspire you and be someone they want to be around.” With that in mind, the people I hang around, like other Derby Hub members, are where I get my inspiration.
What made you think you could run a successful business?
Honestly, I fell into the entrepreneur trap, or the “E Myth”, which is a really good book. I was working for other people and thought “You know what, I’m good at what I do, surely I could run my own business and make money for myself.”
Since that moment, I’ve done a lot of learning and I think it’s the mixture of my hunger to learn, my ambition to achieve my vision and my determination (some may say stubbornness) that will result in Code 56 being around for a long time to come.
How did you feel when you employed your first time employee?
Honestly, it was a tad terrifying, however in the run up to actually posting a job advert and recruiting it was 100% obvious that this was the right decision for the business to be able to grow and develop, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.
I was the bottleneck in the business. If I wasn’t doing it, it wasn’t getting done. There came a realisation that I was close to a point where it would be impossible to continue to grow the business and provide the level of service our existing customers deserve from us because it would all be going through me.
Also, my vision for Code 56 is to grow a team a specialists. With all of this in mind, it made it easy to accept the nerves and fear that come from taking on an employee and all the extra responsibility that comes with them, because it was a measured and considered decision.
More and more people try to do their IT themselves. Does your business have a future?
Absolutely, but only because we continue to look to the future and develop our own skillset for where we see the world going.
Part of what we do is the day-to-day fixing of IT problems, like misbehaving laptops. There is a risk that more and more of this will become “DIY” as more tech-savy people enter the workplace. However, that is only part of what we do, and frankly that part is transactional, and transacting doesn’t add value in the long run.
The other parts of what we do is where we add value.
We sit with business leaders to understand their objectives and values so we can really understand where they want things to go, then we look at how we can use technology in its many forms to help them get there.
We help them use the extra features of technology they already pay for and use. We help them develop their IT strategy in line with their business strategy, and then help them implement that as well. We look at their processes and procedures and see where there might be opportunities to simplify them or put some form of automation in place.