My experience of the IT community up until running my own business was..well inbred to say the least. The company that I worked for previously bordered on almost grooming you to distrust other IT companies as if they were the ‘enemy’. To my shame this was a feeling that was exaggerated in some of my future engagements after leaving there and setting up on my own. However, about 2 years ago I joined the BNI which is an international business referral network which brings different businesses together to allow them to pass business once a certain rapport has been made. I will always remember the first meeting I went to was at Woodborough Hall in Nottingham on a dark November morning. I arrived there at 06:45, that’s right 6.45am, to a room full of people that I had never met. I mean talk about a fish out of water, I don’t think I could have been more uncomfortable if I had been stood there naked!
None the less the first person to that came to speak with me was Adam Harris from Bear-IT who came over to speak with me and discuss what I did. This totally opened my eyes to the fact that maybe, just maybe, those other IT companies were not so evil after all and that maybe, just maybe, there could be synergies between seemingly rival businesses. After this Adam invited me up to meet with him to discuss things further. I was told by another IT company that I was working with at the time not to discuss software and tools etc as they should be a closely guarded ‘secret’. However, once I started talking with Adam I found that we all do the same things, same tools, same software just a different business with different faces. So I reciprocated the openness that was shown to me.
Fast forward on to the beginning of this year when I was approached by another IT consultant and fellow business owner from Birmingham. Richard Tubb from Netlink IT contacted me following some posts which I had made on Twitter. After reading Richard’s blog it seemed clear that he had travelled the business path which I wanted to embark upon, making the move from being ‘self-employed’ to being a ‘business owner’, so we began to talk. Once again I was astounded at the openness of information that was being afforded to me by someone I had only known a short time. Things such as the type of tools to use, how to deliver the best customer experience, service management and delivery, all of which is normally hidden information within the IT trade. So why was all of this being given free of charge, without a catch or clause? Because Richard believed in the community and the power of working together instead of against each other. Now all of this collaboration what highlighted when in May 2009 I was drafted in by Richard and some of his peers to assist in a massive nationwide upgrade project for one of their clients, you can read all about it here. All in all there was 8 different IT businesses working together under on collaborative umbrella which meant that what was a massive project which included over a dozen servers, 200+ desktops across 13 sites was all made possible by the IT community working together instead of against each other.
It was once said by John Donne “No man is an island”, and no truer word has been said. For those that run businesses it can be quite isolating but there are people out there who are willing to work with you and help you so don’t be afraid to ask.
If you are interested in developing a strategic alliance with myself then please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively if you have a storey you would like to share about how the community has helped you then send it over as it would be great to share.