Jake Gully of DataSwift Network Services Ltd, Wootton
"My best decision was to invite two of my staff to become directors with me", said Jake Gully.
Starting a business is hard work. Over the first eight years, I worked long hours establishing the business.
As the years have passed, I have become more conscious of work-life balance and the need to share the responsibility to diversify and grow.
Recently I had to step back and spend a lot of time in hospital with my daughter. Without shared responsibility and confidence in my co-directors, I have no doubt the business would have suffered and struggled to survive. It was a difficult decision. I was concerned about losing control – every entrepreneur wants to control as much as possible to make sure the business succeeds. But, strangely, letting go is a growth step.
Having made the decision five years ago now, I am really pleased and the business is bigger than me. We have more diversity of skills, more flexibility, resilience and more ability to explore new opportunities.
And I have grown as a result too. I now have more confidence in the business and I'm more relaxed at work as well as at home.
Mending Our Morale
Commentary from Dave Simon
I went to the Chamber of Commerce EXPO last month.
Although the sun hid until later afternoon, the atmosphere was warm. There were more exhibitors, more visitors and more energy than the last few years.
The Island has its challenges, and we need to help ourselves. Perhaps more than we want to. Perhaps more than we think we can.
So we really need the hope and belief that we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
That is the essence of what entrepreneurs do. They start the vital form of teamwork which channels energy and optimism.
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill said.
We have a rich variety of home-grown businesses here. We have some quite large enterprises. We have many entrepreneurs.
Business is the engine of the economy. It finds and uses opportunity to create wealth, it addresses need, it gives us hope.
Supporting our own is the very best contribution we can make.
And the very best way we can all do that is to turn on the sunlight of our optimism. It's a 'force multiplier' that gets more done with less, and with pride.
Continuing Jake Gully's story
I Can Do It Better!
DataSwift was a new adventure for me, when I felt I could do better than the existing services I saw going into the NHS. I had an IT management job there, following a start in the Army which led to IT jobs in education and Housing Associations.
The NHS here were using mainland companies to update their network hardware. Although the contract looked good, the reality was engineers rushing off early to catch a ferry to get home. From my training I knew the quality of work was often poor and that led to the idea of setting up on my own. That's how many enterprises start, and it's scary - a step into the dark!
Profit In Its Place
I was more concerned about the quality of work than about the profits I was making. I felt that if we provided good equipment there would be fewer problems, and contracts would come back to me. That way I could keep the business going. And I could keep employees safe.
Profit does three things: it helps your survival as a business, it gives you security against future problems, and finally it allows you to reward people.
Cuts Can Backfire!
The Island's economy does concern me at the moment. Cuts to local council, education and healthcare budgets will have adverse effects on their services and therefore on local businesses. In my area of work, I know that when the hardware budget goes down and businesses hang on to old equipment, the repairs, maintenance and emergency budgets all get raided to make that happen. So there is precious little money saved in the end. In fact sometimes, they spend more!
Is there more we could be doing for ourselves? I think we should be promoting development and tourism, establishing the Island as a centre of renewable (tidal/wind) energy, and exploring marine conservancy. These all suit our situation and if we turned a profit, we could become famous for our innovation and resilience!
I do admire Liz Earl and the Bucklands, who have generated wealth for, and promoted, the Island through their business.
Building Better Businesses
I am very sympathetic to everyone starting up new businesses. Many years ago, Liz Earl was a start-up. We need them.
I wish I had been advised to be bolder when I started out. I had some advice from the IW Chamber business start-up course, but since then only a few words from our accountants and from my brother. Mentoring and coaching is useful to encourage people beyond their comfort zone. It helps people learn and grow, but has to be insightful and pertinent to the business and industry.