Thank you for sitting down with us today! Can you tell us a bit about SimKay and how it started?
SimKay is an IT consulting business that started during lockdown after I was made redundant.
I've been in IT for almost 30 years, working for a number of businesses and realised I have a passion for helping smaller ones. Quite often, consultancies are aimed at some of the large-sized businesses and that meant for smaller businesses it was always too expensive. They certainly didn’t get the hands-on approach larger enterprises could afford!
Because I'm both technically and strategically aware I'm able to help smaller businesses on their journey to using technology to its fullest potential. That was my key focus for starting SimKay.
What would you say is key to helping you start your business?
I'm not going to say it was the easiest journey in the world, but through hard work, perseverance and really making sure I used most of the contacts that I've made over the years, I've been able to make a success of it.
This is because one of the keys to growing a business is all about the relationships you’ve made. I've been fortunate enough to build up some great working relationships and through that have gotten to know some great small businesses.
But also, I’m at an age where I thought, if I don’t do this now, I never will! Especially as there weren’t many jobs around because everyone was in lockdown mode. So I said, let’s do this! And thankfully, so far it's worked out.
Tips on how to start your business:
Were there any struggles to getting your business started and how did you overcome them?
The main struggles were: how to do it, what to do and where to start.
I looked online for help and spoke to my local bank, NatWest, and that’s where I came across Mettle. I found out that being a Mettle customer meant I could get access to FreeAgent which would give me a helping hand with my finances and accounts.
But, the research really helped me to find a starting point. After that, it was a case of building my brand. I tried to do things as cheaply as possible, so I used websites like Fiverr to help me design my logo, and a friend helped me with my website, for example.
And then onto the struggles of marketing. I didn't even know where to start at first. I tried to use LinkedIn a bit more and raise my profile. Here is where those relationships really came in handy – utilising them to help spread the word was helpful. Slowly but surely I brought in some business and built up new contacts with other IT suppliers.
Just to end the interview on a high, is there a key achievement or success story you’d like to share?
The main one for me is a client who had been trying to go live with their IT system for a couple of years by the time I started working with them. I managed to make it happen in a few months!
I knew they had been struggling with this product, so I used my blended hands-on and consultative approach to help them get the system live within eight or nine months. From that, we are now moving on to the next phase of how to move forward and improve. I’m very pleased with that.
You can find out more about SimKay here.