Thomas Jeffs is the CTO of Lucidica, a successful IT support company based in London, UK. I interviewed him as part of this ongoing series for SP Home Run, as I thought that he could share some valuable tips for those thinking of starting their own IT support companies. And he didn’t disappoint.
How Lucidica Started as a Small IT Consulting Business
Thomas was at university in London when he first started his IT business. He was working part time at an Internet café whilst studying for his degree. The owner of the café had customers approaching him for advice on their computer woes. The café owner had a chain of three cafés and was not in a position to take on any consulting work, so he passed them on to Thomas.
Thomas ran with this even though he wasn’t passionate about IT, and his degree was not related to computer science. Importantly though, he had always had a keen interest in computing. The thought of working for himself was something that he wanted to pursue, so he started his consulting business on that basis.
Targeting a Niche as an IT Support Company
Lucidica targets small businesses and specifically ones that want to get to know their service provider by forming a healthy working relationship on an ongoing basis. He and his team act as outsourced CIO / CTOs to many of their clients. The account engineers are responsible for building technology roadmaps with and for the clients they work with.
They tend to work alongside the person with the most technical knowledge within the organization, but not with a business that has its own in-house IT department. On occasion, they do service companies that just require them to take care of the server and where the customer takes care of desktop support.
Starting Without A Set of Client Criteria Can Prove Challenging
Lucidica’s sales approach was not well defined until around 3 years ago when they realized that in order to grow and become more profitable they would need to start acquiring the right types of customers, at a higher price, rather than accepting anyone and everyone that showed an interest in their services. They completely redefined their IT sales strategy by doubling their fees; this weeded out the clients that were not the right fit and allowed them to move on and acquire ones that were.
The lessons to take way from Thomas’ story are:
If an opportunity arises you should take it, as they are rare—planning is not the most important thing in the world unless you have the time and space to do it.
Passion is important, and when you speak to Thomas, it’s clear that he is very passionate about business and helping small businesses reach their goals using appropriate technologies. Be passionate about business, about IT, or about helping others—you’ll need this to keep you motivated and drive you on.
You can learn some of the skills that you need as you go along. Thomas didn’t have a degree in computing, just a keen interest. He is now certified on the things that he needs to be, but lack of this did not hold him back.
Make sure you set out to attract the right types of clients. Have criteria in place and charge what you are worth or you will find that you have to realign down the road, and that does not always work out well.
In part two, we’ll look at how Lucidica approaches the hiring, training, and retention of their IT support company technicians.
In the meantime, what are the lessons that resonate with you most and do you have any questions for Thomas? Let us know in the Comments section.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr San José Library
Topics:- Computer Consulting Business