KARANVEER BAJAJ

Mr Karanveer decided to start his own IT business as he could not find a sense of job satisfaction in his previous jobs. He decided that by being his own boss he could have the flexibility to expand and explore his strengths in other areas in IT such as Windows, Linux and DOS. He felt that his exposure and knowledge was restricted as to resolving repetitive types of problems while working for others.

Business Profile:

Computer Analysts and Recovery Experts Pte Ltd (CARE) was established in 2007 is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specialized in customized IT Outsourcing solutions. CARE is also one of the very few IT companies in Singapore to be   IS09001 :2008 Certified thus ensuring consistent good service delivery to all clients.

The aim of our company is to help our clients increase their company's productivity and efficiency by examining individual company's IT needs and tailoring our services to suit their organisation IT structure. Our customised IT maintenance has benefited many companies by allowing them the flexibility of tailoring IT services such as Server Mai.ntenance and Computer Maintenance Plans to suit their organisation's IT structure. This results in increased productivity and efficiency at lower budgets.

Our main areas of specialty are Computer Maintenance, Data Recovery Solutions and · Computer/Server Security Solutions. We supply all hardware, software and other IT services, design and installation of networks, system upgrades, repairs and maintenance. C.A.R.E constantly pursues and evaluates the very latest of developments in the IT industry. This ensures that our clients benefit from tried and tested value-added solutions.

Interviewer's Comments:

Mr Karanveer's passion and commitment to his own business made me realise that self-belief and the willingness to challenge yourself to the next level is very important to succeed in entrepreneurship. His enthusiasm, positive mind-set and integrity in conducting businesseshave inspired me greatly.Mr Karanveer also ensures that his staffs' welfare is well taken care off. He took steps to ensure that they understand the importance of their work to enable them to function well as a team so as to contribute to the company's success. He has showed me that nothing is too difficult to achieve if you set your mind and preserver towards your goal.

Interview:

1)  What is the nature of your business?

Computer Analysts and Recovery Experts Pte Ltd (CARE) is an established award winning local firm partnering with global brands to push out information security and infrastructure solutions to clients.

CARE is a Cisco Certified Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner and a recipient of multiple competency awards. Being an IS09001:2008 internationally certified company, CARE delivers the best in class IT solutions and high quality IT service to valued clients.

CARE's customize IT support plans is tailored to suit each client's IT needs. This approach can value add to client by achieving a smooth IT Infrastructure with limited costing so that clients can concentrate on the core business without having to worry about technical difficulties.

 

2)  When and why did you decide to become an entrepreneur I take over your family business?

I decided to start my own company after working for a year in a system integrator company. Firstly, the salary package was not attractive as I was regarded as a fresh graduate with no working experience since my technical experience is not accumulated through work but rather through individual projects. My boss quickly discovered that I am very good in IT and they became wary of me. This made me feel uncomfortable that my talents were not accepted.

Secondly, there is a lack of job satisfaction. The cases handed to me were very simple and could be solved within minutes but I was asked to take a longer time to resolve the issues since the company charged clients by per hour basis. I wanted more challenging cases however since the company did not have projects in other IT areas, this was not obtainable.

Thirdly, I wanted flexibility to expand into other areas of IT. As I have a wide span of knowledge in IT field such as Windows, Linux and including the seldom touched on 'lost language' of PCs called DOS (Disk Operating System). DOS is an operating system used long ago with no graphics and purely text based in black windows. I find that my exposure was limited and knowledge restricted as I was resolving repetitive types of problems.

 

3) What are your reasons for choosing to do business in this particular industry?

I discovered my natural talent for IT when I was 13 years As I pick up IT easily, I was able to expand my knowledge exponentially. When I was serving National Service in 2001, my commanding officer noticed my talent in IT and encouraged me to participate in the award winning WITS (Work Improvement Teams) projects for the unit. I was able to deliver and implement the electronic book-in and out system, automated cookhouse system and interactive navigation kiosk system for the unit.

When I ORD, he presented me with a glowing testimonial highlighting that I was professional and had provided many novel and valuable suggestions to my superiors on how to save more time without compromising the quality of work produced.

Through that experience, I was deeply inspired by the positive effects my talents could have on an organization and improve work flow. Naturally, I would like to put my talents to good use to assist businesses to achieve a good and efficient IT infrastructure hence, I have always thought of starting an IT business.

 

4)  How did you put together all the resources needed to start your business? For example: getting the start-up capital, hiring staff, doing sales and marketing, advertising, etc.

As I was not sure how the business idea will tum out to be, I started off working from home. I searched for office and type out a marketing letter which I printed then mail it out to potential clients. I send over 500 copies by hand but did not get a single reply. I figured that it may not be the best way to reach out to potential client as I need to let more people know about my offered service. Hence, I build a mass faxing machine on my own computer and bought database online to broadcast the company's services. From there, I got my first break, one client replied and another replied one month later.

After acquiring 2 clients, I used the profit from client and my own savings to rent an office; do some simple renovation and also buy some office furniture. I started hiring my first staff at the end of 2008 within the first year I started my business. I hired one local IT engineer to assist me. As the company did not have much money, I hired a very basic engineer whom I have to spend a lot of time training. It was really tiring; it still felt like I was the only person doing everything from resolving issues to marketing to managing salaries and administrative work. There were also a lot to learn that was non-IT related such as keeping accounts, complying with government business ruling and the available grants that government has to help start up or small businesses. As we are doing a good job managing client's IT, some clients were referred to us by word of mouth and our clientele increased year after year. With better budgets, the company grew slowly every year to increase our headcount of qualified and certified engineers so that we are equipped to handle complex IT infrastructure. Also, we now have our business development team to handle marketing and sales.

 

5)  What are some interesting stories you have about yonr first few customers/first few years in business?

CARE's first few clients are challenging in a sense that their IT wasin a bad shape when we first took over. One company was locked out of their own IT system due to their IT vendor leaving unhappily. CARE quickly overrode the systems and returned control of their IT to their management.

In another instance, the boss of the company was depending on an ad-hoc engineer who did not show up after he reported that his server was down. He called us slightly after 6pm and our office hadclosed. We picked up the call and still went onsite. When we arrived, we found that he had opened his server hardware and was trying to fix the server on his own. We eventually got the server up and running at 4am.

There was also a rare request whereby we have to board a cargo ship as the crew was experiencing network issues resulting in the computers not talking to each other. This ship had been travelling across oceans and previously had docked at 3 to 4 other places in different parts of the continent without being able to get the issue resolved by the local IT. Hence, the captain of the ship was very sceptical when we went on-board. Moreover, it was a real challenge as they were docking in Singapore for a few hours and we had limited time. When we went on-board, I was taken aback as the technology used was at least 10 years behind and we did not expect it to be so. It took me about 2 hours to trace the problem to a terminal issue. We finally found a BNC terminator and were able to resolve the network issue before the ship departed. The captain was very happy and grateful and even shook our hands warmly after that.

 

6)  What is your company vision and mission? How do you convey these to your company staff and team members?

CARE's vision and mission is to provide quality IT service and solution to businesses around the world so that they can concentrate on their core business without having to worry about IT. We will assist companies to build a strong and stable IT infrastructure whereby disruptions are kept to the minimal through the 4-S model, which is to: Stabilize, Structure, Secure & Strengthen. We will be reliable and dependable so that companies will not worry about IT problems when they encounter one knowing that we will always be there to resolve it and to propose solutions to overcome it. Most importantly, we want to make IT work for companies instead of companies working for the IT. We let our team members know that they are part of a professional team whereby all engineers have their strengths and specialization. It is important that they understand the importance of their work and that we should also act and think like the IT team of the clients we are serving. We will recommend long term solutions that works and they have to prepare proposals when recommending complex solutions. This typically involved research and also listing out pros and cons of the solutions. To ensure that these goals are actualized, I have also voluntary signed up for the ISO 9001 :2008 certification so that we get audited and also hear from an outsider point of view about our service quality mission. On top of that, I have implemented and highly advanced e-ticketing system which will inform us if we fall short of our SLA.

7)    What are some of the challenges yon faced when yon first went into business?

Some of the challenges faced as a new business are:

 

  • For clients to notice you and to try your Most clients would want to know when your business has been established. They would prefer a business that has been in the trade for at least 2 to 5 years. Ifthey know you are a start up business, most companies are quick to dismiss it as you are automatically marked as unstable, hard to gain their trust.

  • Getting connected with networked into your No business is an island; we need to know and establish a relationship with distributors and other auxiliary IT-related service provider to make your services more complete as a one-stop solution company. Also, it is really important to have good rapport with your distributors as this will enable you to get better pricing, latest promotions and also mutual trust which will make delivery to clients much faster and smoother.

  • Finding your place in the You need to know where you stand and how you are similar or different from your competitors. This will help you conceptualize what kind of service you want to offer and your charges. Due to market saturation, most companies are also wary of their competitors and will keep their door closed so as not to reveal any of their trade information or their service offerings.

 

8)    How did you overcome these challenges? Please share some specific examples of the action you took to overcome the challenges.

  • To get clients to notice us, by selling ourselves to client is not enough nor is it So, to overcome the problem of lack of confidence in younger companies, I requested for testimonials from our current clients and asked them if they are willing to be contacted if potential client wants to speak to someone about our services. With testimonials and references, clients are more confident towards our assured capabilities and service delivery.

  • When starting a business, it is important to attend events from distributors so that you can put a face to the name and also get to know the people who you are working During those meetings we can also better understand the products that distributor carry so that we can recommend client the right solution. It is also important to attend new product launches to keep up with the new technology.

  • I search for other IT companies online to see what kind of services they are offering and at the same time reflect on what services I would like to I also rely on my own instinct as a company on what kind of IT support I would like to have for my own company. With that in mind, we came up with support plans that are flexible enough to change with client's changing IT needs as well. On top of that, survey and feedback are carried out annually with current clients so that we can reflect and improve on our support plans.

 

9)         When was the moment you realised the business was would work and support you?

I realized the business would work for me on the 2nd year. Clients are referring our services by word of mouth and told us that they are happy with our service. They feel that they can depend on us and entrust their whole IT under our care. Each year we are accumulating more clients and increasing our staff strength. Also, our financial statements showed a healthy growth. Every year is an exciting year for me as I come up with more new ideas to improve on our operation and service delivery. With each year, the company grows and mature as well. It is more organized, has its own set of protocols and correct operation model which is client oriented.

The business can support me as I am able to draw a stable monthly income from it and pay my staffs on time. At the end of each financial year, the company is also able to pay staffs performance bonuses and director's fee and maintain its profits for future company growth.

 

10)What are some of your proudest business achievements to date? And why are they so important and meaningful to you?

I am proud of our resolution rate of 90-100% at current standing. At the moment, we have always managed to resolve client's IT issues and also provide a suitable solution. This means that our team has good research skills, are resourceful and also great determination to face the challenge no matter how difficult it is. I am also very proud of to have one of the best internal systems in the IT field, most of it which I have customized and implemented to improve our management of clients and their requirements. Some of the systems are:

-The eTicketing System

It allows user to receive prompt support from the available engineer by sending an email to us. This also will allow them to track SLA as they will be time stamp. The system also allows client to study their support needs by enabling clients to review the cases they have reported online.

-The CMS

This is where client's IT requirements are kept. Their specific instructions are here as well. The proposals, guides, licenses that clients have are all stored here. The CMS is also able to automatically remind us of clients license renewals hence making sure that all their systems are up to date and not expired.

-The DMS

This is where all CARE information is kept in softcopy. It allows easy retrieval of information by typing keywords in the search criteria. It also helps us organize our information.

-CARE Wiki

It is a portal that allows engineers to share and contribute technical information.

-Vault System

It is an extremely secure system that can only be accessed internally. It also has different access levels for our own engineers. This is where the client's passwords can be kept safely. This data is also encrypted.

-CAREMon

This is an advanced monitoring system which we use for the servers. It scans the server every 180 seconds for errors or warnings. When any errors of warnings are detected, it will send it to our support team for rectification. Hence, it is a good prevention approach instead of waiting for things to break down.

-Phone System

Our phone system is very advance; it allows the transfer of calls to engineers even when they are out of office. Hence, there is no need to give clients our mobile to safeguard their personal privacy. Engineers who need to call out when onsite can dial a code on their mobile and it will enable them to call through our company's phone system.

 

11)How do you promote learning within your Company? What are the training opportunities that you provide your staff?

Learning is being promoted within the company by:

  • Hands on

I feel that people remember better when they are actively involved in the process. Engineers are paired with their colleagues, both with different strength areas in their technical abilities. They assist each other and work as a team. They are encouraged to take up cases they find challenging and ask for assistance from their peers or seniors.

  • The Wiki system

CARE's Wiki is similar to the IT engineer's step by step guide. This is a central system whereby engineers will input what they have learned.

Engineers have a compulsory posting every week to encouraged knowledge sharing and open learning in the office. The other engineers will then use the system to assist them in their problem solving.

  • Simulated Case Practice

We are also able to train our engineers by simulating cases using Microsoft tools. For example, engineer can practice complex server migration in virtual servers. This will enable them to hone their skills to carry out perfect, error free server migrations which are classified as complicated.

  • Certifications

Engineers are also entitled to take examinations to get certified after 1 year of working with the company. The exams will be paid by the company.

After having practical experience, engineers can better understand what is put on text. They can pass the exams easily by referencing what they read on book to actual cases.

 

12) What do you see for your business in the next 5 years, and does it include any plans for expansion?

The next 5 years would be a very exciting phase for the company. We are looking at growing in a few difference areas:

 

  • Having our own office

CARE has purchased 2 office units to resolve the need to shift office from time to time and to cater for housing more manpower. For my previous office in Midlink, I spent a considerable amount doing renovation, however, barely after 1 year plus the building was sold in an en-bloc and we were asked to move out. This current office at Peace Centre, I have done minimal renovations as it has been submitted for en-bloc on a few occasions.

 

  • Increasing our scope of service

I am looking at offering other services that clients may find it useful such as providing and implementing the Document Management System (DMS). I have clients who find the storing of physical data overwhelming and also costly as they are paying for office space just to store the documents. I would think there is a good market for this and demand for such as service will increase.

 

  • Increasing our team

Over the next 5 years, I am looking at increasing our certified engineer count by 10-20 and also increasing our business development side by 5-10. At the same, we will also be looking at departmentalizing the engineers according to their specialization.

 

  • Overseas Office Expansion

We are also looking at expanding our offices to overseas. Infact, we are looking at setting up Philippines by next year. Once the office in Philippines is stable, we will be looking at Ukraine next. The reason for choosing Philippines is that they are a close Asian country, have a large population and hence a larger talent pool. The cost of setting up office and labour is also reasonable. This will enable us to remain competitive in our pricing being offered to clients. For Ukraine, they are well known to have IT talents and also because of the time difference, we can offer faster response to clients which have a 24x7 support plan.

 

13) How will you describe your working relationship with your customers, suppliers and service providers?

Overall we maintain good working relationship with our clients, suppliers and service providers. However, there are differences as well.

 

  • Relationship with clients should be professional and This is important no matter how comfortable clients are with us. Often with long term clients, the relationship can tum into some form of friendship as well when you get to know them personally. However, I think it is important to maintain a professional relationship. This is to ensure that we do not take things for granted and to ensure that we have to always deliver what we have promised to our client.

 

  • Relationships with suppliersare more relaxed as they are like an extension of our We have good collaborative and trusting relationship with suppliers. They help us source for good deals in the market and keep us updated with latest promotions. Suppliers play a key role in maintaining a high standard level of service delivery to our clients. They are needed for making speedy deliveries and also fast exchange on faulty hardware, sourcing of parts that are difficult to get and giving us competitive pricing.

 

  • Relationships with service providers are often technical and This is so as service providers such as Starhub and Singtel often have very high turnover and many different departments. The people change very quickly and they are often called in on occasions such as office relocation, plan upgrades and also when there are service disruptions.

 

In today's business world, no business is an island. Often, many projects would require collaborations between many parties. Hence, mutual respect should be a key factor between all parties. When things go wrong, all parties should work together and channel the energy at resolving the issue rather than fault finding.

 

14) How do you differentiate your business from your competitors? Please provide specific examples.

 

There are a few areas that differentiate our business from other competitors.

Firstly, CARE emphasizes on good quality engineers. All our engineers are certified and come with at least 2 years of working experience. The certifications are in different areas ranging from common ones such as Microsoft and Cisco to niche ones such as Linux and VMware. This ensures that we have a team with varied expertise to handle the many different IT infrastructure combinations.

Secondly, CARE invests in advanced technology systems that allows us to have good visibility of clients IT infrastructure at a glance. This also greatly helps us organize the enormous amount of information that passes through us and optimize and workflow process to increase efficiency. Most companies are so involved in the money making process that they may fail to look into upgrading their own operations. Our clients can feel the difference as we are able to take note of specific requests and requirements.

Thirdly, CARE adopts a pro-active preventive approach to managing IT. Hence, we actively resolve errors or warnings which show in the system preventing break downs. We do not wait until a major server breakdown or total failure to happen before reacting. In such event, clients typically feel very stressful as well because their whole operation can come to a halt.

Fourthly, CARE is serious about quality service and response time. Having enrolled into ISO 9001:2008 voluntarily, we get audited every year so that our operations are examined by unbiased, external parties. This allows us to get fresh perspective for improvements and at the same time keeps us in check that we have to meet our SLAs. Having the ISO 900 I :2008 also ensures that the same procedures and treatment are carried out for all clients no matter how big or small they are. Hence, we do not give different treatments to clients according to how much they pay us.

Lastly, CARE has a guided structure for IT setups. Our 4-S model will ensure that we try to assist clients to achieve certain standard in their IT infrastructure. The 4-S Model is to: Stabilize, Structure, Secure and Strengthen.

 

15)What are some business ideas you have implemented that created great results in your business?

 

There are quite a few but I shall just name 2 examples.

Our customize IT support plan is a great hit with clients. Clients like it so much that we got a total of 26 testimonials over a span of 6 years offering this service. Before I started CARE, I was running a regular IT support company with my brother as well. The support plans are like the ones offered in the mainstream market where you pay according to the man hours you use. It sounds simple and fair enough. However, in actual fact, it has a major number of shortcomings. First, it is a break fix model whereby when systems land in a bad shape then you step in to sort it out. There is also a conflict of interest between client and yourself. This plan works great when client's system starts breaking and failing because that is when you step in to do work and get paid. If client's systems are in good shape, you are putting yourself out of business. Also, there is a time issue to this already conflicted relationship. Since client pays you by the hour, they expect you to resolve the issue quickly. This results in engineers patching a problem to achieve results instantly rather then tracing and resolving problems at its root. More often, the problem will reoccur and client will get upset. This concept is also particularly tricky when installations are needed whereby engineer sits and wait for software to be installed. Client gets frustrated and some even refuse to pay citing that engineer is not doing work and should not be paid for 'staring at the screen'.

With the customized IT support plan, we will first examine what kind of support a client needs and then come up with a proposed support plan to cover the areas that they need. The cost is fixed and will cover the required job scopes so that client can manage own costing and expectation. This concept works really well and greatly reduces conflicts as client and vendor's goal are the same -which is to achieve a strong and stable IT infrastructure with as little disruption as possible. CARE also understands that today's business landscape can change in an instant. Hence, we also allow flexibility of our support plan. Client can change their IT support plan as long as CARE is given one month notice.

The other service that is offered and has great results is data recovery. Data recovery itself is a niche market and the people who know how to do it are even lesser. Although many individuals or companies claim that they offer data recovery, their recovery rate is very low. This is due to them merely running software to attempt data recovery. This method works only for data recovery due to non-physical damage. When hardware has sustained some physical damage which happens more often than most people would think. The data cannot be recovered by just running the software. Physical damage commonly happens when hard drive is dropped by accident or when someone moves the hard drive while it is being read. Physical damage can arise naturally due to wear and tear as most hard drive's lifespan are about 3 to 5 years. The request for this service has been on the increase due to the trend of digitizing most or all of our information such as photos, videos, work files and study materials. Data recovery is highly possible in most cases and we have helped many clients retrieve back their previous data. Before committing to the service, CARE offers a free evaluation.After the evaluation, we will then inform client of the estimated percentage we are able to recover and also the cost of recovering. Should client not wish to proceed, they will incur no cost at all.

16)Who or what motivates and inspires you?

I was from PingYi secondary school and my secondary school motto "Perseverance yields success" still motivates and inspires me till these days. When I was in secondary school, I was not very good at the subjects. The only thing I was really good at is computing and that is not counted as a subject but rather an enrichment class. It was not easy since our society places much emphasis on our academic results. At an impressionable age, this motto stuck to me and has helped me through tough times when my tremendous efforts did not seem to pay off. I guess it works as it is short, simple and easy to understand for someone young.

Although I tried very hard, I did not do well for my studies and ended up in ITE. I told myself to persevere and that one day I will succeed and put my talents to good use. At that time, ITE did not offer computing course, hence I took an electronics course which I thought was the closest to computing. It was hard for me as I could not pursue what I love and enjoyed as a subject. After I graduated, I went to pursue computing course with Informatics, and bachelors in computing with RMIT and also certifications with Microsoft and Cisco. Having accomplish these was my first taste of how the 'never give up your goals' attitude and perseverance has paid off

Another major event was when my business partnership did not work out with my brother when we started an IT company together. I have a lot of ideas that did not fall into mainstream and he was comfortable with staying put to play it safe. Hence, I left the company voluntarily and thought about what I wanted to do. It was a difficult time for me, leaving it all behind after 3 years of commitment in the company. I was left without an income and also aimless. I took the time to think about what I want to do and decided to persevere in pursuing my dreams of having an IT company and run it the way I want to so I can have the freedom to try my ideas. The starting was very difficult when you have to start from scratch to build your company profile and clientele all alone. Of course there are many setbacks in the course of building the company. The motto still works for me and I would say that perseverance has once again led me to the path of having a successful business.

 

17) What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

It means to have the ability to pull together the resources needed to start up a new business and at the same time be mindful of the risks and pitfalls that presents itself.

To me, entrepreneurship also includes successful innovative processes such as identifying and recognizing a need in the market and to come up with and provide a solution or product to meet that need. It can also include the process of an alteration of existing products of services to enhance or better it. For example, when iphone came out, it literally killed the market with its invention. Many phone companies suffered badly as they could not keep up. Samsung have good entrepreneurship and they quickly studied what makes iphone so successful and took the initiative to enhance and better their Samsung phones. In the current market, iphone and Samsung phones are the most commonly sought after phones.

 

18) What are some entrepreneurship qualities that you have which has helped you come this far?

I have a forward looking approach and would often look for what to implement next to assist and improve business operations. For example, I foresee that CARE would need to expand their support team to overseas offices to offer better seamless 24x7 IT resolution. As Singapore has a smaller population, finding and retaining the group of talented IT engineers will be tedious since we are looking at a smaller talent pool. Hence that will be the next project that I will be focusing on.

On top of that, I have a real passion in what I do. Most often, people do best when they have a real interest because they are motivated to pursue it and is able to thrive longer on their findings and dig further for deeper understanding. I often spend a lot of time reading up on new IT fields and areas because of an initial interest. Because it is an enjoyable process, I am motivated to find out more through in-depth research. After attaining good understanding, I would try my hands on it. With passion, it keeps you going at it and allows you to go further then someone without that interest.

Through experience, I have sharpened my research skills, which enables me to navigate around the age of over flooding informationand tease out what I need from distractions. Having good research skills is also an important factor as people may be off the trail chasing leads that will bring them further away from their goals. Hence, you need to be able to recognize which information is essential and which ones to discard.

19) In your opinion, what does it mean to have the "spirit of enterprise"?

To me, it means to have the interest to promote and cultivate entrepreneurship qualities and the quest to better oneself so that we will be better entrepreneurs.

I believe people are active learners instead of passive learners. They actively seek out the things they want and find ways to put themselves nearer to the goal. Hence, when someone has the spirit of enterprise, they actively promote and cultivate these entrepreneur qualities and push themselves to be closer to the ideology of a successful entrepreneur.

20) In your opinion, what other qualities does a person need in order to be successful in business? And why? (e.g. Educational qualification, work experience, family influence, attitude, etc

Other qualities that will enable one to be successful also includes:positiveattitude and good integrity.

A person's attitude plays a very crucial role in their perspective on events and obstacles. When someone has positive attitude, they try to get the best out of all situations. So this creates a lot of learning opportunities for them. This puts their learning curve higher and they can draw on these inferences to assist them in their decision making.

Another quality is to have agood integrity. In the business world, it has become so competitive that everyone wants to have an edge over the other and there is a dire need to differentiate your business from the others. No matter how tough the situation is, there should be a code of business ethics and integrity that we should adhere to such as not to sabotage your competitors, short change your distributors or grossly overcharge your clients. With good integrity, you will form a trusting relationship with your colleagues, distributors and clients and they will stick by you even through tough times.

 

21) Can you share some of the more significant events I incidents that affected or shaped your business philosophy and the way you conduct your business? I.e. SARS, new competition or shifts in market behaviour and trends, etc.

From my experience, some events that are particularly tricky for companies to handle are data loss. Technology has become so powerful and advanced that most people regard it as invincible and forget that hardware is subject to failure. I have too often; seen cases that backups are being setup once and clients assume that it will run fine on its own so they do not check on it.

Data is particularly important as they are companies' asset. To overcome this, I have ensured that CARE has good redundant backup systems in different levels to prevent data loss. We also place emphasis on organizing and storing data through DMS to ensure easy retrieval and searching 

Also, there is an increasing trend in moving to cloud base services to do away with all the hardware by paying a rental fee. It sounds good and hassle free.

However, in my opinion, this is useful for start ups and small companies. Once they reach a size of 5 or more staff strength, I would start recommending them to buy and invest in their own hardware to build up their IT infrastructure. This is so as I have seen companies work on this model only to face with great difficulties to switch over to owning their own IT infrastructure as they grow bigger. This is so as:

 

  • Rental services are more expensive in the long It is a recurring cost that you pay but do not actually own any of the IT hardware asset

  • As your company grows, it becomes harder and harder for you to switch to owning your on IT infrastructure when you want to because the cost just ballooned as compared to you starting from small and building it bit by bit

  • As most of the offered services are shared, they have lesser degree of control over their IT

  • The service plans may change and they are forced to move along according to what is being offered

 

22) What are some of your business values and what would you like to pass down to others, particularly the younger generation?

 

Be genuine and only promise what you can deliver. That will help manage client's expectation and avoid any misunderstandings which will cause unhappiness leading to dissatisfaction in your service and product delivery. More often, companies may want to impress their clients. Hence, they tend to paint a rosier picture than the actual. Clients are sold by the marketing talk and suffer a great disappointment when it did not materialize. This can be more disruptive to your business as you will be kept busy handling client's complain. Also, clients or consumers are now more empowered than before in the sense that there are governing bodies and media avenues to bring their grievances to if you attempt to con or mislead them. These are unwanted attention and will definitely tarnish a company's reputation.

 

23) With the changes in the market today, do you think it has become harder or easier to succeed in business? Why do you say so?

I think it has become easier and at the same time harder for people to succeed in business depending on a person's definition of success. Starting up a business is easier with today's technology. Business can be found easily through search engines. Start up costs is also minimal and people are able to test their ideas by having online shops. I see more young aspiring entrepreneurs who have a full time job and also their own online businesses. However, having said that, because of saturation in the market, it has become harder to rise above your competitors who are in similar trade. Hence, we see many more small businesses struggling to reach the top.

 

24) What advice would you give young people who want to start their own business?

Starting a business is a 24/7 job; there are endless tasks that needs to be done and completed. You have to be there when your staff cannot cover the duty. You have to read up and do research for systems to implement and assist in your business operations to achieve stability. Hence, if you want to be a business owner, you must be prepared to be flexible in your job responsibilities and roles. It is tiring but some of the perks you have are flexibility in your timing as you will have a sense of great satisfaction when your business has stabilized. You will know that all that hard work and late nights have paid off.