Business goal for the next 12 months:
1. Grow 10% year over year;
2. To improve employee satisfaction;
and 3. To maintain our margins.
While the goals remain consistent, how we achieve them can vary year to year. We have a heightened focus on security and compliance in 2015. In fact, we are in the process of developing a security and compliance service. OUM helped us embark on this new path in 2014 by providing our SOC 2 certification, which is key to enabling our new service.
Advice you wish you had received: Gosh, where do we start?! This is the first business we have both managed. Looking back, we would have liked to spend more time working in the industry before going out on our own. We literally started from nothing – most people don’t do that. They tend to work in the industry of their choice a while.
We are also self-funded, which has been tough. Our incorporation papers say we started with $6,000; we are now proud to say the business is over $10 million.
For us, we would also say to be careful what you wish for. We didn’t think we’d ever be 50 people and $10 million – it’s certainly a different world than the 15 people we envisaged.
Best business decision: We always try to come out with new services that we believe relevant in the ever-changing technology industry. In the 14 years we’ve been operating, we have expanded from Managed Services to Hosting to Security and Compliance. We made our first change back in 2004 and haven’t stopped since.
Another good decision was to share our financials with our employees. We believe this helps engender ownership and trust as we’re not hiding anything and we’re teaching people how to positively impact the business.
Toughest business decision: It’s always hard when we have to let someone go. We try to have a positive work environment and a collegial atmosphere and we know dismissals impact both. In addition, it’s tough to make decisions that have such an impact on people’s lives.
Person most admired: We are most impressed by our customers; some of them are really amazing! We have an appreciation for how difficult it is to get a business off the ground and these are people who have done it. It’s also hard to weather challenging times (2008 for example), so we admire people who can do that too.
Like most about job: The best thing about our job is the people that we work with. They are really nice and amazing at what they do! We also enjoy our clients and learn a lot from them through our annual customer meetings.
Like least about job: We hate paperwork, but since we’re in business, there’s no escaping it.
Dream job: I think we’re doing our dream job. If we weren’t working though, we would spend more time with our kids. Tom would also probably teach sailing. He doesn’t get a chance to go out very often any more.
BEHIND THE SUIT
Birthplace: California born and bred!
Education: Anne went to MIT and then UCSB for graduate school. Tom went to the University of Minnesota and received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin.
Favorite book: Anne – I have soooo many! I love reading and particularly like mysteries.
Tom – I’m more of a long novel person and my favorite would probably be Dostoevsky’s ‘Brothers Karamazov’.
Favorite movie: We just watched ‘Big Hero 6’ with our kids – super fun!
Outside of work: We both love to hike but most of our free time is focused on our kids.
Community: We have both done lots of volunteering over the years, but now we are more focused on activities at the kids’ school. Anne also works with Girls, Inc.
As a team we do volunteer work. For example, we support local NGO’s such as City Slickers, Food Bank, community cleanups, etc. We pay our staff volunteer hours and give other in-kind donations such as food to local communities.
Family: We have 2 girls – ages 6 and 8. The business allows for some flexibility so we can work from home and also after they go to bed. We made a conscious decision to put off having children until the business was more established and we feel that it is working out pretty well.