16 May 2016

How do you ensure that everything in your business fits your brand or meets your core values?

A key example of how we use end-to-end ownership happened last week when I was interviewed by Chris Maguire for Inspire Manchester, as part of a series of events that we hold at UKFast Campus to bring together established entrepreneurs and budding startups.

Inspire 2016

At the InspireMCR event.

We were sitting on the large leather sofa that normally occupies the top floor of my personal office, discussing UKFast and our ethos when Chris asked why I had decided to build our furniture in-house.
There are several reasons why we created that sofa, and the rest of the furniture in the office.

In a way, this sofa is just another example of how we do everything at UKFast. We aim to do everything in-house. We wrote our own telephone system, our own accounting software and our own launch platform. We even designed and built desks that change colour for our support team. We also have an internal recruitment department and five full-time teachers to provide professional development to everyone in the team.

In the early days, we were let down by suppliers and that led to us letting down clients. That’s something I never want to experience ever again, so we take control as much as we can. You are only as strong as your weakest link; that link isn’t going to be very strong if your suppliers don’t hold the same quality control standards, as you or don’t offer the same service level that you do.

It sounds extreme to take control to such an extent but there are other reasons too.

You have to be smart with budgets in business. Do we spend thousands on furniture that doesn’t quite fit our bespoke needs, or do we use the team and facilities that we have already to create them ourselves?

You can only spend every pound once, so you need to be creative and try and stretch money out when you can.

When we relied on external data centres, we found that we encountered more and more problems as we grew. Prices would go up all the time and the level of service we received wasn’t enough to deliver our own best practice to our customers.

I was convinced that we’d never be able to fix this problem, unless we’d have full control and ownership. So we built our own centres!

From this angle, the sofa is a good example of our culture of ownership, where everyone is encouraged to use their skills in creative ways and find solutions to problems.

In our office, I want to create a home away from home for the whole team, where everyone feels proud and happy to spend the day in the office and makes an effort to look after the place. It’s obvious that when you create something yourself, you’re more likely to care about it.

When people feel proud of what they do and where they are, they create a happy company culture that is focussed on creativity, growth and innovation.

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