30 December 2016

How has your business changed in 2016?

Whilst we plan as much as we can, ultimately we never know what the year holds for our businesses.

This time last year, I could never have predicted the Brexit referendum result and the impact that this would have on the economy and our businesses; nor of the American presidential election result. Equally, I would never have guessed that David Cameron would step down and be replaced by the champion of the Snoopers’ Charter – the proposed law that could have an extraordinary impact on the hosting and telecommunications industries.

It is these external changes that really test your resilience as a leader, an entrepreneur and as a business. How do you minimise the impact of these changes? How do you stay one step ahead?

It’s something that I am still learning but I believe that the worst thing that you can do is to tighten the purse strings and lockdown. We continued to invest throughout the recession a few years ago and despite the uncertainty of Brexit, we’ve continued to do that same in 2016.

In just twelve months, we’ve acquired a leading cyber security firm – which has now moved in to our Manchester campus, we’ve hired more than 100 people and we’ve returned as main sponsors to rugby club Sale Sharks. We also started working with some of the biggest clients on our books, won a number of industry-leading awards and organised a three-day festival-style party for our entire team.

Looking back at the year just gone, I can’t believe how much our business has developed. It’s incredible! Yet, in many ways, I consider it to have been a period of preparation for the year ahead. There is still so much to look forward to. I am particularly looking forward to the progress we will make having purchased the building directly next to our current Campus; we have incredible plans for this space, which I’m sure you’ll hear much more about in 2017.

We’ve also used the past year to expand into different business areas – something I’m very eager to continue in the coming year. We’ve taken a massive leap into the world of cyber security by acquiring Pentest – one of the top ten, industry- leading firms in the country – and we’ve entered the world of publishing through our new business tech magazine BusinessCloud. We’ve also developed the construction arm of our business, called UKFast Space, which means we are able to build, create and maintain our offices through being completely self-sufficient.

But perhaps the biggest preparation comes through the development of our people. I feel the UKFast team is in the best shape it has ever been and that is due to recruitment as much as it is to training and development. At the start of the year we took on 28 apprentices, who have developed so much over the year that they are now filling roles in all departments of our business and are talking for UKFast at industry events. They are even running the in-school code club we started a few weeks ago.

And they are not the only ones who continue to learn. On top of offering fully accredited apprenticeships, we’ve encouraged everyone in the business to keep learning this year. Exams and qualifications have been passed in every department, from account management, to sales and technical. We now have one of the most qualified Linux teams in the country.

I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring for us at UKFast, but I know that whatever it is we’ll be prepared!

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