When Mike Parfitt started his business in 2003, he hardly imagined it would one day turn into a company employing 13 people with ambitions for further expansion. But the entrepreneur has grown Team Metalogic from something he ran on his own from his laptop into an enterprise with serious plans for growth. And Mike attributes the company's recent success to the support provided to the Caerphilly-based firm by Business Wales AGP.
Here, Mike tells how much that help has been worth, how he went from sole trader to business success story and offers tips for others wanting to follow a similar path.
Tell us about Team Metalogic.
I started the company in 2003, and for four years it was just me and my laptop, providing IT support services to small and micro-businesses.
I don't think I could have predicted that 17 years later I would have 13 employees and be expanding my business into a range of new areas, but that's precisely what's happened. It's been amazing.
I took on my first employee in 2007, and that was when things took off. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the 2008 financial crash gave us a massive opportunity for new business. The credit crunch made companies look at how they could save on costs. Lots of SMEs were looking at how they could outsource services. Meanwhile, larger companies were understanding the value of working with service providers. An external company with real expertise can provide the support of an internal IT team without the costs, commitments and rigmarole of employing staff. We were able to step in and capitalise on this trend.
We enjoyed rapid growth after this, and in 2018 I expanded the firm's offering so we could provide telecoms solutions, meaning we could offer customers a full support package.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
We've won plenty of awards – business and industry ones and recognition for our brilliant customer service, too. We were also the only Welsh business named in a list of the top 50 managed IT service providers in the UK.
Awards are great, as of course, it's wonderful to win recognition from your peers. But there's something I'm more proud of.
The source of that pride, and something which continues to drive my ambition, is the fact that I started with one laptop and one desk. Now I employ 13 people, and I want to grow the company further. At the core of that success story is an ethos of personal customer service, and a team that continually strives for best practice.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
Learning through experience is one of the most vital facets of an entrepreneurial journey. But if I were to start all over again, I think I'd be less risk-averse and more willing to try new things. If I'd taken more chances earlier in the business, I think I'd have enjoyed the same rapid growth through expansion, but a few years earlier.
You need the right kind of advice to be able to manage that aversion to risk, though. And I think that's something which can be difficult to find when you're starting alone. You don't necessarily know what support is out there for you.
But talking plans through with someone who's been there and done it can give you the reassurance you might need to take risks – and reap the rewards afterwards.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
We joined the Business Wales AGP programme in 2018, ahead of our expansion into telecommunications. It was a crucial turning point for us.
We were given access to mentors, advisers and benefited from training workshops for our staff. Business Wales AGP also gave us guidance on planning for growth and an introduction to new networks of potential partners and customers.
After working with Business Wales AGP, we grew our staff from six to 13 and boosted our turnover by 72%. These fantastic growth figures can be attributed to the help Business Wales AGP gave us.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● Don't be afraid of what you don't know.
● Find someone with more experience and learn as much from them as possible.
● Embrace the idea that you will never be 'finished', and that there will always be something new to learn.
● Don't be afraid to ask for help.