A Successful Business at Work: How Richard Przybek Conquers His Day
From fire-fighting computer problems to installing sophisticated IT solutions, Richard Przybek’s company helps small businesses sort out their computer systems. Every day brings a new challenge. Read how Richard triumphs over his day.
Introducing Colbek Systems Limited
Richard Przybek’s Warwickshire-based business is to small companies what the IT department is to big corporations.
He started Colbek Systems Limited, together with a business partner, in 1987. Today, he has four employees and the company has worked with everyone from law firms to local charities.
Richard recommends IT products and strategies to his customers – like migration to the cloud. He also offers advice on CCTV services and business telephone systems.
Here’s a day in his life…
Arrive at work, 8.30am:
“The first thing I do is check my emails. 70% of our work is computer support for other small businesses. We’re effectively an IT department for businesses too small to employ their own full-time IT staff. We’ll work out who needs urgent attention. A lot of our work is done remotely, by logging into people’s computer systems from the office. Other times we need to visit them. We offer advice to customers and have to be careful about that. I always try and play devil’s advocate and give customers all the pros and cons so they make the final informed decision.”
“Mid-morning, I’m usually chatting to customers on the phone. A big part of my job involves advising customers about computer systems that might suit their needs, and troubleshooting system issues. That’s why I’ve always had public and products liability and professional indemnity insurance. I remember when I had to call on both of these. Back in the days when people used to back up onto tape drives, this customer – a solicitors’ office – had a system backup that hadn't worked properly for a number of weeks. Our engineer checked the connections to make sure they hadn't come loose, and when he came to restart the computer, the hard drive failed. Needless to say, we got the blame (for the damage to the hard drive and the loss of income the company suffered as a result of the failure). When you’ve got an office full of lawyers blaming you for destroying their file server, you need Public and products liability cover and Professional indemnity insurance. Our insurers did a very good job and we weren't liable, but it was nice to know we were covered.”
“I’m usually out visiting a customer to discuss a new installation. I always take my laptop. Some of my staff are out by this time, maybe responding to things they can’t do online. They definitely take a laptop with them, so they can access a customer’s network and do diagnostics. Spare computers, even. Our office contents insurance covers all that, up to a limit of about £10,000, so we’re pretty safe.”
“I usually grab a sandwich on the hop. If I’m at my desk in the afternoon, I’ll do quotations for customers. The rest of my staff are out most of the day. I have employers' liability insurance in place – you have to – so I’m not worried when they’re out and about. Things go quiet around 4pm so that’s a good time to catch up on paperwork. I have a part-time bookkeeper but there’s always something to do on the accounts side: paying suppliers, paying staff expenses - little bits of admin.”
“We all finish at 5pm. Although it’s not cast in stone. Sometimes, if a customer has a major problem, we could end up on a customer site at 9pm. Part of being a service company is nothing ever goes to plan. You go in thinking ‘today I’m doing this’ and it never ends up like that. It’s never boring.”
Richard's 5 Small Business Hacks
- Do what you’re good at. You have to enjoy it to do it well.
- Get a part-time bookkeeper. They’ll do the majority of the work then submit it to a firm of accountants for final auditing.
- Get good systems in place early. Order processing systems, invoicing, etc. It saves time eventually.
- Choose staff carefully. They have to be able to do the job and fit the company and the way you work.
- Buy insurance from a company that’s responsive to your needs. You don’t realise how important insurance is till the day you need it.
Ian Allison is a business reporter for the International Business Times.
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