From redundant to robust, we are thrilled that we will be celebrating our 10th birthday this Sunday, 18th of August 2019! It has been 10 years of hard work, and although there have been a few bumps on the road, we believe it has made us stronger than ever.
In 2009, m3 Networks started out as three colleagues made redundant due to a business closure. Mark Lamb, Mary Brodie, and Mark Riddell decided to set out on their own journey. m3 was formed the day after leaving their previous employer; they believed they could build something great, and here we are!
After 10 years in business, 5 office moves, hundreds of clients later, and now a team of 11, our founders sat down and discussed what 10 years of success means to them.
What does it mean to you for m3 Networks to be reaching its 10th birthday?
Mark Lamb: For me, it’s mostly a realisation that we were able to not only keep a business alive, but also learn all that business entails to be able to grow it. Hiring people is a continual reminder of how important business is – it creates employment and underpins people’s lives.
Mary Brodie: A few more wrinkles and grey hairs!
We started the business with absolutely nothing, from a kitchen table and a laptop so it is an extremely proud day.
Mark Riddell: It’s a huge milestone, for any business. Most start-ups never see 3 years, never mind those that begin during a recession like we did. Having 3 founders that shared the same views and goals helped massively to get us here. It means we are doing the right things, and that really echoes one of our core values – to always do the right thing. But the past is the past, and I’m excited about the next 10 years. We are very much still growing, and the best is yet to come.
What would you say were some of the biggest challenges over the years?
ML: In the early days it was all about survival – we started with 3 of us and that put a lot more stress on the finances than starting with 1 or 2 people like most businesses start with. We didn’t have investors, so it was very much ‘eat what you kill’. As we got over that, the challenge has continually been ‘how do we go grow, how do increase new client sales. Slow uptake of new business caused more operational challenges as we became suspended in stages of growth where we needed more staff but didn’t have quite enough work to sustain it. Ironically, technical has always been the easiest part – it was our core strength, and despite the rapid rate of change in the industry I would say that’s been the enjoyable part – still challenging of course, but it’s the challenges that you struggle with that you perceive the be the real challenges.
MR: I’d say our challenges have probably been very similar to other small businesses. People, cash flow, time – and a lack of one or more at some time or another. More recently recruitment has been an issue; there is lack of suitable talent in the industry within Scotland.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything at the start, to carry forward over the 10 years, what would it be?
ML: To be bolder, trust in your own decisions and most of all, don’t be afraid to fail.
Risk and Reward are intrinsic, you can’t have one without the other. The bigger you dream and the higher you aim, the more risk you have to be willing to take. After all, failure is just 1 step away from success.
I’d also say that through the hardest times, the fears you build and moments you dread – they only hurt for a while. You have to be prepared to face them when they come and get on with things with the faith you can deal with them when they do – in fact, sometimes you just need to drive straight for them and break through them. We have had some really hairy moments in the last 10 years, some I could never have believed would have happened – but we are still here and stronger than ever.
MB: Don’t take anything too personally and don’t beat yourself up when things don’t quite work out how you expected them to. Learn to take a step back from the daily routine of the business sometimes.
MR: Don’t worry – it’s all going to pay off eventually! Learn to let go of the small things. Don’t be such a control freak. Trust your gut instinct; it will ALWAYS be right. Remember and make time for lunch, it’s important.
What do you believe are some of m3 Networks biggest achievements over the years?
ML: Through very sales and marketing activities, a shoe-string budget and very little business know how – we managed to increase our support base 1200%, an average of 120% year on year, yet only increase our team size at a fraction of that – we have been able to maintain the efficiencies because we had to. We also managed not to kill one another, that’s a major one. Technically, we have delivered some outstanding solutions and a consistently high level of service and technical expertise. If I had to pick a single moment, I would have to say the rebuild of the Moness Resort core network last year – as that combined so many specialist skills to an exceptionally high level in order to be able to not only design but also to implement it.
MB: How we have grown. The variety of services we can now offer and the sizes of the businesses we can provide those services to. Oh, and we haven’t killed each other yet.
MR: We have always punched above our weight in terms of our capabilities. There hasn’t been a problem we haven’t been able to solve, yet. From a business point of view, when we reached the point where our monthly revenue from services covered all our running costs, including salaries, was a huge thing. It’s the point most service-based companies aspire to get to. This allowed profit from additional sales to be reinvested into the company, for training, vehicles, tools, and more. Recently, having much larger companies look to us to provide their cyber security services is really flattering. Businesses that we would never have dreamed of being within our reach are now clients. That’s a huge achievement.
Going forward, what are your aspirations for m3 Networks?
ML: Continued growth – I want to see m3 at least 2 or 3x its current size, delivering outstanding support and projects in server and network infrastructure, cloud computer and cyber security. I have always said and still maintain, that I want to be able to choose whether or not I want to come to work tomorrow. In all reality I probably would always choose to come to work, I think I’m addicted, but there’s something powerful about being able to say you won’t come to work and knowing that things not only will continue to run, they may even get done even better. I’m conscious that my experiences over the last 10 years will have created belief systems which are maybe not true – I try to be subjective, but ultimately, we all pick up bias’. I would love to see someone like me be able to come in and inject a whole new set of ideas that fit with our values and culture, in fact I’m always looking for that person and trying to grow it within our team.
MB: To be the most sought-after IT provider in the UK and also one that anyone searching for a career in IT would want to come and work for.
MR: It’s only the tip of the iceberg for me – the real excitement starts now.
I feel we have just reached ‘basecamp’ – we have built a fantastic and loyal client base, and we have a strong team.
We are financially stable, with no debt. All the foundations are in place to drive this business towards a hugely successful future.
m3 Networks would like to sincerely thank all of our customers over our 10 years in business; and look forward to our future in continuing to provide the best service for our clients.
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