Tony Devlin set up Glenovation in 2002 and is the managing director. Glenovation provides multimedia, web and database development support and helps companies apply for public sector contracts in the UK and Ireland. Tony employs four full-time members of staff to help meet the demands of his growing company.
What I did
Brushed up on my own skills
"Once I made the decision to become self-employed the first skill gaps to address were my own. Whilst I was very comfortable in the dot com world I didn't have previous business start-up experience and had an immediate training requirement in this area. I registered on Invest NI's business start-up programme, which was a great benefit and gave me invaluable skills around marketing the company and myself. This really helped get the business off to a good start."
"I was also afraid to go into situations with large groups of people. With the help of the start-up programme I was able to start effective networking."
Sought advice from training experts
"As the business began to grow I started to recruit and currently employ four full-time people. I did an audit of our collective strengths and skill gaps which included marketing and promotion of the company. In order to fill the gaps I brought in three marketing gurus who specialised in training staff to be more market aware and spot customer opportunities from every situation. The staff responded really well to outside support and I noticed an improvement in their skills, which has also helped improve our overall performance. Other benefits included increased staff confidence which ultimately lead to an improvement in our profit margins."
Devoted time to staff development
"For a small business we spend a lot of time on staff development. We organise group workshops every three to four months to encourage and develop teamwork and communication skills. This includes how to deal with customers; how to spot business opportunities; developing brand awareness and becoming more efficient in their job roles. The time invested in this really pays off as it increases staff motivation and has demonstrable benefits on our bottom-line."
What I would do differently
Carry out a staff skills audit and design a training programme
"I'd ensure members of staff are equipped with the correct skills from the outset. As well as providing high quality training for your team it's important to train yourself. Linking up with at least one business mentor is a great way to learn from other people's challenges and be able to take these forward positively in your own business."