How We Built Our Business In The Cloud
15 years ago my father was in a car accident – Rear-ended at a red light by someone going about 80km/hour. His ’84 Chrysler Lebaron was crushed to about half-size, and even with a seatbelt on his head hit the window; His seat broke free from the chassis. Luckily he survived with a couple broken ribs, whiplash, and a traumatic brain injury. He was unable to go back to work as a mechanic. He’d been tinkering with computers since 1990, which he suddenly had more time for while he healed and pondered his next career move to support his family. The car dealership he worked for knew of his tech prowess and asked if he could help them get a new phone system. Before he knew it, he was installing phone systems and providing end-to-end technical support for them and several other car dealerships.
I’ve been interested in computers my whole life, from programming to graphic design to music production. Fast forward several years after the accident, around 2010, I jumped in to help my father. What I thought would be a dream job ended up being repetitive and exhausting. A couple years passed and I felt we were spinning our wheels. I realized he hadn’t created a business, he created a job. He was scrambling to support his clients, the income wasn’t great and he didn’t have a single Sunday to himself. I knew there was a better way. This is when my love for tech turned into a love for business. I started talking to every business owner I could find and reading tons of business books. The transformation began. I started by implementing software for tracking support tickets. Then better billing software. Then a system to document our processes and client info. These were all things my father wanted to do but he didn’t have time. We began working ON the business and not just IN the business.
Things started to look up; We gained breathing room and improved our service drastically. We got a few new clients and hired a system administrator.
One day the power went out at our home office where our server was. We had no access to our files, email, or phones. I knew fully well what the cloud was at this point and worked with it a bit. We weren’t fully utilizing it or implementing it for our clients yet, but this disaster incited a HUGE epiphany. If the power is out, our clients are likely having issues and trying to get a hold of us, but we can’t be contacted in an emergency? I began to see the cloud’s value. We made it through the day with our cell phones and manually calling every one of our clients to make sure they were up. I decided that will never happen again.
We went “all-in” on the cloud. I moved our email onto Microsoft’s cloud, got a cloud VOIP phone service, and connected Autotask Workplace to our server so we could access our files anywhere, even our smartphones. Two weeks later something funny happened – a hard drive died on our server, which is usually critical, but with everything in the cloud, it didn’t matter. In fact, it was the perfect time to decommission the server entirely. Since then we’ve had plenty of power and internet outages, but simply tether to our phones or drive to Starbucks and we’re back up. I started traveling a lot for work, and it was a godsend to be able to work on an AIRPLANE, exactly the same way as I do in the office (minus a couple displays). These features were game changers since our workforce is extremely mobile.
After improving our internal processes and implementing cloud software to run and automate our business, we were satisfied with our set up, and confident our service was among the best in our industry. Beginning of 2016 we decided to grow, and because everything was in place it was no problem. We grew from 3 to 6 people in 2016 and opened our first real office in Burnaby.
It is so much easier to do business once you have the right technology and processes as a foundation. Tech doesn’t exist in a bubble, it only exists to solve problems.
It blows my mind how many people don’t realize the potential their business could have with the right setup. My passion is no longer JUST technology, rather how technology can help businesses be more productive and make more money, just as we did with our own.