Introducing Laurence Nussbaumer, Business Owner, nTech and Communications, a local success story which celebrated its third birthday in December 2017. Laurence is Vice-President of Locals 4 Locals and a founding member of the New England Futures Group, a business minded social lobby group.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m married with one child and another on the way. I love family life, and I’ll be celebrating my fifth anniversary in March. Unsurprisingly, I like computers and playing video games, particularly World of Tanks. My other hobbies include RC cars and archery for both target and hunting. Although, not that much hunting because … small family.
What does nTech do?
We focus on NBN telecommunications and IT. The key offering that sets us apart is next generation phone systems.
Our clientele is predominantly business. We don’t really focus on the consumer market, although we are likely to expand into retail sales and service in the next two to five years.
As a business owner myself, I understand the real value of not only dollars and cents, but time – particularly downtime. We work with our clients to not only resolve their day-to-day problem with IT, and sometimes their IT problems with more IT (laughs) but also to build solutions to solve problems that haven’t surfaced yet, and to identify opportunities where you can minimise staff downtime, improve productivity and really support business growth.
nTech focuses on how IT can serve business to meet their business objectives, rather than just selling individual products, and I think that is the secret to our success.
What led you to start nTech?
I wanted to build a future for my family. I saw a gap in the market for telephone systems that would not only save business money, but enable more effective communication and was more reliable than what the big guys were offering. So, I jumped right in and prayed.
How was entering a new market?
We got great results from the very start. Our approach to IT is quite different to the stereotype of an IT nerd hunkered down in the basement. We are very business minded and work hard on being approachable and accessible.
Obviously, I’m good with computers, but I like to think my business is better with people than it is with technology. For example, IT businesses are notoriously slow to respond to enquiries, so I ensure I call people back when I say we will. I’ve found our clients appreciate our relationship-based approach, and are confident they are going to get answers when they need them.
Being able to demonstrate savings of 70 – 80% off people’s phone bills made our initial sales task really quite easy.
Biggest challenges starting out?
Lack of systems and lack of knowledge about how to run a business. I didn’t know how to do tax – it all took lots of practice and I had to work pretty hard on that; finding new clients; and buying all the equipment we needed setting up an office was time consuming and expensive.
What is your favourite part of running your own business?
When something goes wrong I have to be there for my clients, and often work long hours, but I can at times be flexible for family and I can take time out to care for my son. There are massive benefits in allowing for time and family life, which I really value.
Where to from here?
I’ve just dropped a scary amount of money into management tools that will not only help me do business better, but will help my clients through offering a better service, timelier and more efficient.
Along with Monfia Connect we are setting up a business centre called The Space, a casual office space suitable for micro businesses, consultants and travelling business people who don’t want or need a permanent space or the hassle of setting one up. And of course, we are able to provide a fully digital enabled environment.
I always think I can improve on the work I do. I know it sounds sappy, but any regrets are around work I could have done better. I have no regrets around having started my own business; it’s great!
What inspires you?
What are the biggest challenges that lie ahead?
Securing new business is an ongoing feature of the business. To stay ahead of the market we also must constantly retrain, and this takes time, and needs to be supported by cashflow. Staffing is another big one. What a scary thing, to try and find staff that can successfully represent you, your values and work ethic. And of course, employment regulations that you have to stay on top of.
What would you advise a business just starting out?
Do your research. Make sure you write down who you are, what sets you apart as a business. It’s stuff you are not necessarily going to remember when you get really busy. It’s important to remember what makes your business different, so if you go off track you can quickly refocus.