We asked our co-founders to look back on what they have learnt since starting Bespoke in 2013.
Sam – Our Managing Director
1. A quality deployment
Don’t underestimate the importance of a quality deployment first time – you can’t rebuild that clients first impression if you deliver something with errors which prevents you getting past the first screen.
2. The look is as important as the functionality
The user interface and professionalism of an application or report is just as important as the functionality. You can spend weeks getting the functionality perfect but it needs to look the part in order for it to be widely adopted. Technology moves so quickly so everyone is expecting each interaction to be an easy and pleasant user journey. Gone are the days where it is acceptable to present the ugly default Excel pie chart.
3. You can only manage what is in your control
Still trying to learn this one but I have definitely got better at it. It is good to be prepared for all eventualities but in reality there is no point worrying about things outside of your control. This has been particularly paramount in the last 18 months when trying to figure out how lockdowns and covid restrictions are going to impact on staff, clients, route to market, cashflow etc.
4. Be flexible enough to seize an opportunity
Long term forecasts are great but what has driven our success or evaded disaster is being flexible enough to seize opportunities or completely pivot in the short term to account for when the unexpected happens.
5. Enjoy yourself
Not everything is about a sale or building a network, you can actually enjoy yourself along the way. We have deployed some truly fascinating projects we would never have dreamed we would be part of, and also worked with some really great people. I have learnt it is really important to create an environment where you enjoy the day-to-day as opposed to everything being about an ultimate goal, such as x% growth.
6. Not all business transactions are about immediate return on investment
Business is often painted out to be a cut-throat battle of wits in the heat of a meeting, when actually a lot of our key opportunities and ideas have been created over the long term. Having continuous conversations with like-minded clients and carrying out work on a trial and error basis, has often ended up in us working on some of the most interesting projects we have ever been involved in.
7. Saying I don’t know isn’t a bad thing
The technology we support is moving so quickly it isn’t physically possible to know every new piece of functionality or nuance all the time. It is ok to revert back to not knowing on the spot to then take it away and research the optimal solution for the clients needs. Whilst we could answer 95% of the questions relating to the current state of play of the Power Platform, there may be something just released or in a beta phase that would solve the clients need in the most optimal way, which we need to research and loop back on first.
8. We aren’t about having the highest headcount possible.
Bespoke is about deploying quality and innovation within our client base in a consistent, reliable and collaborative manner. When we first started, I thought in 8 years our success would be based on standard metrics such as headcount, however, as we have evolved we have no ambition to be the biggest development company going, we want to work with the best – the best team, the best clients and the best projects. We want to make a difference in each account we work on and stay ahead with new technology and in turn bring that knowledge to each client problem.
Jordan – Our Business Development Director
1. The importance of staying up-to-speed with technology advancements
Digital transformation & technology changes so quickly, and staying on top of that is a full time job!
2. Nail your processes
Having clarity on how we run the business from management through to development is critical to our success.
3. Customer service is top priority
Retaining customers and engaging on a long-term basis is the most enjoyable way of working as we get to understand the business at a deep level and can therefore offer the best levels of consultation.
4. Find great people and keep them!
In a world where technology is evolving faster than ever, working with staff to upskill and train them to stay ahead of the curve is critical. Building a culture where people enjoy coming into work and can push boundaries in their day-to-day role is something we have always been passionate about maintaining.
5. Don’t plan too far ahead
Writing 3-year business plans are almost an entire waste of time as things evolve and adapt so quickly it is often difficult to know what the business goals will look like next month.
6. Be ready to react and change if there is an opportunity
Don’t be scared to change plans if an opportunity comes knocking.
7. Act & Plan
It’s important to act and plan for the business you want to be, and then you can grow into that.
8. Have a clear purpose
Having a clear end goal is less important than a clear purpose – the business direction changes almost every year, whereas our purpose has always been clear.
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