Wherever we work, whatever we do, I think we all share a desire to make a difference. That desire was the driver behind the launch of Flying Fox IT.
The Corporate Warrior
I first worked within the IT sector as a contractor, supporting a number of large financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, property investment businesses, construction firms and many other sectors in between. The roles varied over the years, starting off as a Hardware Engineer to running a Hardware Support team, to Senior Consultant to Project Manager but it wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped. I was one of the many IT specialists that dedicated a large chunk of their life supporting Y2K related projects. As a result, I lead a nomadic existence. Hotels had become a staple in my life. I was already questioning the world of big business.
If you’ve ever worked for a large organisation, you’ll know that it can be a stressful experience. I found the stresses of the week could be put behind me by a weekend spent floating high in the sky. Paragliding became my hobby and my passion. I couldn’t get enough of the sport. Before long I was teaching others to experience the pure joy of paragliding.
My First Business
That stress raised a few levels when I launched my first business. I turned my back on the corporate life and launched my own video production company. It was a huge learning experience. It cost me a lot of time, money and took an emotional toll as well. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – but looking back now I realise it was the wrong thing, at the wrong time.
It’s often said that opportunities appear when you least expect them, and in my case – that’s what happened.
The Teacher Learns a Lesson
I’ve taught a huge cross section of people the fundamentals of paragliding. Some of them were either entrepreneurs or small business owners. In conversation, my IT background would usually come up.
They’d talk about their business and share their challenges and frustrations freely. And the common issue – managing their IT stressed them out. For some, it was a lack of time and for others, it was a lack of knowledge. But it became a universal theme.
Each new business owner I’d speak to would express the same thing. It didn’t matter whether they ran a building firm or a business services company – the management of their IT was a genuine pain point. I did what came naturally – I helped them. I advised them what they needed to do. I introduced them to the concept of ‘the cloud’. They were grateful, and so was I. I got a tremendous sense of satisfaction from helping business owners solve such a fundamental problem.
Flying Fox Takes Flight
It got to the stage where I could ignore it no longer. This was what I was meant to do. This was where I could make a difference. If I could teach complete beginners to paraglide, I was sure I could teach business owners to take control of their IT infrastructure. The more people I spoke to, the more they convinced me that it was something I simply had to do.
In August 2008, I set myself free and launched Flying Fox IT. It was a big step. I could have easily settled for a corporate role for the rest of my career. But the truth was, I’d always harboured thoughts of setting up my own business. I could have used the global financial collapse as a reason for not launching. Indeed, some of those closest to me questioned my timing.
Where they saw barriers, I saw an opportunity.
Flying Fox Today
I’m proud of the business I’ve built. It’s not always been easy, but, Flying Fox is now an established and respected player in the Cloud Integration market. In the early days, we supported both cloud and non-cloud IT systems. Over time, I took the decision to go ‘all-in’ and specialise entirely on cloud-based systems.
It’s a move that made sense and it’s a move that worked. Flying Fox is now a Cloud Integrator. Narrowing the focus to exclusively support Google for Work and Xero (Cloud-based Accounting software) was a big step. It paid off as one of our key partners, Fresh Financials, were recently recognised by Xero as being the best at what they do in the UK.
And of course, I’m living the cloud model in my own business. The entire operation is cloud based.
Flying Fox Tomorrow
I’m at the start of an exciting stage for Flying Fox. I’m committed to the cloud course I’ve set. And I’m going to be finding my voice over the next few months. I’m going to be sharing a lot more valuable content to help my clients get more from the cloud.
And yes, some of those clients are the business owners I taught to paraglide. I had the privilege of seeing their reaction to their maiden flight and the satisfaction of finally putting their IT worries behind them. In every sense, a win-win.
The future for Flying Fox isn’t in being bigger – it’s in being better. And by doing that, I’ll have the opportunity to positively change many more small businesses.