From a one-man operation in a home office, to an award-winning company with 40 employees in Vancouver and Edmonton, Fully Managed has come a long way since opening its doors in 2002.
When he originally launched the business, CEO, Chris Day started out as an independent IT consultant, but he had a unique vision.
“I started my business because I wanted to make a difference and do things differently than how they were traditionally done in my industry,” says Chris. “I wanted to show organizations that intelligently investing in technology was going to enable their businesses to grow and succeed, even if it seemed a little scary at times.”
Applying what he had learned in the enterprise world, over the last decade Chris has been able to grow Fully Managed into the go-to solution in Western Canada for small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits that need IT support, maintenance and consulting services.
Driven by Purpose
Successfully scaling a business from one to 40 employees is no small feat, but it was exactly that kind of challenge that inspired Chris to become an entrepreneur.
“I love creating things and the excitement associated with growth,” says Chris. He also credits his parents – both doctors – for helping him develop the strong work ethic and stick-to-it attitude he needed to grow his business beyond his home office.
But unfortunately, a strong work ethic isn’t always enough to differentiate you from your competition. For Chris, a major turning point in his business came when he clearly defined the company’s core purpose, which is “creating peace of mind” for his customers.
He took it a step further and defined four core values for Fully Managed, which include inspiring our people, fanatical service, absolute accountability, and passion for technology.
“Once we figured this out – and it took many years – we slowly were able to build our story and culture around this, and began attracting and retaining the right people to be able to deliver incredible value and an amazing experience to our clients,” says Chris.
It’s All About the People
Fully Managed’s efforts to create an exceptional workplace have been getting attention. Most recently, the company was named Best Employer at the 11th Annual Small Business BC Awards. In 2013, Fully Managed was also recognized as the Best Overall Workplace Under 100 Employees in Alberta, and Chris was named one of Business in Vancouver’s Top Forty Under 40.
For Chris, the Best Employer Award win helped confirm that Fully Managed is on the right track. “It demonstrates that what we set out to achieve as a brand many years ago is now our reality,” says Chris.
Further, Chris credits his company’s core purpose and values with helping Fully Managed acquire top-notch talent from the IT sector, which in turns helps him provide world-class service to the company’s clients.
“Until we figured out our core purpose and core values, we had a difficult time attracting and retaining the right people,” says Chris.
However, Fully Managed does more than simply recruit employees who share its vision and values. The company also invests significant resources in developing its employees to help them create better lives for themselves and their families – not just financially or career-wise – but also helping them to achieve their personal goals.
The Trials and Triumphs of Growth
In 2011, Fully Managed took a huge leap forward when it completed an acquisition of an Edmonton-based company called HIT Business Solutions, bringing it entirely under the Fully Managed brand.
Chris calls the acquisition one of the greatest challenges and successes of his career, because while he instantly doubled the size of his business overnight, he managed to successfully keep both his clients and his team members happy throughout the process.
Now with a solid foothold in two provinces, Chris envisions Fully Managed becoming a household name in the managed IT services segment with offices in 10 Canadian Cities in five years.
When asked what his advice is for aspiring entrepreneurs today, Chris said he’s a big proponent of finding a business mentor to help you navigate the challenges you’ll face early on.
“I was lucky to have a number of very valuable mentors who were always there for me to lend an ear and set me in the right direction,” says Chris. “Also consider joining a peer group or industry association where you can learn from other larger businesses doing the same thing.”
But even more importantly, Chris recommends that entrepreneurs undertake a similar process as Fully Managed to define their business’ core purpose and values.
“Figure out what makes you different from the other guy and develop your ‘why’,” says Chris. “It’s not to make money or to deliver a service – what will your clients feel if they work with you? Why should they choose you?”