William Copley, Founder and Managing Director of business telecoms experts, Armstrong Bell tells Business Matters what defines his was of doing business.
What do you currently do at Armstrong Bell:
As Founder and Managing Director, the most important thing is to engage, inspire and motivate my team. I believe in 100% transparency and have always consistently communicated my goals to all employees and as a result, have been able to unite them in both the short and long-term visions for the business.
I aim to lead by example and take pride in working hard to build both a business and a brand that staff, clients and suppliers want to be associated with. For me, it’s always been about the business journey and developing a team who feel proud to be part of the process.
Despite COVID-19, I have clear plans to double our current turnover by 2023. The Armstrong Bell team are motivated to support me in this goal and we are working hard to make it a reality.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I don’t have the typical entrepreneurial story of selling sweets to my peers in school. I actually fell into telecoms thanks to a friend. I was part of a signed band for 10 years and in between recording albums or playing shows, my friend’s Dad let me work varied hours pulling cables as a telephone engineer.
When the band wound down, I was able to focus on the more glamourous industry and became a full-time telephone engineer. That business changed ownership and I felt that I wasn’t able to focus enough on the end user experience and new technology.
I’ve always cared about delivering an excellent service and about value. I knew I could improve a number of processes to make the organisation better, whilst cementing long-term relationships with our customers. However, I also knew that the new management didn’t value my ideas so I founded my own telecoms systems business in 2001 with a partner.
Although the business looks very different now, our values and my inspiration remain the same: To deliver tailored business telecoms solutions with exemplary customer service.
Who do you admire:
There are a lot of successful people I admire, but most are my close friends who have proven with self-discipline, hard work and persistence that it is possible to achieve anything.
I think it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded peers who can help drive and motivate you during challenging times. I am fortunate that I have this group of friends and always feel inspired by what they achieve, both on a business and personal level.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I think the main thing I would have done differently is to have employed more people in the start-up phase of the business, particularly as working every waking hour started to take its toll on my health and well-being.
Making the jump to invest in more people earlier not only alleviates this strain but enables you as a business owner to focus on the bigger picture.
So many business owners realise this when it’s too late, having spent years working 80 – 100-hour weeks when just employing that additional 2 or 3 great people could have been a game changer from the beginning.
What defines your way of doing business?
As an individual, I am renowned for always committing to trying new things or as the phrase goes, ‘I’ll give it a go’. I use this approach in business and always try new things in order to continue to push Armstrong Bell forwards, as long as we are continuing to add value to our clients and aren’t reliant on any third party for our existence.
We are clear in our market position in that we don’t want to be a macro organisation and that being able to have personal conversations with our clients is what sets us aside from other business telecoms providers.
There are many businesses out there who need telecoms solutions provided by experts that they can talk to. We know this, we provide this service and will continue to strive as a business to exceed client expectations.
We don’t retract and retreat, we always try to move forward. This is why we are continuing to invest in growth throughout COVID-19. We have decided not to take part in any upcoming recession.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
I would advise every start-up business to invest in a bookkeeper. Don’t waste time raising invoices, balancing the books or chasing for money. Don’t even check the bank, at least not regularly.
Why? You should get into the habit of delegating the jobs you shouldn’t be doing. Getting a bookkeeper you can trust is the first step in achieving this, allowing you to spend more time working on the business, instead of in it.