If you thought running your own business from home was a mean feat, try running one from a tiny remote island while you're underwater half the time.
Dominic Tutty, 30, describes his Chop Chop Computers business in Parnell as “liquid” due to its fluid nature. Tutty recently returned from an OE in Indonesia, where he was a scuba diving instructor part of the time, as he continued to monitor clients' servers and systems through remote connections.
Chop Chop is only the latest business venture for Tutty. Prior to his OE, he went out on his own to provide monitoring services.
“I had been an employee in a company," Tutty says. "It doesn’t work for me. I like to do my own thing. I wanted to do my own projects and I wanted to do a bit of international travel, so that wasn’t going to work if I’d been employed by someone else. To earn money and travel at the same time I needed to run my own business."
By 2011, his business was healthy enough to help underwrite his sense of adventure, while maintaining services for some clients, remotely.
“I worked in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia," says Tutty. "But I also have an interest in computers and internet marketing and the business side of things, so I was always doing that as well and keeping clients happy from afar.”
Distance was never an issue, Tutty says, and connection speeds were never as important as access.
“You’d be surprised where you can get internet," Tutty explains. "I was on a gorgeous remote tropical island called Pulau Weh at the top of Sumatra that has awesome diving. I had a 3G stick and they had 3G via a satellite.”
“I worked in places with very poor internet connections, but still managed to keep running. It’s possible but extremely slow and frustrating. You click something and you’d be waiting four seconds later for the click to come through."
"I had a support contract with a company for the entire two years I was away and I still managed to keep them happy. Their computers for their web sites were all covered by me. So it is possible.”
The income not only funded his overseas trip but kept him going while he was away. “I definitely put in the hours for them. I didn’t take the piss. And we’re both happy for sure.”
Tutty started Chop Chop Computers last December, but already had a few clients signed up for service contracts from his previous work. Chop Chop's main customer base consists of a three-way mix of business-to-business, retail and SEO web site marketing clients. He says he is currently employing a freelance technician but has plans to employ someone full time in the next month or two because business has picked up quite well.
Tutty says he has a couple of clients in the design business so it will pay from now on to learn more about those industries. Familiarity with the processes, software systems and equipment that supports those businesses is rapidly becoming a very valuable asset in the hunt for new customers.
There is also the option of supplying more cloud type services in the form of managed servers. He says the way to get a foot in the door to expand that role with a client and to gain essential trust is to use a remote analytics very early on in the sales process. Impressing the customer with vital facts about their hardware performance is a skill not to be underestimated when establishing future business relationships.
“As we go along the managed services thing with me is going to tighten the business relationship with the clients. When I initially make contact with a customer I try to get up some sort of managed service with them. Whether it’s managed anti-virus or just doing a free audit then I get a monitoring platform onto their computers so I can see what sort of problems they have with their computers before they actually need me.
“I actually did this with one of my clients and sold them an anti virus which also includes checking out their event logs and they had an alert come up for a hard drive that was about to fail. So that was great. I gave them a call before their hard drive failed and was able to retrieve the data and they continued working, so yeah, managed services are very good for cementing relationships.”