Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Steven Smith, owner of Aberdeen firm Appsure IT.
How and why did you start in business?
I have always been passionate about IT and the positive impact it can have on a business.
Being able to solve problems and remove frustration from a firm is very rewarding.
This is even more applicable when working with small and medium-sized companies, where the positive impact from the change can be seen on the people within the business.
The benefits can include people finishing work on time or feeling less stressed, and it will often reduce costs.
I wanted to take my ability to solve problems and knowledge of IT systems and help more companies.
The digital world moves so quickly and it’s not easy to stay up-to-date. This ever-changing landscape can be challenging for anyone.
One of the benefits of running my own company is that I’m able to make decisions on all aspects of my business.
Some areas stretch my ability, and this is where I rely on specialists like accountants and marketing agencies.
I’m keen for people to realise there are people like me around to help them find ways of improving IT systems and reports, or to get the most from their spreadsheets.
How did you get to where you are today?
My whole career has been spent working with IT systems. I began supporting the business systems at the old paper mill in Inverurie.
Since then, I’ve worked as a developer, IT manager project manager and business analyst.
I have enjoyed all these opportunities, as they have given me a great understanding of how technology can support and develop a business.
But it is my passion for analysis that is at the core of what I do with Appsure IT.
Business Analysis is all about understanding and then finding opportunities and solutions to move forward. This approach allows me to help clients get their investment in IT applications right, the first time.
Who helped you?
My wife, family and friends have been very supportive and encouraging.
Finding the right networking groups has been pivotal to my success – meeting other business owners regularly fosters relationships and provides opportunities to support each other.
What has been your biggest mistake?
I’m good at recognising my mistakes and treating them as learning opportunities, so I don’t regret those I’ve made in business.
I didn’t start networking straight away and this was a mistake. Once I started attending networking events, I began to build relationships with other business owners – which led to attracting customers.
What is your greatest achievement?
Starting up and growing my business during the recent pandemic is my greatest achievement in business.
On a personal level, I completed a marathon a few years ago which was a special achievement.
It also allowed me to raise a lot of money for a charity – which made it an even greater achievement.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
I’d like to change how national and local governments communicate with people and businesses.
It’s particularly an issue with businesses, as has been evident in the past couple of years.
So many changes have taken place and, while there can be things put in place to help companies, these are often rushed through and lack clear detail.
This then creates a huge strain on those that are running and supporting the businesses.
What do you still hope to achieve?
I’d like to help business owners understand how valuable IT systems are, and that getting the right IT applications is a key part of successfully growing their company.
What do you do to relax?
I love to run, although it’s more of a de-stressing activity than relaxation. Regardless of how I feel at the start of a run, I always feel better at the end.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued on TV?
I’m reading The Mind Management, by Professor Steve Peters. It’s an enjoyable book that explains how we think about and deal with everyday challenges.
Recognising positive and negative behaviours in yourself is very important, particularly when running your own business.
What do you waste your money on?
I don’t think I do much of that anymore, but I used to spend a lot of my money on anything music-related.
I’ve managed to downsize my equipment but every now and then I still find something I “really need”.
How would your friends describe you?
I’m sure they would say I’m loyal and supportive. I’m always keen to meet up and have a laugh with them, although I’m usually the first one to head home on a night out.
What would your enemies say about you?
I hope I don’t have any enemies but appreciate you can’t be liked by everyone.
Hopefully, they’d not be too rude and just say I’m not their cup of tea – I could deal with that.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I drive a Golf GTi. We must consider the environment and that applies to dream cars too. As I’ve always appreciated Porsches, I’d go for the Taycan.