FOR Michael Field, the chance to became an entrepreneur hinged on a spur-of-the-moment decision taken in rather unglamorous surroundings: the kitchen of his old workplace.

“My former business partner and I worked for one of our now competitors, and one day we were chatting in the kitchen and he said he was going to go out on his own,” recalls the 37-year-old founder and director of Workflo Solutions. “He asked if I fancied joining him and three weeks later I was in a serviced office in South Gyle with a month’s rent on my credit card and three laptops. My overwhelming feeling at the time was ‘right, let’s do this’.”

That was 11 years ago and since then the Livingston-based company, which supplies and maintains printers, photocopiers and online document management software, has grown organically.

Mr Field parted amicably with his business partner five years ago, and the three laptops he started off with has now expanded to encompass two offices, 18 employees and a £3.2m turnover.

There are ambitious plans to expand the portfolio of products and services even further, especially as technology continues to change how he and his clients do business.

“The mobile office has transformed everything,” explains the businessman. “When we started in 2007 there was no cloud or mobile technology. Over the years there have been huge integrations and businesses rely upon cloud connectivity on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It’s been a big learning curve for us, but we managed this through having strong relationships with the manufacturers we support.

“Obviously you want to get your hardware into a client’s office. But where I believe we differ is in the service, support, and relationship building we bring to the table. We’re now seen as one of the top service providers in Scotland and that makes me very proud.”

Achieving success over a sustained period isn’t easy, of course, and the Livingston-born businessman urges budding entrepreneurs to think carefully about the fundamentals of their business before scaling.

“Cash flow is an exceptionally important part of any growth strategy,” he says. “It’s also key that you have people around you who can provide valuable advice and guidance. Staff are integral to the expansion of any business and it’s taken me 11 years to get the right people around me.

An example in my business is the quality of the technical staff. Without experience you might assume that one technician is just as good as another – you learn quickly that that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“My staff have been invaluable in making sure I know the difference between a good technician and a mediocre one.

“Trust in your business, but ensure you have the infrastructure in place to support the growth. Our business has grown organically because it has been able to make decisions ahead of time. Be in a position to invest.”

Mr Field has two young daughters and says one of the best things about being his own boss is having the freedom to spend more time with them as they grow up.

And he believes current employment and technology trends provide plenty of scope for those with good ideas.

“Following a tough few years, people now have more confidence to invest in their business and that makes it a good time for entrepreneurs to get out there and offer a service,” he adds.

“There are good support, networking and mentoring opportunities out there. Technology also plays a big part in people being able to streamline processes and work flexibly.

“This encourages them to go and do things for themselves. The economy is moving away from stable nine-to-five jobs, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many more people – people now in their early to mid-20s - will go out there on their own and become very successful because of this.

“Keep going, even when it’s tough to see the light at end of tunnel, and keep an eye on the bigger picture. Put yourself in the shoes of your client. If you do these things, you’re on the right track.”

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