5 Rules that guided SwitchboardFREE in its first 10 years in business

March 20th, 2015

What helped SwitchboardFREE get off the ground and enjoy year on year organic growth?

Starting a business at any time is a daunting prospect, but Grant Hardy’s determination helped get his technology business off the ground and 10 years later, SwitchboardFREE is an established market leader helping over 50,000 UK businesses make smarter use of their phones and make better business connections.

Over the past decade, Grant has learnt some valuable lessons on how to grow a business, here he tells us his top five:

1. Aim for a flat management structure, where possible

When I started, it was just myself and one other colleague. Each of us had defined roles, but no one was the other’s boss. This is a structure we maintained as we began to grow and expand. By empowering people to work how they wish, encouraging and welcoming different perspectives, we have created a very ‘open’ culture where no one is afraid to try to do something in a new and innovative way.

Naturally, as we’ve expanded, opened another office and employed more people, it is often quite unnerving sticking steadfastly to our flat structure policy. But it continues to pay off. We have great people who do an excellent job and we know they will always ask for help when they need it. A flat structure keeps costs down and allows us to offer fantastic value to our customers.

2. Get the right people even when it’s hard to find them

Great people are so much more than an outstanding CV. The team at SwitchboardFREE all have the same values and principles and naturally fit into our relaxed but work-orientated culture.

Many times over the years, it has been extremely difficult to find the right people, but we have hung in there, and in some cases had roles left vacant until we found the perfect person for the job. Our company is only as good as the people in it.

3. See mistakes as learning opportunities

Mistakes do happen, it’s a fact of life. The important thing is to learn from them and not to get caught up in crucifying either yourself or a colleague for the error. Over the years, we have all made mistakes. None of them have been on purpose but we have learned from each and every one and on many occasions the outcome has been enhanced by what was, at first, considered a mistake. See mistakes as opportunities to grow and learn.

4. Always look on the bright side of life

Although it might seem clichéd, here at SwitchboardFREE we firmly believe that “having a laugh” is just (or nearly) as important as having great services and innovative solutions. We go that extra mile to have a good time while working, coming into the office should be a positive experience for everyone.

5. Focus on your goal: The Customer

When you are building a business, it is easy to get side-tracked by something that you think might be that perfect six. Don’t get distracted. Get your plan in place from day one, have achievable objectives that are reviewed regularly.

One of our key goals has always been to deliver outstanding service and real value for our customers and we ensure that our customers are at the heart of everything we do.

Businesses still receive up to 80% of their incoming communications via the telephone and SwitchboardFREE is a cloud-based solution that’s hassle-free. The system supports and maintains our customers’ existing telecom infrastructures and enables them to concentrate on their own business development.

Tools and services such our geographic number packages allow our customers to capture their local market and monitor their own productivity to enable growth.


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