Small Business Stars: Neterian’s Darrell Boxall
After four years in development, Neterian was soft launched last year by Darrell Boxall and three business partners. It’s aimed at small business owners and was created to provide a complete overview of a business, from leads and new opportunities to return on investment, invoicing and creditor management.
Darrell explains how he and his partners noticed a gap in the market and used their business experience to create a service that would provide a solution to small business owners looking to streamline their sales processes and order book.
1. We saw a gap in the market and decided to go for it.
“We all come from different backgrounds, but one thing we have in common is that we’ve been board directors of business, large and small. We all have a good understanding of how sales teams work both in-house and outsourced and how many SMEs run with a distributed sales force to get a good geographic reach.
“We also understood how businesses turned to sales force automation software, contact management systems or CRM software to keep on top of sales opportunities and increase visibility of key data. But in our experience none of the software solutions really worked across all areas and, critically, most fell short of adding true value. Many of the systems available required significant capital investment, extensive configuration and training and, critically, further investment to maintain them.
“So we saw a gap in the market and decided to go for it.
“Our offering is aimed at SME enterprises because we found that many small business owners have entrepreneurial flair, but lack formal business grounding. Neterian comes pretty much out of the box ready to go.”
2. Spending our own money is very different to spending somebody else’s
“One mistake we made was to make the relationship between the four partners equal. But it soon became clear that the workload wasn’t equal. We’d failed to lay down ground rules and expectation of workloads. We had to have a difficult conversation and downgrade the partnership status of two of the partners. Fortunately, our working relationship and friendship remained intact.
“We also failed to appreciate the emotional connection when it came to making decisions. Spending our own money is very different to spending somebody else’s.
“One of the challenges we faced was working out how to self-fund the project. We didn’t want to get into debt as we knew that would put pressure on us if we had to make loan payments each month during the early stages of running the business.
“This meant making personal sacrifices. One founding member even committed his lifestyle to the business and took the risk of not having any income while we set up.”
3. I spend more time with my colleagues than I do my wife
“It’s hard to find the right work/life balance when you run a business. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you need to have fun in what you do. I spend more time with my colleagues than I do my wife, so I need to like what I’m doing. If you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning then it’s time to think of changing the way you work.”
4. Your upkeep can be your downfall
“I’d say to anyone thinking of setting up in business to go for it. There’s a lot of peer pressure around to lead life in a certain way, but a friend of mine states ‘your upkeep can be your downfall’ and I believe that to be true.
“Commit to your idea and be prepared to make sacrifices in the short term in return for long-term gains.”