Stephen Kirk of SKCI provides strategy and leadership consulting for a range of businesses involved in the technology industry.
Recently, I spoke with Stephen about the opportunities and challenges he faces in his industry, as well as the role a company like PA Business Support can play.
Tell us a bit about your business…
Well, partly it came about by chance. I began my own business around testing and consulting services in the electronics industry, but sold that business 7 years ago to a much larger company. Opportunities started coming to me from other companies for more consultancy work, and so I set up SKCI in the Autumn of 2015.
After a while, I started getting so busy that I realised I didn’t have time to do everything myself, so I started looking for additional support. I found PA Business Support online, and have been working with them since January of 2016.
What was it that attracted you to PA Business Support?
One of the great things about a company like PA Business Support is that they have pre-vetted who you’re going to work with, and if the person working for you does have any problems, they can sort it out their end.
Before my assistant started, she unfortunately fell down the stairs and was out of action for a while. PA Business Support were able to sort out a replacement very quickly, and I’ve been working with my current Virtual Assistant (VA) ever since.
Talk us through a typical day at work. How can a company like PA Business Support help fill in the gaps?
My day often begins with a phone call with my VA at 9 o’clock. Then I make several phone calls with clients, where high priority calls go to me and she takes primary responsibility for all other calls. If I’m in a conference meeting, she will make sure I have the documents I require, and if I’m travelling will ensure that I have accommodation and everything else I need sorted.
You also want an assistant to be your second pair of eyes. To sometimes say, ‘this doesn’t feel right’, like when certain documents don’t add up to what was discussed in a meeting. For this, you need business knowledge, brain power, and the confidence to say when something seems wrong.
What are your plans going forward, and how can a company like PA Business Support help achieve that?
Going forward I would be looking to take on more substantial work for larger organisations. I love working with small businesses and with people who have put their lives into their business, but by definition they don’t always have the resources they need to do exactly what they want to, and sometimes have to turn down opportunities. Taking on more work naturally means you need more people assisting you in day-to-day management.
Your business (as well as ours) provides a service as opposed to a product. What are the challenges you face with this, and how do you overcome them?
A service is harder to advertise. With a product you can illustrate it and define its features. In my business, just as with a virtual assistant, you need that personal entity. If you’re inviting someone in to help decide on the future of your company, you need to be able to trust them. This year I’ve made a conscious effort to do a lot more on social media, to blog more, and to be more active on Twitter and LinkedIn.