Jay Hamilton | Crain's Dallas

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jay Hamilton

Background:  

Presage Solutions is an outsourced IT company that works with startups, and small- to medium-sized businesses. The Fort Worth-based company calls itself a virtual CIO, providing hardware and business applications that companies need to run smoothly 24 hours a day. Founded by CEO Jay Hamilton, Presage Solutions has clients throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

The Mistake: 

After years working for other people in the IT industry, I ventured out on my own by starting Presage Solutions in 2000. I was so knowledgeable about both the IT industry and business processes that I assumed customers would throw themselves at me.

I had the certification, the college degree and the experience. Turns out, I was missing the vital connections to potential customers, I didn’t have relationships with vendors, who can steer customers your way, and I lacked the reputation in the industry.

The first three years were really tough going. A lot of cold calls, knocking on doors and a lot of rejections. We had a 1 percent closure rate. It’s almost like finding a needle in a haystack.

I hired consultants who would tell me what my problems were, but they never really offered a solution for all the thousands of dollars I spent on them.

But I was determined to make this work.

It’s like your accountant or your lawyer. Companies go with a trusted friend they already have a relationship with.

The Lesson:

I needed to lay the groundwork before I jumped out there to start Presage Solutions. Looking back now, I learned the importance of networking and having relationships with distribution channels. The vendors who sell IT equipment needed to be aware of me so they could recommend my services to customers.

I also should have brought on a partner who had established relationships. If I had left the corporate world sooner and gained experience with a business partner, we could have launched much faster.

We work with systems that are critical to your business that could shut it down if it fails. It’s all about trust. It’s like your accountant or your lawyer. Companies go with a trusted friend they already have a relationship with.

It’s taken a long time, but Presage Solutions has become a well-known name for outsourced IT in Texas and Oklahoma. Our goal is for businesses to do what they do best, run their company, and let us handle all the IT. 

Follow Presage Solutions on Twitter at @presageinc

Photo courtesy of Presage Solutions. 

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