Terry Campbell, President of the Canadian Bankers Association spoke to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce last night (October 9, 2013). Mr. Campbell spoke about banks from the Customer’s perspective. He focused on competitionchoicesecurity and trust, and finally – innovation.  He led off with the statement, “I want to suggest to you that in many ways banks in Canada should actually be viewed as technology companies.”  Check out the full speech on the CBA Website.

Many of us have made a career of leveraging technology to improve the accessibility, security and growth of Canadian Banks, Trust Companies and Credit Unions. It’s encouraging to read how much this technology has helped Canada lead the way from a Customer experience perspective. Who said safe has to be boring?

Here’s an interesting Times Colonist article on the state of the Greater Victoria high-tech sector.  http://www.timescolonist.com/victoria-s-high-tech-sector-valued-at-3-billion-1.326590

Quester Tangent – a 30-year-old Victoria company that makes diagnostic monitoring units for rail systems – made the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATec) Top-25 list this year.  COO Bill Collins says:

 “I think it shows them what’s possible, what can be done from Victoria. It shows you can be a globally dominant player from the Island in that you don’t have to move or chase money in other cites — it increases the ambition for people.”

This is definitely consistent with my experience as an Island-based provider of Business Technology solutions. Most of my business is off-Island and even out of province. I can grab a flight out of Victoria or Nanaimo when necessary, but most of the time it’s phone, email or video conferencing. Don’t assume you have to leave the Island to be credible in high-tech business. More and more, we can do it all right here from our Island paradise.

January 1st 2013 marked our 5th Anniversary – wow, that was quick. As I think back to the day I “took the leap” to leave a perfectly good job for the world of self-employment I’m filled with awe and gratitude to those who leapt with me. Here are some of the reasons I think some of those early clients were willing to give me a shot.

Treat People Well.  When I consider how we’ve secured work over these past five years, one pattern has been consistent: each contract came directly or indirectly through an ex-colleague. These were peers, managers, clients or subordinates that I had worked with at some point in my software development career. I could have treated them poorly or indifferently (and in some cases probably did), thinking they were of no professional benefit to me. However, you never know when that trainee beside you might become your boss or client down the road.  Besides, it just makes work more enjoyable for everyone when you check your ego at the door.

Overdeliver. To stick with you, clients need to feel they’re getting value. Most of us make small decisions all day long that impact our client’s perception. Should I wrap up at 5:00 sharp or stick around a little late to finish this task? Should I bill for that 5-minute phone call? Should I include that extra feature or ask for more money first? I’m not suggesting it’s good business to give away the farm, but be sure to take lots of opportunities to let the client know their business is appreciated.

Don’t Panic. As a consultant, there are many opportunities to worry. When will the next contract come in? How am I going to meet those deadlines? etc. etc. These are the times that separate the men from the boys. If business is consistently bad, you may have to change a few things, but otherwise – be patient. If you’ve done your homework and there’s a market out there for your product or service, enjoy the break. The long days and deadlines are probably just around the corner.

There are tons of other lessons I’ve learned in these first five years and I hope to blog on some of them over the next few months. But these three tips came to mind as non-negotiable. Hopefully they’ll save you a little pain if and when you decide to take the leap.