From cyber security to infrastructure; take a peek behind the scenes with Sarah Edwards of Capital Network Solutions!
In this new digital age, it is near impossible to imagine how our lives would have been if the internet hadn’t created the revolution that it has. A key lynchpin in the 21st century, the last decade or so has given birth to a wave of new digitalised media and a wealth of new industries that would simply not have existed prior to the digital age. Whilst the internet might not have changed the conversations we have as business owners with our audience, it has extended the reach our communication with our customers has, reaching further than ever before! Suddenly being a business in the Vale of Glamorgan, you can now connect with a potential customer-base across the entire globe and that is simply amazing!
In addition to expanding the reach and the breadth of original businesses in the 21st century, the internet has also given birth to a freedom that allows parents to reject a traditional working routine that doesn’t work for the demands and flexibility that parenthood entails! As a result, we have seen a huge rise in successful businesses that started at the kitchen table!
One such business is Capital Network Solutions which is a particularly special part of our community here at The Business Centre (Cardiff) Ltd having grown and thrived with us since we first opened our doors 10 years ago! We love getting to know the people that make up our wonderful business community here at The Business Centre and as part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations, Sarah Edwards, co-founder of Capital Network Solutions, has given us a chance to peek behind the scenes of their thriving business, to discover how a small IT consultancy business set up 21 years ago, has expanded considerably, with ambitious plans to continue to grow.
How did you get started in cyber security and IT services?
I came into IT in a rather unconventional way having initially started my career as an Intensive Care nurse, before moving into medical sales. With my sales and marketing experience, it just made sense to join forces with my husband Mark who had set up an IT consultancy business in 1996 when he left University. With a young baby in tow, the ability to initially work from home was ideal so like many small business owners, the business was born out of a kitchen.
What brought you to The Business Centre? And what has kept you here for 10 years?
Our need for office space increased when we first took on an employee. We were initially located in a serviced office in Cardiff but living in the Vale made the commute a real pain when combining that with the school drop off. It would take over 30 minutes to get to work before battling to find a parking space so our need for larger premises led us to look for a serviced office nearer to home. Luckily The Business Centre was just coming to the end of its renovation when we were looking to move. The facilities coupled with the easy in, easy out terms made the Business Centre a really good option for us particularly as we knew that we may need to scale up quickly due to business demands. The onsite gym and café area are really popular with my staff and we certainly use these facilities to attract new staff. The onsite free parking and delivery bay area are also really important considerations for us as we regularly have customers visit us and receive IT hardware deliveries on a daily basis.
I’m now in my fourth office, as we have expanded considerably since we first started out 21 years ago! We currently occupy two offices as we are the largest company (I think!) in the Business Centre and are getting close to capacity once again.
How did the internet and your role in other businesses look 10 years ago? How has it grown?
10 years ago our customers, particularly in more rural areas experienced significant issues accessing internet connections that would meet the needs of their business. Speed, stability and cost often led to frustrations but now, although we still do experience issues, high speed fibre connections are more readily available at a cost effective price. With more businesses using cloud based applications and systems, ensuring that you choose an internet service that can support this remote access is so important. Businesses are also more aware of business continuity and disaster recovery planning, particularly in light of the ever increasing risk of cyber attacks and the internet plays a very important role in this process.
How do you think the internet has changed businesses?
It’s almost impossible to imagine business without the internet as it is such a critical business enabler. We know how vital it is for all businesses that we support, the requirement for a high capacity and stable connection and also the huge impact to business when the internet goes down. The need for anytime, any device secure access to business information is everywhere irrespective of business size and it has revolutionized the global marketplace. Communicating with customers, suppliers and employees, accessing real time information, using cloud based applications/services and storing data offsite are all possible because of the internet. However, with all these benefits it’s vital to acknowledge that you are leaving your front door open to all so putting in place the necessary security measures to prevent unauthorized access to your systems is critical. Advising companies on how to keep their systems secure forms a significant part of our business.
How has Capital Network Solutions grown over the last decade?
For many years we were a team of 5, operating out of a small office but over the last 10 years, since being at The Business Centre, our service offerings and reputation has enabled us to increase the breadth and number of customers both in Wales and further afield. This has led to considerable expansion in terms of people, processes and capabilities with a significant increase in awareness of our network, infrastructure and cyber security expertise. We work very closely with Welsh Government who have been very supportive, opening up opportunities and funding significant training and development opportunities for our staff. A significant area of growth for us over the last three years has been in the further development of our cyber security services both in terms of identifying vulnerabilities and protecting company systems from cyber attack.
We are now one of the largest Certification Bodies for the UK Government backed Cyber Essentials Standard having certified over 900 UK companies. We are very proud of that fact given the wide reach that we have into UK businesses from our base in the Vale of Glamorgan.
What are your plans for the next ten years?
We have worked extremely hard particularly over the last 5 years to develop a profitable, well respected business that has the necessary people, processes and customer base to support significant growth. We currently have 18 staff but have aggressive growth plans over the next two years to increase both our technical and commercial teams. We will continue to develop and expand our management team and will be looking to create new technical/commercial roles and forecast that we will by a team of 40 by 2020.
If you were to start a new business venture, what would it be in?
I think that it would probably have to be connected to property as we currently own a number of properties that we rent out, so it would be nice to use my experience in another sector away from IT. As much as I like the idea of taking a back seat for a bit, I would be a nightmare employee so being a business owner is probably best for all concerned.
How do you relax? Do you have any interesting hobbies?
With 3 children and a business, relaxation time often takes a back seat. When I have a spare minute you can probably find me on the beach where I live trying to control my 2 rescue lurchers. With their top speed of 45 miles/hour and a love of other dogs, there’s never a dull moment.
What advice do you have for any budding entrepreneurs?
Anything is possible if you want it enough, use any negative comments about how it won’t be possible to fuel your determination and stubbornness. Failures should not be seen as negatives, these are your greatest learning experiences. Finally, if anyone tells you that you are lucky to own your own business, they have never owned a business!
Capital Network Solutions are just one of the many interesting businesses that utilise The Business Centre for business support services within our professional serviced office space. Whether you’re looking for meeting rooms, use of our business address or call answering service, we can perfectly tailor a specific package for almost any type of business from freelancers to teams of 14, we’re sure to have the tailored solution for you! Plus, all The Business Centre residents can take advantage of our free 5* onsite gym as well as a delicious home cooked meal from Mel’s! For more information about our business services, click here.