Owner and Chief Technologist of Alary Technologies
Tech support company, an Apple authorized service centre, servicing and specializing in all things Mac and Apple. They can assist you with all Mac related issues as well as iPad problems. In addition to Mac services, they also offer server management, consulting and tech support.
Ahmed, why did you think you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I have wanted to do this for the longest time. I used to work at the Catholic School Board in the Dufferin / Peel area supporting their Mac computers, however, I wanted a more challenging job. I then left there and started to work for an apple authorized dealer to expand my knowledge in the business industry. I left a very comfortable job to a very challenging job, I wanted business and real market experience knowing that I wanted to open my business. After 8 years I was laid off and I know had the perfect opportunity to start my own business and some great transferable skills I needed to run my own business.
What success are you most proud of?
I am very happy that I have a business plan and everything is working according to my plan. The first year was as I anticipated, my second year is looking good and I am on the right track. I am proud of the achievement, my clients are great!
How did BACD help you?
After I finished the OSEB program. I started to run my company based on what I had learnt and then I after a few months I felt that I had used all the knowledge I had but I needed something to continue to grow and build on the foundation. This is where BACD helped. We worked with our business plan and focused on elements of the plan where I could grow my business, for example Sales process and techniques and overall Marketing & Sales Strategy. BACD helped me to implement my business plan and to grow my sales through real actionable items. It has been extremely useful for me and it gives me an opportunity to work on the business not just in the business.
What has worked for you in marketing your business so far?
What has worked for me, the basics – good customer service, make sure every customer leaves happy – even if sometimes you lose money on it. This has helped build my referral and word of mouth traffic. I also don’t use the usual charging tactics that our industry uses such as diagnostic fees or minimum charges. Search Engine Optimization has helped generate a lot of leads for me as well as local networking.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
You have to know whether you want to start a business or create a job for yourself. If you want to create a job for yourself, there is limited growth opportunities – but if you focus from the beginning on creating a business you need to look at the bigger picture and plan your growth from the beginning. My plan was always to build a business and hire staff. As soon as my business started generating income, instead of paying myself, I hired my first employee as this allowed me to then grow my sales and productivity outputs.
What was more difficult than you thought it would be?
No, I think for me it easier than I thought it would be as I had prior experience working in a business environment and the fear I had thinking of starting a business, was gone once I started. I just kept moving forward.
Has technology impacted how you conduct business?
Yes of course. Aside from being an Apple Authorized Service centre, running on Mac infrastructure, we use a number of different cloud services that really helps a start up company have all the services we need without heavy investment in infrastructure. For Example, instead of buying an expensive phone system, I bought a VOIP Cloud service, which only costs $30 per month. We use Zoho CRM for our Client Relationship Management and this keeps our data backed up, up to date and in the cloud.
Do you have employees? How many?
I have one full time technician and a part time technician.
What do you do to keep abreast of the changes in your business and in your industry?
I go to technical conferences, Apple events, read articles and blogs and stay hands on with issues and problems that arise in clients’ machines. We also install and service Apple servers in larger businesses across the GTA.
What is the future for this type of business?
I think it has a strong future, more and more people are using Mac computers and needed to repair and more businesses are switching to Mac environments because of the stable infrastructure that they have.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business?
From Teresa at BACD! No jokes, BACD is one of the sources I use for advice as well as other entrepreneurs that I have a good relationship with and read articles about business, marketing and social media to stay abreast of trends. I also learn from my clients by asking questions or understanding their needs better.