Ninety percent of small business owners would still rather start their own business than work for someone else, despite the recession (http:// blogs.bnet.com). We could not agree more.
Greetings from northwest Atlanta, Georgia. We are Susan and Kris VanHemert, owners of Harmony Computing Services, Inc. You guessed right – we are married and in business together. June 2009 marked Harmony’s six year anniversary, and our own nine year wedding anniversary.
In late 2002, both of us were presented with opportunities to depart our fulltime jobs. During the midst of what seemed to be a forced mass exodus out of IT jobs in this country at the time, we knew we would have to be creative in our next career choices. Hence the beginnings of Harmony, a managed IT services group specializing in taking exceptional care of small business technology needs and challenges.
Being married and in business together creates a unique relationship. Our business education is an ongoing and a never ending journey. In the past few years some of our best education has come from our diverse client base. Their insights and advice have helped us along the way, as well as hours of networking, business coaching, and yes some meaningful dialog between our- selves. (Let’s be truthful!) We have employed the objective talent of a third person on our management team to break the tie in decision making obstacles. We needed someone not related to us, that has our business interest at heart, that can take the emotion out of differences in decision making. The three of us run the company, make decisions together, and plan the future of the company.
We have unique and individual roles within our organization. We learned early on that we needed to work separately. Anyone who has survived a start-up knows that there is never a lack of work to be done. The three of us (our management team) have clearly defined responsibilities. Business Development is Susan’s primary focus. Technical Direction is Kris, and billing/accounting/ peace maker falls on Alecia. Dividing responsibilities clearly, discussing strategic planning and bringing in dispassionate third parties when appropriate is a management model that works for us.
We came to the entrepreneurial battleground equipped with a strong, relevant mix of experience. Kris entered with 10 years IT management experience and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Susan joined the fray with 10 years marketing experience and an ongoing B.S. in Business Administration (marketing concentration). We both have advanced knowledge of business process improvement, work flow analysis, and quality management system implementation.
In February 2009 Harmony was awarded the coveted WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) certification. (www.wbenc.org). An arduous process, we are one of 483 WBE certified companies in Georgia. With this certification we are now eligible to bid on local and national government jobs that we were excluded from without certification. We’re very excited about the doors this will open for us. We are ready to grow. To be part of one of the most dynamic and fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy: the 10.1 million businesses owned by women is a unique position for us to be in and we are game-on.
Working with Microsoft technologies, our clients trust us with Managed IT services (flat fee server, workstation and network support) design, installation & mainte- nance of networks, Exchange, SQL, Ac- tive Directory, Remote desktop, IT strategy consulting, disaster recovery planning, monitoring, remote data backup and more. We partner with those who specialize in complementary services to provide a full spectrum of technical capabilities. Our ideal new client will be in commercial office space, 10 desktops minimum, and at least one server. Some of our clients have been with us since our humble beginnings in 2002/03. We are truly grateful.
Entrepreneur Magazine recently had an article entitled “Entrepreneurship is Alive and Kicking.” We believe this to be true. No one can deny that small business in this country will continue to fuel the economic engine that drives business. We can attest to the trials of being self employed. We’ve made every mistake in the book at some point over the last six years. However, with the Georgia unemployment rate currently at 8.6% and the national where we are – in business. We have a motto for the times and that is “Reject the recession, let’s get to work!”
The article above was originally written in THE INDEPENDENT, a Publication of ICCA. (March/April 2009 Issue)
Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples. They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here. Feel free to leave a comment about this post.