Neil Tolley, founder of Fourteen IP, shares his career journey
Tell us a bit about yourself; your career background?
On my 28TH Birthday, I started my first ever proper job at Ashland Communication Equipment in Wigan. We worked as Ashland for 10 years where I moved from Project Manager to Tech Support Manager and eventually in to Sales.
Ashland was acquired by SpiriTel in 2007. We continued to grow the business until SpiriTel was acquired by Daisy in 2010. I left Daisy shortly after joining Alan, Vicki, and Kevin as we started the Fourteen IP adventure.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Making people happy, customers and our Fourteen IP team. We are so lucky to have the wonderful team we have on both sides of the Atlantic and it’s great that we can work together to do some really amazing things, watching that happen and influencing how we work in a positive way, I love it.
Creating new business and making things happen is something I also love doing and again that helps us to help our customers and create more jobs. We are the very best in the world at what we do, watching our team grow and get the plaudits they deserve from customers around the world fills me with pride.
And what are the most challenging aspects of your job?
We have set very high standards both for our customers and ourselves and maintaining these and our values as a business whilst trying to keep everyone happy is a real challenge on a daily basis.
We are also growing fast and managing that growth whilst making the mistakes we are bound to make when opening up in new markets and trying to retain our quality, make money and keep everyone happy is a tough job at the best of times.
What would you say are the key challenges and opportunities currently faced by the industry?
We are in a single vertical market and the biggest challenge really is convincing owners that they don’t want or need that on-premise PBX anymore. We are making progress and doing better than anyone else but there is much more to do.
What would be your top tip to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Don’t do it! ? Seriously though, Fourteen IP is not an overnight success we have had some tough times and learned at a lot of lessons and we continue to do so, we have been lucky to have the help of some very experienced people.
Mostly I would say you need to believe passionately in what you are doing, so much so that you can enthuse your staff and potential customers to join you on the journey. You need to plan not just the business but for everything you can think of that might go wrong, stare it in the face and discuss it so you know what to do if it happens and you have all agreed. Don’t give up, it takes time and lots of hard work.
I had no job until I was 28, yet here I am with the best Cloud PBX team in the world if I can do it anyone can.
What is the hardest challenge that you have overcome since launching Fourteen IP
We overcome things together, it is one of our great strengths. Nobody is afraid to ask tough questions and nobody is afraid of making mistakes.
Personally though, quite some years back we were not in the best shape financially and keeping our head up and getting potential customers to become customers whilst keeping our team fired up was a big challenge. There is always more to improve upon Fourteen IP has grown so much over the years which has been demanding but exciting.