We never met in person, even if we live in the same city. We did recommend each other to potential clients, since he trusts my web design skills and I absolutely love how he runs his web hosting business. Criste is better known as Gupi online (the ‘nick’ I am also using when contacting him) and he proves today that hard work and dedication can help one achieve success, even when starting from ‘zero’.
Can you please give us few details about yourself?
During the University, I worked at a local TV station — TVT 1 was called –, mainly as a camera operator and video editor. I still think it was the most exciting part of my career.
After the University and mandatory army stage, I moved back to Baia Mare, in a warm, comfortable job at state company Enel (electricity).
The job was boring, yet my hobby activities were extremely intense: I was doing paragliding, the freestyle way.
After about one and a half years I realized that a fixed job like the one I was doing (dispatch officer) would bore me to death in no more than five years; therefore, I came back to Timisoara, as a network administrator in a company with two computers 🙂
This was a major change and I have started to realize how hard is to manage all by yourself, so I got a “real” job in a multi-national company called Solectron.
This job was challenging, but after about one year I have found something even better, as a programmer.
Unfortunately, the job turned to be a short-term one, due to external facts (taxes, product sales and so on).
Finally, I have moved to my actual job (hosting is actually my second job), first as a network administrator, then as an information security officer at a big company.
It’s been about 14 years since that last move and I don’t see any soon movements.
What made you start your small business?
Well, the idea emerged somewhere back in 1996, when I was working at Enel Baia Mare.
There is a fantastic paragliding club there, and at that time we were trying to adopt the new technologies in order to organize.
So, I have started a Yahoo Group for that purpose and I think that was the trigger for my online activities passion.
However, it took about 10 years and another three jobs until I have registered the company.
How was it in the beginning?
Well, we all were learning that time; some lessons were pretty cheap, others very expensive.
It was hard due to hardware prices, networking and lack of plastic money (yes, one of the most challenging issues was the initial payment to the hosting company we rented the servers from).
Would you consider you have reached small business success?
Well, looking at the public financial results, I wouldn’t say it’s a success: it definitely can be better than this.
However, I am satisfied that business is running smoothly and needs only small maintenance. Customers are happy and most of them communicate with us just once a year, at due payment.
So, at the end of the day, yes, I would say it is a success.
What are the 3 top things you love about running your small business?
- First of all, I always find something new to learn. This keeps my brain in good shape and it’s fun, too.
For instance, if someone would tell me at the beginning that I will be able to move an entire rack of servers between two data-centers and customers not to feel a thing, I would look at him at least oddly.
After the virtualization emerged, I even did this, and it was extremely rewarding.
- A second reason is the social networking you build running such a business. You get to know people running other businesses, which can be helpful to you on different occasions.
If you have a good relation with your customers, they will be more than happy to help you the other way around.
- Last, but not the least, is the satisfaction of seeing a customer’s car in the town or abroad and telling my wife: look at that car …. he’s a customer of Hangar Hosting.
What are the top 3 things you don’t like about running a business?
- Lack of time, especially family time..
- Another annoying thing is the whole bureaucracy in Romania.
- These two things are enough, rest of them are too small to mention.
Do you have any plans to develop your business further?
First of all, the website, which is going to be at a new address. This means a lot of work and new challenges, but I am sure it’s gonna be fun.
Then, extending the portfolio and add some security-related services, as a side-offer for the crowded hosting market.
However, I do not intend yet to extend the business to a point where I cannot control it totally; when that point will come, I foresee some customer-related risks emerging and I don’t want to lose their trust.
What would you say is your best advice for someone to reach business success?
The things are well known and not hard to do; here are some of the tips you might implement
- keep your word, no matter what!
Your reputation is your strongest weapon and keeping it high will help you more than any fancy tool or investment you do.
- communicate with your customers!
clients will always understand your issues, if you explain them properly and proactive it takes very little effort to announce them, but you get a lot of freedom to enhance your services.
- offer more than you contracted
add an extra-service (even an advice) to the contracted services; clients will appreciate that
- make no compromises
the fewer the rules, the better is for business; however, once established, stick to the rule-set and enforce the rules for everybody;
- plan ahead!
when taking action, have a deep look at all the possible consequences and be prepared for any scenario; otherwise, you’ll painfully learn the old saying: “fail to plan is plan to fail”
- expect the unexpected!
a LOT of things can go wrong and some of them will happen to you, inevitably; don’t be afraid, just plan ahead and always have a backup plan.
don’t be ashamed if you don’t know; you should be ashamed for not willing to learn, though!
You can find Gupi at Hangar Hosting, if you need some really customer oriented web hosting services. When other hosting providers would just block my web sites for some bandwidth spikes, he spent time to understand what went wrong there and how this won’t happen again.
If you have a great freelancing / small business success story, please contact me and we’ll get you featured here on PFtoday.