I spoke with a top tech small business owner, Guy Sanford. Guy is the joint owner and financial director of Cambridge Circuit Company a manufacturer and supplier of printed circuit boards (PCBs). From its base in Milton, Cambridge, adjacent to the world renowned Cambridge Science Park, they work closely with some of the leading technology companies in the Electronics Industry, in areas as diverse as aerospace and agriculture.
Michelle: What stage are you at with your business?
Guy: Established for 31 years. I joined in 1996. Took over from Dad in 2014.
M: Describe your business:
G: Manufacturer of Printed Circuit Boards.
M: What’s your role in the business?
G: Financial Director/owner/technician in workshop.
M: Do you have any partners?
G: My brother Mark who is joint owner and MD and works in sales.
M: What is/was the biggest challenge to starting up?
G: For myself and Mark it was and still is managing staff as business was already successful.
M: When did you know it was going to work out?
G: It’s still ongoing!!
M: If you started over today, what would you do differently?
G: Start with a different pay-performance structure employees. Some of the contracts we have were written over 30 years ago!
M: Who are your customers?
G: Start ups/one man bands/big customers. All sorts. Quallcomm, Cambridge Consultants, ARM.
M: How do you market your business to them?
G: Through our website/social media/electronic magazines.
M: Do you use social media? If so which ones and how often do you post?
G: Yes but not much as our customers don’t allow us to show their finished product so it’s mostly any sponsorship we do for the universities or new kit technology we get.
M: What’s next for your business – how are you developing it and nurturing growth?
G: Always trying to push the boundaries as PCBs are getting technically harder to make we are always investing in the latest equipment and working out different ways to keep up with demand.
M: What’s the first business-related thing you typically do every morning? And last thing at night?
G: First: Check all bank balances/payments in and out. Last: tie up any emails if I get chance.
M: What’s the biggest challenge you currently face?
G: We had a fire in Feb, it’s made managing staff even harder!!
M: If you had more time in the day, how would you spend it?
G: With my son Toby! Then sorting out mountains of paperwork that tends to build up during the week as spend a lot of time sorting out problems or working on shop floor.
M: Do you have any wisdom for anyone else starting out?
G: Have a good production manager, ours has worked for us since 1987 and we couldn’t manage without her!