As part of our series of posts leading up to small business Saturday, we’re shining the spotlight on Steve Crain, co-owner of A> Prompt Computer Service, LLC. He took some time to talk with us about his journey as small business owner.
Tell me about your company.
After I retired from the military, I founded a full-time IT business. Back then I acted as the liaison between manufacturers and customers to perform computer repairs and offer consulting services. Today, most small businesses are not able to fund their own IT departments. That is where I step in and act as an IT department on call.
Years of experience with computer systems helps me explain IT to customers and guide them to solve their problems. Our company also builds custom computer systems; and, more recently has expanded into website hosting. Overall, my job is to isolate the IT problem and find a solution.
What services do you use at The UPS Store?
My relationship with The UPS Store began in 1995 when I set up a mailbox at my local store. When I moved to Hawaii permanently, I continued to use the mailbox for my business.
The UPS Store also provides a very specific and critical service for me – they act as my shipping and receiving department. Because I specialize in “on-site” service, providing service at my customers’ businesses, it’s difficult to be available to accept important shipments from mainland distributors. Directing all shipments to The UPS Store has been a wonderful and economic solution. The staff calls me directly when I have a delivery, which saves me a lot of time.
Why do you think it is important to shop small?
My business runs thanks to the support of other small businesses, so it is important for me to give that support back. As a small business owner, I have learned to value building trusting relationships with those around me, and many of those relationships are with other small business owners.
I pride myself in being an honest business owner and telling people what is best for them, not what is best for me. A client’s best interest is my best interest, and I have faith that other small business owners live by the same values.
One long-standing small business in my community is a local hardware store that has been in business for over 100 years. I could easily go to other stores, but I choose the locally owned shop. I give them my business because quality service and supporting my community is where I find value.
What support has been most critical to your success?
Early on, I learned one person can’t know it all or do it all. Through associations and relationships established over the years, I’ve carefully put together a team of professionals who care as much about their clients as I do mine. They are honest, dedicated, and reliable.
Referrals by associates and satisfied clients are priceless and worth their weight in gold. I’ve had several very good clients who’ve referred their clients to me over the years; and, from there it snowballed. Good referrals can’t be bought, I believe they’re earned. They are the ultimate compliment and should be cherished
I believe a second viewpoint is critical in helping me provide reliable and quality service to my clients. It’s good for me to have someone to bring me out of the clouds and look at things objectively and realistically. My wife is that second viewpoint for me, and she has helped support the business immensely.
What’s some advice you’d give to someone considering starting their own small business?
Be honest with yourself and don’t take advantage of people. Always keep your customer’s objectives in mind. If they do well, you will too, and you will have built relationships along the way.
Realize you can’t win every day, but if you make smart decisions you usually do. Stay focused, be open-minded, continually learn, and you will be headed down a path of success.