Anthony Bailey, whose business, like his 4-foot long dreadlocks, was 15 years in the making, built his life around the hard drive. Anthony turned our need to esc into 24/7 Tech Solutions, a business to shift you into a different mode, and help when you lose ctrl and need alt assistance. Anthony and his techies work late nights, early mornings and all day long, on call 24/7, to fix every glitch, problem and blue screen of death. Switching from PC to Mac? XP to Windows 7? Not a problem. In fact, 24/7 serves tech to small- and medium-sized businesses as well as consumers. They can optimize digital devices and automate homes and offices in incredible ways. Anthony and his team can rig a system that will let you, or 25 to 200 users, dim the lights from a cell phone, control the thermostat by email, or lock the front door from a laptop. Talk about a killer app!
Known for his ability to recover information from hard drives and keep complex computer systems user friendly, Bailey used two loans from Community Capital New York—and is applying for a third—to power up his business. His high school sweetheart and he had a son at age 18, and also raised the 3-year old she had at age 15. Then the two went to SUNY Purchase together, while raising 1 and 3-year old boys, and as he worked as a computer tech who made house calls in their home town of Yonkers, she went on to law school in Buffalo. Anthony later completed his MBA. He, and his two business partners, now employ 4, and are developing a franchise model for the on call, on site IT solutions firm. With his life partner, Anthony is raising three boys, aged 17, 14 and 5, in the town they grew up in.
How did you get your business off the ground?
I did IT in the field for 10 years, and wanted to go full time as an independent IT consultant. In 2008, I asked the guy who ran this office as a real estate firm if I could rent desk space. Instead, he retired and urged me to take over the entire storefront and office. I was sales, the manager and the tech technician. I was everything. Interns allowed me to focus on sales; they did a lot of R&D, identifying potential mid-size business clients, and generated leads using different formats, including cold calling. In my industry, it’s more needs than want. Businesses don’t necessarily want help setting up and then maintaining their computer systems. They need it.
How did your business evolve?
With a $3,000 loan from Community Capital. I needed capital to front the funds for computer equipment and staff. A second loan of $7,500 enabled me to escalate the business to where I focus on sales, showcasing the company, and networking. Now we employ three people and one independent contractor who does site visits. At the point of the loan I had only one technician, and we got in a large job with more than 200 computer users. Community Capital New York’s loan let me hire and keep the payroll going until the accounts receivables came in.
What’s the best advice you got along the way?
It came from Community Capital New York’s business coach, Martin. He told me only I can sell my business. He said ‘You are personable. Go out there and meet people.’ It took me a while to realize it but I did it.
In hindsight, you wish you knew?
Despite researching and working in the industry, I wish I’d known that the best way to get clients and contacts in this industry is through relationships. I wish I’d known–before I threw myself into the fire–that it was all about contacts. When I started the business I spent a lot of time, work and energy into getting my Minority and Women in Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification. Registering and filling out bids took too much time. I wish I’d realized it would have been better to put my energies into selling my business and finding customers, and get the business really up and running first. I spent too much time filling out paperwork.
When will you feel you’ve arrived?
It took me a year to do my business plan. And years to figure out my best clients are not residential—they are one offs–though they are great word of mouth. The clients that I’m looking for need to be 25 users minimum for me to be able to justify costs and set them up on a contract. I will never really feel like I’m done working on the business. I never sit back and feel successful, though my friends and family always say ‘look at how much you’ve done.’
Focusing on national and Manhattan-based businesses with satellite offices in Westchester and Fairfield counties. Franchising.