Exchange Communications Managing Director Tom Sime featuring in the Press & Journal publication discussing building a successful business and the hurdles he has overcome.
How and why did you start in business?
My business career started in earnest in my late teens and early 20s. I was lucky enough to own clothes shops in Glasgow, but there came a point where I realised I didn’t want to be in retail all my life. Retail was a wonderful learning experience, but I just knew I wanted something a bit different. I therefore looking for a constantly evolving industry where the technology would continue to update very quickly, and I found that in telecoms. I thought to myself that this was a product set that would continuously need refreshing as the industry developed, and therefore it represented a significant opportunity. Luckily, I was right about that.
I had no background in telecoms, and knew nothing, so I got a job in telecoms sales. While the other sales guys were having a coffee at break times, I’d be sitting with the engineers, finding out all they knew. That gave me the knowledge to start Exchange, and I haven’t looked back since. I like being on the front foot and being there to bring in business - selling the latest telecoms products gives you that drive.
How did you get to where you are today?
With hard work, determination and a fantastic team of people around me who work hard every day, do an absolutely amazing job and are a lot more talented that me.
Who has helped you to build your business?
Royal Bank of Scotland and organisations like Scottish Enterprise, UK Trade and Investment and even British Embassies to help with the international expansion of the business.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Not delegating early enough in the business lifecycle. It’s important to trust your team, so delegating as much as possible and constantly challenging what they are capable of will help to enhance their skillset, ultimately benefiting the business in the long term.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Taking the business to international markets has been my career highlight but also the biggest challenge in learning the nuances of foreign markets.
What do you still hope to achieve?
My vision is for the company to continue growing, and doing more of what it does right now. We have real potential and ambition, but our growth will be organic. We have bought a couple of smaller companies in the past, and we might continue in that vein, but I like the control we have in a company our size. You can get your arms round it and understand it. The type and quality of services we deliver is best delivered from our structure. We like to do things The Exchange Way and that’s what our clients like. We always deliver, and have a reputation for that.
What do you do to relax?
I love to get out on my bike, even after dark. I’m a recreational cyclist, not competitive. It’s just a bit of personal time, relaxation and fitness that helps me get the balance right. Your hands are on the handlebars, not on your phone, and you take in scenery that you never see when your driving a car. I also watch football, tennis and formula one.