Mike Durkin

Member Article

bdaily goes behind the scenes of Evolution with Business Development Manager Mike Durkin

With a background in ICT Service and Business Management, in 2003 I set up a local ICT Support and Service Company and provided a complete range of support to many clients in both the private and community sectors. During the start of the “Credit Crunch” it was apparent that businesses were reducing their ICT budgets and tightening their spending on support; however the need for support continued to increase with people keeping equipment for longer instead of replacing old for new.

One of the community organisations I supported was a community infrastructure organisation which supports other community organisations within the community sector. After speaking to Karen Grundy, the executive director, we came up with an idea to set up a social enterprise. This would deliver affordable backup office services, starting with ICT, for the benefit of the community. We then formed the Evolution Service Hub Ltd. The service hub has now grown to include Accounting, Administration, Meeting Room Hire and Web Design in its portfolio of services.

What key challenges has your company recently faced?

As the Voluntary and Community Infrastructure Organisation in Darlington, we have a duty to champion good practice and provide assistance to the voluntary and community sectors in response to challenges constantly being set by the government. One of the major challenges at present is the fact that money is scarce and organisations which are reliant on funding need to change and become more business-like - starting with ourselves.

What is your biggest achievement over the past 12 months?

Balanced budget for the current financial year. As an organisation we have become more entrepreneurial on what we offer. Being a registered charity brings with it the notion of having little business sense and being reliant on fundraising. However, we have now turned the organisation around to be more business-focused and have set a strategy with social enterprise at the core supporting our charitable activities. We continue to offer an increasing range of services such as ICT and Accounting to organisations in our sector and beyond, with pricing based upon our philosophy of full cost recovery and value for money.

What is your biggest focus for the coming year?

Our focus for the coming year is ‘expansion’. We are focused on retaining current - and developing new -clients. We feel this is important for the sustainability of our organisation; however we must also remain focused on our charitable purposes, ensuring that we deliver value and quality with a community interest.

If you had to choose one top piece of advice for someone just starting out in business, or is currently operating within your industry sector, what would it be?

“Cash is King”, since virtually all of the current difficulties being faced by the sector have stemmed from financial considerations and the control in cash resources has become ever more vital. If an organisation has money, then it can pay its bills. If it has no money, it cannot. It is on this basis that basic financial planning, control and management should be at the forefront of top level management thinking.

Can you share with us your view of the current landscape of business, in this region or generally, and where your organisation sits within it?

Our current business landscape is challenging: demands upon the services provided by the sector continue to grow on a daily basis, yet resources are restricted. Levels of funding are as they are. We cannot change this, therefore we must encourage efficiency in planning and management throughout, which fall within our sector. Our position within the current landscape continues to be that of championing best practice and offering support services to those who need them.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mike Durkin .

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