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Working remotely – the new normal
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Coronavirus: how to keep your business going during a crisis
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Cybersecurity Solutions: best practise is common sense
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Hidden gems
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It’s a kinda magic…
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The next generation
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Goals, growth and big dreams – part 1
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First port of call
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Return of the Mack...
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Changing man
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The value of senior management
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In transition
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Pastures New
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Right place, right time
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Accentuate the positives
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Leave your comfort zone
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Constant Evolution
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Safe and secure
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Coming of age
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The value of complementary skillsets
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Bumps in the road
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Nutbourne nominated for IT industry award
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How we roll
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Leading by example
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Culture club
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Personal Growth
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You’re Hired: The Apprentice
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Willing and able
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What you do and how you do it
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Attention to detail
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Opportunity knocks
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Build the base
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Power to the people
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What’s your bus number?
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What’s the difference
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Product 101 – getting the basics right
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Nutbourne wins three!
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Finding those with the X Factor
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Building a team: developing talent
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Building a rapport
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Mentoring: a win-win situation
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It takes time to gel
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The subtle art of listening
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People and process
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Strengthening the foundations
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Power to the people
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To infinity and beyond
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Access denied!
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Aggressive, persistent, brutal
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3 tips to keep your business running
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Don't get held to ransom
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It’s not nearly as bad as you think…
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You know GDPR is coming, but how do you prepare?
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Data, data everywhere! So what exactly does GDPR cover?
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GDPR: Data security got a whole lot more serious
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Team Challenge: Nutbourne Conquers Go Ape
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FSB London Business Awards Finalists 2015
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Microsoft Partner Network - Silver Award for Small & Midmarket Cloud Solutions
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Thames Gateway Business Awards
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Doitforcharity's Santa Fun Run 2014
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A Day in the Life of a 1st Line Support Technician
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IP Expo 2014- ExCel London
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Failures before Success – YDF Entrepreneurs Event
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Is it really possible to strike a good work / life balance when working on a new start-up?
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Page 1 of 18


Posted on by Tom Holmes & Marcus Evans

The vast majority of us are now working from home across the entirety of the United Kingdom. Amidst such uncertainty and in a world of unknowns, getting remote working right, is essential. Marcus Evans, co-founder and Managing Director of Nutbourne, a leading IT services and project consultant in London, has taken the time to share his thoughts on remote working, and how it’s been going for him so far…

“It’s been a long time since Nutbourne started. We used to, work in my loft, Patrick, Paul and I. Since then we have had three offices, of which the most recent houses 30 of us, with room for another 15. So it’s fair to say working from home isn’t something I’ve thought about a lot. Very occasionally, when the trains were broken, it would be something we would do, but mostly it was good to get into the office, see everyone, and resolve most issues face-to-face.

So it’s quite interesting being back to where I was seven years and some change ago before we got our first office. It’s a shed and not a loft, and the WIFI is probably better, but it’s been exactly the same day one. Its all coming back to me now, as Meatloaf would have it.”

Set up

“The first thing to do if you are going to work remotely, or have team members who will do so is to test it with a limited sample of people. Eight years ago that wasn’t a problem. Patrick and I lived together and Paul would drop by. It was also naturally staggered with Patrick going first and then Paul and then myself. Now, with 30 people, we have to do it a bit differently, especially in light of the current circumstances.

From observing what was happening in Europe, we anticipated that social distancing would be introduced in the UK. So, we drew up a phase plan of the people to be out of the office, and started from phase one, which I was in - anyone with serious underlying health conditions ( Phase two will be milder conditions, but still health-related problems, such as Asthma and Hypertension. Then phase three will be people in positions who have never been off before, so that we can try rotating everyone in the organisation working from home. Finally, the BCP full initialisation is that everyone would be working from home and we shut the office.

We can go through those steps as quickly or slowly as we need, and I expect we might even skip one or two if we had an incidence of the coronavirus in our office. Even so, by the end of the trial periods we will have a fully operational team working remotely for Nutbourne, having trialled it all.”

Keeping it together

“Once the company is all working from home, then I have an even bigger job. Keeping it together. Back in the old days, it was pretty easy, we all saw each other every day and there were only three of us. Now if we have 30 people all isolated from each other, how do we get them to work well together and make sure that efficiency continues to be high? The worst case is that things drop between people as communication breaks down and we have to pick it up. Hopefully, we can avoid that.

Then there is the intangible, how do we keep our company feel? As a company, Nutbourne works hard to keep people integrated together and to share a similar mindset. Half of that is recruiting the right people in the first place, people with the same agendas as us, who think the same way. In a working from home situation we will need to rely on this culture of diligence and purpose. If people need to make decisions without input they need to apply Nutbourne’s company values and make sure they are right. If you take a decision on a clear value, you rarely go wrong.

That’s one half of it, recruitment. Not much you can do about that now though, and this is where the second part comes in. Company spirit. Simple things like video one on ones with all the team, so that they keep the facetime, even remotely. A phone call is very different to a face to face conversation. Additionally, an all-team chat programme like teams is super important, as it means there is a forum to continue talking, work on problems that each person finds, and ultimately keep in constant communication with each other.”


“This is the other big hurdle. How do we keep the level of quality up that our clients deserve and have come to expect from Nutbourne? It’s a tough one for some teams, easier for others. For example out onsite team often work from client sites and so are very good at operating from a remote base. In comparison the service desk team is made up of three dispatchers, who take the calls and sift the emails. They then pass out tickets to the analysts who add them to their queue and work on them. The analysts will be working on anywhere between 15-25 issues at the same time. Finally the engineers pick up things that the analysts can’t do, or they sit with them and help. This second part is crucial and something that will be very tough to replicate. How do you get people to sit next to each other remotely?

Ultimately this structure needs great communication, inter and intra team. Technology is the answer to this one. Our ticketing system is great for sharing tickets and keeping track of queues. We use something called to keep track of all the metrics on one screen. Finally we use teams as the great social bond between the team. It allows chats, video conferences and ultimately good communication.

Finally we use our phones a lot, so we examined a remote handling company, who could take calls and pass them across, as well as a soft phone version of our desk-phones. We went for the latter and it has proved pretty good. People can talk as if they were on their extensions and this has allowed us to pass calls for each other and to use overflow if we have the problem of too many continuous calls coming in that need to be fielded.

As you can see we have found a lot of ways to address delivery. All of them required trialling. We suggest that if you plan on doing the same, you do it in a rolling. None of us knows how long it will last after all!”

So, if you’d like to find out more about how Nutbourne have implemented remote working into their project consultant set up, then get in touch! Call today on 0203 137 7273.

Posted in remote working, working from home, project consultant, project consultant in London


Posted on 24/03/20 by Tom Holmes

Global concern over the spread of the coronavirus is high, with many businesses advising staff against unnecessary travel and encouraging them to work from home as efforts are made to contain the spread of the virus. For a lot of organisations, it’s a test of their business continuity plan and a stress test for the IT support infrastructure and their overall IT services. For others, it’s a reactive process requiring rapid response. Whatever situation you find yourself in, our project consultants have the following advice to see you through.

Prioritise security and business-critical processes

“Any plan for your staff to work remotely, individually or en masse always comes back to information and security,” advises Nutbourne Technical Director Patrick Burgess. “The bottom line is that you need to keep the business running and to keep your information safe and secure – obviously sudden changes to working practices can compromise some of that security.”

“If you are going into a business continuity process – which may be the case in the coming weeks and months - the first thing you would complete is a list of critical functions such as ‘Incoming Sales Orders or Incoming Phone Calls’. With this list of critical functions, you can determine the systems and information required to keep them operational. You can then take those systems and information and look at how you can keep them available and operating for your staff and clients whilst remaining secure.

“Prioritise who has and needs access to what remotely based on your most critical processes, and decide how those people are going to access this information and systems first.”

Be flexible and open to change

Whatever business you operate, whether you offer IT services, equipment procurement, network audits or anything else - “You need to plan for more than one business continuity scenario,” Patrick says. “So normally you would plan for a short-term business continuity problem, such as the containment phase of a virus that we are in now, where some but not all people can get into the office.

“And then you need to plan for the longer-term. The situation could change drastically in the UK, we don’t know. Italy went from a containment phase to a lockdown phase in less than 20 days. Although it’s unlikely, we could be looking at scenarios where offices are closed for more than three months.

“If it's done correctly, these policies and plans can bring benefits. Flexible working is a very big thing, so having a process in place that accounts for that has a lot of carry over into your business continuity plan. It allows people to be effective and productive, even if they’re unwell but still want to work.

“Once the current situation resolves itself, when somebody isn't feeling great, but they still want to work, you will be able to let them work from home. That way you keep the productivity of that person, and you keep them moving in the right direction. So there are things that can be done in business continuity, which bring you day to day benefits as well as waiting for the long-term benefits.”

Maintain open communication

‘Communication at all levels is vital,” says Patrick. “It’s arguably the most important thing you can do. Communicate to your teams, suppliers and clients, communicate simply and be clear with people about what is going on so that you can maintain your business and keep it operating.

“If you're not operating in a 100% capacity, tell people that, because then they won't be so frustrated when they don't get a call so quickly. You want to keep business operation open and disruption to a minimum. Equally you want to quell fear and concern among your employees and clients – so manage their expectations and make it clear what is expected of them during a business continuity phase.” An integral part of Nutbourne’s company ethos has always been the importance of open channels of communication. In times of stress and turmoil, it becomes even more important.

Back up what you need

“You should be doing this regularly anyway,” Patrick says. “But during a business continuity phase, it’s especially important because you need to ensure that your business can run efficiently and effectively.

“Keep in mind that you don’t need all your data to run your business. In all likelihood, you need the last couple of week’s documents, you need the current accounts, the HR documents and the policy documents.

“Of all the data you may have, only around 5% - 10% of it is what you actually need immediately. If you’re staring down the barrel of an enormous back up thinking it’s going to cost you a fortune, you might not actually need to back the whole lot up.” However much you eventually choose to back up, both cloud backup and remote backup services offer a pleasing solution to the situation at hand.

Spread your data storage

“Things like Office 365 and Dropbox can be bad because they’re implemented poorly and they encourage data to spread,” says Patrick. “But they can also be a solution if implemented correctly.

“By storing different sets of data in different places you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket. By spreading your risk you are limiting the impact of any attack on your data or system failure. This is not just for data protection; this is for business continuity. If you spread the risk you don’t get this all or nothing scenario.”

Put simply you need to plan ahead for what’s coming to ensure you can continue to operate. The current scenario isn’t going to go away and businesses are going to be mandated to shut over the coming months. If you are ahead of this then you will be able to iron out the kinks and make the changes in the most cost-effective way. Wait too long and it will be a knee jerk reaction which will cost money, security and business. Whether it be implementing cloud backup options, an IT network audit or updating your IT security, proactive measures are vital to ensure the long-term health of your business.

So, if you’d like to find out more about Nutbourne, a leading project consultant in London offering comprehensive IT services, then get in touch today! Call today on 0203 137 7273.

Posted in Project Consultant, Project Consultant in London, IT Services, Equipment Procurement, Network Audit, Cloud Backup, Remote Backup, IT Security


Posted on 11/3/2020 by Tom Holmes

Cybersecurity Solutions: best practise is common sense


With more than 98% of UK businesses and charities operating online, cybersecurity solutions are not something that can be ignored. Threats are becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect. Despite increased awareness of the dangers, 22% of charities in the UK reported that they’d suffered a data breach in the last year – costing them on average £9,470.


While measures such as the GDPR have encouraged organisations to look more closely at how they manage their data security, standards are falling well short of industry best practise. Of those polled in the Government’s Cyber Security Survey, a whopping 49% of Charity Directors said they were only updated on cyber security measures once a year, while only 27% of charity staff had taken IT securitytraining in the last year. Meanwhile, only 53% of charities had taken action on 5 or more of the Governments 10 step pathway to Cyber Security.


While these statistics make alarming reading (especially given the amount of personal data that charities hold), they are also indicative of prevailing difficulties organisations face when developing IT security policy. It’s common for business to start and stop, unable to see the wood for trees. That however, does not need to be the case. Much of what IT security solutions companies offer is down to common sense and consistency. So, if you’re struggling to get going, these 5 tips will get you heading in the right direction.


Prioritise your information


Cybersecurity solutions revolve around protecting your information. Focus on your information first rather than the technology you’ll use to protect it and you will have a solid base to start from.


We always recommend a framework that keeps your information confidential, protects its integrity and manages its availability. The CIA triad, as it is known, is robust and lends itself to iterative and constant improvement. So, in practise, you encrypt your information to make it secure, grant access only to those that need it, and maintain its integrity by checking that it hasn’t been corrupted in any way.


“What makes the CIA triad work is the playoff between the three components,” says Nutbourne’s Technical Director Patrick Burgess. “For example you can’t have total confidentially because people need access; and for the information to be useful you need to maintain its integrity, and the best way to do that is to protect it and undertake a network security audit.”


“Essentially, when you optimise one aspect of the three you are led naturally to ask questions of the other two and are able to make constant improvements.”


Are you compliant?


There are several laws governing the use and misuse of data by organisations, butbeing compliant isn’t as complicated as it might sound. There are a number of standards available such as the various ISOs, Cyber Essentials and PCI, which if implemented correctly will help ensure you are complaint with the various laws. Although the standards themselves aren’t legally binding, its important they are maintained and embedded if you intend to use them to demonstrate your compliance.


“If, for example, you commit to Cyber Essentials it is not just something you get a badge for and forget about,” says Patrick. “If you suffer a data breach and you’re found to not be compliant with the compliances you have chosen, then you open yourself up to potential damages. 


“It’s worth remembering that there is nothing in an information security management system (ISMS) that says you can’t make mistakes. But what you should be doing is using your ISMS to identify things that have gone wrong or need improvement and fixing them. You can't ever be perfect. It's not possible.”



Prevent rather than cure 


Cyber threats, like the rest of the technological world, grow and evolve, often at a pace that is hard to keep up with. To that end, we always recommend that organisations look to make small, continuous and consistent improvements to their security policies, processes and practices. 


Again, this is actually relatively simple and often boils down to common sense. If you commit to the basic principles ‘secure, enforce, monitor and improve’, you will foster systems, processes and procedures that readily identify and mitigate risk, and move your IT security away from the ‘break-fix’ model.


“Bear in mind that you don't have to fix all the risks yourself,’ Patrick says. “Some of the risks you can pass to a third-party cybersecurity solutionsspecialist if you don’t have capacity to handle them, or if appropriate to an insurance company if you can’t afford to take the necessary steps to mitigate them. Taking this approach gives you peace of mind and can reduce the to do list”.


Make life simple for yourself


Fine tuning your IT compliance or giving it an overhaul can be a daunting task, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process. It can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Network audit companies traditionally follow one of two approaches, which keeps matters simple and allows you to concentrate on the day job.


The first option, if you require something very custom, is to bring it in-house and build your bespoke information and compliance structure. The benefit to this is that you manage the entire process and have full ownership from the bottom up, however it is critically important in this scenario to get regular oversite and auditing from a respected and independent source. Its very easy to get lost down the rabbit hole when you own the entire process and you can fail to see the big picture.


Alternatively, and this is becoming increasingly comment, you can bring in an external party to oversite the structure and compliance. Commonly this can be customised for you, allowing the provider to do all the work in and provide best practice knowledge. 


Whatever you choose, make sure that your information adheres to the CIA triad.


React quickly to data breaches


Most organisations hold a lot of personal data – charities especially, given the nature of how they raise and receive money from the public. This makes them particularly accountable as far as the GDPR laws are concerned. As such,

data breaches need to be reported to the Information Commission Office (ICO) at all times. That could be anything from a ransomware attack to full-blown data theft. If your data has been compromised the ICO need to know and you need to take restorative measures. This is why a network security audit is so imperative.


“It’s important to remember, the ICO aren’t out to get you,” Patrick says. “If you have the right policies in place and are able to let the right people know and talk to the right people to recover your data, it will reflect well on you. The companies that have recently suffered data breaches and come out well have told authorities early and communicated to those affected quickly.


“If you have a policy in place to deal with breaches, a plan to manage and mitigate risks and a plan for constant improvement then you will be able to manage data breaches effectively and be able to demonstrate that you weren’t negligent – which is very important in the eyes of the ICO.”


So, if you’d like to find out more about Nutbourne’s cybersecurity solutions, onsite IT support and cloud services, then get in touch today.

Posted in Cybersecurity Solutions, IT security, T security solutions, cybersecurity


Posted on 30/1/2020 by Tom Holmes

Culture is what makes your organisation tick. It’s what defines the processes and systems, the actions and steps that govern them, and far more importantly the beliefs, attitudes and values that unite the people you employ.

“Finding the right people is essential for that reason,” says Nutbourne’s Office Manager Kittie Story. “To an extent, the skillset is secondary. A lot of technical expertise can be trained, whereas being the right fit for the company can’t be trained, and some softer skills are hard to get right. We look for a good balance of each.”

In the modern era, businesses are placing more and more emphasis on culture than before, so employing staff for their ability to integrate with the people around them is far more common – though it isn’t without its challenges.

“It can be hard to tell what someone is like from their CV alone,” Kittie says, “some people that we’ve employed since I’ve been here – that are thriving in their roles – have very basic CVs. If we didn’t have a process in place that accounts for that, then they probably wouldn’t have reached the interview stage, let alone got the job.”

To account for a basic CV – and one that might be concealing a gem – all applicants undergo an initial screening and are invited by email to have a phone call with Kittie to explain what the role entails and discuss the interview process should they succeed. It’s a surprisingly effective means of testing suitability for the company and the role.

“If someone responds (to the email) with two or three words, or doesn’t furnish it with at least a ‘hello’, then it’s a red flag. Of course, we don’t rule them out immediately, because that’s not fair – rather we use it as an indication of that particular person’s ability to communicate and to engage, which is an overlooked but crucial part of each role at Nutbourne.”

It may seem slightly overzealous, but Kittie adds that those who have gone on to succeed and secure roles with the company demonstrated politeness, kindness and approachability in their responses, and again when they had their initial call with her. It means that by the time they reach the second interview stage with senior management, their fit for the organisation is relatively well measured.

“Customer service and communications are hard to teach – hard, but not impossible. So what we are looking for is politeness, kindness, honesty and a degree of professionalism – and above all a bit of passion and spark for life.” 

Posted in Business, SME, recruitment


Posted on 30/09/19 by Tom Holmes

The first Monday of every month at Nutbourne is a magical affair. Not content with performing IT sorcery for its clients, the wizards, warlocks and lone ork (Marcus) of Nutbourne gather on that most auspicious of evenings to do battle with each other over card game Magic: The Gathering.

The evening is a chance for the team to gather, pit their wits and decks against each other in a game that is all about strategy. For seasoned player and first-line support technician Zach Sansum, it’s very much about team bonds and encouraging an interest in the game:

“We’ve started to introduce everyone in the office to Magic, mainly because they’re intrigued when they see us playing, but also because it’s a chance for everyone to get involved with something outside work.

“Everyone that plays has become really involved and have started playing at lunch, buying their own decks (of cards). It’s had a good effect on team morale - I mean I've already gone to meet up with a couple of guys I play with outside to play.”

The monthly Mondays form part of a wider social calendar at Nutbourne that is aimed at including all tastes and past times. Playstation tournaments, a pool league and regular karaoke and pizza nights are part of a concerted effort to build a social scene at the company that extends further than just frequenting pubs and bars.

“We’re a diverse bunch at Nutbourne and that’s reflected in what we do socially. Some people like going for a beer while others prefer to shoot pool, sing or play video games. We embrace pretty much everything people suggest to us, which is good because it builds bonds and helps people to discover new interests and hobbies – magic is a good example of that.”

Indeed the Magic has become so popular in the office that Marcus says there are plans afoot to hold a company draft and regular company tournaments, giving the evenings a gentle competitive edge. So are we about to see a crack squad from Nutbourne enter a national or even international event?

“I think so,” says Zach. “I think that's where we'll get to eventually once we get a few more people into it. There's a couple of people I play with at lunch regularly and will start buying their own stuff. I know a few other people are interested in buying their own decks. I think once they're into it properly, I think we'll get into doing that.

“For now though it’s as much about having fun as it is about helping people become a bit more social in work. So far, it’s doing the trick.”

Posted in Team, Social, SME


Posted on 28/8/2019 by Tom Holmes

Nutbourne prides itself on organic growth and providing opportunities for people to learn and progress their careers. As part of that approach, we have a thriving internship scheme through which we employ undergraduates from Universities around London.

This year we’re delighted to welcome Laurentiu Maties (Lauri for short), a Computer science with Games Technology undergrad from CIty University. Lauri joins Nutbourne as part of his University’s Professional Pathways Scheme, which offers students the opportunity to gain professional experience alongside their studies. We caught up with Lauri to see how he’s found the placement so far.

Tell us a little about yourself

From a young age, I was really into IT and computers and knew that this was the direction I was going in. That's one thing that I was really confident about, which helped me.  My university offers a Professional Pathway scheme, which prepares students for work. So rather than a regular internship – where you make tea, file papers and run errands – they ensure getting benefit from working at the organisation you’re placed with. I knew it was going to right for me.

Generally speaking, it’s a great scheme, because I think you learn so much more by doing things. I’m here four days a week term time and five days during the summer, and I’m learning so much.


So, what are you working on at the moment? Has it been an eye-opener?

Ha, ha yeah, it definitely is a big step from being a barista to working in an office. But I'm enjoying it and I think I'm coping quite well with it. Right now I'm doing various things. I'm working in the quoting department. Clients come to us with requests about projects to be made, projects to be done. For most of them, I will have to scope out what needs to be done and what they need, give them options, and put all of that in a quote and send it over. I liaise with them on budgets or whatever they need to push back on.


That’s quite a lot of exposure, isn’t it?

Yeah, 100%. I was quite surprised by the amount of exposure that they've given me straight off the bat. It's the sort of thing where, they would introduce me to some statistics and some spreadsheets that normally in your typical business, I wouldn't have to learn, it wouldn't be any of my business. Whereas, everything here is like a sandbox; it's like ‘this is everything you can look into if you're interested.

And actually, just to give an example of that, it was recently that there were some talks about a project at a client's site that required some people from the quoting team to inspect and scope out what needs to be done. It sounded interesting and so I asked to go. My manager was perfectly fine with that because he always teaches me and says that the more I learn the more useful I become as a resource for the department and for the business.

How does your work correlate to your studies?

It's interesting because a lot of things I'm learning at university are definitely helping to enforce what I'm learning here, and vice versa. However, I'm learning much more here than I would be in a university, simply because it's very modern and very up-to-date; we're constantly pushing out new things.

University is a lot of theory, not much practise. So it's not as specific. Then obviously at the University, I'm also doing more development, which I'm not doing any of here. The University and Nutbourne complement each other to help me build a well-rounded skillset.


Where do you see yourself in three years time?

Three years from now I would like to get into web development. I'm quite ambitious and I have a lot of things planned for the future. For me, it's about becoming a dependable person, a reliable person. Whether that would mean becoming the CEO and starting my own company, like a web development startup or whatnot, I'm not sure. As of now, that's the sort of thing I want to do. I also understand that things can change over time, so I'm not set straight.

On the whole, I feel as though this experience is a good opportunity for me to learn and to head in the right direction. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.




Posted in Business, Staff, Team


Posted on 15/8/2019 by Tom Holmes

In our last post, we discussed the importance of dreaming big, how setting goals gave the company direction and what it means for the company to be heading toward a huge goal.

This week we pick up where we left off, with Nutbourne MD Marcus Evans alluding to where Nutbourne is heading and how it will give the company a major boost…

So what’s your BHAG?

It’s not common knowledge yet so I can’t share right now– but those who do know are excited by it. The goal we have is going to take this company to the next level and raise the bar on what we thought possible and achievable for the business. Within the next 5 to 7 years we are aiming to have achieved it and the company presentation on it will take place on Friday the 13th of September, an auspicious date I’ll think you’ll agree.

Sounds intriguing…

One of the exciting aspects is the energy we think this creates within the organisation. Someone said to me that when you stretch a rubber band it creates energy and the same applies to the people in your company – when you stretch them they become energised. I’m excited to see how we as a group of people respond to the challenge and how that develops the teams and the individuals within them, and what that looks like in turn for the company.

The idea that this is slightly out of reach is typical of Nutbourne to a certain degree, isn’t it?

Nutbourne has consistently punched above its weight and continues to. That’s taken us from plucky new kid on the block to consolidated player in the market. And I think to really grow – and I mean really grow – we have to channel some of that spirit into a goal, a vision that is beyond what we’ve ever thought possible.  We aren’t underdogs or plucky new kids on the block anymore, but we have strong spirit and determination and a commitment to doing things right – and those are the qualities I think you’re getting at.

They are indeed. So, do you think you’ll hit your goal?

Well, I wouldn’t have set it if I didn't think it was possible – so yes, absolutely. It’s not going to be easy, but I think we’ll do it – and I think the real reward will be the type of organisation we end up becoming whilst taking the journey.

Posted in Business, Business Strategy, Growth


Posted on 1/8/2019 by Tom Holmes

It’s important to dream big.  Big dreams equate to high achievement, which equates to high-levels of satisfaction – and ultimately to happiness. And while the latter isn’t strictly tied to growth and ambition, the success of companies and the people within them are. Otherwise, why would you be in business?

To that end, Nutbourne is embarking on its next phase of growth; its ambitions are grand in scale and size and the challenges ahead are hard. But, according to MD, Marcus Evans they’re exactly what the business needs, and more to the point they’re what will fuel the next iteration of the company. We sat down with Marcus to discuss the whys and wherefores of Nutbourne’s future.

Nutbourne’s never stood still, has it?

 No, it hasn’t, but in the last couple of years, it has trodden water to an extent. That’s not meant to sound negative; what I mean by that is that the strategy has been limited to me giving direction and people falling into line (or not). There hasn’t been huge consensus all of the time.

Now that there are six of us on the steering committee, we’ve taken the time to do vision pieces and to plan what we want to achieve over the next five years. We have set some audacious goals that we think we can achieve. It’s re-energised those that know about it and given the team is far more focus on what it’s trying to achieve.


You’ve taken inspiration from outside the organisation, haven’t you?

 To a certain degree, I have! I’m part of a Goldman Sachs peer group, which is made up of me and four other entrepreneurs. We’re all trying to grow our businesses, and the consensus among us has been to adopt a composite of the advice and models spoken about in the texts and business literature. So for example, we’ve (Nutbourne) taken a lot of cues from a book called Traction and from a book called Built to Last. That’s given us a framework to set what is commonly known as a Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG!

What’s one of those?

Ha! It’s exactly what it says on the tin! In all seriousness – and despite the odd name – a BHAG is quite serious stuff. It’s a framework that helps organisations to set a vision statement, which in turn designed to focus the whole company on a single medium to long term goal that is so big that it is likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible. It has the gulp factor – it’s a goal that we don’t know entirely how to achieve, but that we know we can if we foster the right mindset and a spirit of creativity and innovation. It’s exciting!

Keep an eye out next week for part 2 of the interview, in which Marcus discusses the goal (or does he?), the benefits it has for the company and people, and whether or not you need to be tall and beardy to have a BHAG (ok so we made the last bit up - it turns out you don't!)

Posted in Business, Business Strategy, Growth


Posted on 4.7.2019 by Tom Holmes

The Dispatch team at Nutbourne is something of a crack unit. While not exactly the A-Team – its methods are less explosive - its role in the organisation is none the less as vital to effective workflow as Face, Murdoch et al were to fighting crime.

The department was created as part of a wider restructure of Nutbourne’s helpdesk, aimed at prioritising work, expediting resolutions and reducing bottlenecks. The team takes initial calls from clients, gathers information and passes to the relevant engineer or technician to fix.

“The decision to restructure was motivated by the fact that when you have 8 analysts it all becomes a bit of a free for all as to who should answer the phone,” says MD Marcus Evans.

“The service desk manager realised that when we got to 10 this would just get worse, so he turned to the ITIL framework for a solution. This suggests a routing team, which is what Dispatch was on paper. In reality, they are so much more, sifting tickets, solving simple problems themselves and becoming a great training team for the analyst team above.”

On the ground, it’s made a major difference too. Workflow has improved drastically and efficiency has improved.  It’s also given the Dispatch team an opportunity to hone their technical skill and the opportunity to explore other parts of the business. Analyst Denis Zema –having cut his teeth on Dispatch - is a good example of that.

"The helpdesk team noticed the difference from day one,” says Denis, referring to the team as a whole and not just himself.  “The volume of calls they have to take has reduced, they can focus more on pressing matters and deal with what they do best – which is technical support.

“For me personally it was a brilliant introduction to the business. It’s given me a solid understanding of how things are done and by whom, and enabled me to take the next step in my career with Nutbourne as an Analyst.”

Posted in Business, Team, Structure


Posted on 19/6/2019 by Tom Holmes

It was the Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran who said: “if you love someone, let them go – for if they return they were always yours.”

It was with a heavy heart that we waved goodbye to Matt Mckay in late April for pastures new, and it was with loving and open arms that we welcomed him back a full 10 days later.

“I left. I had a leaving do, a new job to go, the lot,” says Matt. “I got a call from Marcus two days after leaving to see if I wanted to take a new role on the account management team. And I did. It was a no-brainer really.”

“Never before have Khalil Gibran's words felt so apt,” adds Nutbourne MD Marcus Evans. “Nor have they ever been segued under a headline referencing 90s rapper Mark Morrison. But nothing surprises me these days.

“But in all seriousness, we’re delighted to welcome Matt home. He’s a super guy and someone that is so invested in the company’s culture and ethos. It’s good to have him back on board.”

“Now where are my shades?”

* puts on shades, picks up mic*

“Return of the Mac, here it is,

Return of the Mac, come on,

Return of the Mac,

You know that I’d be back.”

Posted in People


Posted on 06/06/19 by Tom Holmes

We won’t lie, we look for a certain type of character at Nutbourne – and Ade Ajayi fits that bill.

When we sit down to talk, he has some wise words for me. Having taken a sabbatical from the middle of last year until he joined Nutbourne in April, he’s had a lot of time to reflect on his career, which by his own admission has been varied.

“I’ve worked in the post office, for the Melville Housing Trust and for a few other different companies. I’ve been a postman, field engineer and an IT guy. I’ve been very hands-on before moving into management and done some jobs I like and some not so much.

“It’s taught me that the only constant in life is change, and if you embrace that then you’re going to be prepared for challenges.”

The six-month sabbatical spent travelling to Cuba, Vegas, Nigeria and Kenya has done Ade a lot of good. He tells me he’s been working for 30 years straight, no break, no let up, and that the time abroad has allowed him to refine his focus, to relax and to reframe his career.

“I was 50 last year and I’m thinking I need to take stock of my life; you think back and you just take stock of your life and realise you’ve been working for what ... 30, 32 years now? It's just nice to relax, take some time off from this. Find myself.”

He finds himself now immersed in the world of MSPs, having worked predominantly in-house, in IT support. The small and agile nature of Nutbourne is different to the large organisations he’s worked for where autonomy and freedom were harder to come by. He’s used – to a certain degree at least – to keeping his counsel, but with Nutbourne he’s taking the floor a little more. Perhaps he’s coming out of his shell?

“I’m wicked to work with, the best” he jokes. “But seriously, the people here are a nice bunch, very honest and very open. It’s close-knit, which helps build trust and confidence, which is only a good thing.”

Ade reminds me again that he’s 50 (he does not look it, by any stretch), when I ask how he sees his career growing with Nutbourne. He remains open to the evolving nature of his work and to the evolution of the company offering more pearls of wisdom with his characteristic smile.

“Anything you do, you've got to do well. Even if you don't stay for 15 years, at least you're going to leave your mark,” he says. “And if you do stay for 15 years, yes you will have progressed, and there will be things you will have built on.

“For now though, I’m just embracing the change; it’s good and it’s welcome.”

Posted in SME, People, Team


Posted on 29/5/2019 by Tom Holmes

As your organisation grows, the types of challenges you face will change. When your business is at the 10 to 15-person mark your systems, process and structure are taking shape. You have the right people in the right places and things are moving along nicely. Beyond that – when you’re at 25 to 30 people - you start to experience issues with strength in depth, decision making and delegation – an issue Marcus Evans believes is resolved by having a strong senior management in place.

Why is senior management so important when you grow? Surely it’s no different to when you were smaller?

When you are at around 15 people you are lean and agile. You have a reasonable amount of flexibility in the company and most people are able to do a very good job. The big challenge you have is from around 25 people upwards. You find leaks in the organisation’s decision-making process, often provided by the people who, in the very early days, were amazing at what they did. This is because you tend not to have strength in depth at these levels, so naturally there are fewer people able to make genuine business decisions.

How do you address that? It’s hardly an overnight job is it?

You need a senior management team of people you can trust. You need a team that's got clear boundaries about how much power they have but also their own responsibility - what they can take charge of when you're around and when you’re not around. You need people who can make decisions on the ground so that if you're out at a client meeting they know what the priorities are and the most important decisions for the business.

So it’s a case of making a time investment and a financial investment?

You have to have a decent profit margin already coming in to the business if you're going to recruit additional people to do senior management roles -because otherwise what tends to happen is you end up with an inflated budget and you can't afford. Then you compromise on it, and then you end up with people who need too much guidance and aren't what you're looking for, or they're middle managers. You could also end up with people who take too much initiative, meaning they’re making decisions that they really shouldn't be, landing you in trouble.

So, getting the balance right at that level is an important consideration, isn’t it?

It is. You have to consider the existing culture, how you plan to transition that culture but also retain the company’s identity. You also have to balance experience, ideas and seniority. At Nutbourne we have a pretty good mix.

Our senior management has a representation of the length of time served at Nutbourne, that's Paul Grogan (Solutions Architect), me, Patrick Burgess (Co-founder) and Ross Jones. You've got the technical discipline, which is, at the moment, Patrick and Ade Ajayi because they used to run an infrastructure team and to a degree Alex and certainly Paul. So the balance of new, long-serving, technical and non-technical is healthy.

How much license do you give your senior management?

We meet to discuss everything from personnel, departmental structure, to business ethos, our vision and to how we move forward as a company. By empowering those guys within the meeting we empower them weekly and daily within the office. Because they know what's going on, if they need to make business decisions they're able to.

It’s critical that you are 100% clear where that line is drawn, and usually it's around commercial decisions, it's around NDAs, it's around business affecting things. Or high-level HR stuff, all of that stuff gets escalated.


To what extent is this the next iteration of the company?

This (process) is still very much a developmental zeitgeist, because we've got a couple of people who have only been on the steering committee for a few weeks.  We're trying to work out how it looks long-term. Luckily we have an archetype which we're working on, which is the previous steering committee, and that allows them to know how it should operate, albeit at a larger level.

 Overall, we've got good strength and depth across the business, with of all the various skills that you need to run an organisation.  I just make sure that we have a firm business direction, know what we're doing and that we're moving forward to the next level.

Posted in Business, Management, SME


Posted on 11.4.19 by Tom Holmes

Change is the forerunner to progress; you can’t after all expect to get different results from the same systems, processes and methods that have built your business. One that wishes to move from a small to a medium-sized enterprise not only has to talk the talk but walk the walk also.

“What Nutbourne has achieved is a major accomplishment,” says new service desk manager Alex Bartoletti. “Most MSPs and IT companies are really IT organised but can’t sell. Here they can really sell and the growth they’ve achieved in the last 5 years is testament to that.

“That in itself creates a challenge though. The company has gone from a small one that does everything in a Nutbourne way, with a set of core values, to a bigger one that needs to adapt and refine its processes and systems to meet the demands of that growth.”

It’s a challenge that Alex has been brought in to solve, and one that he’s relishing. He’s inherited an effective service desk, being worked by a range of smart and diverse people, that, long term, he hopes to empower through the use of a modular client management system.

“Right now we need to get the team to where they can deliver what’s required,” he says. “The next stage from that is making them autonomous, getting a service desk that can work itself and that knows where to get its information; for example, we know when a client’s going to come on we know that a certain set of things are going to happen and we know where to go to look for them.

“In order to achieve that we need to use a modular service approach, which we use as building blocks to address client needs. For example, we will know what the onboarding process will look like for certain types of client so could build a suite of services to suit them, and bolt additional services on in due course.

“Once you get the first couple right it's a case of adding blocks. When the company wants to add extra clients it’s a case of using the right blocks and building.

“This kind of approach ultimately gets us to the next stage of growth - which is moving away from the idea of just a break-fix organisation towards a managed service provider.”

Posted in Business, Business Strategy, SME


Posted on 28/3/2019 by Tom Holmes

Once you become part of the Nutbourne family, you never really leave – even if you do actually go on to seek gainful employment elsewhere, which some people obviously do!

On that note, we wanted to wish Matt Mckay all the best for his new venture over at a law firm, where he’ll be providing in-house support to the team of legal eagles that work there. Having spent exactly one year to the day at Nutbourne, Matt leaves having undergone an impressive learning curve, which he says has given him the confidence to pursue the next step in his career.

“When I began, I had virtually no experience. From the guys out there and the exposure I’ve had I feel like I’ve grown in skill, knowledge and understanding. The learning curve was steep and I’ve come a really long way in 12 months - and Nutbourne has contributed so much to that.

“This career path was a career change for me, so to be in this environment and to work in this way has proved invaluable. To have the confidence to move on and go back in house is a mark of how much I’ve changed in 12 months. If it wasn’t for Nutbourne, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

‘It’s great to see people develop and to take on the next challenge in their career,” said Managing Director Marcus Evans. “Of course we’re always sad to see people go, but just as happy to see them fulfil their potential.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with Matt and we wish him all the best in his new job – we’re all rooting for you buddy.”


I wrote this story three weeks ago and Matt is already back. He is now an Account Manager at Nutbourne having found it too difficult to leave and there being an opportunity to work back here. You couldn’t keep him away.

Posted in Personnel, Team


Posted on 19/3/2018 by Tom Holmes

Fabio Salis has a knack of being in the right place at the right time. Some would say it’s down to fortune, but in the case of Fabio, to say so would be unfair. You make your own luck after all.

By his own admission, Fabio has led a nomadic life. Born in Brazil and raised in Italy, he found himself in London almost 7 years ago in search of work. Having never really known what he wanted to do, he held a variety of jobs – electrician, barista, waiter, door-to-door salesman – none of which suited. He was on the verge of returning to Italy when he got his break in IT.

“I don’t know if it was luck, coincidence or whatever, but my housemate at the time had 20 years experience as an IT manager. He was working in a warehouse as an operative when they fired their IT manager and gave my housemate a shot at the job. He needed some help, so long story short, I interviewed and got my first job in IT, without any real experience.”

The lack of professional experience didn’t stand in his way. Having built his first PC at the age of 14 he was ‘ahead of the curve’ as a user and possessed advanced personal knowledge; his first job was about honing those skills to be applied professionally, an opportunity he seized.

“I worked that job for three years and then decided to take a sabbatical.  I was about to go back to Italy when I got a call from Nutbourne, out of the blue. They found my CV online and saw that I had the right experience and was living 10 minutes from the office. It was the perfect opportunity.”

Indeed it was. It’s almost 5 months into the job and Fabio is setting his sights on the next challenge with Nutbourne. Given his blend of life experience, affinity for computers and professional expertise you can see that his being here is less about luck and more about being a good fit. It’s highly likely he’ll succeed in his ambition.

“For me, it’s perfect, the opportunity, the exposure, the possibilities for my career growth and everything that comes with it really work for me. In my first job, I learn a lot of skills for the professional side of the job and I am refining those now; in this company, I don’t think I’m too far from 2nd line – my knowledge is increasing. I’m learning 10 times faster than I was, I want to get to 2nd line by the end of the year.

“Put it this way, I don’t plan to return to Italy any time soon.”    

Posted in SME, Business


Posted on 14/2/2019 by Tom Holmes

In business, as in life, there will always be more to do, more to accomplish, more goals to reach – which is why, according to Marcus Evans, it’s important to focus on the positives.

“What you have yet to accomplish shouldn’t detract from where you are and what you have achieved,” says Marcus. “It’s been a tough year for us because people have left and we’ve parted ways with a couple of clients.

“But we also won three awards, moved offices and increased our headcount - there’s a lot to celebrate and that’s what I like to highlight. There’s a tonne of stuff we’ve done, but it’s just difficult to remember sometimes.”

He applies the same thinking in a wider context too. Having conducted an analysis of Nutbourne’s competitors, Marcus found that the company wasn’t as profitable as its rivals. In isolation that fact could be seen as a negative; and while profit is important, it isn’t the sole measure of an organisation’s quality, as Marcus points out.

“If you take a holistic view of Nutbourne, then the difference in profitability isn’t as big an issue as it could be. We have slightly higher overheads because we’re based in London. But being 20 minutes from the City has allowed us to service clients quickly and effectively, meaning that we’ve grown rapidly.”

That, in turn, has allowed the company to fast track its technicians into senior positions, giving them greater exposure to a wider range of experience and helping to build their knowledge base. It means that the quality of personnel, overall, is higher, which has another significant knock-on effect.

“If you compare us to other companies, similar companies that were founded in 2001, we’re in a similar position to them now, but we were founded 10 years after them. We’ve grown incredibly quickly and are bigger than all of our competitors were at this stage in their life cycle.

“It’d be very easy to focus on our profitability and to worry about that. But from a 360 view, we are a very strong and robust organisation that is growing far quicker than its competitors.

“It’s why I always focus on the positives - it really does highlight how well you are doing.”

Posted in


Posted on 31/1/2019 by Tom Holmes

Leaving your comfort zone every once in a while is good for your soul and good for personal growth, which is something Nutbourne’s Kittie Story knows only too well.

Having swapped the world of theatre casting for the busy, fast-paced world of IT, she admits to being like the proverbial fish out of water when she joined as office manager in July.

But, six months on it’s a different story. “I was massively out of my comfort zone when I joined and there have definitely been challenges in that respect,” Kittie says. “It’s very different to what I have done, very fast paced and a new industry.

“It’s a learning experience and I’ve picked up so much in the last six months – probably more than in any other job I’ve had. I’m doing a bit of everything – contract management, recruitment and office management – it’s good fun.

“I feel like I’ve settled and really gotten to know the company. I’m not so far out of my comfort zone now!”

She adds that the culture of the organisation has helped her to settle and adjust to the new environment. Taking responsibility for the company’s social events helped her to understand Nutbourne’s ethos and to get to know her colleagues, and is part of her role that she relishes.

“As office manager I am responsible for the culture to a certain degree. Learning what people like and what they want to do – because it can’t always be about drink – is a fun challenge and it’s nice to be a part of building the company ethos and culture. It’s a really important part of what makes this place tick.”

The future holds more challenges too, and Kittie expects to be out of her comfort zone a lot more, which is something she’s looking forward to. Long term her aim is to put her own marker on things and to build on the processes and procedures that are already in place.

 “Nutbourne is expanding and my role will be expanding too. There’s so much more for me to do, to learn and to experience. I’m looking forward to seeing how the company develops, and to seeing how I develop with it!”

Posted in Business, personnel, personal growth


Posted on 10/01/2019 by Tom Holmes

The seamless and mutual growth of both employee and their department is a rare achievement in business, but it is one that Nutbourne and its Client Account Manager Ross Jones can boast.

Having joined the company in 2015 from a non-IT background, Ross initially shadowed Managing Director Marcus Evans on the commercial side of the business.

It was during this period that the need for a Client Account Manager became apparent; the role was created, and Ross hasn’t looked back. Since then he has gone from overseeing a handful of clients in 2015 to just over 60 at the end of 2018 - a shift which has seen him take on arguably the most diverse role in the company.

“My role has changed a lot in three years,” he says, ”but without me really noticing. I’ve become the watcher of everything. I have arguably the largest overview of the company. I oversee the majority of the clients and I have a range of clients and there are different challenges for each.”

Meeting those challenges has required Ross to adjust his approach based on each client’s needs. Some want greater levels of detail and formality, while others are more relaxed. He believes that’s what has helped him to develop.

“One of my strengths is that I’m able to talk to anyone, at any level and I adjust my approach accordingly. Some meetings are informal and some are much more formal, but you have to adjust and also think quickly on your feet to deal with situations, which is something I’ve gotten better at.

“I’ve learnt a lot of the technical aspects of IT as well, which wasn’t easy. I spend a lot of time listening to the guys and learning bits. You start at zero and build your credibility up and go from there.”

As Nutbourne continues to grow, so too will Ross’s role. He expects that in the next year or two another client manager will need to join the company to assist with the growing client roster. His remit and outlook will also evolve to meet the business’s demands.

“We need to bring all client stakeholders from our company together to ensure we’re delivering a unified approach and to ensure we’re delivering value. Having that one voice is critical - to an extent, I am the voice of the company to our clients.

 “We need to make sure that what we’re saying is connected and aligned to deliver an impeccable service. We’re always aiming to improve in that respect because we want to give more value. We need to always show lots of value, as much as we can.”

Posted in Business, Client relations, Customer relations, Growth


Posted on 13/12/2018 by Tom Holmes

Nutbourne has been certified under the Cyber Essentials initiative, the government-backed scheme that encourages SMEs to take on the same security practices found at enterprise level. The certification, which demonstrates a company’s commitment to cyber security, is designed to offer enhanced protection in an frequently evolving cyber environment.

“Cyber Essentials has a tonne of benefits, especially with everything changing and evolving and attacks being targeted toward small and medium sized enterprises,” says Nutbourne’s Dan Gregory, who oversaw the self-assessment process. 

“Attackers know that SMEs might not have enterprise level security but will hold almost identical data – as such they’re easier to target. Cyber Essentials gets you thinking about your procedures and policies, which is something that a lot of organisations take for granted. Overall it’s been a good process – it gives us reassurance that our systems and data are protected and it shows our clients that we’re protecting their data too.”

Although Cyber Essentials isn’t legislation, it is considered a good step toward GDPR, which is legislated. In the event of a breach, those that are certified under Cyber Essentials can prove there are parameters in place to protect data. To that end, Nutbourne is recommending that its clients go through the process

“If you have Cyber Essentials it's proof you’re taking security seriously,” Dan added. “We will roll this out as a service to our clients in the future because we believe it is an excellent foundation for building a robust cyber security platform.

“It is simple, but very effective and will prevent many of the most common attacks that we see.”

Posted in Security, Cybersecurity, Cyber Essentials, Cyber Security


Posted on 4/12/2018 by Tom Holmes

“How has the company changed since I started?” asks Louise Taylor, reflecting on her two years with Nutbourne. “There are the obvious things like size and location, and then there are the less obvious things like the level of maturity it has reached. Looking back it’s really grown into itself, it’s really come of age.”

Louise has played an important role in that coming of age. She’s overseen the introduction of systems and processes that underpin the company’s growth, improved rigour across the board and been responsible for recruiting some of the organisation’s key players. Her contribution, by her own admission, is not as instantly recognisable as those on the front line solving tickets - but it is no less important.

“The processes, procedures and systems are what you would expect from a company of this size; when I joined, aspects of those processes, procedures and systems were missing or not as well refined as they could have been. We were doing things right, we were just not as stringent as we could have been. But that’s down to the fact that we are now bigger, and we have to look under the skin of the organisation. I’ve tried to rectify much of that.”

She adds that the organisation is now more people focused and that the diversity in the company means that teams actually integrate far better; she thinks that is helped in part by the presence of a core group of people who have been with Nutbourne from the start and in part by the fact the company is primed for growth.

“It’s grown so quickly that it’s unrecognisable. Yet at the core, you still have Marcus, Pat, Paul, Awais, Qasim, Ross and Sam who have all been here a long time - and that applies to a good proportion of the clients too. A lot of those are original. And then you have the systems, processes and procedures that are all new. But these are scalable now. We have physical room for people and the system we can grow into. Everything can be grown into now instead of about to be grown out of.”

As Louise prepares to leave Nutbourne and fulfil her dream of emigrating to New Zealand, she’s frank in her assessment of the company’s achievements. “Do I think it has changed for the better?” she asks. “Yes definitely. What we are doing and how we are doing it is better.

“We are better and bigger players in the market for sure.”

Posted in Business, Business Growth, Business strategy, SME


Posted on 7/11/2018 by Tom Holmes

The most sustainable approach to business growth is to develop your own talent and to hire from within. But as Sir Alex Ferguson knew with the class of ’92 if David Beckham et al were to progress and challenge for honours, he’d need to add some outside skill and experience. Enter Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona.

The same applies in business too. Nutbourne has an exceptional track record for developing and retaining staff from apprentices upwards. But as the company moves into a new phase of growth, it requires additional knowledge and expertise from outside the organisation.

“You need to complement what you have internally with talent externally,” says Nutburne’s Marcus Evans. “You can’t expose people to situations that the company hasn’t been in yet; the only way you can get to the next step is to bring someone in that knows how to get there. Otherwise, you’re just fiddling around in the dark – if you have someone that has a roadmap of how to do it, it saves time and money.”

A case in point is Nutbourne’s recently hired Service Desk Manager. The company wanted someone of high calibre and to raise the standard of person they were recruiting for the role. With that came additional experience, knowledge and the ability to focus on improving and optimising standards and processes through extra rigour.

“It became clear that during the interview process that we were getting very professional people; people that were secure in their tenure, they’d worked for bigger organisations and they had a certain gravitas,” adds Marcus.

“The candidate we hired is coming in at the top table and will help to shape the company, which is very exciting – it’s why we were looking for someone with more experience and who has worked with bigger companies and knows how they run so that they can bring that to the table.”

"There is a second reason to blend internal excellence with new skills too. Sometimes we get comfortable in how we work, complacent in our systems. Someone new can be a breath of fresh air, bringing in new ways of doing things, new ideas. This combines with helping us work out what's ahead and just bolsters the team in getting to where we are going quicker and more effectively."

Posted in Business, Personnel, Strategy


Posted on 31/10/2018 by Tom Holmes

It’s inevitable that you will lose clients at some point on your business journey – and in more than one way – but what matters most is how you prepare for that loss.

Having a clear plan for dealing with the loss of a client is sound business practice because it reduces the risk on the business and ensures the company can operate despite the loss of revenue.

“In the last six months, we’ve lost four clients because they’ve gone out of business,” says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans. “We think that’s down to a softening and uncertainty in the market – but it’s something we’re prepared for.

“We’ve always ensured that there’s enough money in the bank to pay our debts and we’ve always ensured that our revenue is spread fairly evenly across a number of clients, at least since we became a grown-up business.

“In instances where a single client accounts for 20% or more of your revenue, there’s a big risk – few companies could survive the loss of a client that size.”

Nutbourne’s decision to sever ties with its second largest client is a case in point. The loss in revenue has been managed effectively and carefully, allowing the company to maintain its focus on growth and development of the business strategy.

“Business relationships that aren’t working for either party can be problematic for the service provider,” says Marcus, “particularly if you’re bound to them or overly reliant on that revenue stream.

“In our case the relationship was amicable but we weren’t suited to the client's demands and industry. The decision to sever ties meant we could free resource and focus on other clients and new prospects.

“Having the flexibility to do that is valuable. What could have been disastrous was in fact just a bump in the road.”

Posted in Business, business strategy, strategy, SME


Posted on 07/10/2018 by Tom Holmes

Nutbourne has been shortlisted in the Rising Star category at the CRN Channel Awards which celebrate technological innovations and advancements, and recognise the ingenuity and exceptional achievements of the UK channel industry.

The company was shortlisted in the same category in 2016 but didn’t win; for Managing Director Marcus Evans, the awards will be a good barometer of how far the company has come.

“It’s nice to benchmark ourselves against the industry and the competition. There are some very big companies entering – the last time we were there some of the winners included, Microsoft, Dell and Oracle. It’s tough competition and will mark a real step up for us if we win.”

Having won in three categories at the Archant Thames Gateway Business Awards, Marcus is keen to add another gong this year, in part for the prestige but also to recognise and honour the hard work of the company’s staff.

“I’d really like to win. Of course it’s nice to have the awards because people reference them and they’re recognition of the company’s service. But it’s even nicer to have them because they’re recognition for our team and they’re something we can share in as a group.”

The CRN Channel Awards take place on November 15 at the Battersea Park Events Arena. For more information visit

Posted in Awards, SME, Business


Posted on 13/9/2018 by Tom Holmes

Healthy competition is good for the workplace as is socialising – so combining the two on a recent night out at the local bowling alley was a win-win for the staff at Nutbourne. Teams lead by Managing Director Marcus Evans, Technical Director Pat Burgess and IT Solutions Architect Paul Grogan faced off. It was quite the match.

“My team won by four points,” said all-star bowler Marcus Evans, who’s personal score of 150 squeezed Pat’s team into second place. Not that he’s competitive of course. “Pat was second and if he’d personally scored a few more points his team might have won. Paul’s team lost – the less said about that the better,” he added, tongue firmly in cheek.

Bragging rights aside, there’s an important aspect to socialising outside of work, and it’s a part of the company culture the management team has worked hard to cultivate.

 “We try and have a number of events each year and have just started to put a calendar together for the year ahead, to make sure as many people can come as possible,” Marcus said.

“Events are really important for any company. The bonding over shared activities outside of work reaps benefits in the office and helps to create a team spirit. They also allow us to enjoy our lunch more, surrounded by people we know.

 “It also helps Pat to practice at other sports,” Marcus concluded - tongue again firmly in cheek.

Posted in Team, Culture, Social


Posted on 22/08/2018 by Tom Holmes

Awais Ahmed admits to being unfazed by the rigours of management because, he says, it’s all a matter of setting an example and earning people’s trust.

“Since day one I have assumed responsibility and I think I have people’s respect because I go about leading in a respectful way. That’s one thing that has helped me. I get on well with my team and we have a good bond and a strong respect and trust for each other.”

He joined the company in 2014 as a first line support technician, and quickly set about making improvements to processes and procedures. He’d complete his work and then take on additional tasks, such as writing system guides for his colleagues to use. It became apparent that he was destined for a leadership role.

“I wanted people to work similarly to me,” Awais explains,  “but in a way that suited them; you have to cater for each individual because there is no way they are going to learn the same way as you.

“That’s what I started doing, I wanted people to have the same mindset as me. When that started happening it became apparent that I was team-leading the desk anyway, so they gave me the role as help-desk manager.”

He adds that the transition was made simpler because of the training he received. Senior management would feed him information and scenarios then encourage him to think the problem through and find a solution. It’s given Awais the confidence to lead the team and to deal with the broad range of personalities within the team he manages.

“I am a much better manager for it. I’m able to step back and to put processes in place and to do training. My training has taught me that people have to be managed differently, because no two people respond the same way. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

“You can tell someone they have to improve; but if they don’t take that information on well they may become defensive – recognising that helps them and helps us.”

In the next year, the growth of the organisation is very much on Awais’s agenda. He recognises the support and opportunity he has received and is keen to replicate that with his team. Once his focus has moved from process and procedure it will very much be on organic growth.

“In the next year I need to put more processes and procedures in place that will guide our teams; it helps to direct the training we need to do. Once that’s done we’ll start to push the client base. Rather than hiring externally, we want to get more clients, get more money and budget that will enable to upskill and promote internally.

“As for myself, I am always keen to grow with the company. I am never going to shy away from responsibility. I like challenges they keep me motivated – so it will be more of the same!”  

Posted in Business, Leadership, SME


Posted on 01/08/2018 by Tom Holmes, Freelance writer and friend of the Nutbourne Family

Having spent the majority of his working career in retail, Matthew McKay is happy to concede that joining Nutbourne has been a bit of a culture shock. After working for almost 10 years on the shop floor at John Lewis, Matt’s love of tech saw him take a position in the company’s IT department where he spent a further two years managing user accounts and looking after shop floor machinery. He joined Nutbourne in March 2018 to further his knowledge in the field – and has been taken aback by how different things are.

“When I arrived here I realised what a world of difference there was between the two places,” he says. “I didn’t think it was going to be as different as it was – but that’s what has pleased me. It’s been good to change environments, move my career on and learn so much. 

“The role here interested me, and I was impressed with the way the company was run. It made me feel good and I felt like it was a place I could work. I’m really enjoying it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s something I needed to do.”

He adds that getting to grips with new technical challenges has been testing, but in truth, that’s what he was looking for. The opportunity to work as part of smaller team, where you are more accountable but more likely to learn because of it, was too good to miss. In the time since he’s arrived, he’s grown more than he thought possible.

“My learning curve has been huge. I’ve joined with no IT experience to an extent, because of the difference between what I do here and what I was doing at John Lewis. It’s been hard but I’ve really enjoyed.

“As I’ve gone on through the weeks I’ve realised that I am happy with where I am – I’m looking up and looking forward to progressing. The guys have been amazing and the support has been fantastic.

“The company is growing and I hope to do the same with them. I’m a trainee support analyst, from there I hope to progress to first line support, second line support and beyond – there’s room to do that in this company, and that’s what’s appealing about it. I don’t want to come to work, do my job and go home again – I want to come to work and work towards something.” 

Posted in Business, SME, Team, Growth


Posted on 12/7/2018 by Tom Holmes

Nutbourne’s Elliott Fields professes to having a standard background in IT, though his modesty is betrayed by his enthusiasm and love for learning. It is, after all, how he came to work at Nutbourne.

“I had been contracting for a few years but felt that my career wasn’t progressing in the way I’d like,” he says. “I wanted to develop my skill set, to work on new projects and in areas that I’m interested in.

“I’m glad I made the decision to move. I want to fill the knowledge gaps I have here. My desire to learn wasn’t easily supported in my previous companies. Since joining Nutbourne, I’ve been able to work directly with people like Patrick (Nutbourne’s Technical Director) and learn. That exposure is invaluable.”

The role Elliott has now supports his love of learning. He says that the company’s ethos and culture are noticeably different to other IT companies he’s worked for. Management has technical knowledge, there’s a lot of on the job learning and the flexibility to take on new projects. The standards are higher too, he adds.

“In the 10 months I’ve worked for Nutbourne, I’ve learnt a lot, and there’s always more you can know, more you can understand. I feel a lot more confident now.

“Our first line support team here is a very high standard and are as knowledgeable at the second line elsewhere. We operate at a higher level. That aspect of the company applies across the board and really helps you to learn and to do your job well. You have the access and support here, which is invaluable.”

Posted in Business, SME, Growth, Development


Posted on 28.6.2018 by Tom Holmes

Apprenticeships offer tremendous value to any organisation, helping to grow the business with young, motivated employees who are keen to learn and develop their careers. In Sam Green, Nutbourne has a shining example of what an apprenticeship brings to an organisation. Having joined the company at 16 as a support technician, he’s helped Nutbourne to grow, while at the same progressing his career. Now 19, and with three promotions under his belt, he puts his progress down to two factors.

“When Nutbourne was smaller, there was scope to work with nearly everyone – and you still do to a certain degree,” he says. “When you are exposed to so much knowledge you pick up a lot; I do not doubt that if I were elsewhere, I would not have as much knowledge or made as much progress as I have.

“The way the company works encourages learning too. Rather than just passing a problem up to the second line, you are encouraged to sit with your seniors and learn how they solve it (if you have time) or, once the problem is solved, ask them to explain how they did so. This approach makes you better at your job. You can deal with problems efficiently and effectively.”

The freedom to figure problems out, he adds, is in the fabric of the company. When he was promoted to the second line support desk, Sam was partnered with senior technicians and given the support to work on higher -level problems. In a busy environment that emphasises quality and quantity, it’s an approach that elicits fast learning and adaptation. It’s not been lost on Sam.

“The culture has helped my professional growth. I haven’t been afraid to go and ask questions because it never felt like a problem to go and talk to someone; that gives you confidence. It helps that the leadership team is visible and honest. We always know where the company is heading and, just as importantly, that there is scope to develop (in your career).”

Sam’s is a genuine success story, predicated on hard work and a supportive environment. It’s fitting that both company and individual have progressed so much in such a short space of time. Asked how much he saw his own growth reflected in the company, Sam is effusive, reaffirming the value of the apprenticeship to himself and to Nutbourne.

“I’ve seen the company grow massively. When I started, Marcus and Pat said it was a growing company – and that’s what you expect and want to hear. But when you arrive and see that new clients and staff are coming on, you know it’s true.

“It feels as though I couldn’t have chosen a better company to start with.”

Posted in Business, business strategy, SME


Posted on 5/6/2018 by Tom Holmes

If you’re willing to work for it, there’s always an opportunity to take yourself to the next level at work; rarely does an individual truly outgrow an organisation. A fine example of that is Nutbourne’s Sheraz Hussain, who joined the company in 2013 when it was four people and a ping-pong table. Steadily, he’s worked his way from second line support to managing a team of on-site engineers. His progress has run parallel with Nutbourne’s, which is something he’s enthused by.

 “I’ve seen a lot of growth here and it's been interesting. As an employee, you never want to see the company you are working for stand still and that’s why I like it here. The management team don’t rest on their laurels and there’s always an opportunity to test yourself.” And test himself he has.

As the company has grown, Sheraz has assumed responsibility, guiding new recruits and helping to develop junior members of staff, transitioning to his current managerial position. It’s been a  challenging role that he says has moved him out of his comfort zone.

“I like a challenge and this has certainly been one,” he says. “Managing a team is a different skillset, it’s not something I am used to. It’s challenged me in different ways. When you work alongside someone you can be quite laid back. As their manager, you have to be a little firmer, and make sure things are carried out correctly and efficiently. That was hard for me to get used to. It’s been a learning curve but I’m adjusting.”

Sheraz is something of a rarity. In an age where job-hopping is the norm, he’s humble and blessed with a tacit understanding of where his attitude has taken him. He appreciates that his respect for the company has fostered his own growth, and he clearly sees Nutbourne as more than just a job.

“As the company grows there will be more opportunities for me and for others to take more responsibility. The senior management is really hands-on and will continue to be that way and to push the company.

“I’m invested in Nutbourne because I’ve seen it grow; seeing the company grow as an employee with the right people is uplifting. We’re all quite young and we’re all really enjoying this experience, and that reflects the togetherness that we’ve always had here.”

Posted in Business, Business Strategy, Growth, Personnel, Team


Posted on 23/5/2018 by Tom Holmes

In business, style and substance are important. You can get by with the latter but having the former is what sets you apart. It’s a fact not lost on Nutbourne’s Danuta Lace. “Most IT support companies can fix your problems, “she says. “What counts is how you go about fixing those problems.”

Danuta’s is a rare blend of skills. An IT hobbyist turned pro, she spent the first part of her career working as a customer service exec in the hospitality sector, before making the leap into IT support.  It’s the ideal scenario for someone that’s as good with people and as she is with machines.

“You have to remember that the person on the other end of that phone is just that: a person. Sometimes they’re anxious or worried or panicking. My first task is always to reassure them. Once you establish that connection, it’s easier to fix their problem and in that respect, it’s a very rewarding job. It’s great to be in a position to help people.”

For technically-minded people, it can be difficult to balance the technical and customer service aspects of IT support, a fact that Danuta acknowledges.

“It’s not easy for some. I’ve met people who are technically great and can fix whatever is thrown at them, but they can’t speak with you on the phone, or even in person.

“So, in my opinion, what matters most about what we do is the tone and the manner in which we talk to people. Reading the way they react, and adjusting accordingly.

 “Fixing problems is one thing, but doing so in a way that makes the customer feel good is what makes us different.”

Posted in Business, Customer Service, Team


Posted on 9/5/2018 by Tom Holmes

When you’re running a business, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Lost in the daily running of the organisation, it’s hard to keep an eye on the bigger picture and to analyse the minutiae of the systems and processes that keep the company ticking over. It’s where someone like Louise Taylor comes in.

“The team is very busy with technical aspects of the job. I’m not, so I see the broader aspects of the systems and processes that are in place. I can see where things are working well and where they could be improved. I take care of the small but crucial aspects of the business – the 1%’s that add up over time.”

Since taking over what she calls a ‘soft policing’ of Nutbourne’s ticketing system, Louise has made improvements to response times, the way problems are flagged and monitored, and the tone of the conversation between the support desk and the client; it’s improved efficiency across the board.

“I can see those problems and the value in the fixes,” she says. “What I’m good at is systems and processes. I see gaps and want to plug them, I see inefficiencies that I want to fix – and that’s why I don’t mind pointing out things that are going wrong or ways in which certain processes are handled.”

The incremental improvements over time have a double-edged value in that they’re a means for improvement and also a preventative measure. Over time these stack up to form a robust organisation that can grow and improve in the ways it wants to. But is there ever an end?

“I don't stop!” Louise adds. “There are things that always need to be improved and refined, and as the company grows that’s going to increase. It’s important and I think necessary to carry out this work.

“I’m someone that gets things done, and I guess you need someone like me in every organisation.”

Posted in SME, Business, Business Strategy, Growth


Posted on 30/04/2018 by Tom Holmes

Planning an office move in the middle of a huge sales drive is never going to be ideal, but then few things are in life or business according to Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans. What matters, he says, is how you deal with them.

“You have to see the opportunities in these things,” Marcus says. “Sometimes the situation works out better for you in the long run, and in ways you hadn’t expected.”

For context, in September last year, the landlord at Nutbourne’s previous office in Stratford activated a break-clause, which meant the company would have to vacate the premises by March.

“At that point, it was plain sailing. We knew where our office was, we knew where we wanted the business to be, we had the staff in place and the sales push ready to rock and then suddenly an office move for 30 people lands in our laps – which is difficult to sort. So really what this proves is that you can never really plan for what’s going to happen in business.”

Six months on and Nutbourne has moved offices. They now occupy a single floor, with room to grow, are paying less in rent and are only a mile or so from the previous office. A few opportunities have sweetened the move too.

“It would have been very easy to complain about our lot,” Marcus adds. “We had to move 30 people and spend £18k on an office fit out. But, we saw this as a chance to move the company on.

“The landlord here sells office products and large print devices – we’ve recommended them to a couple of our clients and they’ve recommended us to some of the clients they have – and we’ve quoted for their IT support. But there’s a bigger picture.

“Now that we are in 3,200 sq ft this is serious for us; we don’t anticipate that we’re going to increase the headcount, but there is room for another 10. We’re going to consolidate the growth, improve everyone’s skills and sell like demons because we can now deliver – we can bolt on another 10 clients and we’d be fine with the existing staff.

“This is where the new pyramid base is for us – and we’re building from here, from this new office. This is where we begin to make the transition from medium to large, which is a far longer and more iterative process.

“It’s always worth keeping in mind that when one door closers another opens. There’s always something to be made from every situation.”    

Posted in


Posted on 20/3/2018 by Tom Holmes

Companies are a lot like pyramids: they need a firm base if they’re not going to crumble. And while Egyptian monoliths rely on stone and gravel to touch the clouds, companies rely on an altogether different supporting structure: finance. Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans offers the following insight on why it’s so important for SMEs to build from the ground up.

Growth depends on your model: When you start your organisation, you need a small financial base to support it. As you grow, the base needs to be bigger. You need to invest in staff, pay creditors, rent and various taxes.

“Your ability to grow is informed by your business model,” Marcus says. “Do you retain profit in the organisation or do you spend it? Do you have repeat monthly income? Are you investing profit in the short term so that you can grow in the medium to long term? These are important questions for SMEs.”

Growth isn’t always linear: “It’s never the case that year-on-year we get 30 to 40% profit,” Marcus says. “You get periods of consolidation, then an uptick, followed by small growth and then more consolidation. This happens when you retain profit, use it to build the infrastructure – staff, systems etc – that allows you to take on more clients which eventually leads to profit before the cycle begins again.

“Having retained profit has helped Nutbourne tremendously. One year we went from £300k turnover to £750k. The following year, that was £900k, and the year after it was £1m. The following year it jumped to 1.8m. So the growth wasn’t huge in the middle three years, – but it was consistent. We consolidated, and built and invested where we had to. When the time comes, we are prepared for another big leap in growth.”

Cash flow is the absolute king: We’ve spoken a lot about the importance of cash flow to SMEs. Without good cash flow, your business is at risk of going bust. Again, Marcus says, your business model dictates your cash flow.

“You need a solid financial base to deal with outgoings. Depending on the business model, that could be up to six months salary. If you have a model that has a reoccurring revenue stream, it makes life easier. To start with, you can plan. You need to know what’s coming in, what costs you’re going to incur and where you can invest to allow for growth.”

Like building a pyramid, running a successful business is hard (ok, we’ve never built a pyramid, but it looks hard). But if you’ve got a rock-solid base, and a solid platform for growth, the sky really is the limit!

Posted in Business


Posted on 12/3/2018 by Tom

The most rewarding part of any job is the people you work with, especially if you’re an employer. Creating an environment that supports the growth of the individuals and the company is the perfect scenario for SME owners and one that Nutbourne has fostered.

In the last 12 months, the company has grown. More clients have come aboard, revenue has increased, and the number of staff employed has risen too. There’s also been an increase in responsibility for the second line management, a team of four that take charge of core business units. These sit under the steering team of four, and mean Nutbourne has eight leaders on the ground. It’s a step that has given Nutbourne a new dynamic, says Marcus Evans.

“We’ve empowered the account, operations, onsite and the service desk manager. In each of their roles, they have responsibility for their desk. It means when senior management is off, decisions are made, and the company runs much more smoothly.

“It’s allowed us to be more flexible and it means that daily decisions are made and taken at the appropriate levels. It gives people at that level responsibility and an opportunity to grow.”

The company runs far more smoothly now, Marcus says. There’s a strength in depth at the organisation and agility that come from a liberated decision-making process. Operations are streamlined, while service and delivery bottlenecks are almost non-existent. Of course, the most significant benefit is a strong and empowered workforce.

 “Within the company, we have a formidable set of skills, which allows us to make decisions and to learn as we go,” Marcus adds. “As the company grows, this structure and policy allows our staff to take on more responsibility if they want it.


“We employ 27 people. When we reach 40, the second line management will need support, so tertiary management roles open up. This gives some management experience to those in technical roles without taking the focus away from their primary function.


“Recruitment has been pivotal to this process. It has allowed us to reach our current position.  It means our succession planning is much more robust, for management and the technically minded people. The structure we’ve put in place helps us to identify each individual’s needs. We can concentrate on the growth of everyone in our organisation.


“It’s very much about having the right people in the right place.”



Posted in


Posted on 26/2/2018 by Tom Holmes

‘Take care when crossing the road’ isn’t advice many companies feel compelled to offer their staff. But in 2015 it was on Marcus Evan’s mind, and with good reason.

 “Our bus number – which is the number of people who can be hit by a bus before your company can’t operate – was one in most departments. It meant everyone had to be careful crossing roads.”

The point serves to highlight the relative health of the company. It was making money, winning new business and heading for another profitable year. But Marcus says, elements of the structure were missing, which made the company vulnerable.

“We knew we needed more people. Everyone was working hard and the company was making a profit – but how did we push it to the next level? Every year we’d added £150,000 of recurring revenue for the support department, but were bolting on less for salary. In 2016, we added another £300k of salary by recruiting people into every department – we had to do that to be able to cope.’

Nutbourne is now in a far stronger position and only the projects department has a bus number of one. It makes the company far more robust and flexible. They’re better able to cope with absence and to deal with new business.

“All the salaries and structure are in place – so if we brought another £8k of monthly revenue in on the support desk, that equates to another senior analyst and a junior engineer we need to employ. Our systems and processes are well established to support that.

 “In three years we have gone from being a company that made business decisions on intuition, to making them on sound fiscal projections. We’ll eventually have a bus number of two or three in the projects department, which gives us the robustness of a medium organisation, allowing us to grow as we need to without having to cross check our processes and systems.

"We have introduced second phase managers that help to run the company and rising stars in each department that also take responsibility. We are in good health. We have another year until we are at a level where we can start to think about taking the steps to become a large organisation.

“In the meantime, we continue to advocate taking care when crossing roads.”    

Posted in Business


Posted on 31/1/2018 by Tom Holmes

How do you stand out from the crowd?

In the last article, we spoke about the importance of product. Now, unless you’re bringing to market a new, never before seen product, you need to know how to differentiate yourself from the competition.

“You have two strong options,” says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans. “You either differentiate yourself on price or you differentiate yourself on a feature. The option you choose depends on your market, how competitive it is and the need your product fulfils. Price can be tricky to get right, whereas feature gives you a strong identity.”

When Nutbourne began trading in the densely populated IT support market, the company chose to differentiate itself on how the service was delivered. Broadly speaking, there isn’t much difference between what IT support can do, but there are many ways it can be delivered.

“We differentiate ourselves in the IT support market with the account management and friendly customer feel, and initially by being the punchy new company that has a personal touch,” Marcus says.

“We use jargon-free language on the phone, focus strongly on developing relationships and building trust. We do this very deliberately so that we’re not another break and fix, faceless IT company.”

As your organisation grows, you will have to re-examine how you differentiate yourself from the market, Marcus advises. For example, as Nutbourne has increased in size, it has become harder to maintain the small, punchy, new kid on the block stance, he says. Through constant self-assessment though, the company has tweaked its approach to suit its position, while retaining its original ethos.

“We’ve carried out a lot of analysis. We know that with the smaller companies we work with, we still need to be communicative and relationship-led. As we’ve started to work with medium and large companies our approach has changed. We’re coming up against professional organisations for that work, ones that have all the documentation right, systems and software in place, accreditations, and a message that matches the large company ethos.

“If you want to enter that arena you need to put all of those things in place while still being unique.”

Marcus adds that it has been an iterative process and one that has improved at each stage. He believes it is wholly necessary to support the company’s growth.

“A large company doesn’t want to entrust itself to a company that’s only been around for a year; it’s a gamble. When you’re a larger company you need to know the service meets the needs of your business, it employs people of a certain level – and that is different from when we started the business.

“Firstly your barrier is being likeable, then it’s being professional, and then it’s differentiated on features. What can you provide to a business of 1,000 people? What assurances can you give them? They take it as a given that you’re professional and that your guys are likeable and competent – but what is it you do differently? If you can demonstrate that, then your business will fly.”    

Posted in Business


Posted on 24/1/2018 by Tom Holmes

When you start life as a business, there are numerous challenges. But, says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans, the most common one he sees is to do with the product or service a company is selling.

“You tend to get two types of people starting new companies. Either they have a brilliant product but don’t know how to market it, or you get the type that is great at sales, marketing and pushing it, but who has a lousy product.

“Bridging the gap takes a lot of experience. But, if you know the product well enough, you can do most of the work yourself.”

 Here’s what Marcus suggests…

 Know the landscape:

 Broadly speaking, your product or service will fall into one of two areas:

 1 - The product or service isn’t revolutionary

You enter an established market that has tried and tested products. In this instance, your customers know what you are selling and will need little education.

 2 -  You develop a product or service that has no existing market… yet

“It’s hard to make a market from scratch,” Marcus says. “Tablets are the best example of this most recently, though they were able to piggyback on mobile phones and laptops. People understood the process of a tablet, even if they didn’t need one before.”

If you come up with a new product that requires educating the target market before you can sell, that’s a further challenge. It does, however, allow you to be the unicorn company that everyone wants to have – i.e. it grows exponentially and is valued far more than what it’s ever achieved.

Be specific:

“Your product or service has to be clearly defined. If you can’t get across to someone what you’re selling, why would they buy it?” Marcus adds.

“This is true of both scenarios outlined above. If you are in a crowded marketplace, you will need to differentiate your product, most likely on feature or price. If you are in a new market, your customers will need educating about the type of product and what need it fulfils.”

Define what you are selling on too. Is it features, quality of service or price?

Be flexible but be cautious too:

A lot of companies start life by selling one product and then move on to sell another. In fact, this is true of around 30% of companies.

This often occurs because an opportunity presents itself or because the company fails to initially establish a profitable revenue stream before finding what works – think Apple in the late 90s before Steve Jobs returned.

While this approach has worked for the likes of Nintendo, Google and PayPal, Marcus urges caution. “Diversifying too much means you have no apparent hook into the market.  People will then see you as jack-of-all-trades and question what you do well.

“This is why point two is so important. You need to be able to define your product or service and get it across to people to be able to fulfil that need that they have – which they hopefully know that they have.

“If you know your core offering, then you are half way to being able to sell it.”    

Posted in Business


Posted on 8/11/2017 by Tom Holmes

Marcus Evans praised the Nutbourne team after the company was a winner in three categories at the Archant Thames Gateway Business Awards.

The awards - which are contested by entrepreneurs and companies from Essex, Kent and East London -  saw Nutbourne recognised as the Small Business of the Year and Employer of the Year, as well as the prestigious Company of the Year.

Speaking after the event, Marcus said: “All of what we do is possible because of the brilliant team we have; all our success and achievements are down to them and their hard work, and these awards are recognition for that.

“When the company was established we wanted to be successful, to meet high standards and to provide an excellent service. We wanted it to be a place where people could thrive, be empowered and enjoy working.

“We feel like we’re achieving that, and so to receive the awards for Employer of the Year and Small Business of the Year is recognition for all the things we’re doing right, which makes us very proud.”

Further recognition of Nutbourne’s success came with the Company of the Year Award, an award chosen by judges from all the winning entries. It highlights a company that has excelled in all areas of business and has shown innovation within its field over the last 12 months.

“We are honoured and humbled to be handpicked by the judges, especially from a group of such excellent and worthy winners,” Marcus said.

“Nutbourne has grown significantly and steadily over the last five years and will continue to do so – to be recognised as Company of the Year during that time will be a milestone on the journey.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved for all their hard work in getting us where we are today.”

Posted in Awards, Business


Posted on 26/10/2017 by Tom Holmes

If Simon Cowell knows how to do one thing well, it’s how to spot and harness talent among a gaggle of hopefuls and pretenders. Steve Brookstein and Matt Cardle aside, Cowell’s knack for spotting talent is one all SME owners should develop.

Now while we can’t tell you how to make millions like the aforementioned music mogul, we can advise you on how to spot a diamond in the rough and the steps you can take to polish it. Thankfully you don’t have to wear your jeans around your ears to do so. Marcus Evans explains:

“There’s a perceived gulf in ability between our second line and the second lines in other companies, with our guys being very good at what they do.  It’s quite tricky to get over, and this is part of finding the right talent because you have to find someone who can move up a level, but who also doesn’t mind proving themselves.

“When the new guys come in you can train them to do anything. But when you have a second line come in who has six years experience, how do you work out how good they are? What can you really assess in two hours of interviewing?”

Marcus says one way Nutbourne has found to negotiate this problem is to ask each interviewee to give a presentation, throwing them well out of their comfort zone.

“They get super nervous because IT people never have to give presentations. We don’t care how well they present, though we don’t tell them that. We’re looking for how well they handle pressure. How do they do something unfamiliar, which is presenting, and a familiar thing which is IT?

“What we often find is that people that deal well with pressure deal well with the presentation. They may have a lousy presentation, but if they’ve coped well with the pressure, then we’ve found what we are looking for.”

Marcus adds that in the past, during the period between first and second interviews they have lost out on potential recruits. But, he says, having the flexibility of a smaller company means that it shouldn’t be an issue in the future.

“As an SME we have the advantage of being flexible and being able to roll the first interview into the second, where perhaps a bigger company might not.  It took us a while to work out we didn’t need to play by strict rules if it meant you might lose a candidate in the week or two gaps between interviews.

“We’ve recruited some of our best people that way, and I would recommend it to others. You have to be willing to bend the rules; if they’re right and you’ve brought them in at a lower level, promote them early if they prove themselves. If they’re not good at a role, but a good company fit, see if you can find another role for them where they will be able to perform.

“We hire juniors to train them and give them a chance to develop, and we offer hotshots the opportunity to prove themselves and to shine. You have to be patient, and you have to be willing to work with people.

“It’s tough to find the right talent, but when you do, it’s really rewarding.”

Just ask Simon Cowell about One Direction.

Posted in Business, Businees Development, SME, Talent, Staff, Team


Posted on 12.10.2017 by Tom Holmes

Getting the very best out of your people is one of the most rewarding aspects of running an SME. Helping people to fulfil their potential and watching them grow is innately satisfying, and even more so if they fuel the company’s growth themselves.

Identifying talent shouldn’t be too difficult, but knowing the difference between someone that is great at their job, as opposed to just good, is far more subtle, says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans. 

“What you are looking for is a strong mindset. Anyone can learn to do IT, to a certain level, for example.  But not everyone can learn to do it well, and not everyone has the mindset to understand why what they are doing works.

“We’ve seen people who aren’t very technically minded who learn by rote and then we have people who have a good mindset who look at situations and ask why things are happening, looking at the root cause opposed to just the symptoms.

“The difference between those two types is that one understands why the problem is happening, tries to resolve it but knows when to draw the line and escalate it. The other sits on a problem for three days, trying to resolve it without really knowing the cause or trying to identify it.”

When hiring, Marcus says he always looks for a strong cultural fit and beyond that whether they are affable and likeable. If they’re good on the phone, good at talking to clients and they get on well with peers and colleagues there’s a strong chance they will be a success at the company.

“It’ important to keep in mind that the role you hire someone for isn’t necessarily the best role for them. Repurposing is an extremely important for developing talent and for managing staff in the business.

“If someone is a strong cultural fit and has good soft skills but is poor technically you have two options. One is to train them to bring their technical skills up to scratch.

“The other is to find a role for them in the company that is a better use of their current skills. If they flourish in either scenario it’s a good situation for the employee and employer and so sometimes you have to be brave and move around the team.

“Keep in mind also that you don’t hire people for their weaknesses, but for their strengths. And while it’s important to work on weaknesses, it’s even more important to lean on strengths so that ultimately you have a group of people that are working to their full potential. This makes life better for both them and us, and allows us to make sure we can help clients in the best possible way”

Posted in Business, Business Development, SME


Posted on 28/09/17 by Tom Holmes

Getting to know your team and encouraging them to build relationships with one another is important to the growth and success of your organisation. It’s the final piece of the team-building jigsaw alongside integration and mentoring.

Building a rapport between you and your staff, and encouraging bonds between employees reaps great rewards for the company. It helps to build mutual trust, creates friendship and an affinity with the company.

In most organisations, you have groups of people that wouldn’t naturally socialise with one another and you have those that don’t enjoy socialising frequently, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can build a rapport says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans.

“Not everyone needs to engage socially. You have an older generation of employees that have families and commitments outside of work. They may go to staff events once a quarter or once every two months, which is absolutely fine.

“By contrast, you have the younger guys that like to go out every week and who want to party and that’s absolutely fine too. The key is to strike a balance. You need to get the younger people and older people to integrate.”

By way of example, Nutbourne hosted a karaoke event during which everyone had to sing a song. It worked well, Marcus says because everyone had fun; they were out of their comfort zone, but laughing and enjoying themselves.

“That’s what matters,” Marcus adds. “Where you have engagement you build a rapport and a spirit which is extremely valuable. Everyone that attended that event thanked the company because we had such good fun because it was hilarious.”

“Sometimes you have to try to get people to bond, which can be tricky. To an extent, you have to rely on the fact that you have employed the right people and that they get on with their team and that they like their seniors.

“Ultimately, you need to make sure people know and feel that they cared for. To do that you need to engage with them, talk to them and include them at every step of the company’s evolution.

“You can only do that by leading from the front.”    

Posted in Business


Posted on 21/09/2017 by Tom Holmes

Assigning a new starter a mentor is a wise move, and for many different reasons. It helps the newbie to settle and gives them a solid point of contact in the organisation. In so doing, it makes the recruit feel cared for and creates a bond between them and the company.

“Mentoring is very important in the company,” says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans. “Having someone that your new and existing employees can look up to is so valuable. We have a member of staff that is an outstanding first line manager. He talks to our new employees to make sure they know to go to him with any problems – he’s brilliant at that. He makes people feel they are cared for, that they can go to him for a one on one.

‘If you can get that in place, along with a good management structure, not only do your employees feel a personal attachment to the company and a camaraderie with their employees, they feel empowered, understood and backed.”

There’s a hidden value to mentor schemes too. Because of the relationship built between mentor and mentee, the former will have an intuitive understanding of how the latter will react to feedback and criticism. Delivering those messages in the right way makes for a happy and positive working environment. It also helps to create empowered and loyal employees.

Regular conversations between mentor and mentee give the mentor an inside track on issues between staff or departments. This helps to resolve problems before they take hold. It also tests the mentee’s resolve, problem solving and diplomacy, meaning they develop from the relationship too.

The mentor wins don’t stop there either. Research has shown that, above and beyond talent development, mentor schemes significantly improve employee retention. It has also demonstrated that two-way mentorship helps to transmit company cultures and values too.

“My advice, if you're thinking of becoming a mentor, seeking a mentor or starting a mentorship program at your company, is to do it,” says Marcus. “The wins for each are definitely worth the effort. What’s not to like about that?”

Posted in Business, Business Development, SME, Growth


Posted on 13/9/2017 by Tom Holmes

At face value, football managers and SME owners don’t have much in common. But, as the transfer window slammed shut on September 1, football managers up and down the country were facing the same task as many business owners: getting the new recruits to settle and to perform.

According to Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans the scenario is dictated somewhat by the existing team.

“You can get someone who is an amazing performer, but the rest of the team might not respond well to them. You have a problem there. You try and get them to gel but if you can’t resolve it what is your priority? What decision do you make?

“As a medium sized company, you have a team that buys into the concept of what you are trying to do as an organisation. And then you have one guy that’s amazing at his job but is rubbing them up the wrong way. If the collective numbers suffer enough, and they start to leave or not do as well to the extent that this maverick’s numbers don’t really make a difference – then you have a problem.”

To mitigate this, Nutbourne screens potential candidates on the phone, at interview and with a technical briefing. This means that for every person they employ, around 7 or 8 aren’t successful. This process tends to find the right person.

“They fit the company culture, they come across well and have the passion. Broadly they are technically capable, though we can teach that – whereas we can’t teach passion or personality,” Marcus adds.

The second part of the equation is making sure they fit with the team. This is a bit more ambiguous and bit more difficult, but, says Marcus, if you have done first part well, it shouldn’t be difficult.

“All you have is the people around you. When you are under pressure, you only have them.

“Someone’s personality is most demonstrable to the people they’re with because they are there 40 hours a week – but the knock on effect of having the right people in your business is seen in every part of the company.”

So, what should SME owners, and indeed football managers, be looking out for?

“What you want is a team player, someone that is willing to go the extra mile, not a super star prima donna that doesn’t fit in,” Marcus says.

“You need to have their trust, and they need to have yours. If you can rely on those people and they can rely on you, that’s good for the team and for the company  - ultimately it percolates down to the clients who know you will do what you say you will.

“Take your time, do your due diligence in the recruitment stages and you will reap the benefits. And remember that for every Thierry Henry there’s a Mario Balotelli.”    

Posted in Business, Business Develop, SME, team, staff


Posted on 10/8/17 by Tom Holmes

As you transition from small to medium sized organisation, the number of staff you employ and the number of clients you service increases. Taking the time to manage both of these correctly can help to identify and avoid problems. The key is to listen to what they are saying.

“When you are a small company of six or seven people it is easier to talk to your staff or for them to raise concerns with you,” says Nutbourne Managing Director Marcus Evans. “When that number increases to say 25 or 30 it’s harder for employees to make their voices heard. Management’s default position tends to be to fight fires rather than preventing them.”

One of the biggest problems Nutbourne faced this year was that nobody had made time for management. Having grown from seven employees in 2013 to just under 30 in 2017, Marcus admits that the company were just about doing the yearly appraisals.

“The problem that creates is that most employees goals weren’t accurate. You, therefore, can’t hold them accountable because you haven’t steered them. Added to that, there were a number of grievances that we didn’t know we had.

“When I took over as Managing Director, I introduced daily management procedures. I meet with employees weekly for an informal chat, monthly for a more lengthy discussion about how work is going, and quarterly to look at the appraisal and see how it’s tracking.

“What this has given us is greater transparency in the organisation and greater motivation amongst our team. People are no longer sitting on problems because they haven’t spoken to management for months. They are empowered because we can track their progress against their appraisal. It is arguably one of the most important things we have done as a business.”

Equally important, Marcus adds, is the decision to roll out a similar policy with clients. Nutbourne found that every so often a client would serve notice without reason or any indication that they were doing so.

“We’d have no idea, or that it was even coming and there would be nothing we could do. We have an account management process we put in place a couple of years ago.

“We have monthly or quarterly meetings to talk about issues resolved, quality of work, satisfaction. With that in place they see we’re doing the job we’re paid to do and they can bring any problems to us and we can resolve them without it ever becoming contract threatening.

“Every aspect of staff and client management is all about communication. If you aren’t communicating you aren’t listening, and if you aren’t listening you aren’t able to make a decision about what to do because you don’t know the situation.”    

Posted in Business, Business Strategy


Posted on 02/08/17 by Tom Holmes

There’s a lot of crossover between people, process and procedure. To a degree, they support each and make each more effective. When you add software systems to that mix you enhance your accountability, transparency and rigour further. It’s a very important part of growing from a small to medium-sized company.

“Take for example our growth,” says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans. “As we began to get bigger and people were given their own areas of responsibility, they became more accountable for what they were doing. So the good will that we built our company around becomes less relevant.”

So rather than good will where people put in extra hours where they need to, or go the extra mile, or take calls at home, processes and procedures are in place to ensure that those things are dealt with without impinging on one individual while everyone else is leaving the office. The same applies to efficiency too.

“When there are 20 or 30 tickets on the desk, any software programme will be able to show you those – we’re now average between 120 to 130 open tickets at a time. If you have six people in the first line dealing with them, and six people in the second line dealing with them you have a different problem.

“We had to put in a lot of processes so that we didn’t miss tickets. It’s very easy to miss things when people don’t know what they’re responsible for. It’s also easy for tickets to get missed and for clients to get unhappy.”

One of the things Nutbourne did was to get its software to the point where it could run, though it is close to reaching its natural lifespan as the company expands. A more integrated, end-to-end system will replace it and, according to Marcus, will provide the platform for the next level of growth.

“It’s far more efficient and means information isn’t lost. This is part of the growth from small to medium sized company – we have done that in sales, staffing and responsibility – the next step is processes and systems to make sure we have a robust base to grow from.

“You can grow into a system that can have 500 open processes at a time; with one that is limited to 120 you have to tinker with it to make it work. That doesn’t really work.”

“Ultimately, you need a strong base to grow a large pyramid. A five-person company can change into a 20 person company without more than organic growth. A five-person company will struggle to get to a 100 people without radically changing its processes and the way it does things.”    

Posted in Business strategy, Business development, software


Posted on 27/7/2017 by Tom Holmes

The transition from small company to medium company is rarely smooth, but it can be made much easier with the correct framework in place. A company that grows from seven staff to 27 staff takes on a considerable HR burden.  A company that grows from four clients to 68 takes on a lot more work and needs to be far more accountable.

Both aspects demand better processes and more rigour.When you’re a small company you’re six or seven people, you’re all doing everything, you’re doing what you need to do and there is not a lot of process or rigour, or documentation,” says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans.

“It’s more a case of let’s get this done, we need to deliver and we need to pay the bills. When you start to get bigger and people get their own area what you’ll find is that you’ll start to get responsibility for set areas, you’ll be more accountable for what you’re doing.”

From a people perspective, the focus moves, Marcus adds. People that are organised and document their work become increasingly valuable because they follow process and procedure as a matter of course.

In their absence, things can still get done, whereas those that are disorganised will get their job done but when it comes to relying on other people in the organisation to help them, it’s a problem.

“So your HR focus shifts. When you need to recruit, you need people that buy into your organisation as a concept. You need processes and policies in place for discipline and accountability. You can no longer rely solely on the camaraderie you had when there were 5 or 6 people.

“People can hide in a group and you don’t know they’re not working hard enough. So we have put in place metrics like number of tickets solved in a month, quality of tickets solved – just so that we know what they’re doing.

“Of course you need to have the software and programmes in place to do this, which we have addressed too.”

In the next article, we examine how software, systems and processes have given Nutbourne greater transparency    

Posted in Business, Business strategy


Posted on 20/07/17 by Tom Holmes

Having the right people in the right place is vital for any business. They’re your biggest expense and your biggest asset. Getting it right is hard, but if you do get it right, your business will soar.

“HR has been the single biggest problem and the single biggest benefit to us in the last five years,” says Nutbourne Managing Director Marcus Evans. “You need to have the right people in the organisation or it doesn’t work.

“What you’ll find is, the wrong person put into a team can completely change its dynamic. You don’t realise this until you put one wrong person into a team that up until that point had been functioning very well.  That team starts not to work so well – and that’s why recruitment is so important to get right.”

Getting it right is tricky, and as you move from small to medium, the playing field changes. Recruitment is less of an issue when you’re small because you have a good narrative – we’re small, we’re niche, we’re taking on the establishment – when you’re medium you’ve achieved that.

“You find yourself competing against other known companies for employees. It’s a different challenge. The calibre of employees you need changes – you want someone that has a level of experience similar to where your organisation will be in two years. Those people are aware of the challenges and can help your growth. In that respect, HR becomes very important.”

“Getting recruitment wrong wastes everyone’s time. If you have someone who fails probation, and if they have been well managed in that time, you have made a hiring mistake. Some of these mistakes are inevitable, but this is why an interview process needs to be stringent. We hire one person for every eight first round interviews we do. For second rounds it’s one in four.

“We screen people out in a tough way so that the risk of a bad hire is minimised. If you do get a bad hire, get them out as quickly as possible. This minimises the time spent with them, and allows you to recruit that role again, but better. A bad hire that fails a three-month probation wastes five months of time, one month to recruit them, their three months in the role and one month to hire a new person. If you have too many of these the business won’t be able to cope with it.”

 The change in business dynamic also gives rise to another problem, namely that some of the people you had in the company when it was growing aren’t suited to it now that you are a medium company.

“That comes with an HR burden,” Marcus adds. “You need to get the wrong people out of the business with the minimum disruption to the business itself, and getting the people who are doing ok to where you want them to be. There’s a whole series of skills and processes there, that as a small company you don’t know you need until you need them.

“The other thing a small company should be good at is retasking. If you see someone who is doing well, or who has skills another department needs, don’t be afraid to change their focus. Sometimes you need to move people around, and if they are the right person they may help you in a number of roles.

“Therefore if they look like they might better suit a harder role to fill or one you have struggled to recruit for, it might be worth changing them and filling their old role, if it is an easier one to recruit for.”

Posted in Business, business development


Posted on 13/07/2017 by Tom Holmes

So you’ve started running your own company. Things are going well. You’ve won some clients, made some sales and things are looking up. But, you want to take things to the next level, to move from a small to medium company. You know you need to plan, but where do you start?

According to Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans, there are two fundamentals you need to get right.

“When you’re running a business, it looks likes the key thing is delivery, but it’s not,” says Marcus. “If you want it to grow you need to take care of the figures as well, and that comes largely from sales.”

Nutbourne grew from six clients in 2013 to 68 clients at the end of 2016, and from seven staff to 27 in the same period. The recurring monthly revenue from sales is what Marcus calls the lifeblood of the company, and is what the company is built on.

“When we began to pay proper attention to sales we began to motor,” Marcus adds. “As long as you have recurring revenue that pays everyone’s salary – which is where we are – then everything else goes towards all the other things you want to do as a company. From those sales, we became a successful company.”

Nothing, he adds, is left to chance. Each year he writes a business plan, crunches the departmental numbers and works out the profit for that year. From there a decision is made on how to progress – what isn’t measured isn’t managed after all.

“You have to look at your numbers. What can you afford? What money do you have coming in? What debt do you have? You have to be meticulous.

“Do you have enough money to pay your bills? Can you advance credit? Are you able to get credit? Have you set aside money for your VAT and corporation tax bills? Those things can really stymie your business if they’re not managed properly.

“What this boils down to is that cash flow is absolute king for a small business. If you want to grow, you have to take care of that – it’s as simple and complex as that.”    

Posted in Business, Management, Best Practise


Posted on 22/06/2017 by Tom Holmes

Like a gang of uninvited, itinerant youths standing in the doorway at a party, a DoS attack disrupts or stops a service by sending large volumes of data or traffic through your network until the network can no longer function. Like the annoying youths, it prevents normal service, only without the baggy jeans and menacing stares.

Most often DoS attacks happen via a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). This means they will hijack multiple computers – without the users’ knowledge – and use them to send the traffic or data that will overload the system.

What’s the business risk?

The biggest risk for business is a security breach or restricting or denying online access. When these attacks have happened in the past they have targeted government agencies and banks as a form of revenge or blackmail.

For businesses that fall victim, a loss of service usually means a loss of revenue or sales; it could also mean vulnerability to other forms of attack and a loss of sensitive data.

What to look out for:

Like brute force attacks, if you’re under attack from DoS, your network will be unusually slow. Files will be slow to open and website slow to respond or unavailable entirely. You may also notice an increase in the volume of spam, or notice that your machine disconnects frequently from the network.

Stay protected:

There are simple methods to detect an attack early (simple for the tech guys anyway!). Running a script on your server to periodically send a message about traffic count will alert you to any abnormal spikes. Remote monitoring services also perform a similar check.

Because of their nature, DDoS attacks can be hard to prevent if identified. While you can take preventative steps – like rate limiting your router, or adding filters so that your router drops packets from obvious attackers – they will only buy you time.

In the first instance, let your ISP know that you’re under attack and then call in the help of a DDoS specialist. Think of them as burly reinforcements sent for to scare off the uninvited youths.    

Posted in security


Posted on 15/6/2017 by Tom Holmes

Brute Force isn’t, as the name implies, a sledgehammer to your security system. Rather it is a steamroller, driving back and forth into your firewall until it finds a crack through which to enter.

Sounds aggressive. It is. Sounds persistent. It is that too.

Brute Force is all about trial and error; exhaustive trial and error. Automated software is used to try all possible combinations of characters in sequence until a code – password, Data Encryption Standard – is found.

It is a time consuming but infallible approach. The only downside for criminals is that it could take years to match a password.

What’s the risk to business? 

If your company website or operating systems require user authentication, then your company could be a target for Brute Force attacks.

The risks are many and varied. On the one hand, the security breach puts user accounts at risk. If those accounts contain sensitive data that is subsequently stolen or leaked, the ramifications for your business and for your customers are potentially catastrophic.

Often, the ulterior motive of Brute Force attacks is to launch another kind of attack. Vandalism, distribution of malware and disruption of service are all common motives.

What to look out for? 

Brute Force attacks direct large volumes of traffic to your site and is therefore relatively easy to detect. The main and obvious symptom is a slow network, characterised by poorly performing or inaccessible websites.

You may also see a dramatic increase in the number of spam emails received, or frequently disconnecting wireless or wired internet connection.

Stay protected: 

The simplest way to prevent Brute Force attacks is to lock accounts after a defined number of incorrect password attempts. The flipside to this is that numerous accounts could be locked simultaneously, resulting in a major disruption of service.

The simplest and most effective methods are to only allow logins from specific IP addresses or to use CAPTCHAs. Assigning unique URLs to blocks of users, so that not all users access the site from the same URL, has also proven effective. A combination of these three would represent a relatively robust system.

For help and support with a range of IT services, contact Nutbourne on 0203 137 7273. 

Posted in security, attacks, data


Posted on 08/06/2017 by Tom Holmes

Office flooded over night? Server given up the ghost? Ransomware locked all your data in the third circle of hell? Fear not. You can still run your business. Just put these three tips into action…

“Back up what you need,” say Nutbourne’s Technical Director Patrick Burgess. “Do it regularly. You don’t need all your data to run your business. In all likelihood, you need the last couple of week’s documents, you need the current accounts, the HR documents and the policy documents.

“Of all the data you have, around 5% of it is what you actually need.  If you’re staring down the barrel of an enormous back up thinking it’s going to cost you a fortune, you might not actually need to back the whole lot up.”

Have a business continuity plan and test it. It doesn’t matter how good your business continuity plan is, how much money you spent on it, or where it sits until you test it all that is irrelevant.

“It’s so common for people to put the backup system in, nobody checks it and then find out that it hasn’t been doing its job,” says Patrick.

“Test your continuity plan twice a year,” Patrick adds. “Pick a day when everyone is turned away from the office and told to work remotely according to the continuity plan. If individuals have left laptops or files in the office they’ll be unable to work. You have to make sure the plan is robust and that everyone works to it.”

Spread your data storage. “Things like Office 365 and Dropbox can be bad because they’re implemented poorly and they encourage data to spread,” says Patrick. “But they can also be a solution if implemented correctly.

“By storing different sets of data in different places you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket. By spreading your risk you are limiting the impact of any attack on your data. This is not just for data protection, this is for business continuity. You don’t get this all or nothing scenario.

“These are things that don’t cost anything, but aren’t thought about. The business continuity plan is making sure systems are in place that can be used. These should be standards.”

Posted in Business, business continuity, planning


Posted on 30.5.2017 by Tom Holmes

The recent WannaCry ransomware attacks were remarkable for two reasons. One, they exposed a glaring hole in the NHS’s security systems, and two, they were apprehended by a knight in shining armour (albeit inadvertently).

Said hero – blogger and security expert Marcus Hutchins – later declared that he expected the ransomware to return under a different guise, a sentiment echoed by many other security experts.

Now, while we can’t predict if or when that will happen, or if Hutchins will come the rescue a second time, we can offer some tips to avoid being held to ransom.

Knowing what to look out for is half the battle…

What is it? 

In the old days, ransoms tended to be issued by masked gunmen for hostages, the safe return of whom was somewhat guaranteed in exchange for a sum of cash. Ransomware works on the same principle, only there are no gunmen and you might not get the data back.  

Ransomware is an unwanted programme which gains access to your systems and then begins to encrypt everything it can get its grubby little hands on. If it isn't stopped it will encrypt the whole system, servers and all (dependant on if any stops are put in place). 

It was used initially to target individuals but there is a growing trend for business to be targeted too. Initially, this was only big businesses, but now it's small businesses who are being targeted as they don't have the robust systems that larger companies have in place as standard.  

What’s the risk to business? 

Most businesses have sensitive data, and most have sensitive data that is critical to their operations or that they don’t want in the public domain. They also have much higher budgets to be able to pay ransoms should they decide t do so (we always recommend not too). 

Typically, until a ransom is paid, you'll be locked out of everything and even if it is paid they are more likely than not to keep the block in place stopping your business operating. 

What to look out for? 

Most people aren’t aware that they have ransomware until they receive the ransom request or until a splash screen prevents access to their machine. More subtle signs are missing file extensions e.g. .doc, .exe, or files that won’t open. 

Stay protected: 

An up-to-date antivirus is a good place to start, though new variants of malware may be able to slip the net. In that instance, your next line of defence is your staff. 

Encourage vigilance and warn against opening attachments from unsolicited emails. 

Finally and most importantly always, always have a backup of your data. If you have an updated version of everything it is easy to restore it, rather than obey the whims of a company which has illegally encrypted your data in the first place. Make sure that backup is fully tested and works on a regular basis, and then even if the worst happens you have a disaster recovery option. 

Online backup is a great way to go, with an external hard drive plugged into the machine being useful too. Old tape backups are notoriously unreliable and the only way to be completely protected is to have an onsite and offsite backup which has been fully tested. 

For help and support with a range of IT services, contact Nutbourne on 0203 137 7273. 

Posted in data, security


Posted on 10/05/2017 by Tom Holmes

A study from Veritas claims that there is a worldwide climate of fear over GDPR compliance. In fact, 86% of organisations polled are concerned that failure to comply will damage their business, and a further 20 % fear it could shut them down entirely. Is it that bad?

Well, no not really. As the old saying goes, it’s only worth worrying about something you can change. And in light of Veritas’s study, it bears repeating that compliance is entirely an internal issue – so you have the power to tackle GDPR compliance within your organisation.

In the previous article, we looked at the first four steps on the GDPR compliance roadmap. The following four, though more esoteric in nature, are all processes that you can start today.

You have 12 months to comply…

If you operate internationally, then you will need to find out which data supervisory authority you come under. There are elaborate arrangements for working this out. The authority will usually be where the organisation’s central administration is; this is simple for single branch/country organisations, harder for multi-site operations. Thankfully, there’s guidance at

The GDPR requires that some organisations designate a Data Protection Officer – either internally or externally. The individual(s) has to take proper responsibility for your data protection compliance, so should have the knowledge and support to do so. This ruling applies specifically to local authorities and those frequently handling and monitoring large data sets. Determine now if that applies to you.

Individual’s rights are still largely the same under GDPR as they are with the current Data Protection Act (DPA). Nonetheless, check your procedures to ensure they cover all rights and have plans in place for deleting the data should you be asked to do so.

It's also worth assessing your legal basis for processing the data you hold. Generally speaking, this is good practice, though entirely understandable if until now it’s not been a priority. Look at the types of data you hold, how it’s processed and your legal basis for documenting it. This again is broadly similar to the DPA, but still needs to be checked to meet GDPR’s accountability requirements.

Posted in GDPR, security, data, regulation


Posted on 3/4/2017 by Tom Holmes

GDPR is a little over a year away - plenty of time to prepare right? Well, not exactly. It’s an intense set of legislation with damaging sanctions. The sooner you start to prepare the better.

Here are four things you can get cracking with right away.

Raise awareness

Get the word out. Staff, stakeholders, clients and service providers will all need to know the law is changing and that it means a change to working practices. Pay particular attention to staff and service providers who are involved in data processing. Consider formal training to get them up to speed.

Examine your information

This is the most obvious thing to do. Go through your data, find out what you have, where it came from and where it goes. A thorough audit will help you to identify where your data flows to and from, and where it sits. This, in turn, will help you to mitigate any security breaches. 

Outline and implement your reporting procedures

The GDPR introduces a new set of procedures for reporting data breaches. The ICO advises having policies and procedures in place to identify, investigate and report personal data breaches. Get these procedures and policies ready now and start working with them to ensure they work ahead of May 25, 2018.

Adopt a Privacy by Design approach

Under the current legislation, Privacy by Design is an add-on - with GDPR it’s part of the mix. Not following these practices will now put your organisation at risk in light of GDPR. If you begin implementing privacy-friendly practices now you can lower your risk of sanction and data breach, reduce compliance costs and future-proof your software.    

Posted in security, IT, GDPR


Posted on 26.4.2017 by Tom Holmes

Under the legislation, there are several key requirements that relate directly to the data companies hold and the rights of the individual. Some differ from the current directive, while others expand on it.

What data falls under GDPR?

The GDPR is designed to protect the rights of EU citizens whose data is held by organisations.  Under the legislation, private data is any data that can be used to identify an individual.

The legislation offers quite clear guidelines on what this constitutes. Simple things such as names, addresses, and photos – information that you would expect to find on a CV– all constitute personal data.

More confidential data such as bank details, medical records and IP address are also covered, as are slightly more esoteric data sets such as social media posts and browsing activity.

These are all items that would conceivably be held by most organisations and across different departments. Human resources hold CVs and medical information, accounts will hold bank details, and marketing holds an array of data on existing and prospective clients.

To expand on the above, consider the following: When an individual makes a purchase from a website, they leave payment and billing information. This information can be used for future purchases or follow-on services. This data falls under GDPR.

Similarly, someone visiting the site may be subject to GDPR without actually making a purchase. Information gathered, whether it exists online (IP address, browsing history) or in the real world (home address, vehicle registration) falls under the legislation.

A further obligation to comply with GDPR when the entity holding the data i.e. the company (known as the controller in GDPR) passes this data to a vendor or third party (known as the processor) for processing. Both organisations are obliged to ensure their diligence is paid, as well as that of the other party.

Given the importance of this activity to the organisation, this data must be managed under GDPR.

Data rights of the individual

The GDPR stipulates several rights for individuals and the data held about them by organisations. The legislation makes organisations far more accountable and gives control of the data back to the individual. Companies need to be aware.

Right to Access: Part of the expanded rights of data subjects outlined by the GDPR is the right for data subjects to obtain from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose.

Right to be forgotten: The right to be forgotten entitles the data subject to have the data controller erase his/her personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data.

Privacy by design: At its core, privacy by design calls for the inclusion of data protection from the onset of the designing of systems, rather than an addition. More specifically - 'the controller shall...implement appropriate technical and organisational an effective way... to meet the requirements of this Regulation and protect the rights of data subjects'.

Posted in Security; GDPR


Posted on 19/4/2017 by Tom Holmes

On May 25, 2018, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into legislation, replacing the data protection directive. It is designed to protect the rights of EU citizens whose data is held by organisations.

The GDPR is the most serious piece of privacy legislation for the last 20 years. Fines for non-compliance can reach €20m or 4% of turnover, whichever is greater.

And, although it’s EU legislation, GDPR affects all companies that handle or process data for EU citizens. So, although the UK will be leaving the EU by the time GDPR becomes legislation, it will affect the vast majority of companies operating on these shores.

Worryingly, according to a report from Gartner, fewer than 50% of companies that GDPR applies to will be compliant by the end of 2018. If that’s you, or you think it might be, you will need to get your skates on.

What do I need to know?

The GDPR differs significantly from the current data protection directive. Here are some key points:

Increased scope

The regulatory landscape is the biggest change. The GDPR applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the EU, regardless of the company’s location. So, for example, a company operating in the US offering services to EU residents will fall under GDPR.

GDPR will also apply across an organisation’s network, meaning that the companies they do business with must also comply with GDPR.

Greater penalties

The penalties imposed by GDPR are potentially so big that they could put a company out of business. This is deliberate. Under the current directive, fines are not much of a deterrent for non-compliance. In some cases, it is easier and cheaper to pay the fine than it is to be compliant.

The new penalty system works on a tiered structure:

·      A written warning for first-time or unintentional non-compliance

·      Regular, periodic audits

·      Fines of €10m or 2% of annual worldwide turnover from the previous year, whichever is greater

·      Fines of €20m or 4% of annual worldwide turnover from the previous year, whichever is greater

 These penalties apply to both the holder of the data and party processing it so even clouds, for example, will not be exempt.


The conditions for consent to hold, store and distribute personal data have been strengthened. Companies seeking consent will no longer be able to use illegible terms and conditions full of legalease. Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

Data breaches

Under the GDPR, the Data Controller ( will be under a legal obligation to notify the Supervisory Authority without delay. The reporting of a data breach is not subject to any minimum standard and must be reported to the Supervisory Authority within 72 hours of the data breach. Individuals have to be notified if an adverse impact is determined.

Posted in Business, IT


Posted on 30/07/2015 by Clare Evans

This month our team tested their nerves with a trip to the tree tops at Go Ape in Trent Park. As part of our adventure we tackled swinging high ropes, rocking tunnels and challenging crossings, topped with a skateboard loaded zip wire!

Nestled in the park’s woodland, each site provided a wonderful view of the surrounding scenery, getting higher and higher till the grand finale – a 120 metre long zip line at the highest point of the course.

The most dreaded challenge was the Tarzan Swing, which some of us needed more encouragement to leap into than the daredevils amongst the team. But we all managed to make it safely across (with a few screams and stumbles along the way) and it was great that everyone helped and guided each other through the different obstacles.

We all thoroughly enjoyed this team building experience, and can’t wait to move onto our next Nutbourne adventure!


Posted in Social, Nutbourne, Events


Posted on 29/06/2015 by Clare Evans

We’re delighted to announce that Nutbourne are finalists for this year’s London Business Awards for Service Excellence, presented by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Currently in their third year, the awards commend the achievements of companies who have proven their efforts and determination to excel in their industry and as an enterprise. This year’s awards especially mark the theme of optimism for the future, with FSB’s London Regional Chair, Steve Warwick, stating that “London continues to be a hotbed for the creation and growth of new companies, with an invigorating atmosphere of optimism and opportunity in business”. Nutbourne are excited to be a part of the awards programme, which highlights the positive steps entrants are taking towards enhancing the London business community.

The 11 categories for the awards, including Apprentice of the Year, Business Innovation and Training and Development, were judged by business leaders in and around London who also strive to grow and innovatively impact in their fields. We’re very proud to have reached the finals in Service Excellence, as a recognition of our work towards helping our clients, and our mission to share and uphold our core values in everything we do. Let’s hope we can go for gold!

The ceremony for the awards will take place on Thursday 30th July, at the Hotel Pullman London. If you’d like to see the categories and finalists, you can find out more on the FSB awards website. Plus, you can look out for all the action at the awards at @NutbourneUK – I’m sure we’ll be posting plenty of photos! 

Posted in Social, Business, Events, Nutbourne


Posted on 10/02/2015 by Clare Evans

As a Microsoft Network Partner member we’re proud to deliver quality cloud systems to our clients.  We share a responsibility to maintain Microsoft’s high service values, as a community of professionals engaged in driving value-added solutions in an increasing technologically orientated market. The scheme is currently expanding worldwide across 48 countries, as more than ever, ‘partners want to engage at every part of the customer lifecycle – from sales to renewal, from billing and provisioning, to support of their customers’[1].

We are delighted to receive the Network Partner silver award for Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions. The award demonstrates that as a company we are trusted in our knowledge of Microsoft’s products and values, and active in raising the quality of service in the industry.

Posted in Business, Microsoft


Posted on 19/01/2015 by Marcus Evans and Patrick Burgess

Posted in Business, Nutbourne


Posted on 10/12/2014 by Clare Evans

Mud, sweat, and maybe a few secret tears summed up the Nutbourne team’s race for the Royal Marsden Cancer Trust on Sunday 7th December, not to mention the hundreds of red suited Santas who took part! Doitforcharity’s festive themed Santa Fun Run 2014 was a great success, and all of our Nutbourne runners thoroughly enjoyed participating, (even if we did ache on Monday morning!). We’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who donated to help us raise our £800 target for Royal Marsden. We look forward to upping the challenge for our next charity feat!  

Check out all of our photos for the day on our Facebook page! You can also find out more about the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, and donate here.

Posted in Events


Posted on 12/11/2014 by Thomas Little

 Admit it. When you think of 1st line support, your first thoughts probably aren’t of fame and glamour. I would imagine your mind will drift to the most recent episode of IT Crowd and the suitably geeky Moss talking about ‘turning it on and off again’. (Although I hate to admit that this is actually a good starting point). Despite this amusing overview, to say that the IT Crowd demonstrated the IT sector would be the same as saying Red Dwarf characterises NASA or Mad Men is what advertising companies do. There is actually a whole lot more hidden under the wires of the IT Support sector than may first be suspected. As one of the highest paying sectors within the UK, you’ll be sure to get your money’s worth out of this career if it’s the route you take and every day brings new and unusual challenges.

Firstly, the idea that not much happens day to day on the desk is an extreme misconception, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve worked on and learnt over the past couple of months. As it is my first job Nutbourne has shown me just what IT support really means. I’ve had to familiarise myself with tons of different software and hardware, work on a large number of different sites with different needs and network types. This is on top of actively dealing with issues as they come in, and keeping as professional as possible with customers (which is a whole skillset in itself!). It’s tough, but it’s also very rewarding.

So far I’m not even two months in and I’ve only scraped the surface of what there is to learn and solve. The whole process is made a lot easier by the team I work with, who are always helpful and ready to explain things no matter how simple my problem may be. It’s not all work in the office either, despite the challenges day to day the environment itself is positive and friendly, and we still have a good laugh with each other. The table tennis matches are pretty fun too, although with the way people act you might think they were Nadal or Federer! If you’re into computing, the people you meet in the sector are also very easy to get along with.

My apprenticeship here lasts a year, and I can only think how much I’ll have improved and learnt by then. You see the results all the time. Suddenly all of the annoying problems I’ve had with my computer over the years, but didn’t know how to solve, are very obvious to me. I’ve even helped some of my friends with their issues as well. Keeping a professional manner and talking to new people every day has also improved my confidence in speaking. It becomes very easy to have debates with anyone when you’re used to talking with respectable figures in nearly every sector.

So next time you have an issue with your PC, do try turning it off and on again (It really works I promise!). Though if that doesn’t work, feel safe knowing that there will always be someone within 1st Line Support who knows exactly how to solve the issue. And if you are thinking of a job in this sector, go for it. Take it from me, you won’t regret it.

Posted in Nutbourne


Posted on 12/10/2014 by Clare Evans

Wednesday 8th October saw Europe's leading cloud and IT infrastructure annual event here in London, and Nutbourne were thrilled to get involved in the IP Expo action. The day showcased exhibitors and seminars from three key events; the IP Expo, Data Expo and the Cyber Security Expo, all under one roof!

The exhibition was a great opportunity to share expertise with businesses who are leaders in their fields and discover new and exciting technology solutions. It was a privilege to attend the opening seminar from founder of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. We were inspired by his projections for the online world for 2050 and can’t wait to take advantage of developments in the rapidly evolving technology sector.

The day brought even more excitement with magicians, prize draws, free popcorn and even a snowboard simulator. There was also a nifty Futures Den dedicated to providing opportunities for start-up companies in the industry. Most of all, it was a chance to provide knowledge to optimise UK and international businesses and celebrate of some of the greatest achievements in the IT industry. 

You can check out highlights and find out more about the IP Expo here:

Posted in Events


Posted on 13/05/2013 by Marcus Evans

Institute of Directors

Entrepreneurs hardly need to be told that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are a vital part of the UK economy and that the road to success is never straightforward. In this event you will hear from a panel of business people about how their experiences of failed businesses have delivered lessons that have eventually led to success.

We encourage you to come armed with questions and ready to engage in lively debate with the panel.
To sign up for the event Please click here. You MUST PRE REGISTER VIA THE IOD LINK TO ATTEND.

Cost £28.00

Our Panel

Matthew Siddell 
Matthew started "Kin" with a donated PC, a donated fax machine and 2 spare desks in the basement of a friend’s office. Kin was an exciting genealogy business which traced lost or unknown heirs to unclaimed inheritance, all over the world. Matthew grew the business to a team of aroound 45 staff and over the course of 6 years united heirs with inheritances exceeding £125m in value. He has since started Opulen, a firm involved in a number of projects including property, IT and legal services.

Martin Port 
A technology pioneer, Martin founded Masternaut, one of the first UK companies to offer software-as-a-service, through its web-based vehicle tracking solutions. Martin took Masternaut from a small startup in 2002 to become one of the UK’s fastest growing businesses, with places in The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In November 2009, Martin sold Masternaut to Hub Telecom. Now owner and Managing Director of Micronet Europe, World Leader in rugged Mobile Computers. Recently he became a Director and shareholder in R2C Online, the market leading asset management platform. His latest venture is BigChangeAppsCentre, which partners with companies that have a proven track record in developing high end platforms and software applications for the Micronet range of mobile computers.

Peter Whent 
Peter is a serial technology entrepreneur. Over the last twenty years he has started three businesses spanning a range of technology sectors from electronic document distribution to mobile telephony. He has also worked with a range of investors, from angels to well-known venture capital and private equity firms such as Apax, Cazenove and Kleinwort Benson. All four of Peter’s businesses were eventually sold to trade buyers for a combined total of more than $100 million. For the last five years Peter has been leading a turnaround of a private equity owned technology company in the e-commerce sector. Having taken the business from the brink of insolvency to financial health and sustainable profitability, Peter says he has an itch to return to his entrepreneurial roots and get involved in something more early stage.

Click here for more details

Posted in Events, Business


Posted on 04/10/12 by Marcus Evans

Following our Hot Topics debate earlier this week, discussions have started to materialise about how to strike up a good work/life balance, especially when working on a brand new shiny start-up. Have you suffered from the silent treatment? Has starting a new business from scratch cost you relationships? Or have start-ups created relationships? Does the hard work result in a good life/work balance? Can you find that work/life balance?

The main point of this blog is: can starting a start-up be socially endearing?

The people who have made it, would argue yes. Richard Branson is hardly shy of female attention. But yet again, not every start-up would travelled in a hot air balloon and have bold ambitions of space travel. Starting out can be very difficult. An article asking ‘can you have a girlfriend and a new start-up at the same time’ provoked a healthy debate on Quora which led to wide sharing and discussion across social channels.

"Good work life balance is important, never neglect your private life or risk burn out. A business partner can shoulder some start-up burden or you could try and tap into an existing work stream for a boost and shortcut initial marketing and sales preparatory work, allowing you more personal time."

Marcus Evans, Commercial Director, Nutbourne Ltd

Click here to read full article

Posted in Business


Posted on 11/05/14 by Marcus Evans

Learn how to ‘close the sale’ at an event organised by the JCI Cambridge business networking group for young professionals.

The workshop will be presented by Marcus Evans, co-founder and sales director for IT company Nutbourne.

He helps start-up businesses develop a co-ordinated strategy to enable them to make the best possible start in a difficult economic climate.

The event will include an introduction to cold calling, preparing for the meeting, how you build up credibility, objection handling – and the all-important closing of the deal.

The workshop starts at 6.30pm on November 8 at Eversheds, Kett House, Station Road, Cambridge. Entry is free for JCI members and first-time visitors and £15 for all others. To book your place, visit

Posted in Business


Posted on 04/06/2014 by Marcus Evans

Sometimes it’s tough to decide how to direct your efforts amongst the many avenues that bring work to your business. You and your sales team only have a finite amount of time, and it feels like you should maximise what works well for you and direct your efforts at that. After all it’s working already!

If all your work if coming from networking then logically putting more effort into this, and more hours, is guaranteed to get better results!


Sometimes you have peaked in a specific area and although you may still get gains from more effort and time invested, they will be lower than before and disproportionate to the effort. In comparison starting on a new area or new market may yield far better results for the time invested. It’s a tough call to make but diversity in working sources is key. As mentioned in a previous post if you only have a single portfolio area you’re asking for trouble should it slow down.

The only way to work out if you have saturated an area of sale is to look how much time you are putting in and the results you are achieving. If you have a cold caller making ten meetings a month it is logical to think that 2 will make you 20. Hold on for a second though. You then need twice as much data, and more controls in place to ensure they aren’t calling the same people. Maybe your target market is companies over 100 in London. Well there can’t be that many of them and after the second, third or fifth telemarketer you might find that another will not give you anything more. Even though on the surface a new telesales person would be good you have to check all the factors.

To find new work you have to try as many areas of finding work as possible. Also keep at any new area for at least six months. Some of the networking or partnerships take years to develop. If you give up after a month it would look like a wasted effort, but given a year it just might be your best client.

Posted in Business


Posted on 25/06/2014 by Clare Evans

We spoke to our employee Aaron Paterson, who since his apprenticeship with us has been working for Nutbourne for over a year. In this interview Aaron tells us about his first experiences as an apprentice and how the scheme has helped him to develop in the sector and work environment.

1. How did you enter into the apprenticeship?

I was looking for my first IT job after leaving school and applied for the Just IT scheme through the I was sent forward and after my first interview I got the apprenticeship place at Nutbourne.

2. Can you describe your experience in the first few weeks?

For me it was an adapting stage. It was a bit of a shock to the system working in an office, and although the IT wasn’t a problem I had to get used to the customer service.

3. How you think you developed throughout the scheme?

The first three to six months were a teething stage, where I was getting comfortable talking to clients on the phone. Around six months though I became much more confident, and the guidance and support I received from the team really helped me develop. They were always fair and wanted to teach me instead of taking over, even if I was initially slower.

4. When you were offered a permanent position how did you feel, and what made you want to carry on in the role?

I had come to like the company and working with everyone. I also wanted to be loyal to Nutbourne and see the company grow.

5. How are you currently finding the experience and environment?

I’ve come leaps and bounds since the start, and I’m now finding my tasks considerably easier. But importantly I’m happy to have improved my relevant skills in and outside of work.

6. What are your future plans?

I want to continue in IT and specialise in a field, I’d like to work in networking.

7. And finally, what do you think the benefits are of an apprenticeship?

Definitely the experience of training whilst earning money. You can develop your soft skills, and it’s a good opportunity for people who don’t go to university to gain extra learning support.

Posted in Nutbourne, Social


Posted on 21/07/2014 by Clare Evans

As web hacks are now more prominent and wide-spread, companies feel that tighter security systems are becoming increasingly urgent. As a top priority Google Search intends to favour encrypted web pages in its ranking algorithm, in order to promote the need to keep user data safe. On their Online Security Blog the company highlight the transition process for this endeavour:

We’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it's only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals (…) while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Despite providing extra protection to prevent data leaking on Wi-Fi networks, sites have been reluctant to employ encryption as it can be expensive and create slower page response times. However, with Google’s move to serve encrypted pages at reasonable speeds, users will gain more confidence in this option for stronger online security. 

For more information see Google’s report here.

Posted in Tech News, Computing


Posted on 30/08/2014 by Clare Evans

Securing a place at university I was like many students highly optimistic about my future career. Attaining a degree would be all I needed to get me my dream job - or so I thought. With this comforting knowledge I happily drifted through my university life. However as I approached my final year, it became more apparent that having a degree in English literature wouldn’t necessarily help me in working towards ultimate success. With increasing pressure for students to obtain a high-level degree and competitive graduate schemes, I was daunted at the prospect of finding a suitable position that would match my skillset. 

By the time I’d finished my degree, I was still unsure as to what I really wanted to do. I was left with endless career options and yet at the same time was quite restricted, and though I wanted to work in a corporate environment I began to apply for any job I could find.  I then applied for a graduate scheme for a multinational company, and after numerous online tests and a video interview I was selected for an assessment centre. Again my optimism flared, and although I had interviews, a group exercise, presentation and test to prepare for, I was so excited to finally be on track to having an entry level role at a prestigious company. The process was indeed very stressful, and by the end of the assessment I knew that the large enterprise environment was too overwhelming for me, especially as I hadn’t worked in one before.

In the past though I had done some work in PR and marketing. Even with this on my CV it was difficult to find many entry level opportunities for those without a directly related qualification, especially outside of London, and I struggled to really find a role I would enjoy. As it transpired Nutbourne was a valuable option for me because they offered a varied marketing role where I could develop the company, whilst at the same time continually learn and improve my skills. I have been able to gain confidence and a diverse understanding of areas in business and IT services, but also the important values of high quality customer relations. Ultimately I feel lucky to have begun my career path with a friendly company where I feel like a valued member of the team, even if it wasn’t my expected route!

Posted in Nutbourne


Posted on 25/09/2014 by Marcus Evans

Sales and marketing are funny things. You often put lots of effort into a concept or function and get absolutely no feedback or new prospect engagement for what feels like an eternity. Then something suddenly clicks and you get a rush of engagement and struggle to keep up with the new work.

The other thing is that companies often don’t know what is working? Is it the networking? Is it the business shows? Is it the events? The cold calling? Word of mouth? A key reseller? Adverts in the paper? Data purchase?

The first half (the second being the actual mechanics of the sell) of having a successful sales function knows where its business is coming from and making sure you have more than one avenue. If you don’t know this and it dries up, what do you do? Getting new business is not luck, not long term anyway. You may be flat out with work from previous contacts but if you rely on this sooner or later you will go through a slow patch. Maybe some people are on holiday, or maybe you have been so busy delivering work you haven’t been pitching for new. Either way you are suddenly quiet and working capital gets tight.

Make sure you diversify and keep track of what you are spending your time on. Longer term this will ensure you have a much better pipeline and a more successful business.

Posted in Business