I started Preemo in my kitchen 9 years ago today.

I had lost my job working as an IT director, and didn’t know what was next. I started fixing computers at home, then moved to a small attic space in my dad’s office. I thought retail was the right route, and opened TechBar a few years later. It grew, and became its own, separate business. Preemo evolved in parallel, to support businesses and their IT needs, and eventually to become a Managed Service Provider.

Today, we’re 15 hyper-driven professionals, supporting 130+ companies all across South Florida. We solve 7000+ support requests per year, and have won all kinds of awards.

But I took a step back this year, to reflect on what I’ve learned during the journey. Here’s what I came up with:

1. There’s no manual, so you have to be a shape-shifter.

If there’s one phrase I’ve repeated the most to our team, it’s “There’s no book on how to run Preemo,  we make it up every day.” That’s held true since the beginning, as we reinvent the way we operate on a regular basis. If you decide to start a business that’s not novel (like an IT company), you still have to be creative to succeed. Our ability to adjust over time, and to not always follow “the way everyone else does it” has absolutely contributed to our unusual growth in our industry.

2. Good people are important. Great people change your business.

Every incredible CEO will tell you their business is built by the incredible team of people that run and operate the company. Preemo is exactly the same. Our team is carefully selected in the recruiting process, and are on-boarded with a very specific training process to ensure they not only do they’re job the way Preemo expects it, but that they understand our mission, vision, and values, and apply them to their work. We encourage and compensate for growth, whether it be continuing education, certification, or any kind of activity that enhances the abilities of our team. We keep each other in check, ensuring that weak links are nurtured, and that strong links are encouraged.

3. The best things happen in the worst moments.

In the middle of 2016, we lost our largest client. It was a punishing blow that got me pretty depressed for a period of time. In our business, where you’re signing 10-20 clients a year, losing a big one is a huge deal. But what it did more than anything – it made us aware. We knew exactly why we lost this client, and how it could have been prevented. We took measures to implement new processes and adjust existing ones to ensure that something like this could never happen again. And finally, one day in the office, we decided to stop looking back, and only look forward. 6 months later, we signed a larger client, who has stuck with us since then.

4. Relationships build businesses, but processes scale enterprises.

If you’ve met me, you know that I love to meet and interact with new people. I’ve even been called a “friend collector” (which I take as a compliment, although it sounds a bit creepy). Our business has benefited from my relationships over time, but I’ve learned that’s not sustainable. In order to scale Preemo, I’ve had to teach others how to build relationships, generate sales, and manage client relationships. We’ve had to create repeatable, documented processes for everything that we do, to ensure the business can operate without me involved.

5. We’re a Miami company, so we have to support Miami.

Every business should give back, right? Our involvement in the community, whether for the United Way, 200 Club of Greater Miami, or Impact Broward has given us new perspective on why we do what we do. As technology is often an area of weakness for non-profits, I’ve had the pleasure of helping a number of organizations make technology-related decisions, and ensured they were being cost conscious but also leveraging technology to its maximum capacity. As a result, community involvement has become a pillar of Preemo, and our team regularly participates in events around Miami-Dade.

6. It’s not fun if you’re not having fun.

What’s the point of all of this if you’re not having fun? There’s no shortage of hours or dollars invested in this company (I’m writing this on a Saturday afternoon). But the memories and opportunities we’ve created make it all worth it. I remember cracking open beers with our team when we signed our first managed services agreement. Sharing stories around my mom’s dinner table, as she hosts our annual holiday party. Watching several team members become parents.

I promised myself a long time ago that I’d stop doing this if it ever stopped being fun. It hasn’t happened yet, so I can’t wait to see what our next year has in store.

Happy Birthday, Preemo.