Category: General
Author: Gerben Moerland

10 years of entrepreneurship: a great experience ​

10 years of entrepreneurship: a great experience

Oliver IT is 10 years old, we announced this earlier. In this 10th year we are going to highlight this anniversary from different viewpoints. From the customers, employees but also from the entrepreneur himself. In this article founder Gerben Moerland talks about his experiences as an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship: adventurous, exciting and driven

"Entrepreneurship is a great experience. It's heavy, but it doesn't feel like it because you're so passionate about building," Gerben says. "I remember the start of Oliver IT as yesterday, it doesn't feel like 10 years ago at all. I did find the starting phase an exciting time. We entered into commitments and risks with the aim of creating something successful. As an entrepreneur you are lived. Through the pressure of risk, responsibility and the continuous drive to deliver the maximum to the customer. In my opinion, being lived characterises entrepreneurship. If I look back on that after those 10 years, I can see that it was tough. But it feels good and it's just very cool to expand a company from 2 to 50 employees".Growth: parts to multiply

Gerben continues: "Entrepreneurship has brought me a lot personally. When you set up a business you are busy with many facets. The financial side, recruiting and managing your employees, exceeding customer expectations and expanding your services.

In the beginning you do all these things, but actually acquiring assignments and recruiting people is the main activity. When you are 2 years further on, the phase comes that you go to the 10 men and you have to tighten up the processes a bit, so as not to keep running behind the facts. A few years further on, your role will be more about managing the organisation than doing projects yourself. It's nice to be aware of the different growth phases of a company. And you know what, these days you read about these statements in the startup/scale-up books, for example 'Focus on your strengths' and 'The famous dip after 6 or 7 years'. Looking back now, I can say that they are often true. But also that with the right dose of willpower you can get through every phase, even if it doesn't work out for once. It's a matter of serving your customer well, letting your employees grow with the company and keeping their focus".

"Over the years, together with Oliver IT of course, I have changed quite a bit as an entrepreneur, my field of vision has become much broader. By consciously seeking contact with other entrepreneurs, we were able to look over the fence together to learn from each other's pain points and successes. As a result, you learn to switch faster and better understand the connections between different parts of the company. I have become accustomed to sharing things, both with other entrepreneurs and with the people within the company. And exactly that is the basis for success: multiplication by sharing".

Sharing is also about letting go, says Gerben: "My greatest challenge as an entrepreneur is to let go of things. Something that you come up with yourself, that others pick up and carry out. That is perhaps the most difficult step as an entrepreneur who wants to grow, because not everything goes your way, but you are responsible when things go wrong. This only works by putting people in the right place and letting them do what they are good at and being there when they want support. Then you succeed in letting others do what you have in your head".This is how you remain the innovative party in IT

Oliver IT has never stood still and is always innovating. Not only for its customers, but also in its own organization. "In addition to continuity in assignments, it is necessary within our industry to continue to innovate, because we work in a rapidly changing environment. When we started 10 years ago, for example, there was no iPad, now it's normal for everyone to work with apps," Gerben explains. "Because everyone within Oliver IT continues to develop in the field of knowledge, skills and innovations, we really remain the party at the forefront of IT and, as Trusted Advisor, can guide customers on their IT journey".

"At the time, for example, we were one of the first to develop a mobile application on a SAP platform in combination with other tooling. Our research showed that this was the most suitable option for the customer. We are not afraid to take on new developments if it turns out to be the best solution. Ultimately, this assignment was the basis for the development of many mobile apps. This open-mindedness is also reflected in our products and projects today".

Memories that always stay with us

When asked what the most beautiful memories of the past 10 years are, Gerben has to think for a moment. "That first mobile trajectory I just told you about is an important memory for me. That project really was a gamechanger for Oliver IT. But also the first foreign customer is a real milestone. Then, as an expertise club in a tendering process, we trumped the large parties, where we then set up a successful project".

Good memories are not only related to projects. "One of the most important pillars within Oliver IT is the human factor," Gerben explains. "We work incredibly hard, but we also know what enjoyment is. The annual Oliver trips have become a household word. We go out for a weekend with all the employees, doing special activities and especially having lots of fun. For example, the trip to New York, where we cycled with 25 people over Times Square or that we drive a large limousine through Las Vegas, but also up the North Sea on the 'Eendracht'. Great to experience that together".

The future of Gerben as an entrepreneur

"Entrepreneurship is in my blood and I love to keep doing it. I can't imagine a future without Oliver IT at the moment. For the time being, I'm not going to let go of what we've put down now. This attitude draws me as an entrepreneur and how I stand in the competition. We are and will continue to be that innovative party within IT that produces surprising results," Gerben concludes nicely.

Read here the previous publications in the context of 10 years of Oliver IT:

>> Oliver IT celebrates!

>> How Oliver IT surprised DNWG with their approach

>> Struyk Verwo Infra: Innovative within the construction world

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Michiel van Sebille SAP consultant
Michiel van Sebille