Explain what your business is/does?

CCIS is a IT Consulting firm that focuses on the SMB market segment and provides local outsourced IT support and technology purchasing for Tri-County businesses. We provide on-site technical support staff to either act as the single point of contact for all IT issues a business may generate, or staff augmentation for specific technology needs.

When did you start it?

We incorporated in May of 2007.

Why did you start it?

My business partner, Carson Franklin, and I thought we could do a better job managing and providing service to businesses in the local area than the business we were working for at the time. They were based out of Silicon Valley and we felt that they were out of touch with the specific needs of companies in Monterey county and beyond. So far we are right. They are no longer in the area and retreated to the bay, while we are growing after 5 years in business.

How did the recession affect you and your business?

Cash flow was always a big issue. It mostly affected us in not growing the business as fast as we wanted. Fewer businesses were expanding and therefore had less IT needs. But, since no new IT purchases were made, there was plenty of work to be done maintaining existing systems that had reached end-of-life, but were not being replaced.

What do you like about your work?

I can't sit still. I hate sitting at a desk. This job allows me to be at a different locale every few hours. I see the coast in the morning, and the strawberry fields in the afternoon. It's pretty cool.

What are the challenges?

Competing against other small businesses. Startup costs are fairly cheap in this industry, and there are a lot of people that don't want to spend the money on quality IT. They all have a "cousin or a guy from down the street that kinda works of computers and stuff…"

How did your CSUMB education prepare you?

The academic schedule at CSUMB allowed me to pick and choose a lot of the classes I wanted to take. It was very flexible, but it also forces you to be very disciplined. You have to get on the ball and follow through with your decisions. I also got a lot of hands-on experience in the computer and networking labs. While a lot of the technology has changed, the underlying theory and practical knowledge has not.

Do you have any advice for others who may be considering starting a business?

Find a niche that you can sell. And just do it. Do it now. Don't wait until you are financially secure or have a perfect business plan. Because you know what? That time will never come. You will blink, and in a flash you will have a house, wife and child. Then what are you going to do? Start a business that "might" fail and lose your livelihood? No, of course not. Start it now while you are young and don't mind crashing couches, eating ramen, and have no real responsibilites.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Umm… sure.

I would recommend a well-rounded education. Learn everything. Put yourself out of the box. Don't be that computer nerd. Be a renaissance man. Know all subjects and be versed in multiple subjects. And most of all, be personable. In my business I would rather hire a person that is OK with computers and has a GREAT personality than a person who is GREAT with computers and has a OK personality. I can teach you computers. I can't teach you personality.