What entrepreneurs and SMBs can learn from Russ Shaw

10 February 2017

5 min read

We spoke to Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, about why the workplace is changing, the difficulties facing entrepreneurs and SMBs and how as-a-service can make life a lot easier for them.

What entrepreneurs and SMBs can learn from Russ Shaw (Desktop)

Flexible working and the changing workplace mean that lots of people are needing to use tech to work remotely. What happens when people want space between their personal lives and their work?

It’s getting harder and harder for people to shut off. I applaud the people who have tech detoxes at the weekend. Friday night 9/10pm until early Sunday evening, they don’t respond to emails. They shut off their phones and they’re out of action. Companies are going to have to encourage that too. It’s important that people do turn off.

I find it hard to switch off because I’m connecting people all the time. I might be clearing out my inbox and send an email at 10 pm and I don’t expect a reply until the morning but I’ll get five or six within 10 minutes.

Companies large and small need to encourage people to get away from tech – they’re shouldn’t be expected to be on call 24/7. However, a lot of people manage their personal lives and their work through their smartphones, so it all starts to intermingle.


You’ve previously worked across a lot of different territories, so is this ‘always on’ style of work a cultural phenomenon? Does it differ? For example, France recently clamped down on out of hours’ work.

The Americans are at one end of that spectrum but the Brits aren’t that far behind. Even in continental Europe, things are starting to change. You can put laws in place but some people ignore it. I’ve met people like entrepreneurs who are working 12-15 hours a day. It’s their business, so if they decide to work that long to make it work; that’s their decision.

You know, if you’re a founder setting up a business, you don’t always have people to turn to. You have to put the hours in yourself if you want it to be successful. I admire entrepreneurs who are able to shut off.

When I meet people who are entrepreneurs I’m inspired by them but I always say; “Be ready, wherever you are in the world. It can be a lonely life. You’re going to have to put in a lot of extra hours if you want to succeed.”


Do people look at success stories in Silicon Valley and start-ups which have exploded and think; ‘That looks easy, I can do it too.’ and that’s pushing the rise in freelance and entrepreneurial roles?

Look, there are always going to be people like that. But for a lot of people I speak to it goes a lot deeper than that. They know they’re going to have to work hard. When they start networking and getting out there that’s what they hear about first. What attracts them is being able to work and build their own things instead of getting behind something they didn’t really believe in with some big businesses.

The financial crash in 08/09 really made people change and switch off. Particularly millennials who saw it happen and said ‘I don’t really want to contribute to that. Part of the reason why the London FinTech community is so vibrant is that so many people were made redundant. They took their redundancy packages and said; ‘I’m not going to waste this money and go to work for another big business, I’m going to start my own business.’ If they didn’t like what their previous companies did, or how they were treated, they just decided to change things themselves.

I think big business has to do a better job at conveying that they’re doing good things. It’s not just about profitability – it’s about other things as well. At the moment people out there are looking at them and thinking that’s not what they like.

They want to do their own thing, not just for money, but so they can do that extra bit of good on their own, and be proud of that. So when I hear that every year in Britain there are half a million new businesses being created, it’s a good thing. They are thinking that they’re in control of their own destiny. AND I think for a lot of people that’s a really important thing.

I didn’t become an entrepreneur until I was 50. And you know what? I love it. It’s a lot of hard work, I find it hard to shut off and I put in a lot of hours but I am my own master of my destiny and I really, really enjoy that. It’s painful at times but I’d much rather do that than work for a big corporate that is doing something I don’t appreciate or don’t value.


Is owning physical devices and office space a concern of people just starting out? The trend is moving to an ‘as-a-service’ debate. Is there a benefit to a business partner like HP offering to lease people their business tech?

I think it’s wonderful. It’s where the world is going – flexibility is the keyword. Whether I’ve got a laptop, a smartphone or a tablet, and I’m on the go all the time, I just want it to work. If they’re out there, helping me handle that, customising it, optimising it, then that’s a real gift. For a sole trader or a small business that dependability’s very powerful. I really think they’re onto something here, that’s capturing the zeitgeist of what’s happening with the world of work.


So if I was an entrepreneur and I came to you, what would you tell me to convince me is the biggest barrier Device as a Service will overcome?

I think that having added peace of mind when I’ve got so many other things to worry about as an entrepreneur, such as how is my product doing, how is my financial situation working, am I hiring the right people - those are the sort of issues that entrepreneurs need to focus on.

Which makes this service a no-brainer – it’s added peace of mind that someone else is managing your tech for you and they’re going to manage it well. They can put the right device in the right person’s hands with the right software and the right security. Take that peace of mind! Achieving those things can be an enormous distraction day-to-day, so get peace of mind, then you can focus on the heart and core of your business.

Another challenge that entrepreneurs go through is finding it hard to let go. They find it hard to hear that they don’t have to do it all on their own. And when it comes to managing stuff like this? Outsource it – give it to someone else to handle.

We’ve got all these fantastic ways of increasing productivity through more flexible ways of working, collaboration…you can work with anyone, anywhere, but often the technology stands in the way. HP DaaD cuts right across that. It’s a huge idea.


Want to see how we can make your life easier? Get in touch with our team to discuss the benefits of HP Device as a Service.