Business Perspectives: Ten-25’s Ian Oldrey

Business Perspectives: Ten-25’s Ian Oldrey

Back in August 1997, Ian Oldrey officially took up his first role with Ten-25 Software — the company co-founded by his parents, Baird and Sue Oldrey. Now MD of the forward-thinking ERP software enterprise, Ian reflects on how the market has evolved and the key lessons he has learned during his 25 years in the family business.

Top three lessons learned

Firstly, software is never really finished — it just gets better over time. Like so many things in life, if you wait for perfection, you’ll never get anywhere at all. The second lesson is knowing when to follow the market, and when to lead it. Change is rarely comfortable but it’s necessary for advancement. Knowing when to pioneer and when to respond to demand is a difficult balance to strike, and I’m not sure anyone gets it right every time. And lastly, treat others as you would like to be treated. No elaboration needed there.

Top three regrets

It is hard to admit the things I’d have done differently, but here we go…! My biggest regret is that we didn’t develop Merchanter sooner. Moving generations of system is a massive leap, so it didn’t get going for longer than I’d have liked.

In software you always have to be a step ahead of the trends, so the software is developed at the point everyone decides they need it. We definitely did this with Merchanter as a cloud system, but missed other opportunities with the previous popularity of Windows systems.

I suppose it’s linked, but the second regret is spending too long trying to tweak existing things rather than rebuilding from the ground up. Merchanter has been liberating to develop, unlocking many cool features, but it is more of a mountain to climb to get back to where you were.

Bolder changes are never the easiest, but I’d like to have done it all sooner.

The biggest regret though, and something we ultimately had no control over, was the timing of Merchanter’s release. It coincided with the start of the Covid pandemic, so we simply couldn’t give it the fanfare it deserved. I wish we could have done that differently and set it off with a bang.

Oh — and I definitely regret not being part of the company’s lottery syndicate back in the day when they won £70K!

Top three proudest achievements

There have been times when a customer has taken the time to thank me for their system, telling me it has literally saved the business. On more than one occasion, it’s picked up fraud, helped spot vital trends and avoided potential issues. That makes me more proud than I can say — to have built systems that protect livelihoods and play a part in keeping those organisations alive. That’s a great feeling.

Similarly, many of our customers took on a system when their businesses were small, or even just starting out. It’s amazing to see those businesses grow and flourish to more than ten times the business we first worked with. Providing such a vital tool to help industry thrive, to help businesses grow, and to be a part of an industry that literally builds the world we live and work in — that’s a true honour.

Secondly, I am so proud of the way we work with our customers. At Ten-25 we aim to be fair, and we push hard to give great service. We are not always as hard-nosed as some, and that isn’t always good for our bottom line, but I know I sleep better at night knowing we do right by our customers.

We support them, we listen and we respond. Sure, we can’t do everything and we do have a business to run, but I think our fair and supportive approach to our customer relationships is one of the reasons so many choose to stay with us for so long.

Which leads me to my final point. I am, hand on heart, proud of Merchanter. It is the first generation of system created from my experience, design and drive — brought skilfully to life by a talented team.  It’s an awesome system and I can hold my head high knowing we have built something from the ground up that sets the standard for merchant software.

The comments I get doing demos and the amazing feedback from customers using the system makes up for a lot of overtime, I can tell you!

Top three pieces of advice

Trust your gut, but back it up with the numbers. On reflection, 25 years in this industry have shown me that my instincts and ideas are good, and that I can be bolder in following them, sooner. In a way, that’s exactly what our aim is with Merchanter — it’s a system that helps merchants have more confidence on faster decision-making, winning back time on every front and creating as many (or even more) opportunities as it mitigates in risk.

But it’s not human — so trust your gut. It will be there for the numbers you need.

The next bit of advice is to get a good business coach. Especially for those of you running a business, it can be a lonely place and it’s so important to have people around you whose opinions you value and trust. Equally, build a good team around you, who share your values and who aren’t afraid to challenge — and support — when needed.

And finally — find your ‘why’. This really lies at the heart of it all and makes everything worthwhile. If you can get to the real root of why you do what you do, you can make decisions aligned with that and drive the business with a clear vision — that’s solid gold.

One last thing — the best ideas are born on sunny beaches. Whether your beach is walking the dog, a long drive, or brushing your teeth, the clearest ideas are rarely found at a desk or staring at a screen. So, don’t forget to find some balance, and take time off. We all need a new perspective from time to time. The Queen’s death in September has brought with it a timely reminder that nothing and no-one lasts forever, so spend your time wisely, and don’t neglect the downtime.

Click or tap the link for more information on Merchanter from Ten-25 Software.

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