Davis is the 45-year-old principal of Zalex, Inc., an Atlanta-based firm that offers Chief Information Officer (CIO) advisory and business technology services to small and mid-sized companies. If Zalex weren’t enough, he’s involved with two other startups.
Yet he makes time to join business and civic organizations because of his approach towards networking. “I get to know people personally,” he said.
Prior to Zalex, Davis was the CIO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the restaurant chain’s technology department. He enjoyed the work but grew tired of the demands and inflexibility of corporate life.
While Davis had dabbled in consulting since 2005, the real start of his company occurred in 2008, after he won Georgia’s CIO of the Year Award. “It got me thinking about what the future might hold for me,” he said.
“I don’t think I could have done this when I was younger. I didn’t have the relationships and the network that I have now.” — Tim Davis, Zalex, Inc.
At the time, Davis was on the board of a local technology magazine. When the publication asked him to do some work, he had his first client – and was off and running.
Davis said he relied upon five “F’s”– faith, family, fitness, friendship and finance (income) – to build Zalex. The experience and contacts cultivated during his corporate years also contributed to the foundation he needed to become an entrepreneur, he said.
“I don’t think I could have done this when I was younger,” Davis said. “I didn’t have the relationships and the network that I have now.”
Through his contacts, he’s found consultants to help with the accounting and legal functions of his business. “I’m a technology guy, not a finance guy,” he said. “I can’t do it all myself.”
Given his full schedule, effective time management is critical for Davis. Typically, he plans his calendar two weeks in advance to make time for his priorities. At the top of this list is family: he tries to have a one-on-one breakfast or lunch with his wife and each of his two young sons every week.
One aspect Davis enjoys most about having his own business is “working on fewer projects and going deeper with them.” While entrepreneurship was the right choice for him, he knows of others who didn’t like consulting and returned to corporate life.
Those thinking about starting a business may benefit from a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, said Davis. He also recommends careful consideration of the pros and cons of different business types.
“For me, the best model was a consulting practice,” he said. “Look at what type of person you are to find the best fit.”