At Virtalent, we regularly showcase the fantastic stories our community of business owners and professionals have to share.

In this “Under the Spotlight” story, Jonny Tyers, Founder of SHEPD speaks to Virtalent about his business, the pressures of time management and how he aims to help all small businesses become more secure.

Hi Jonny, could you please introduce yourself and just tell us a little about what you do?

I’m Jonny, and I run SHEPD, which provides cybersecurity protection for small businesses. I’m a security and software professional and was frustrated with existing products which are expensive, hard to use or just plain ineffective against modern hackers. SHEPD is still young, launched last year, but we have already have a trial product with a small number of customers out in the wild and are working on version 2.0!

Technology and security is in my blood. Having started out getting interested in computers and security as a boy I worked at various companies in the software and cybersecurity world, working with some very security-conscious organisations in the public and private sectors, before deciding to take the leap and start out on my own.

Thank you. I can really feel the passion you have for what you do. So, what does a typical day look like for you?

Most of my time concerns either SHEPD’s technology or its marketing and branding. As we are still young the ability to get the message right and meet people’s needs is crucial. I directly design all of the SHEPD systems today, so a lot of my time is spent writing code or dealing with technical aspects of our offering. The SHEPD technology roadmap is constantly evolving as I learn about new things the market cares about.

I think your interest and enthusiasm for your work really comes across. I feel I know the answer to this next question, but why did you choose to work in this industry?

Oh, why not? The internet was just blossoming as I was growing up, so I am lucky to have seen a lot of change in the tech space. I find it so interesting, I’m not sure I’d ever be as passionate about anything else!

“Natalie-Rose has been brilliant and very patient with me. She has infused SHEPD with a fresh perspective too! I’d heartily recommend hiring a Virtalent VA to any business owners out there who are under pressure and overburdened.”

It seems obvious your drive comes from your passion for the work, but that can often be tested when issues arise. What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered so far?

Without a doubt, it is time management. As an entrepreneur, you have to do everything, and balancing your time between competing priorities is always hard.

Managing one’s time is something I feel a lot of business owners can definitely relate to. So what does the future look like for you and your business? What is your vision for your company?

SHEPD’s aim is to make the UK, and the world at large, more secure. We’re not as sophisticated as some of the enterprise solutions out there, but compared to what the average consumer and small business have access to today, we’re improving their security massively. I would love to see lots of take-up for our technology, for us to see security improved in a really concrete way, and ultimately for SHEPD to inspire the next generation of innovative products in this area. I believe SHEPD is just the beginning!

That sounds really exciting, may I ask how did you actually hear about Virtalent? What made you decide to hire a VA?

I’ve read blogs and podcasts before about VAs, but didn’t ever feel it was for me, until this year when my business partner had to leave the business for personal reasons and my workload multiplied. After reading a bit further about it, it felt like a no-brainer that I was never going to be great at every task, and therefore spending a little money to save on my time was quite attractive.

So, after finding Virtalent to fulfil your new found need for a VA, what tasks and projects have we been supporting you with? How has this support changed the way you work?

Natalie-Rose has been helping me out with a whole variety of tasks for SHEPD. I’m not a marketer in the slightest, and my approach was quite haphazard, but she’s brought much more rigour to the way we do our marketing and I can see that this will sow fruit once we’ve fully implemented it. As a cyber expert, I do the occasional talk to cybersecurity meetings, and Natalie-Rose kindly offered to transcribe my talk to help put it together, and also so that we can reproduce my talks as blog articles. That has saved me so much time! Natalie-Rose also helps me with day-to-day tasks – invoicing, tracking of expenses and other small things, and is now also getting more involved in SHEPD sales to help field questions and provide information to prospective customers.

Having never used a VA before, it has taken me a while to get used to working with a VA and delegating work out. Natalie-Rose has been brilliant and very patient with me. She has infused SHEPD with a fresh perspective too! I’d heartily recommend getting a VA to any business owners out there who are under pressure and overburdened. It takes time to get into the flow (and I’m still on that journey) but it’s worth it. Why do stuff you hate and are no good at when there’s someone else who loves doing those things and will do them far faster?!

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