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VOL. 131 | NO. 156 | Friday, August 5, 2016

Tamburrino: ‘Have a Strategy Every Year’

By Leanne Kleinmann

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By 2008, Patrick Tamburrino had put together a respectable corporate career in information technology in Memphis. 

Patrick Tamburrino spent years working for others before starting tamburrino inc. “I wish that I would have had the confidence in myself to do it when I thought of it,” he says. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

He’d starting out “turning a screwdriver” as a PC tech at law firm Baker Donelson, followed by an exciting six-plus years as the head of IT at Campbell Clinic, helping the large orthopedic practice move from paper charts and X-ray film to an efficient digital operation. 

Still, he never thought about going out on his own when his time at Campbell Clinic was over, and headed off to two more jobs in corporate IT, the last a terrible fit. In the end, he says, “I was given the opportunity to make a change, and I did.”

It was a tough time. 

“I sat down and I just started thinking, ‘Do I want to go to work for another company, or do I just want to try this on my own?’” he said. “Thankfully, I had some great support from my family. I couldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for that.” 

He was able to launch his business three days after he left his last job. 

His company, tamburrino inc., is an IT managed services firm: “We come in and evaluate your systems end-to-end. We make a strategic plan for you, and while we’re working on implementing the solutions in our strategic plan, we’re constantly looking at and revising it, as well as managing all of your existing systems.”

Tamburrino, 41, had also been working with Memphis-based executive coach and leadership development consultant Jeanne Carr, who’d started out as a client, before he started his business.

“We went through the Strengths Finder process (which uses research from the Gallup organization to help people find what they do best),” he said. “It was amazing. It gave me so much confidence in myself and my abilities. I’m not one to take self-evaluations, because they’re never right. This was right.”

Did you have a business plan when you started? 

No … I had nothing. I still don’t have a business plan. I think of a business plan kind of like the same way I think of maybe chemistry, or algebra. I haven’t used a day of chemistry or algebra since I graduated high school. 

I think it’s a good idea to have a strategy every year, that you go back and revise. 

You say in the early months of your business you were broke. At what point did you think, well, maybe this could work? 

I never did. I still don’t, and I think that’s a good thing. I think that keeps me working on it to make it better, to make it the best it can possibly be. 

But yeah, the first three months I felt completely hopeless. Thankfully, I had some connections in the IT world and I was able to do some freelance jobs here and there. Eventually, people started talking about me and the work I was doing in these organizations. People started reaching out and I just started getting busier. 

I’ve worked very hard to make sure we have the best reputation possible. I know that we’re a small company – I have four employees – and a lot of people are afraid of that.

Why are they afraid?

Security. I’ve had potential clients ask me, “Well, how do you know you’re going to be here in five years?” I don’t, but how do YOU know you’re going to be here in five years? I have the same question for them.

I also get a lot of questions from people about what if there’s a disaster in Memphis. They want to know exactly what I’m going to do. 

You cannot anticipate anything in that kind of a situation. I know what tools I have available to me and I know how your environment works. So if you can find me in the rubble, then we’ll figure it out together. 

One thing that solidified that with me was when my hometown of Joplin, Missouri, was gutted (by a Category 5 tornado on May 22, 2011). My wife and I drove to Joplin that night, and we were there for nine days. There were no street signs, there were no utilities. There was nothing. You have no idea what your world’s going to look like after a disaster like that. 

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you started your business?

I wish that I would have had the confidence in myself to do it when I thought of it. I thought of it several times throughout my career changes and everything. Wished that I would have had the confidence to just go for it, early on. It could be a totally different world for me at this point.

Leanne Kleinmann, a longtime journalist and founder of Leanne Kleinmann Communications, is a first-time entrepreneur herself. Send your questions and suggestions to lkleinmann@aktagroup.com.

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