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Filling the gaps in IT.

Those who have home offices appreciate the quiet in their workplace and the chance to tackle projects at a slower, calmer pace. However, when surrounded by five children and a newly unemployed husband, the ability not just to work, but to succeed, is remarkable indeed. Lalena Wilson, founder of Atlanta-based IT consulting firm Zylo-Net, chats about balancing family, work, and the Web.

How did the company get started?

Zylo-Net was founded in 1999 as a Web page development company that did work for non-profit companies. At that time, it was a very small firm — just me — doing business out of my house. As a mother of five children, I needed to be able to have a flexible schedule. I was a Web designer by trade and decided that I could do a few Web sites and start off small. At the time I thought of it more as a hobby than a “real” business. I had no idea how fast it would grow.

Also, the downsizing in the IT industry became a first-hand experience for my husband. We decided at that point to start the process of incorporating his 20-plus years of experience into Zylo-Net’s growth. At that point we decided to make the company into a corporation.

What were some of the challenges of starting a home-based business?

Since we started in the house, our children had to discipline themselves to understand that our office is a business and not just another playroom with a lot of computers in it. We also had to learn when to close the office doors in the evening. It’s not a long drive home, but it’s a difficult decision to know when to work late. We have also had to deal with some licensing regulations. When we hire people to work with us to expand our company we have to be careful about how we employ them. There are certain regulations about people coming to our home for business. That is why we have been searching to relocate our business so that we can hire the staff that we need in order for us to grow.

What do you think accounts for Zylo-Net’s growth rate?

We became able to handle the problems that companies were having when they had to downsize their IT departments. Those companies had to have someone come in and take care of the things that their staff once did. Zylo-Net was there to fill that void. We try to bridge the gap that exists between IT professionals and upper management.

Why do you think that gap exists?

Upper management believes that IT staff is not business-oriented and does not understand the business that they are working in. So when upper management asks for help or when the IT staff asks for help there is a communication gap. This lack of understanding is what causes a lot of friction inside of a company.

What can management do to lessen the communication problem?

Upper management needs to treat their IT staff as if it were a resource that contributes to the final product that they are selling and not just a cost center that they keep sinking money into and not seeing any results. Management also needs to understand that the IT staff usually is capable of more than what the upper management uses them for. Usually there is technology out there that can resolve problems that management is faced with, but management rarely ever knows it’s there.

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