RUNNING a profitable business is an achievement in itself. But when you get to give a leg up to people in the developing world at the same time, that success is even sweeter.

Just ask Gareth Timperley, managing director of IT firm APEX Networks. As well as delivering for businesses and public sector organisations here in the UK, the company leads a project in Zimbabwe, training and employing young people - mostly women - to equip schools there with IT solutions and digital learning.

It’s something the young entrepreneur, who recently expanded to Glasgow, feels particularly passionate about.

“It’s so important that we create economic opportunities for people in Africa,” explains Mr Timperley. “Many schools in Zimbabwe have little and/or very old IT kit. We can transform the situation for them, often for very little cost.

“What we do is circular; we train students from the schools we work with, who then take their expertise to other schools. It’s a model that really works and we hope to take it to Botswana and Mozambique in the near future. It helps them deliver the curriculum and gives people skills. There’s so much potential in Africa and we want to being involved in helping them realise it.”

Bread and butter for Mr Timperley is the UK market, however, in which he is rapidly expanding. Glasgow is the award-winning company’s third base and there are plans for others. He now works with partners including Hewlett Packard to deliver all-round IT services to clients in a range of markets including education, local authorities, retail, hospitality and legal services.

According to the Mancunian, who learned his trade in the armed forces and speaks highly of the grounding it gave him, knowing when to expand is all about taking calculated risks.

“There's never a perfect time,” he says. “There are always going to be risks and rewards, and sometimes you will fail.

“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. The most important thing is to know your market inside out. I worked in IT for another company for seven years before going out on my own, and I had a good reputation.

“When you have experience you can take an educated guess. No one has a crystal ball. Things might not go the way you expect or want them to, but as long as you have your ducks in a row, you and your team will find a way to progress.”

Mr Timperley, who has utilised Storage Vaults’ flexible warehousing facilities in Paisley to help with his expansion to Scotland, says hiring the right staff – he currently employs 14 in total - has been key to the success of his enterprise.

“I’ve worked hard to build the business, but they’ve worked really hard too and the success is very much down to them,” he explains. “We’re good at what we do and we keep our heads screwed on, delivering the best solutions at a great price.

“Seeing your customers happy because you’ve helped them improve their business and saved them money is a good feeling.”

He also enjoys the freedom of working for himself, especially when that means making the big decisions.

“When you work for someone else, they tell you what to do,” he says. “What excites me is being master of my own destiny. If I think the business should go in certain direction, I can take it there, if I have a good idea, I can make it happen.”

In light of this, what advice would he offer others hoping to make it in the IT sector?

“I’d say mull over every idea at least five times,” he laughs. “The first time you might think it’s amazing, but by the fifth time you might have changed your mind. Be honest with yourself and always be fair with others, especially when you are customer-facing.

“Always be smart and polite – and don’t take the mick on pricing.”