Around two years ago, I launched LeadsBridge with my partner Alex as a side project of another business, but we soon realized its destiny was much bigger that what we thought.
After just 100 days in, the business was growing so fast that we couldn’t handle it on our own anymore.
We needed to hire other people.
But not just any other people.
We need to hire talents willing to pour their blood, sweat and tears for our project. People who would think and act as founders.
Still, we didn’t have much money to offer, nor other financial benefits: despite the business was growing, we were still bootstrapping it.
The questions lingering in our heads were:
How can we offer value to still attract the best talents to work with us?
How can we appeal to professionals to join our project?
And once we manage to bring them on board..
How do we make them stay with us in the long run?
We had to be resourceful.
Soon enough, we realized that our only option was to leverage other highly desirable — yet extremely rare — working conditions.
After a few weeks of brainstorming, we came up with a successful strategy that led us to grow our team from just 2 co-founders up to a group of 25 talented people from all over the world, in just around 8 months.
If you are curious to know about our strategy, this is what we offered:
Corporate Culture 💡
One of the most efficient way to persuade a talent to work with you, is to offer an outstanding corporate culture and working environment.
I know, most companies nowadays claim to offer that, when in reality it’s “business as usual”. But we really do.
We firmly believe that work should not be experienced as a burden but rather as an empowering and rewarding endeavor.
That’s why, since the very beginning, our goal was to build a working environment that could enable each team member to contribute to the best of their capabilities.
We did that by encouraging transparent and honest peer-to-peer communications between team members, founders included: no hidden messages, no things left unsaid. People value honesty, even when raw or uncomfortable, much more than any bullshit formal communication.
We also created an environment where people can learn fast and express their potential to maximum capacity. We do that by truly believing in their potential in the first place, which means providing access to tools or educational courses to learn new skills. But even more importantly, by constantly offering mentorship and asking for feedback to improve our collaboration. As a result, many of our team members changed one or more times their main tasks within our organization and ended up doing what they do best, which is obviously beneficial for both parties.
Overall, there are very few rules we ask our team members to follow, and they exist with the sole purpose of respecting each other’s time and effort.
People don’t need rules to be responsible and do amazing work. They only need an environment that praise them and that facilitates their best work to come out.
If you compare this reality to big corporations, where many people are treated like numbers and swamped by bureaucracy and best practices to follow, you understand how valuable it is. The human factor makes a huge difference and it can outweigh higher salaries and benefits.
Remote working 🌴
Another aspect we leveraged with success was to offer the opportunity to work 100% remotely, which is still rare and appealing to many people.
In fact, remote working gives people extreme freedom and flexibility in terms of location, routine and productivity.
Given its favourable but still challenging nature, for many people it is an opportunity to improve soft skills such self-management, teamwork and communication.
Plus, many people are curious to see from the inside how a startup works. It doesn’t happen everyday to contribute to the growth of an international business, by coordinating with other people from all over the world through a desktop application.
There is a fascinating complexity to it, and people get easily excited about it.
Career hacking 🚀
Having a relatively small team of people to manage, we organize our work in micro areas of focus with their respective micro teams of 3–5 people. Every team is a world on its own but that contributes to the collective growth of the project.
For someone who has just been hired, working in micro team it’s an opportunity to rapidly scale his/her position in the organization. In fact, in the sea of uncertainty navigated by startups, the learning curve is steep and immediate. Even if you start from square one, within just few months of hard work and dedication it’s possible to reach a level where you get to manage other people yourself.
This aspect is stimulating and appealing to many people, career-wise, compared to the stale environment of many corporations, corrupted over time by entrenched dynamics of power.
Sharing the operating profit 🎂
Another aspect we make sure to be clear about, is the reward system we implement. We believe that the working environment must be participative, so if a startup has grown thanks to the work its members, it’s important to value it and reward them.
We do that by sharing some of the operating profits at the end of the year. Nothing too crazy — as a startup still navigates uncertain waters — but rather something symbolic yet concrete.
We don’t want to be another company that hires resources “just to do the job”. We rather decrease our paycheck to invest in our future. And the future is shaped by our talents.
Which brings me to a final consideration about defining what a talent really is.
For how I see it, a talented person is not necessarily someone with an international double degree and 25+ years of experience in a certain field.
For how I see it, a talent is someone with a burning desire inside to learn, grow and contribute to build something. Someone who sees uncertainty as an opportunity to test his/her skills, take on responsibilities and experiment with different tasks. Someone who is willing to delay gratification for the sake of a collective endeavor.
At the end of the day, before having a great idea or a revolutionary product, you need to have an incredible group of people willing to pour their blood, sweat and tears for the growth of a project.
That’s what made LeadsBridge successful so far, and that always will.