Great vs. Big

A few years ago we outlined a few goals for our company. They had nothing to do with metrics, like number of customers or revenues or whatever. Rather, they were things like “Be the most beloved brand that serves the restaurant industry” (which I’ll blog about soon) and the reason for today’s post: “Build a great business, not necessarily a big business.” Those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but we’d much rather Schedulefly be viewed as a great company vs. a really big company.

When I think of great businesses, I think of ones that are really easy to do business with, ones that put pride into their product and don’t settle for volume over quality, ones that make life easier or more enjoyable for their customers and make them smile, ones where every team member is genuinely appreciative of that fact they even have customers, and that customers have choices and have chosen to spend their hard-earned money on their product/service, ones where the people who work there are happy and enjoy what they do every day and aren’t there just to have a job, but rather to do something they are excited about, ones where the people understand they are part of something special and are thankful to have the opportunity, ones that don’t focus first and foremost on growth as the primary objective, ones where the people all have the autonomy to make decisions to do the right thing for their customers without having to get permission, ones where people appreciate each other’s work and try learn from each other, ones where everybody understands that there is no side of the business that is more important than the other, ones where people work hard when they are working but also have balance in their lives and don’t have to spend every waking hour working their ass off while their kids grow up and around them and they miss it, ones where people won’t look back one day and think “I wish I had done something different in my career,” ones where money isn’t spent just to be spent, but rather money is saved and spent wisely and only when all other creative ideas have been depleted, ones where there are no outside investors, or at least no investors attempting to bully the operators into running the business a certain way (I totally get that any businesses simply have to get outside investors and it’s definitely possible to find good ones who are patient, but that’s rare, and we count ourselves as lucky to have bootstrapped Schedulefly), ones that are willing to take risks and buck conventional wisdom to do things their own way, ones where there is no master plan but rather a never-ending effort to keep getting a little better and learn something new every day, ones where the people are both confident and optimistic but never arrogant or self-righteous about their success, ones where the people are proud of their work but never satisfied and always tweaking things to keep improving, ones that are bold enough to know who they want to serve and are willing to be clear about that both internally and externally, ones that don’t try to be all things to all people, ones that have an opinion and aren’t afraid to share it, and, finally, ones that don’t take themselves too seriously.

Our entire team is getting together tomorrow. We have five people right now, and it’s the first time we will all be together at the same time (I’m in Charlotte, Tyler is in Raleigh, Wes, Hank and Charles are in Wilmington – these cities are all in N.C. but they are each a few hours each other). I wouldn’t call it a meeting – rather, it’s just a chance for us to hang out for a few hours and have some fun and talk about what we can do to stay focused on making Schedulefly a great business for our customers, and for each of us. In some ways I think Schedulefly is a great business already, but there will always be things we want to do even better – things from that laundry list I rattled off above – so it’s cool to rap about how we can accomplish that.

We’re growing nicely and I’m sure we’ll grow bigger – meaning we’ll keep growing the number of restaurants we serve and, over time, we’ll add more people (though very, very slowly and we’ll keep the team at five as long as we can) – but that will only come as a by-product of focusing on being great, which is all we really care about.