Occasionally I look back at old blog posts of ours and just nod my head. It feels good to have stayed the course and resisted the urge to add more and do more and hire more for fear that we would not keep growing. I honestly believe that most company founders and owners would have loved for their business to stay small and fun and manageable with just a handful of people. The problem (I’d guess) is they lost sight of why they started their business due to investors and partners and more people and overhead forcing them out of their sweet spot and into an entirely different kind of business. Hopefully they still enjoy it, but I’d bet the reason they started the business is lost in a sea of new products and services.
Below is a post from a few years about the original reasons why I wrote Schedulefly. Thought I’d share it again. It’s still true.
While in college, I was a waiter at a nice full-service independent restaurant in Wrightsville Beach NC. There were 2 owners – one of which was there every night. During the summer they were both there on the busy nights. At that time, it was one of the best independently owned restaurants in the area and it was run very well. Eventually I became one of the more senior staff (thanks to my extended stay while taking my sweet time getting an undergraduate degree) and made the schedule for the wait staff. Before I was senior enough to call the shots on when I wanted to work and also make the schedule for the others – I (and every other waiter – about 40 of us) would do one of the following every week to find out when we worked:
a) Call the restaurant and bother whomever answered the phone and ask them to run back in the kitchen (where the paper schedule was posted) and check it to see when we worked. This was officially banned by the owners – but sometimes it was still the only option – short of option c below – which was miserable.
b) Call the person who made the schedule once we knew it was done. Of course in the mid 90’s no one had cell phones so calling meant calling them at home. College kids are never at home.
c) Get in our cars and drive to the restaurant to go personally check our schedule. This was most common. Seriously.
And that was just Sunday – the day it was posted. The rest of the week got worse once it started changing.
It was a simple problem our restaurant had back then and when I sat down to write the first lines of code for Schedulefly about 10 years ago – it was those 3 things that I thought about. I thought about what those two owners (and the staff they employed) would need to help with that. That’s it. I did not picture this software being used one day by other businesses with these same challenges and integrating with other products and other companies and becoming giant. I did not think that I would spin off a Schedulefly for retail and Schedulefly for healthcare and Schedulefly for [insert you favorite industry here]. Today, I still don’t.
Because today and in the future, thousands and thousands of great independent restaurants (just like the one where I worked) still have that same simple problem as we had back then. It’s a simple problem that needs a simple solution – and the problem will never go away. Sure, with technology, we could add tons of other stuff in an attempt to solves tons of other problems in hopes of growing bigger and faster and serving more customers – but we would miss the entire point. In fact, the point of it would be lost in a sea of options and features and complication. I know for sure that those two owners who I worked for wouldn’t like it and I wouldn’t blame them.