Less than half of the startups are still in business 5 years after they’ve started. (source) And here we are celebrating 10 years of Qubiz.
Since it’s a big achievement and a big milestone, we wanted to take a moment and share what we learned along the way – see the article.
1. The best investment is in people
If we had to boil it down to one element that helped us get to where we are today, that would be people. Without our colleagues who work hard together, slaying user stories – sometimes under a tight deadline, we wouldn’t be here today.
That’s why it’s key to invest in people in any possible way. From good working conditions and adequate compensation, we constantly make sure that our colleagues have everything they need to do their best work.
Additionally, we believe in helping our colleagues get closer to who they want to be and what they want to do. That’s why we constantly invest in their personal and professional development through training sessions, workshops and more.
The strongest payoff here is our high retention rate, which is way higher than the industry average. What’s more, good people bring in more good people. And they make the office feel like home.
2. Collaboration is key
It’s not enough to have good people on board, they need to work together to meet deadlines and reach their goals. Teamwork is essential in our field and the stepping stone for teamwork is collaboration. Whether providing help when needed or whether it’s seniors mentoring juniors, we encourage open communication and collaboration among all our colleagues.
Also, we don’t limit collaboration to inside the company. Building custom apps and products requires extensive input from clients. To this end, we work closely with them, often as if we’re one team.
3. Practice honesty, trust, and respect
Teamwork, collaboration, growth – all those are impossible without trust and respect in the long run. You can take a chance, cut corners here and there, but in time the truth comes out.
To make it in business, honesty and respect are essential. They are requisites to building trust both inside and outside your company. Additionally, committing to these values has also helped us strengthen our reputation and our brand.
4. Good work brings in more work
The work you do is like your calling card. It shows who you are and what you’re made of.
From the beginning, we’ve set the bar pretty high for creating high-quality software. Our clients were pretty happy with the results, with how we work and how we approach projects.
Consequently, some clients have recommended us further to other companies, leading to more work. Other clients (for example, Davanti) decided to move all their existing projects to Qubiz. In other cases, one-year contracts got extended, sometimes adding more manpower to the team working on that project.
None of this would have happened if we hadn’t done the good work.
5. A little patience goes a long way
“Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Likewise, good, solid companies aren’t built overnight. It takes time to build a team, to build relationship, friends and to get familiar with one another.
Two years after we started in 2008, we were still a small team of 10 people. Slowly and in time, our team grew to 25 colleagues in 2012, 50 at the beginning of 2014. By the end of 2015, there were about 102 of us. Today, we’re a team of 150 and growing.
We grew slowly, over time and the first few years were pretty tough. Also, it took a while until we saw the results of the hard work we had put in at first. As we grew and gained expertise in different domains, we moved to being a thriving business.
But it took us a while to get there. Patience, along with perseverance, is key here.
6. Always keep one step ahead
Technology is a field that develops almost at the speed of light. While new, improved solutions come about very often, others get discontinued pretty suddenly (case in point: Microsoft Silverlight). What’s more, companies need custom solutions that help them get the job done fast and on time.
Keeping up to date with changes is essential to staying afloat in software development.
That’s why we’ve always kept learning and researching. We keep an eye out for new technologies (machine learning, IoT, Big Data, virtual reality), new developments, new ways of working. This has enabled us to build the custom solution that helped our clients grow their business. By constantly investing in new technologies, we minimized the risk of being taken by surprise by major changes in this landscape.
7. Partnerships are golden
A considerable part of our growth is due to the strong partnerships we’ve developed. And when we say partners, we mean both business development and clients. Early on, we started with Fred Kawakkel – our first partner in the Netherlands. In time, we also started working with specialized partners, for example, Scalar Data for Big Data.
Also, since we’ve been working with some clients for so long, we’ve come to see them as partners as well. The work we did for them, as partners, has helped them, in turn, grow and develop.
8. Constantly monitor where you are
To stay in business 10 years, you need to constantly evolve. Still, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Because it’s all too easy to keep busy without making progress, we’ve made it a point to constantly evaluate our results. This has always helped us see what we need to do to become even better.
To this end, we constantly ask our clients for feedback, checking if we’re delivering the results they expect. Not only do we monitor our results, but we also make sure all our colleagues are informed. We share client feedback and other performance-related metrics over company meetings.
9. Flat structures work on so many levels (pun intended)
Software development is a creative field, no matter what anyone says. Constraints, conventions don’t help in this respect.
Pretty early on, we decided to keep things simple. We have a pretty flat hierarchy, we don’t do stuffy titles or micromanagement. The atmosphere around the office is pretty informal and relaxed. We don’t have big, shiny desks either. As a fun fact, our CEO doesn’t have an office, he likes to go around and works from wherever he finds a spot.
All this has encouraged open communication, transparency, and trust. Plus, it has helped us build closer and stronger relationships at work.
10. To stay productive, have (some) fun
All work and no play is… drudgery. Also, countless studies have shown what we’ve noticed first-hand to be true: that play and fun are regenerative. They’re essential to staying focused, productive and creative. Also, fun helps build friendships and relationships that last.
So, we’ve made it a habit to have fun every now and then. Whether it’s over our Summer Camp or Christmas Party, going out with colleagues or sharing a short ping-pong match over lunch break, we keep the habit alive.
Additionally, we have our own sense of humor to brighten the day today. We often joke around the office, offline and online on our internal Skype group – much to the despair of some and to the delight of others.
Bonus: When in doubt, get cake.
We know sugar has gotten a bad reputation lately, but still…
From our experience cake helps in a lot of instances. For example, cake is a great way to say “Thank you, you’ve done an amazing job” when one of our teams has completed an important milestone in a big project. Cake also says “Happy Birthday, we’re happy that we’re celebrating this together” when one of our team members celebrates their birthday.
Some colleagues even bring cake for their team members for no specific reason, kind of just because it’s Monday. Generally, when there’s cake, there are also people getting together, talking, telling jokes and having a good time. One thing’s for sure: cake always brings a smile to our faces. 🙂