CrowdfundHQ Article

Why a flat business model works best for you

Posted by Susana Pham on January 27, 2017

CrowdfundHQ is 100 percent self-owned, and has been financed by our users since we first launched 4 years ago. Some of our customers have been with us since day one. We are still small, with team members that live and work from different countries around the world.

Besides being small, CrowdfundHQ has always been a flat organization, meaning we are all responsible for everything. Growth is very important to us, not just financially, but personally and technically as well. We share the same vision, and at the same time we're very focused on being coordinated. That makes us efficient, and we can move quickly using a lean core team.

We want to surround ourselves with great people, people that care, who put pride into their work, and we're not afraid of failure. By knowing what doesn't work we learn, so we can work towards something better.

Hard work and dedication trumps talent, but all together wins every time.

Projects fail before success

Projects or tasks sometimes fail, despite the best efforts of the people on the team. Sometimes the projects are just bad ideas. Sometimes the decisions made make results less than what you hoped for.

Rather than blaming the person who took the decision, your team should find a new way to make that decision work. This increases the quality, and also makes our work more purposeful. The benefit of this process is that everyone feels heard and acknowledged. This is not my project, it's ours.

The user in focus

One of the main key factors is to always aim to make our service even better. Our users are our main focus. We pay attention and listen to our customers. That way we make sure that we create solutions that meet their expectations. Pay attention to creative users and encourage feedback.

It's important that everyone involved are deeply interested in what they do, are encouraged to dig deeper, expand their knowledge, and become better at it. We take responsibility for our own learning and development. Even though many of us work the longest hours, we're happier about our work-life balance, because we are passionate about our work.

Get involved in everything, make sure that everyone participates on every level. Even though most of us are engineers, we are all taking part in customer support. We know that providing great customer support is when people with the right skills answer the questions.

WHY A FLAT STRUCTURE WORKS BEST FOR US

Here's why we think a flat business model is the best solution for many:

  • Saving money. We don't have any management team or a sales team in between, which means less expenses on salaries. All of us are involved in everything.
  • Greater productivity. We don't waste time on meetings or long discussions. We rather focus on getting the work done.
  • Non-leadership. This means involving all the employees when making big decisions, rather than waiting for a manager approval, which is way too time consuming and will delay the production process. We increase quality because the decision makers are responsible for their actions.
  • Self-managing teams that organize their own work will result in a great level of responsibility, and increase the ability to think out of the box.
  • Open allocation. It's important that you love what you do, or else you will get bored and you will get a poor quality result. The team have their own freedom in choosing what tasks they want to work on. All tasks are a priority.

HOW WE WORK

At CFHQ, we have a different position on ambition, and we're not big fans of delegating or telling people what to do. As long as you share the same vision, things naturally fall into place. We don't try to solve problems ahead of time, and move fast when things go wrong.

DO WE REALLY NEED AN OFFICE?

We're working online, and are location independent. Most people might feel safe if they have an office to go to every day. We don't! We believe in building your own working environment, and unlike many others, we like to renew our workspace from time to time. Change breeds creativity and inspiration.

Since we're placed around the world, the team travels occasionally and meet up. We're a team with different culture and backgrounds, and we think this is a great way to learn new things.

HIRE FREELANCERS FOR SHORT PERIODS

We've experimented with including new people for certain tasks. If we need to hire an extra designer, we'll do so. We know time can be hectic sometimes, when there are some minor fixes that are easy, we hire a freelancer for a short time period just to get the work done.

Hold on to great freelancers, and hire them again if you're happy. Finding talent is gold. It adds to your flexibility in case you suddenly need more speed.

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

So how do we communicate with each other, if we don't work together in the same building? We do most of our communication by e-mail, and we use a task management tool, and it works great! We think by doing this, we will be more efficient, and it will minimize the risk of miscommunication.

When everyone knows that we can't always talk, we communicate better and more precise. There can be no office gossip when there is no office. Work when you work, be social when you're social, keep focus.

WORKING ENVIRONMENT

We like many others, take our job very seriously. When we mean seriously, we mean 100% dedication to the work we are performing and aim to get it done. We try to avoid interruptions, and the main key is to have a silent environment around us. In an office, you don't get that!

Why not rent a cabin in the woods, or a house at the beach? A calming view or fresh sea breeze does wonders for your productivity and energy.

RIGHT FOOD GIVES YOU ENERGY

Good and healthy foods are important while working. We eat lots of plant based foods such as fruits and nuts, which gives you more energy to do everyday tasks. Healthy foods are good for you, also financially! When you never get sick, you get more things done.

Besides healthy food, we work out as much as we can to lower the stress level. Yoga, rock climbing, martial arts and weight lifting are our favorites, find the ones you love the most to take your mind off work.

WEEKEND OFF?

There is no such thing as weekend off! You should not limit yourself from working on weekends. If you feel you have work that needs closure, why not just get the work done, and then take a day or two off. Don't get distracted about having the weekend off, unless you're feeling burned out and exhausted.

Work isn't separate from life. It's part of life, and weekends are part of life too.
You just have to change the way you think. No matter when, if you feel inspired, just go with the flow. If you're in the flow, you won't get tired.

Lastly, sleep when you're tired, take a break or a trip when you need to. Listen to your body.

DON'T HAVE MEETINGS!

Our experience in working with executives and managers is that most of their time is taken up with meetings, which leaves little time left to actually get work done.

Meetings are just a soul-sucking waste of time, and it kills productivity.
Think about the last few meetings you went to. Did you wish you were somewhere else, or finish the meeting wondering what the point of the meeting was? Or worse yet, feel that the same thing could have been accomplished through a simple email? Did it break your flow?

Kill the meetings in your life, and get a ton more tasks done.

REMOVE ALL MANAGERS AND MIDDLEMEN

Do we really need managers? By getting rid of them, you'll have plenty of freedom to make your own decisions about the projects you're working on. It also give all employees 100% control of their time and let them decide what they work on each day.

If they don't know anything about coding, they shouldn't work on a project that involves code.

It's time to start get rid of the management, and rather make everyone a chief. Of course there's always going to be some disadvantages choosing one or the other, but from our perspective and experience, the flat business structure works best for us, and we think that you should definitely try it out.

1 comment
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2 weeks ago

This is a great article and it makes a lot of sense. Especially the office part. Often times we get wrapped up thinking we need to have a office when really don't. That's just an extra cost that we don't need.

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