Someone at a party the other night asked me what our company, Honeycomb Communities did. I went on to explain that we build and run websites for companies, providing not only the platform, but also the content: video, blogs, and social strategies including the coaching on how to facilitate good community around a brand or idea. She then went on to ask how many clients we served, then how big our company is.
In response to the latter question, I thought a bit then answered. “It depends on the project; but over all, we have a max of 8 people involved.”
“That’s it?! Only 8 of you do all that?” Was her reaction. The look on her face was one of mild shock.
And, I’ll be honest; her response surprised me. Most times, when somebody asks you the small talk question of “How big is your company?” they’re usually looking to see if you have a big number. For some reason big = professional = good. But in my discussion with this lady, she was actually impressed by how few we were.
The implication was that it was too much work to be done my so few individuals. I felt differently. Honeycomb is always looking for new clients because we really do feel like we can do more. In fact, we’re hoping to grow one of our existing sites, www.dmcicommunities.com, very soon.
The 37Signals Approach to Growth
Tim Ferris, author of the bestseller “The Four Hour Work Week,” once blogged about a great company called 37Signals.
More than 3,000,000 people worldwide use 37Signals products. One of these products is Basecamp, a popular project management platform, famous for its simplicity. Basecamp’s website says that the’ve managed 8 million projects since the company was founded in 2004 and if you do the math, the web app generates millions of dollars every year.
How many people work for 37Signals? Less than 20. And much like Honeycomb, their decentralized model allows them to be spread across 8 different cities, even different continents.
They believe that “small” is not just a stepping stone, but a great destination in itself. They took a step back and asked themselves “Why grow?” And realized that the correct balance of flexibility, agility, profitability, and sustainability was — for them — at less than 20 heads. Naturally, this size will be different for different companies in various industries, but the principle is the same. Grow your company to the RIGHT size.
From the 37Signals example, I am learning to ask myself some great questions:
• Does a big office impress clients more than a killer product?
• Do more expensive, powerful computers equate to faster workflow?
• Is a large army more effective than a small special forces team?
The answers to each of these will inevitably begin with the phrase “It depends…” But that’s a good thing, because it will help put things in perspective for you and find the right balance for your organization.
“Do More With Less” has become one of Honeycomb’s core values, something that we picked up from Tony Hseih of Zappos. If you have a chance to read his book, Delivering Happiness, it’s definitely worth your time.
Do More With Less means we don’t believe in over-pricing. We don’t believe in using a 6-man crew when 3 people can do the job. The right crew, the right size, the right gear, the right price.
A good example of this principle in action is the short video we produced for Fully Booked a couple weeks ago. See that here. This video was produced with only 3 people directly involved and was posted pretty much the next day. The small team meant that we were agile, didn’t need to synchronize too many schedules, and could execute high-quality work in a short time-frame.
Of course, if you’re only bringing 3 people, you need to select the right 3 people. So choose your team wisely.
After working with many programmers over the last decade, I can honestly say that the people programming for Honeycomb really are some of the best. More than programmers, they’re actual engineers, and because of the engineering background, they are able to attack problems and introduce solutions with ease and elegance. They don’t turn down tasks because they “didn’t learn that in school.”
I also sincerely (and biased-ly) believe that our writers are some of the best in Metro Manila.
Will Honeycomb grow in size?
At some point in time, I do hope to. Right now, 8 is a good number for us. We can do a lot more, even greater things at our current size.
When the time does come when we need to add new people, our core belief of Do More With Less will be our guide in ensuring that working with Honeycomb is always a great and efficient way for companies to spend their resources.
Thanks to Chris Piascik for the word art!