How We Stay Flat at 30 Employees

Growth Has Never Been Our Focus

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that company growth has never been our focus.

When I started in 2008, my dream was to be a solo-preneur: I wanted to build a little 1-person company that would solve a tiny problem really well, for a long time. Clearly, I picked a problem (Helping Rid the World of Bad Software) that was too big for me to handle on my own.

Nine years later, Balsamiq has 30 employees, and we continue to have to grow in order to keep up with demand. A good problem to have, for sure, but not what I had originally set out to do, and something I'm only now getting comfortable with.

I realize this view is a bit uncommon in this age of Silicon Valley Unicorns and billion dollar valuations. If you'd like to hear more, I spoke about it in this talk or these two recent interviews:

And Yet, We Keep on Growing...

Our customer base continues to grow, year after year, and Balsamiq Cloud is taking off like a rocket.

To support you all as well as we want to, we have to grow the company with it.

At 20-25 employees, companies usually give up the dream of staying flat and introduce a layer of middle managers. We thought about doing that too, but - always the rebels - we have decided to explore a different route. 😃

Here's a summary of what we did:

  • We clearly defined concepts of teams and projects, and defined a few roles people assume when working on them (lead, organizer, contributor, advisor).
  • We built a very simple project management tool to help us track teams and projects, and who's working on what.
  • We evolved our 1-1 quarterly review meetings structure so that they're not all done with me anymore: people can now choose to be coached by one or more of their colleagues. It's awesome.
  • We adopted a few more tools and practices to help us keep the feeling of connectedness and fun. One that I'll mention now is Know Your Company. Check it out, it's totally worth it.

Watch This Talk for All the Details

I gave a talk about these topics at Business of Software conference in London in last June.

The video and transcript were just made available. Enjoy!

If you have any questions about anything I say in the talk, add it below, let's chat!

Hope this helps,

Peldi


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