Most articles about growing companies focus on the metrics: revenue, number of customers, and headcount are common reference points. These are certainly important, and are the most objective and effective way to communicate a company's growth to potential customers, interested investors and curious parties. But the employees on the inside view growth in a very different manner -- we reflect on how our roles have changed and how the company has evolved.
When I first joined LBA Ware, there were five full-time employees, including our founder Lori. There were no set job duties -- in the same day I would write code, answer customer calls and take out the trash. One memorable day was spent hauling furniture around. Everyone pitched in for every task, because there was simply no one else to do the work. The task list given to me on my first day had 177 work items.
By 2013, Lori's decision to grow our company from a professional services firm to a SaaS provider was in full swing. We were also adding a middleware product to our portfolio. There were now eight of us, and this transition meant a lot of hectic, stressful days. My task list stayed in the triple digits.
To blow off steam, Dave, a fellow developer, had been working on a silly mobile app where you were supposed to take pictures of Converse All-Star tennis shoes ("Chucks") next to each other and then ... well, I'm not sure what was supposed to happen after that. But Dave had been stopping Chuck-wearing people in the streets and taking pictures of their shoes with his. One day Converse ran a sale on Chucks, so I convinced Lori and our project manager to buy Chucks with me and surprise Dave. The Chucks arrived, and LBA Ware had its very first Chuck Check on November 15th, 2013.
This act to reduce stress became a part of our culture. From then on, every new hire received a pair of Chucks, and Chuck Checks became a frequent activity between employees.
CompenSafe and LOS Talker, our SaaS and middleware products, started gaining customers. LBA hired more employees. The Chuck Check became a Chuck Circle. Our roles evolved so that we became more specialized in our duties. Most employees were dedicated to one of our three divisions, with only Lori working in all areas. The new people influenced our culture. Pizzas began being delivered once a month and so ‘Pizza Friday’ was added to the Outlook calendar.
By 2015, we had outgrown our old office and moved into the top floor of a two-story building in downtown Macon. More new faces were welcomed into our company. No one worked on all products. My task list was specified by the current Sprint and could be realistically completed in two weeks. I found myself saying things like, "Isn't that in the Developer Wiki?" We had a Brand Document that specified company colors, logos and fonts. There was an LBA banner for conventions. I still took out the trash occasionally but now there was a cleaning service. Most surprisingly, people started coming to me with questions.
It is now 2018 and we've filled the top and bottom floors of the building. A ping pong table arrived at some point, along with various beanbag chairs (excuse me, I've been informed that they're actually "Foofs"). The word "boss" is being thrown around by various employees, and not just in reference to Lori. My title hasn't changed, but my role has. The same has happened to Dave and Zack. Our lunch topics now involve strategies regarding our respective divisions as well as trading advice on managing our teams.
Almost six years have passed now. None of the steps occurred overnight, but they weren't so gradual that I don't sometimes stop and have a mental awakening. When this happens, I look around the office with wide eyes and think forward to the new year, the new people and the new challenges.
Change is good.