Entrepreneurship & Team Work

August 20th, 2010 by Rebecca Allen

Last week, I was interviewed for a blog post on how Entrepreneurs Play Well With Others for BostInnovation (read original blog post here). This was a welcome distraction from my normal schedule of business.

Following is my correspondence with Alexis Schroeder:

Alexis: What has made the difference for you in building and sustaining a strong team that works well together?

Rebecca: We have built our team on mutual respect and truly value everyone’s opinion. This has allowed all team members to feel very close and work well together. There is a lot of sharing of ideas and helping each other when working on challenging problems on projects. It was also a primary goal to have a team of the best developers. We did that by not being focused on one area, such as Boston. We decided that if a developer lives in Texas and he is the best person for the job than we will work with him/her. There are other challenges that come up when working with people remotely, but over the past three years we have really fostered a system that works perfectly for both remote and local employees.

Alexis: What do you try to keep in mind as you interact with other members of your startup team? (especially when you encounter challenges)

Rebecca: We always try to consider the problem from everyone’s vantage point when dealing with challenges – then try to come up with solutions that work best for all team members. It is so important to listen to what people have to say – over time that has been the best lesson to us.

Alexis: In your case, how have you made the co-leadership model work?

Rebecca: There are three partners in our business; Dominick, Chris and I. For every major business decision, we meet and talk through options and how to best handle the situation. Each partner is viewed as an equal and we operate like three prongs of a triangle. Often times we don’t all agree at the beginning of a conversation on how best to handle the problem. But over the course of a discussion, we come to a compromise that ends up being a better decision than any single partner could have made. If we were only to think about the financial implications of a decision we would not have the business culture that we have worked so hard at creating. So it is a balance of the three that has been a key to that success.

Alexis: What feels essential to making this structure function well?

Rebecca: The essential thing is our weaknesses as well as our strengths. We work well together because we are symbiotic in nature with our skills. I am not a sales person. Chris excels at this – he exudes confidence and clients love talking with him. Dominick is not a client facing partner typically, he works closely with the engineers at solving our technical challenges. My strengths lie in communication, creative and making sure things get done!

It is not often as a business owner that I get to take the time to assess how we operate and communicate on a high-level. Of course, it is very important to make these evaluations on a regular basis, so I want to thank Alexis for asking the questions and encouraging me to take the time. I would also love to hear your thoughts and experiences on running a business!

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