I wanted to start 2016 with you by sharing my own areas of improvement as an entrepreneur. Ekipa is an amazing startup that’s bringing together clients and teams from around the world every day – but we’re not perfect. In our first blog post of 2016, I’m going to share my insights about working with remote teams by sharing my own weaknesses and resolutions with you. Here’s how I plan to be a better entrepreneur in 2016.
As the Cofounder and CMO of Ekipa, I’m excited about the journey we’re on. I want this company to thrive and grow. I believe in its potential, and I also believe in my own potential as an entrepreneur. But that enthusiasm can often lead me astray – I want it to thrive so badly that I take on way more work than I can reasonably get done while still being able to do other routine tasks in life like eating, sleeping, and showering. The consequence is a lack of focus and too many projects that never take off because they don’t get enough attention.
Since I’ve recognized the tendency to overcommit in myself, the first thing I have to focus on this year is on consciously under-committing. I know that in order to be optimally productive, I need time to eat healthy food, exercise, and sleep. I also know that I do better work overall when I have a few projects I complete optimally, versus many projects of mediocre quality.
Check In More Frequently
We’re a globally distributed team ourselves. I’m based in Side Manavgat, on the Turkish Riviera, and my two other Cofounders Piotr and Hugo are in the Netherlands. Our amazing marketing team, Shalini and Raisa, are based in India. Not only does the distance and time difference affect our ability to stay on the same page, but we’ve also got a significant cultural difference at play – USA/Europe as compared to India have different working cultures, with different ways of communicating expectations and following through.
Raisa and Shalini have navigated these differences with grace, but I also have to accept responsibility for my end of the relationship. In fact, I would argue that in a remote working relationship that spans two different cultures, each person has to hold themselves absolutely responsible for checking in and understanding the other.
And I do believe that many successes or failures can be tied to our ability – or lack thereof – to understand what preferences, biases, and expectations the other person in a remote working relationship has. To that end, I’m resolving to check in more with my remote colleagues this year, on every channel I can. We’re on Skype and Slack, and I’ve also got them on my Whatsapp. I’ll be setting aside time each day to check in with them, even if it’s just a quick message to say hello. The key lesson for anyone doing business with someone located in another country is that your team is your most important asset, and it’s always worth it to check in.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment.
I have to remind myself that Ekipa is a startup. While I love the idea of a platform connecting remote software development teams around the world with clients who need quality projects done at a reasonable cost, a little humility is in order here too. We don’t yet have the magic ingredient that makes this platform globally known, so we need to keep experimenting. Some other startups might call this a pivot, but on our team, we call it experiments. In 2016 we’ll be working on adding sales agents based in the USA, offering workshops for clients and providers, and launching a crowdfunding campaign where people like you can get equity in our rapidly growing company (more on that later).
On our C-Team, I’ve taken on the responsibility of communicating with our provider teams. This year, I’ll be focusing on really grooming their profiles to make sure they match what our clients need to see to establish trust with them. I’ll also be leading workshops on how to navigate intercultural differences with USA clients, starting first in Ukraine. So far, we’ve heard that the main deciding factor for clients when choosing a team is being able to read other client reviews, but if you’ve got other pieces of information that are important to you when evaluating a remote software development firm, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments.
Work Hard And Let Go
Finally, I’ve learned that while I love working hard to make Ekipa grow, I can’t be too attached to the consequences of any one experiment – otherwise, I might skew the results. Plus, worrying about the consequences only saps my energy and prevents me from focusing optimally on the company initiatives I’m leading.
On that note, I’d like to let go of this article in the hopes that you’ve found it useful in evaluating your own work. Even if you’re an employee, you’re still the entrepreneur of your own career – let me know in the comments how my own plans for self-improvement apply to you.
My upcoming workshop
Read Next >> How Intercultural Misunderstandings Make Ukraine Teams Lose Business, And What To Do About It