Sometimes growth and development comes from afar in the form of one person’s vision. Take the youngster Ryan Allis who shares his entrepreneurial secrets in a new book called Zero to One Million: How I Build My Company to $1 Million in Sales . . . and How You Can, Too. He launched an email marketing firm called iContact. Recently, I sent Ryan some questions to answer for this blog. Here’s part three and the final portion of our Q&A:
LGL: Okay, I really love this one: “Consciously build a culture.” I’ve always thought that company cultures sort of evolved on their own, but you offer another perspective. What do you mean here and can you give us examples? Also, why is this so important to a company’s success?
RA: While it is true that some companies have cultures that can evolve on their own, we take it a step further at iContact. We consider ourselves a family, and at the same time respect each individual in the company. Everyone at iContact is working together for the same mission. While we work hard and continue to be innovative, we also have a great time doing it. We have a foosball and ping pong table at the office, Bagel Mondays, birthday celebrations and Outstanding Performance Award Ceremonies. These things all contribute to the wonderful culture we have built here at the office, and it certainly helps in the way our team members interact with one another. The more dynamic your company’s culture, the more likely your company will continue to grow and succeed.
LGL: You give your readers some strategies for fighting bureaucracy. What top three tips would you offer someone reading this Q&A today in terms of being better equipped to manage this very old problem?
RA: Having certain systems and policies in place is necessary to building a successful company. However, bureaucratic issues arise when these systems become inefficient, so I developed a management theory called proactive empowerment to reduce bureaucracy in the company. It is a methodology through which individuals are empowered to know they are in charge of a certain situation, and perform at their peak while completing certain projects within an organization. At any given time in iContact, we have thirty to forty unique projects being worked on simultaneously, and before I began utilizing proactive empowerment, I had no systematic way of knowing what projects to follow-up on and ensure they were all on track and moving forward.
Proactive empowerment is a three-step process, and should help you effectively deal with bureaucracy in your business:
- Identify the project on which work needs to be done.
- Identify the people working on the project as well as the project leader.
- Provide the brief to the project team and project lead, and ensure the lead knows they have the authority to do what is needed to get things done.