Last week I eventually found myself in Charleston, SC. (I must have really, really aggravated a Travel God in a prior lifetime, because I could have driven from Massachusetts faster than the airlines got me there!). Charleston is where FeedBlitz’s customer service organization is centered. We were giving back to the local tech community by sponsoring the city’s first WordCamp.
Now, FeedBlitz is a purely virtual organization. I like it that way; it makes sense in the modern economy, where physical overhead really isn’t needed 99% of the time, especially for a business like FeedBlitz. Yet, while we’re a growing business and we Skype, message and call all the time, there’s really no substitute for meeting in person now and again.
And so it was in Charleston. Our first official corporate off-site, we finally got the whole team together for the first time, ever.
While planned for some time, though, getting everyone together ended up being more important than expected. What it served to remind me of, given that two weeks earlier one of the team received a stage 3 cancer diagnosis, is not only how important people are to building a successful business, but also how important these people are to me, personally; and, I firmly believe, we all are to each other. More to the point, I’d failed them with a good business (but poor people) decision made a year ago; a decision that was easy to change in principle, but agonizingly difficult to achieve in practice. I’d forgotten that this business is run by, and serves, people, first and foremost. The bits and bytes, emails and feeds? They are the means, not the end.
To provide greater context, it’s been a difficult twelve months for this small business, to say the least, and there are challenges ahead. Our teeny team has gone through bereavements, are going through divorces, will endure cancer. In Charleston we laughed and, yes, we cried, too.
But as we stood, smiling (maybe a little hung over, too — you might like to think so, I couldn’t possibly comment), grabbing the photos for Facebook and our memories, I realized that, through it all, we (not me, we) had managed to, accidentally, build something much more important than the business.
We’d built a company, together.
I couldn’t be more proud of the people who work here, and what they achieve on a daily basis for our clients, for themselves, despite everything. Ultimately, as a result, making FeedBlitz a better business and building greater value for our investors. Being this company means we will succeed, and that the leaders I see emerging in the team will take this company forward to exciting and interesting new places in the coming years. It won’t be easy – nothing worth doing is – but if anyone can do it, it’s these guys. You’ve no idea how much I trust them (Edit: I don’t think they do, either. They’ll figure it out, sooner or later).
Better yet, though, Charleston was notable for one other reason.
Ashley started to reverse the curse by getting married to Josh that Sunday. We couldn’t be happier for them.
And so for many, many reasons, this was the week it all changed.
Building a growing, profitable business? That’s good.
Building a company?