Before anything else, values come first. Without clear, shared values, we wander independently and contradict one another. Everything’s harder when we all believe different things about what’s important to us, our company.
Be Straightforward. Whenever we speak — internally or externally — we should speak plainly and clearly. Watch out for lingo, assumptions, exaggeration, or other things that get in the way of a straightforward explanation. This doesn’t mean we strip the poetry and personal expression from our language, but it’s got to make sense. With the exception of deep technical discussions, anyone who reads what we collectively write should simply get it without further explanation required. Don’t use eight words when five will do.
Be fair and do the right thing. What’s fair? What’s the right thing? We all have to use our best judgment, and everyone’s judgment varies, but a good rule of thumb is “what would you do for a friend or a neighbor if they asked for help?” An example might be providing a refund even if it’s a little outside the refund window. Or being someone who says “Sure we can do that for you” when a customer expected you to say “sorry, we can’t.” If the request is reasonable, grant it. At the same time, saying no is sometimes the right thing! If that’s the case, don’t feel badly about it.
Levelheadedness. We should be calm, considered, and thoughtful in our dealings with each other and the world at large. We don’t act out of spite, we don’t rush to judgment, we don’t jump to conclusions. If someone disagrees with us or attacks us we listen, we think, and we respond calmly and clearly — directly addressing the idea or the situation, not the personality or the pressure.
Generosity. Generosity is a wonderful virtue. Being generous is surprising someone on the other end with goodwill and asking for nothing in return. It could be time, attention, or treasure — we give what we’re expected to, and then some.
Independence. This one’s a bit of a contradiction. After speaking about shared values, here’s one that breaks away: Independence. We encourage independent thought and original thinking. Since day one, we’ve always done things our way. We don’t look to the industry or our competitors for the way forward. We see things with our own eyes, make our own calls, and offer thoughts, perspectives, ideas, and products that we think are right, not that they think are right.
Helping small businesses deal with growth
Growth makes a lot of things more difficult — people don’t know each other as well, information is harder to find, stuff gets lost, communication becomes muddled, it becomes harder to stay on top of everything that’s going on, etc. What worked for 3 or 5 people, doesn’t work as well at 6 or 8. And certainly not 10, 15, 25 or more.
At some point, growing small businesses need a system, something to stay organized, something to grow with so they don’t lose control of themselves along the way. Company-wide communication, team-based communication, and project work needs a home.
Most companies cobble together a latticework of separate tools as they grow, but the weight of disorganization and lack of order collapses and eventually catches up to them. Email doesn’t cut it anymore. More meetings aren’t going to solve the problem. And increasingly, incessant chatting creates exponentially more communication without the necessary structure and context to make it useful.
This is where Basecamp comes in.
Basecamp helps growing companies organize their projects, internal communications, and client work in one place so they have a central source of truth. People know what to do, they know where things are, it’s clear where things stand, and everyone is accountable.
This is what we do here. It takes many forms, and we’re always working towards a more perfect system, but we help groups of people get their shit together — and keep it together — so they can do their best work with their team, in their company, for their own customers.