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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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Who Needs an Office? How to Go 100 Percent Remote.

Who Needs an Office? How to Go 100 Percent Remote. | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/2cmT

Having a team work remotely can save lots of money and allow you to unleash creativity, huge amounts of work and an incredible amount of power.

More and more companies are going 100 percent remote. The remote trend is especially widespread in the startup community. When cash and resources are low, you do what you can, and going remote is one of the smartest moves you can make.

It was just about a year ago that FlexJobs declared, “2014 is THE year to find remote jobs.” Of course, big companies like Xerox and Apple allow remote work, but it’s the startup environment that has really embraced remote work situations. Entrepreneurs are realizing that it doesn’t matter where an employee is, as long as he or she can communicate with the team and get work done.

If you’re curious about how to make your business go remote, here are your answers.

Read more: http://snip.ly/2cmT


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"With Growthink on your side, you are in a win-win situation. They placed themselves in my situation and analyzed my business as if it were their own business. I could never recommend any firm but Growthink to provide business planning services at this level of quality."
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Working remote is the future. Best solution for yourself, and a great solution for many people in your company. Check it out. Neil has some great tips and obviously speaks from experience.

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Why our startup has no bosses, no office, and a four-day work week - Quartz

Why our startup has no bosses, no office, and a four-day work week - Quartz | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

As Paul Graham, entrepreneur, programmer and also founder of YCombinator used to say: “For a programmer, the cost of attending a meeting is always higher.”


In 2008, my study partner Hernán Amiune and I had finished studying computer engineer at Catholic University of Córdoba Argentina.

During our last years at university, we had done some internships in companies such as HP, IBM, and Intel. It was the moment we realized there was a mistake in their work methods.

We couldn’t understand why people without technical knowledge had to tell programmers “what” to do and, furthermore, they had to supervise “how” programmers did it.


So, when we created Project eMT, a comparison search engine for Latin America, we decided to work in a different way: without project managers. Six years later, we operate in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia together with 34 engineers that are part of our team, and we still work without traditional management structures and work weeks, and have managed to grow our annual revenue by 204%.

Here’s how we do it.

No bosses

At big tech companies we frequently observed how programmers would do bad work in a short period of time and receive praise from their bosses. Over time, this leads to the standard: “let’s program with low quality but as fast as possible.”

As Google CEO Larry Page used to say: “Engineers shouldn’t be supervised by project managers with limited technical knowledge.”

On the other hand, as programmers, we used to find it profoundly annoying that our bosses would set meetings with us at any moment based on their needs. This may seem striking, but it’s essential.

A developer needs an average of four consecutive hours of uninterrupted work to be able to carry out a good quality job with significant advances. Consequently, the ideal day would be for a programmer to work in the morning from 9am to 1pm and in the afternoon from 2pm to 6pm, in order to reach maximum productivity.

If for example, our boss assigns a meeting at 11am, then the morning is lost since I have to get ready for the meeting, attend the meeting, greet everybody, discuss the topics, then I have to go back to my desk and pick up exactly from where I had left off, see what I was doing and keep on programming. With all these activities, the whole morning is practically lost.

As Paul Graham, entrepreneur, programmer and also founder of YCombinator used to say: “For a programmer, the cost of attending a meeting is always higher.”

No office

The truth is that when we started, having a workspace wasn’t an option. When we were taking our first steps we didn’t have the resources to rent an office.

The scenario stayed the same until the second year when we were finally able to move to an excellent office with the amenities that we had always dreamt of (like ping pong tables, video games, private and personal chef, gym equipment and huge TVs).

This stage only lasted eight months until we decided to go back to working remotely for a variety of reasons.

To start with, the time we waste by commuting to the office whether it is by public transportation or by driving our own cars is on average one hour to get there and one hour to get back home. That is to say, if we work nine hours a day, we are wasting an extra 22% of time just on commuting. We also have to add the cost of the rent and the cost of commuting to and from the office.

But the economic reason is not the most important one, nor the main reason for going back to working without an office; instead it was the physical and mental tiredness that commuting causes. That time could be used to achieve a much more important goal like spending time be with your family.

Lastly, we work today in five countries and we believe that the habit of working remotely will allow us to continue growing.

Four-day work week

Reducing the length of our work week is a relatively new aspect for our startup; we implemented it almost 2 years ago and until now it has been an excellent decision.

In the industrial era, there was a belief that the more you worked in the, the better the results were; that’s why we have to work 5 days a week and be with our families just 2 days.

In a technology project like ours, more doesn’t always mean better.

What we need is that engineers are satisfied with their jobs and motivated to do them well. We are not interested in the amount they produce; quality is what is essential.

This is strongly aligned with the goal of hiring the best programmers. Indicating that we just work four days a week is an exclusive differential: it allows us to hire only the best people and have a spectacular level of retention.

According to our own experience, an excellent programmer can do in half the time and with better quality what an average programmer does.

What’s more, we are tired of listening to and reading about the balance between work and family. For us, this is the best answer to this historical problem: you can now be with your family 50% more of time.

Step by step

  1. As a starting point, we eliminated meetings completely (one-on-one and group meetings). From that moment on, every internal communication is done through written text. There are no calls, physical meetings, nor teleconferences.

This may sound disruptive, but we have been doing it for internal communication for three years now and it’s something totally normal for us.

Indeed, after reading about how a manufacturing enterprise saved an equivalent to eliminating 200 job positions through reducing the duration of meetings to only 30 minutes and with a maximum of seven people per meeting, we realized we were on the right track.

  1. Furthermore, there is no more agenda; nobody can include a meeting in our work day or organize our schedule. The job is organized by each one of us based on our timetables and knowledge.

In this way, any type of communication, being exclusively through text, becomes an asynchronous communication. This means that we can program (code) fully focused for four consecutive hours without being interrupted and then, when we have the time, we can advance and answer.

  1. Another essential factor was that we eliminated email communication; we definitely got tired of using the email as a to-do list. The email wasn’t designed for this, let alone designed with enough efficiency to perform that role.

We changed from a work methodology that had historically worked through a “push” mechanism to one with a “pull” mechanism. This basically means that nobody can send me a job-related email to tell me what to do (push). I am the one now who selects my next tasks (pull).

Both the meetings and emails elimination is supported by a tool we developed internally and we called “iAutonomous”. It’s simply a SAAS (Software as a Service) app that allows each member of our startup to participate in and create a new project or task.

Like this, we will all see a list of activities in progress inside our enterprise and we can create and participate in those tasks that need our help in order to be successfully completed.

In this tool, we can see what each of the members is doing in real time. We don’t need a boss telling us what to do or if we did it correctly or incorrectly. We are all programmers and we know exactly how our peers work.

Be picky

I personally consider that there is just one main aspect that has been essential to us: the quality of the engineers we hire. The most important thing lies in their capacity of being proactive.

The people that work with us are entrepreneurs themselves—they don’t need someone evaluating whether they work or not.

What is even more problematic is that those engineers that are not proactive cause great damage to our working culture. High-performance engineers will only want to work with another one that works even more and that does things correctly (meaning, writes great code!).

We have made mistakes hiring programmers that didn’t have that profile. But in days—weeks at the latest—we have managed to detect this. I suggest you don’t hesitate to end work relationships that are not working out; it’s not good for neither of the parties. If they need to be supervised, they will surely find their place in any other company (with managers).

I recommend starting with these new habits from the first day. This will be much easier than changing them later.


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Via Günter Schumacher
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great article. Who want bosses? And a 4 day workweek makes the quality of your life so much better, especially when doing work as a programmer/coder.

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3 Small Business Sucess Strategies You Can Implement Today

3 Small Business Sucess Strategies You Can Implement Today | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

In a landscape of big business and towering corporations, small business owners have it tough. The Small Business Association reports that only 69 percent of startups survive more than two years, and

just 51 percent make it longer than five. It’s tough running a David LLC in a city of Goliath Inc’s, but you can help prevent your small business from joining the ranks of failed startups. There’s no trade secret; implement these business strategies early, and you can survive the five-year mark and flourish well beyond.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



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Advice for small businesses in the age of the internet and technology.

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7 Ways to Nail Your Next Startup Job Interview

7 Ways to Nail Your Next Startup Job Interview | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Skills can be learned, but you either have ambition, drive and a willingness or you don't.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of job candidates. Occasionally, I’m blown away but, more often than not, I immediately regret that we’re going to spend the next 30 minutes wasting each other’s time.

Below are seven lessons every person should keep in mind before his or her next job interview at a startup.

1. Punch above your weight class

Serial entrepreneur turned VC Mark Suster wrote a solid post a few years ago about why startups should only hire people who want to punch above their weight class. This is true for the startup world, and beyond. Superstars don’t become superstars because they’re naturally gifted. Superstars are exceptionally ambitious. They are confident they can learn or do almost anything. This means that you should absolutely apply for jobs that you don’t technically qualify for on paper. Once you get the interview, prove why you’re going to kill it anyway.

2. Openly discuss your weaknesses

World-class people are acutely self aware. They can acknowledge that they’re terrible at many things. Employers want to hear from your mouth, with zero hesitation, what your biggest flaws are, and how you plan to offset those weaknesses, so that your presence is a net positive to the company.

3. Demonstrate why you’re world class

You will be hired for the one thing that you can do better than anyone in the company, despite your many flaws. Find a way to demonstrate this skill in the first interview.

4. Be prepared to have a deep discussion

Research the backgrounds of the company’s core staff, especially those who will be interviewing you. Devour every major article ever written about the company. Digest every detail. Most importantly, obsessively study the company’s market and develop original thoughts on what’s next. Be ready to talk in-depth on a variety of subjects. The interviewer should learn something from you in the process.

5. Request a project

It’s hard to prove what you can do in a first discussion. If you can competently turn around a difficult project in an insanely short period of time, you’ll prove you’re either a domain expert or that you have the appetite and capacity to learn quickly. Either way, this alone will likely get you a job.

6. Say why you can’t imagine yourself anywhere else. And mean it

When you take a job at a startup, your employer expects you to do the best work of your life, the most work of your life and to help others accomplish the same. As such, if you’re not obsessed with the company and the opportunity, save yourself the time and don’t apply. Show up with a clear understanding of where this company fits within your overall goals. Demonstrate that you will do anything it takes to prove how hungry you are.

7. Be honest

It sounds ridiculously obvious, but you’d be amazed how many candidates lie in interviews. Be honest about your background. We’ll pick up the phone and verify your credentials when you leave. Be honest about your skills, too. We’ll find out the minute we give you a project if you have them or not.




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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Written from experience, this article gives you the right ways to get noticed and hired.  Don't be mediocre.

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The Truth About What It’s Like Working For Uber | LinkedIn

The Truth About What It’s Like Working For Uber | LinkedIn | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

I was a Community Manager on the East Coast for Uber for almost a year (February 2013 – December 2013). After being ‘out’ for about nine months, I’ve had a chance to reflect on my time there. I’ve also been encouraged to, due to the number of people who’ve reached out to me, asking how it was, since they themselves are considering applying.

This makes sense. It’s smart to talk to someone who works at a company before deciding to work there. It’s even smarter to talk to someone who currently works there and someone who used to.

So let me tell you what it’s really like working for Uber:

PROS1. The Team Is Extraordinary

The people at Uber are freaking awesome (apparently, the real f-word caused some people to stop reading). There’s no other way to put it. They’re astonishingly smart, motivated, talented, warm, friendly, and very hardworking. Uber is extraordinarily picky about who they hire, and they do a good job of bringing in brilliant people.

For me, my peers were the best part of the job. They not only had my back most of the time, but they were super fun. For the most part (not all the time, but the vast majority of the time), I felt like I could reach out to anyone there, and they’d make time for me.

As a rule, people at Uber are generous and bighearted and intelligent and sharp and creative and cool.

2. They’re Fair

For the most part, Uber is a pretty flat meritocracy. They’re ready to listen to anyone, if what they say is of value. Good ideas are noticed, respected, and implemented. There are obviously some politics (I don’t believe any large organization of human beings can totally avoid that), but it’s not the predominant company culture.

Instead, they’re extremely focused on metrics and analytics. Your success is largely based on your performance in terms of numbers, not whether someone likes you or you’re someone’s cousin or you’ve been there longer.

3. It’s A Crazy Awesome Ride (pun unintended)

There’s nothing like being on the inside of an insanely popular and insanely high-growth tech startup. Uber’s growth is unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. The weekly all-team meetings, held via Skype since Uber is now in 100+ cities all over the world, are awe-inspiring. It’s unreal watching baby cities grow into monster cities, or small teams blossom into huge ones. Working for Uber is like being on the inside of a real live game of SimCity.

It’s an incredible feeling to know that you’re part of it.

4. People’s Reactions To, “So, what do you do?” Are Awesome

It usually goes down like this:

Rando #1: “So, what do you do?”
You: “I work for Uber.”
Rando #1: “What!??! That’s so cool!”
Rando #2:I love Uber!”
Rando #3: *just looks at you in awe*

CONSIt’s Stressful

Really, really stressful.

I did an informal poll while I was at Uber, asking people in different departments and different cities: “On a scale of 1-10, how stressed were you at your last position, and how stressed are you at Uber?” I routinely got answers of 2-6 pre-Uber, and 8-10 at Uber. One guy said, “At my last job, maybe like a 4. At Uber? Normally ... 8. This week? 11.”

At Stanford, we had a saying that students there are like ducks on a pond. On the surface, they look like they’re effortlessly floating along; under the surface, they’re paddling like mofos, their hearts going a million miles a minute just to keep up.

That’s Uber. Everyone looks like they’re doing fine, but they’re really working 80-100 weeks and even then, constantly feel like they’re behind. Working for Uber is a sprint, with marathon hours.

It’s Disjointed

Uber is still in the awkward gangly phase of a burgeoning startup. The thing is, it’s not really a startup anymore. It’s a big company with things like corporate values and policies and rules and guidelines. So expectations of employees are really high, but without all the support that comes with that.

As a CM (Community Manager), it was hard sometimes to rally all the things I needed help with, without pissing people off. I was dependent on teammates in design or engineering who were all the way across the country, many of whom I’d never met in person. It was nerve-wracking to not be in control, especially when I had time-sensitive needs and there was limited communication. I often felt powerless, but when I pointed this out I felt like I was just looked at as a complainer. A similar problem was echoed by others around me, those who experienced parts of Uber as rigid, not always willing to make the right systemic changes due to wanting to go at a breakneck pace all the time.

At Uber, you’re not always going to be given everything you need, to do the job you’re expected to do. The right systems simply aren’t in place yet; it’s all still being built. Things can be stressful or difficult, but without the recognition that they are, which can be challenging to deal with. It’s easy to feel alone, even while you’re surrounded by amazing people.

There Is No Work/Life Balance

At Uber, you work nights, weekends, and holidays. Some teams split it up so you get some real time off during the week/weekend, but that’s rare (FYI, some of this may have changed, since things at Uber shift so rapidly, but I doubt it. It’s ingrained in the culture). What’s not rare is to sign on to Hipchat (the way the entire company stays in touch) at 11pm on a Saturday night, and see lots of colleagues online, working, as well. Fortunately, you can work from home, and most teams are pretty flexible about that, but it’s still important to understand that you will be working *all* the time.

Uber does a good job about being upfront about this; they describe it to potential new hires as “the Uber lifestyle.” You’re expected to pitch in and do whatever it takes to have your city succeed, no matter when or how long it takes, and everyone hired is willing to do so.

Joining Uber is like joining the Firm from that John Grisham book … The Firm. Once you’re in, you’re in. Think of it like getting into the military, only cooler and you probably won’t die.

-------------------------

So, would I recommend working for Uber?

It depends on who you are and what you want.

If you’re young and hungry with few attachments, it’s a great option. For someone single, just out of college who just moved to the area, not wanting to get into a relationship or hang out with a lot of people outside the company, it’s practically ideal (practically). You’ll meet incredible people and be part of a strong culture. You’ll constantly be working, but you’ll never be bored and you won’t mind as much because most if not all of your friends will be at the company.

However, if you’re already somewhat established in your life (mid- to late 20s, early 30s, or in a relationship), it’s going to be hard. It will be ‘normal’ to spend your entire workweek working until 9pm or 10pm every day, then work an all-day event on Saturday, for Uber. You’ll miss seeing your friends and family, and resent the constant feeling that you’re not doing enough, despite working so much. This may wear on you over time, and eventually you may burn out.

As for me, my story has a happy ending (not that kind, but it’s still good). I’m happier at my current job than I ever was at Uber. We’re OpiaTalk, a tech startup in the eCommerce space, out of Baltimore. We help retailers make the most of their organic traffic – our social commerce widget turns browsers into buyers, hyper-converting traffic and driving opted-in leads at 4-5x industry average. Our team rocks, and I’m proud to be our Director of Communications. (That's us on the left -- I'm the crazy-looking one in the brown dress!).

Now, I wake up excited about my job and I also have real weekends, which has me feeling rested and ready for the week. During my time off I feel like I’m truly off, which is pretty much the best freaking feeling ever. At Uber, I constantly fantasized about leaving; it was never sustainable. OpiaTalk is sustainable because I work hard, and I have a life outside it.

Finally, I really wasn’t in the right role at Uber, and my manager wasn’t willing to work out a way to put me in one better suited to me in a timeline that worked. At my current job, I play to my strengths, and I feel truly supported by my boss. Shoutout to you, Tom Popomaronis: I love you, your mentorship, your humor, your entrepreneurial fire, your drive, and your heart. It’s why I’ll stick with you through anything, and why I’m pumped to be on the team you’ve built, that we continue to build together. Thanks for including me and for believing in me.

-------------------------

thought long and hard about whether to publish this. My hope is that it came across the way it was intended: as an honest and thoughtful distillation of my own experiences and observations of what I still see as one of the coolest modern companies to come out of the United States.

You want to talk about disruption? Uber has actually disrupted the tech/transportation industry. The world is literally different because of this company, and I say that as a young woman who is guaranteed a safe ride home in most cities where she goes. #Gamechanger. I also respect how Uber helps empower an entire generation of drivers with safe, flexible jobs – an opinion based primarily off my own one-on-one discussions with countless drivers about what Uber allows for them and their families.

I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to work for Uber for a variety of reasons, including gaining a better understanding of where I truly belong and how I want my work life to feel. That was an invaluable lesson, even if was a painful process. Sometimes, yes, it’s important to stick with a position for your own professional growth; other times sticking with it just leads to suffering. Here's the truth: Some jobs fit your personality, and some don’t. Some company cultures fit you; some don’t.

I can’t tell anyone what to do; I can only offer up my perspective. I hope it was Uber helpful. ;)

--------

Melanie is Director of Communications for OpiaTalk, the social shopping widget for retailers. OpiaTalk releases a time-sensitive promo on your site once a certain amount of visitors click, and also drives opted-in leads. Our latest client is seeing 19% conversions (nope, not a typo!). We call ourselves the hyper-conversion widget; check us out at www.opiatalk.com or contact hello@opiatalk.com.

And if you identify as a Millennial, I've got a quick 4-minute survey I'd love for you to take. If you do it, I'll be as happy as a teenage boy watching Anaconda.

Melanie welcomes connection of all types, including the LinkedIn variety: melanie@opiatalk.com.



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Via Official AndreasCY
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Want to work for a startup? Take a look at this very honest article. I love it, it puts everything in perspective. And yes, not all startups are alike.

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Official AndreasCY's curator insight, September 2, 2014 2:25 PM

An ex-employee on what it's really like to work for Uber: