TechnologyAdvice offers employees flexibility and opportunities to grow
Putting a priority on professional development helps attract workers.
The CEO of TechnologyAdvice, Rob Bellenfant, bought the company on eBay in 2005 when it was a digital marketing agency operating under a different name. Two years ago, he rebranded it and honed its focus to connecting buyers and sellers of business technology. The new approach brought quick growth, and the company nearly tripled its employee count in the past 20 months.
“We try to show the excitement at the company,” Bellenfant says. “When you’re growing, you’re creating something, and you can sell people on the ability to create and hold a higher level of responsibility than they would at a larger organization.”
A focus on outcomes, rather than time spent at a desk, provides flexibility. “We pay attention to what’s important, and that’s performance,” Bellenfant says. In addition, the company is constantly looking for ways to invest in employees, offer them opportunities for growth and keep them engaged.
Working hard, playing hard
As a tech company, some of the organization’s perks are familiar: catered lunches four days a week, great health benefits, a team outing once a month, a pingpong table.
“On the sales side, there’s definitely competition, and we take it to the pingpong table,” says Keith Lee, a client success manager.
“We like to have fun,” Bellenfant says.
But the company focuses on results too. “Everybody here trusts each other to do the work and do it great — there’s not somebody constantly looking over your shoulder,” Lee says. “You’re able to take ownership, present ideas, improve our work and cut out inefficiencies. That’s not necessarily a perk you would pitch, but I consider it a perk of my job.”
Lee says he worked at larger companies where sales members were able to avoid carrying their weight and still collect a commission. “That doesn’t motivate you,” he says. “Seeing how hard everyone works here, you know you’ll come every single day and be able to count on your team.”
Development is key
To boost performance, TechnologyAdvice puts a priority on professional development. Employees who read books out of the company library and make a presentation to others get a $50 gift card to the store of their choice. If they go to networking events or read a magazine article and tell others about it, they get a $25 gift card. They’re good perks, Bellenfant says, “but behind those perks is the bigger benefit — the ability to get better at public speaking.”
Lauren Eubanks, email marketing manager, says the emphasis on development makes the culture incredibly special. “It’s so heavily focused on personal development and growth and what I need to make my position succeed,” she says. She worked for a large company before coming to TechnologyAdvice and said the opportunity to grow is what drew her. “I didn’t have that freedom at a larger company — being able to say that I’ll control my own plans for success.”
Small business benefits
Working at a small business brings other advantages that are hard to find at larger businesses, employees say. “Very early on in my employment, I had an accident over the weekend and showed up on Monday expecting to just push through the day in a lot of pain,” Lee says. When he came to work, everyone told him to go home. He was reluctant to do so, as he was on a small team with only one other person, and work would slow down if he did.
“I come from a mindset of just shut up and deal with it and don’t miss a lot of days or call in sick,” he says. “It was nice to have somebody be real with me and say ‘we understand there’s work to be done, but we care about you, we invest in you, go home and rest and heal up.’” He went home and started working from home, and again he was told to stop working and focus on healing. “It feels like a family that cares about you,” he says. “You don’t experience that everywhere.”
When employees are working, they are encouraged to set high goals and find ways to meet them, Bellenfant says. “If you have a project you’re working on and there are 12 steps to complete it, those 12 steps might be completely different than the eight steps I might take to complete it,” he says. “But we don’t care how you get there. We will help you if you get stuck or need opinions, but you have the freedom to operate. Everybody works differently.”
This week, we're profiling a series of small businesses and their company cultures. Check out profiles on Gaslight, a tech development firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio; BlueGrace Logistics, a B2B transportation company that specializes in supply chain services and the origin story of Acme Business Consulting.