Sometimes people tend to think of business as an abstract object. But it is people who are always behind this abstraction. Today, let’s have a closer look at the process of business growth in parallel to people growth. How do they interact? What impact one has on the other? And what is important in both kinds of growing?
Business growth: the most significant elements
Business growth depends on three elements:
1) Market. It should be on the rise. There is always more to explore and the more unsettled the market is, the easier it is to forgive mistakes.
2) Strategy. While playing in the right market, an effective strategy or business model is equally important.
3) Execution. That’s where the team and ways of working play an essential role.
“It all starts with the team,” says Eskimi CEO Vytautas Paukštys. “Besides choosing the right market and strategy, a good team is essential—to execute our plans.” The team unavoidably contributes to strategy building and market selection. “If the leader is the only responsible person, it is unfair. It would be difficult for one person to deal with everything,” Vytautas continues. “It‘s essential to talk to the team: to get feedback, for example, about investing in one market or another.“ So the stronger and more well-built the team, the more success will be achieved when combining it with the first two elements.
Eskimi CEO emphasizes that most business growth processes happen as an outcome of permanent collaborative work with his colleagues. Still, he admits that having a dedicated time is also important. “The more functions a team takes on, the more time I have for planning the strategy. I dedicate two or three hours a week to think about how to ensure growth. So, there‘s a scheduled time for envisioning the company‘s future. But after all, I have to talk to the team about my ideas and discuss the questions together,“ Vytautas emphasizes teamwork.
Company culture: an accelerator or a brake
And how to put together a strong team that’s accelerating the business growth? Here, an essential thing is company culture. As Vytautas says, if the culture is right, everything runs fine and automatically. But if there’s no right culture fit, business processes won’t run as smoothly. “Company culture is either an accelerator or a brake for execution,” he summarizes.
Eskimi people appreciate and enjoy the company culture. What are the ways of fostering it? “That’s a question of mindset,” says Eskimi HR partner Rita Simonavičiūtė. “We’re a scaling startup, and in the core of the team, there are still quite many colleagues who joined dozen years ago when the company was founded and underwent plenty of changes and growth. Vytautas himself is easy to communicate with, so he sets this rather informal tone. And when looking for new employees, we naturally try to select like-minded people,“ Rita elaborates. The people of Eskimi are friendly: they communicate a lot and aren‘t afraid to ask each other questions. Hangouts before the pandemic were also one way to keep the company culture—employees value informal meetings outside of work and engage in active leisure together.
Employees‘ growth: personal responsibility and the company support
So, having a strong team is inseparable from having a strong company culture. Now, let‘s move from the overall conception of “business” to its core level: employees. We’ve already touched on the elements of business growth, and what about people growth?
Rita says Eskimi values incorporate the essence of professional growth. It’s about the initiative & drive, growth, and ownership. “A person’s desire is the most important. With Eskimi, even the sky is not the limit. We are not a corporation and do not seek to become one—at least until Vytautas is CEO, as he brings a lot of positivity and immediacy. That means way more freedom and fewer constraints for employees, including big career and personal growth possibilities,” Rita says. “For example, our current Business Development Director started here as an administrator. And she‘s not an only extraordinary example. With a desire and an effort, any Eskimi team member can grow into a bigger role after half a year: it doesn’t have to take two or three years with us. There’s no limit: everyone can get support and opportunities for improvement if they show initiative and drive,” she emphasizes the role of a person’s willingness to reach for more than the sky.
Eskimi employees have a lot of freedom in choosing the forms of professional development. The company gives all opportunities for a person to attend and even organize trainings, webinars, and so on. Eskimi also invites external trainers and coaches. Rita distinguishes sharing the experience—for example, within a team. Especially cross-trainings are getting more and more frequent when different teams share knowledge (for example, Ad Operations and Account Management teams).
“Still, I believe that the best teacher is life,“ Vytautas jokes. “Sure, we have external and internal training, but mostly we improve our skills by practice. A lot of best lessons come just by doing.“
Business and people growth: the reciprocal connection
As the company has ambitious growth goals (at least 50% per year), it‘s natural to feel constantly toned and never “relax the muscle”. Everyone has to leave their comfort zone and face new challenges (e.g., lead a twenty-five people team instead of three). As Vytautas illustrates, company growth is inseparable from people growth.
“Formerly, we reached five billion impressions daily, and now we reach twenty-five billion,” he shares an impressive comparison. “Sure, we expand our team, but anyway— either a person or a company grows, the growth pain exists. I’m sure, without a growth environment, people wouldn’t progress either. A person develops through the company growth, by having more features and customers. An individual naturally shapes a company through one‘s initiative and also learns from all the other people in the company. And growing people return energy and skills by accelerating the company growth as well,” Eskimi CEO explains the direct connection between the company and the people.
“One cannot exist without the other”, Rita adds. If people don’t grow professionally and personally, neither will the business. What’s more—besides individual growth, team growth is important as well. “As a global HR Partner, I have a personal goal this year to dedicate more time to the growth of Eskimi. And this includes more both various trainings and team-building activities”, she says.
Growing in time of the pandemic
It may seem that we‘re talking about “normal” conditions, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the remote work into the stage, and that employees‘ development is not a priority. However, Eskimi HR Partner Rita says that besides some challenges, the pandemic situation brought many advantages as well.
“The lockdown has probably been hardest for the sales managers who were used to meet face to face with the clients. They had to find new ways of maintaining a relationship,“ she depicts the challenges for the salespeople. “Still, all of us naturally felt how the dynamics changed when we went to work from home. We had to also learn to onboard people remotely, which wasn’t very easy and fun at first either,“ Rita shares her difficulties.
But overall, remote work wasn’t a radical change. Eskimi already worked partly remotely anyway, as the teams are spread across different countries and continents. Still, the attitude towards the office has become even more flexible. “People have realized that there‘s no need for an office to work productively,“ Rita says. “After the quarantine, a lot of employees may not want to come back to the office—and we’re fine with that. Employees are free to choose and we’ll find ways to collaborate well and maintain Eskimi culture.“
Rita also singles out the value of a high sense of ownership as very important in this situation. Remote work showed that the value is truly living within Eskimi teams. HR Partner discloses: at the beginning of the pandemic, she and Vytautas discussed how to ensure productivity. “But we’ve found that our people truly share the value of a high sense of ownership: not only can the Eskimi teams work well remotely, but the productivity across the teams has even increased. I think the atmosphere of freedom is where an initiative & drive, high sense of ownership, and growth thrive,“ Rita summarizes.