Our Greatest Risk: Mediocrity
Every young business faces obstacles, must overcome incredibly difficult trials, and inevitably makes mistakes along the way. What is most important in all of these trials is holding true to the deepest values and core ethos held by the organization.
It is so easy, at the moment, to make decisions that are easier in the short term but may erode those values and ethos in the long run. Choosing instead to hold fast to that which is most important, and make those hard decisions at the moment is not easy.
But doing so is what makes the difference between a trajectory toward greatness rather than one that dooms you to mediocrity.
We never started this business to be like everyone else. We specifically created this company to be something that is radically different. To offer the companies we serve something incredible, and never mediocre.
And if we want to create something different, then we can’t do things the way they’ve always been done.
A Stand Against Mediocrity
A very wise man once said to us about the growth of BS+Co.: “Mediocrity is your greatest risk.” And this statement has become our rallying cry.
From day one we have held firm in our belief that “just ok is not enough,” and that very ethos has made it into every corner of our organization. It has been clearly articulated in our employee handbook from the day we created it.
Creating a High-Performance Environment
At BS+Co. we are dedicated to creating a high-performance work environment.
What is that you ask?
Let’s demonstrate with an example everyone can relate to. Remember doing group projects in high school or college? Remember that person who didn’t pull their weight and everyone else had to cover for them? Yeah, we’ve all been there.
A high-performance environment means weeding that shit out. It means only allowing high performers to stay. It means that high performers only have to work with other high performers.
And it means no more pulling weight for those who can’t pull their own.
Making sure the entire team is composed of high performers means that we can create an environment that high performers love:
High levels of autonomy
Room to grow, learn, and experiment
Ability to provide feedback that informs the way the business functions
Freedom to make decisions for the best interest of the companies they serve
What BS+Co. Isn’t
❌ BS+Co. is not a place you can come and hide under the radar.
❌ BS+Co. is not a place where simply “checking the box” is an acceptable way to work.
❌ BS+Co. is not a place where you can be a negative presence for either our companies or other team members.
❌ BS+Co. is not a place you come to be told what to do.
❌ BS+Co. is not a place you come to push tasks to other people because you don’t want to do them yourself.
❌ BS+Co. is not a place where you can come and demand an above-market salary and the incredible benefits we promise without being willing to actually work for them.
BS+Co. has never, and will never, be that place.
What BS+Co. Is
✊ BS+Co. is a place you work because you are incredibly passionate about what you do.
✊ BS+Co. is a place where you better damn well be able to firmly stand behind every output you produce.
✊ BS+Co. is a place where you come because you love to take initiative, and can be self-managed.
✊ BS+Co. is a place where the needs of your companies come first, and you couldn’t imagine it any other way.
✊ BS+Co. is a place where high performers thrive.
BS+Co. will always be this place.
A Note to Potential Future BS+Co. Employees
Part of the reason we are writing this article is to make it abundantly clear to potential team members just what kind of environment we are creating, and what our expectations are of anyone who chooses to work here.
We learned, the hard way, that no matter how much we said these things during our hiring process, they fell on deaf ears.
These statements paled in comparison to the promises of 30 hour weeks, flexibility, and unlimited vacation. And so this is what potential teammates heard.
And this is where we realized we failed miserably. So here we are, making sure there is no way these statements can’t be heard again.
Never again do we want a team member who is not interested in upholding this standard to be blinded by our promises, only to wash out months into their role.
We are acutely aware of the cost this incurs on both sides of the table.
For the employee: Leaving another job to come here is a big decision, and we don’t want it to be made lightly.
For BS+Co.: Hiring the wrong person is an expensive mistake, and even worse, having the wrong person at the helm of strategy for one of our companies is not something we are willing to let happen.
Protecting Our Ethos
So now we come to the hard part: making the tough decisions, at the moment, that uphold this ethos, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable they are at the time.
Again, to make abundantly clear to potential future teammates just how dedicated we are to upholding our ethos, we are going to get really transparent.
We recently had to make some very, very hard decisions to protect the integrity of what we are building. These decisions were the result of a very big mistake on our part: we hired the wrong people, plain and simple.
And this mistake has implications far beyond just the pain it brought us. Not only were the individuals we hired not right for us, but we also were not right for them. Instead of being an environment where these teammates could thrive, it was one that proved difficult for them to adapt to.
Ultimately, we reached a point where we had to let go of four staff members over a two-week period, at the time a third of our staff. Without going too deep into details, it was clear based on either performance and/or core value alignment, BS+Co. was not the place for them.
This situation, and everything surrounding it has been one of the most difficult trials we’ve faced. And we are both incredibly proud of the choices we made, and incredibly frustrated by the mistakes we made that led to it.
Proud of Our Choices: We Love these Negative Glassdoor Reviews
Who would have thought that anyone would ever be proud of a negative review?
Well we are proud as hell of these. They are our badge of honor, and proof that we made some tough calls to protect our ethos, the soul of our company. You are welcome to check them out in full here.
Not only have they confirmed our decision, but they help us to demonstrate our expectations of future team members.
Sure they contain some serious mistruths and misinterpretations:
Finances had nothing to do with our decisions. Both prior to and after our choice we were operating above our required 30% profit margin.
Local vs. remote talent had nothing to do with our decisions. Point in fact: one of the four employees we let go of was a local employee. We still have remote employees on staff, and they are still here because they meet our standards. We still have local employees on staff, and they are still here because they meet our standards. Plain and simple.
The promises in our article were never broken. None of the employees we let go ever had more than the promised number of clients, nor were they ever planned to more than 80% of their capacity of 30 hours of client work per week.
But, we prefer the parts that are true. Because those are the freaking best examples of what new team members need to know before they join. Let’s look at a couple, shall we!
“There is a difference between autonomy to make strategic decisions for a client and being expected to deliver without the support and resources in place to do so.”
You are damn well expected to be autonomous and make strategic decisions.
You are expected to understand what to do for your clients and be able to do a good portion of it yourself (it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll be expected to perform marketing duties or tasks as a marketer).
Support at BS+Co. isn’t training. During every step of our hiring and onboarding process, we expect that our applicants are honest about their level of experience in all areas of marketing. Our strategists are expected to be able to operate independently for their clients and are given the freedom to solve problems.
We have daily team stand-ups, bi-weekly team brainstorms, and bi-weekly 1:1 with managers to allow every member of the team the support needed to serve their clients.
We have plenty of resources at your disposal (see more about our collective), but you are responsible for acting on those resources effectively and in line with your companies’ budgets.
Pushing tasks that you simply don’t want to do off to others is not acceptable.
“The onus was placed on the employee to ‘take initiative’ and ‘have full autonomy’”
Yup, yup, yup. If this is a complaint, this is not the right place for you.
“If you are a self-starter who would rather work in isolation, than with a team, you could make it work here.”
The isolation part may be a bit of an exaggeration. We have plenty of opportunities for brainstorming and collaboration (as mentioned above), you just have to take advantage of them.
But the rest of this sentence is spot on. You MUST be a self-starter to work here, and you MUST be capable of working on your own when needed.
Ultimately, we are very proud of the choices we made to protect the environment we are building. The overwhelmingly positive feedback about this decision that we received from both the companies we serve and the team members that are still here have confirmed that we made the right decision.
Frustrated by Our Mistakes: We Don’t Want this to Happen Again
There is no way to build something incredible without making mistakes. We are fully aware of that.
But just because they are a required part of the process, doesn’t mean we have to like them.
We firmly believe that the position we ended up in is one that is avoidable in the future. We don’t want to put anyone in a role they aren’t a fit for ever again. We don’t want anyone to leave a job because they think this one will be “easy.”
We only want people here who truly believe in serving companies, doing great work, and owning their own space.
So this is how we are working to avoid that mistake in the future. Every potential employee will read this before having a single interview. There will be no misconceptions about what you are signing up for when you join this high-performing team.
We will never create something incredible by letting mediocrity infiltrate our culture or organization. So right now, today, very publicly, we are taking a stand.
We are here to be incredible.
We are here to be different than anyone else.
If you’re not up for the challenge, that is fine. But if that’s the case, this is not the place for you.
If this challenge sounds like a big “hell yeah” to you, then by all means consider joining the team.
Britt & Stacy
*While this article is published by me, Stacy took my rants, tears, and random writings and helped create something that someone else could read. This post is truly co-written by both of us and should be read that way.