We are at a very early stage of growth. I am Principal Consultant. Apart from me there are two SETs (Software Engineers in Test ) and a team of 4 freelancers who specialize in performance testing. By the end of this year there would be 4 more SETs on board. The culture part has to be taken care of right from the beginning so we have taken certain decisions.First decision is to have a flat hierarchy. Test Mile has only two types of employees - engineers or consultants, wherein consultants are engineers who also handle business side of things. So, the complete team is hands-on and the focus is on skills rather than aging, which the industry refers to as years of experience. Second decision is to allow full participation of all team members in every discussion. Our engineers and consultants are made aware of all potential business and we decide about the same as a team. Everyone's feedback is taken in crucial decisions like which lines we should focus more, which line of business we should totally remove from our service portfolio. One of such recent team decisions has been to cut down on our coaching service portfolio and confine it only to in-house programmes in product companies.Third decision is to build Test Mile on the foundation of ethics and equal opportunity for all. Compensation and growth at Test Mile would be skills driven and contribution of an individual to the business of the company.
McAfee India. For one
base reason - its great work culture. There would be other great companies but
I believe one should comment only on places where s/he has worked rather than
believing newspapers or the internet world. A lot of the culture related
learning for Test Mile has come from McAfee.
When we start off as consultants or set-up a start-up company, the initial phase is all about anxiety, building false expectations on a string of business projections, lack of clarity about costing/budget, assumptions that you would get the right people as and when you want them and so on. We are going through it, as I write this statement.Where Test Mile is facing its share of problems is finding the right talent to scale, we underestimated this essential area. So, plan well for the people who would be your partners/employees.Second point of consideration is about costing. We can sell more things of sub-standard quality at lesser cost or less things of great quality at affordable costs, to do the same amoiunt of business. It's typical for industry that when they reach a start-up company, the expectation is lesser cost as the "size" of company is small. The irony is that most start-ups are about specialization, about skills that are less common to be found and many a times one reaches to start-ups for jobs that can not be done elsewhere. We as a company have decided to stick to helping our customers by providing great quality work, at affordable costing but not cheap. We apprise our customers about the kind of skills required for the job and not surprisingly none of our customers has disagreed to our costing apart from slight adjustments. So, plan for your costing model, there is no right or wrong model, but you definitely need to make a choice.
Third point is about how do you plan to get noticed? Why would industry reach out to you and not others? As for testing services providers, we can't beat the competition in numbers game by doing what they are doing. So, we have decided not to compete. We'll build a separate space (howsoever small that is) in business for us where either only us or only a few players exist. We need to do better in terms of advertising and reaching out to the community. All work that we have got so far is by word of mouth or simple announcements on social networking sites or our website and blogs. So, this is an essential point to consider. You might have a great company but it is of no use till the world is aware of what you offer.
Last but not the least, entrepreneurship is about having fun and being happy that you are trying to fulfill your dreams. Many don't do what you are doing. So, if the targets are not being met, if that business didn't come, if a close friend left you mid-way and you are feeling down because of that, just remember why you took the first step, recall your emotions about taking this path. The first step is never about targets, about buzz words like long term vision. The first step is always about searching happiness of trying things out. I'm writing this last part not for you, but for myself. It is like a bookmark which as I imagine, there would be moments when I would need to visit it.