4 years ago Ruud and Wiro started from 2 companies with the same philosophy. One company for people who want to work with a permanent employment contract, the other for freelance and midlance. TrailBlazers and FairItale. Ruud Rol takes you through his story of growing pains, self-direction and ownership.
With what dream did we start TrailBlazers? Good to take a moment to reflect. To reflect and take a critical look at where we are now. What is going well and what could be better?
The dream of Wiro and me was to create a company together in which we involve people in business operations and let them decide on matters that concern them. The profits not only go to the owners, but to everyone who contributes to it. A company that invites enterprise and innovation together. And from which perhaps new companies will emerge that also work more on the basis of co-management / self-management. How beautiful would it be if I stepped down as co-owner, the ownership in the company merges? In short, ownership would no longer belong to someone, but to the company. This way, the company would create more sustainability. No money chasing owners or shareholders, but the company and its existence first.
We are now 4 years down the road. The team consists of 14 men and women and we are proud of that. Of course, we want to grow some more and, to be honest, we expected to. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company where everything is transparent and where the salary is determined together? A company where values are shared together and where even ownership is determined differently. The company is not sold to shareholders and you share and decide in everything. We know, but apparently we haven’t told enough people. Or maybe it sounds so utopian that people don’t dare to believe it. Is that true for you too? I challenge you: call me, make an appointment and stop by!
How we work together
Self-management / co-management according to S3. This was also new for me in the beginning. But as it turned out, I was already doing a lot according to S3. The only difference is that it is now secured in the working method and no longer dependent on who happens to be in charge. Key things that come with our way of working are: navigating tension, the driver and getting consent. Okay, there are of course many more things that are regulated in and with S3. For example, even the mandate to arrange something is determined together and we decide together on who would best fulfill this role.
You would say, “hosanna, we have reached the promised land of business management and corporate play!”. Well, we didn’t. It continues to be invention and hard work. In fact, I myself got overworked. It took so much energy that at some point it just was too much. How? Well, simply by getting too caught up in the processes and wanting to decide too often and too much all together. Even when it wasn’t necessary. But more importantly, dualism in myself (ouch). On the one hand wanting to take charge, to be able to do nice business and deal with other companies. On the other hand, still feeling the need to go back to the group for consent. Sometimes justified, sometimes unnecessary. But well, we always do it this way….
Not too long ago our office moved. We had a group working on the move and interior. This group also wanted to pick out a coffee machine. For the record, there are 2 or 3 people who are in the office most of the time. The rest of the team often works at the offices of their client. Some colleagues try to work in the office one day a week. Furthermore, we of course have our regular meetings, where basically everyone is present. Anyway, that coffee machine. Lists were made with all the positives and negatives of a machine. The discussion about this alone lasted more than a week via Slack. Then the entire group was informed and asked for their opinion AGAIN (they had already given their consent). Finally a decision was made. But we were not there yet, we also had to decide on the coffee beans. All of us, of course… These are things that make me think: go and play company in your association or wherever, but for God’s sake let’s just get on with the things that matter. Not to mention what all that consultation costs. Talking to 5 people for 1 hour about something, including travel time, means more than 450 euros in lost revenue. You can buy a coffee machine from all those consultations.
In short, in our zeal to do things right and involve everyone, we often go too far. Not only according to me, but also according to the S3 patterns. I myself do the same and then I get irritated by the slowness and too much talking. Then there are also issues of privacy and transparency. How do you deal with that?
Nevertheless, in four years we have already built a super company of which I am very proud. We have grown to 14 people, recently opened a beautiful office in Weesp (which we were able to furnish with our own funds the way we wanted) and we are profitable. In 4 years only 2 people have left us and we are super proud of that too. We are going to plant a TrailBlazers food forest in the Achterhoek on December 1 and 1250 trees will be planted in Borneo on our behalf. This is how we make our footprint smaller. We help organizations for free with software and applications to help people with heart problems in the future. We teach fun programming classes in schools. In short, in 4 years, so many wonderful positive things have happened. Not to mention all the fun events, fairs and a reunion.
Forget growing and building and experiencing even more great things together. Let’s continue to build the organization together and continue to learn! Would you like to help us with that? Give me a call and we’ll have a cup of coffee.