Friday, October 14, 2016

Three Cheers to My Old Company

And some thoughts on how a great environment can become a business incubator

Reid Hoffman, a former PayPal COO recently said about great companies: “The thing that keeps these companies together is the sense of excitement about what’s happening and the vision of a great future.”
What makes a great company? Great people because there is no great product or great service without great people. In addition, you need a management able to harness the potential that comes with great people. How do you measure whether you have great people? It is difficult to provide one answer but here are some factors that we can review. For example, are people continuously improving? What attitude do they bring to their job and their clients, internal as well as external?
Another way to look at it this is what do your people do once they leave the company. An easy measure is whether they stay in touch. If they do, chances are they left not because they were unhappy but because they were ready for the next step. If it is the company that helped them to take that next step, then it’s a great company. Enter FRANdata….
Recently, I had the chance to congratulate someone who took over a new position at FRANdata, a company I used to work for until 2015. I told that person that she got the “best job in the world with the best gang there is”.
There are several reasons why FRANdata is a great company and since outside of franchising, not many people know it, here are a couple of reasons why:
I don’t recall any other job where I learned so much. They hire you for a position and then let you do the work without second guessing every step you take. They are not afraid to admit that they “don’t know” but will do anything to figure it out.
FRANdata’s projects are often so customized that we had to learn as we went along. What is more, everyone wants to get it done right and make the client happy. To achieve that everyone was on board, ready to help and to advise.
Did we get it right all the time? No. However, we always knew we had each other’s backs. Failure was an option and then we figured out how to fix it as a team without finger pointing and make it right with the client. The message from the executive management to everyone was “let’s learn from it, move on — and don’t do it again”.
FRANdata’s products really impact the lives of people. With its suite of finance products alone, the company has probably helped launch thousands of new small business franchisees whose brands FRANdata underwrites for lenders.
As I looked over my years with FRANdata it occurred to me that a lot of us FRANdata people have walked the talk by becoming entrepreneurs ourselves. It’s all very well to talk about small business, underwrite it, consult with owners on how to make things better. Doing it yourself is a whole different game though.
The company’s culture prepared us to take the plunge ourselves. Just take a look at some of FRANdata people who opened their own shop over the last years:
This is a pretty diverse group of people and representative of FRANdata’s international flair. And just as FRANdata tracks hundreds of business sectors, it seems the entrepreneurs that emerged from their work with the company also chose various sectors, including health, consulting, fashion and sales.
And not only is this group of FRANdata entrepreneurs equally made up of men and women. As FRANdata’s former research director, I cannot help but notice that half of them are former researchers. Not bad, for a group of people who usually don’t leave their cage while they brood over spreadsheets all the time.


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