Looking for fresh ideas to help you inspire your team? You’re in luck! Over the next few weeks, we’re taking a page from history (our own) and sharing lessons we’ve learned building TeamGantt from the ground up.
Since launching TeamGantt in 2010, we’ve gone from a scrappy startup to a multimillion-dollar company with thousands of customers and 20 remote team members. We did it without investors and nowhere near Silicon Valley—and learned a ton along the way.
Whether you’re new to leadership, have a few years under your belt, or manage a team of 2 or 20, this series will show you how to:
- Build a team that’s motivated and engaged
- Increase productivity and prevent burnout
- Establish trust with and among team members
- Continue growing as a leader
Let’s start by laying some groundwork.
Why we funded TeamGantt on our own
The way Hollywood tells it, you can’t launch a successful startup without moving to Silicon Valley and securing loads of investor funding.
But when cofounders John Correlli and Nathan Gilmore set out to build TeamGantt in 2009, they made a bold decision: to forego outside investors and fund TeamGantt completely on their own.
Why go it alone? Because John and Nathan wanted the freedom to focus 100% on building a product people would love—without worrying about keeping investors happy.
“Our customers are our funding,” John explains. “If you’re solving the customer’s need, they’re going to keep investing in you.”
If there’s one thing John and Nathan learned from bootstrapping TeamGantt, it’s that you don’t have to follow tradition to build a rockstar team. Here’s a quick look at 2 simple takeaways that shaped the way John and Nathan fearlessly lead TeamGantt today.
Our customers are our funding. If you’re solving the customer’s need, they’re going to keep investing in you. - John Correlli, TeamGantt cofounder
Lesson #1: You can do big things with small resources
When TeamGantt got started, John and Nathan were just 2 guys working out of a basement in the suburbs of Baltimore with no seed money to speak of. They didn’t have the luxury to quit their day jobs or hire a big team to get TeamGantt out faster.
So they made the most of what they did have: 4 hours every Saturday morning.
Making progress in such a small window of time required patience and prioritization. By focusing on one important thing each week—without getting distracted by “nice-to-haves”—John and Nathan were able to release a beta version of TeamGantt in just 6 months, with a public release 7 months later.
That super-focus, with a commitment to staying lean, has been a cornerstone of TeamGantt’s culture as the team has grown.
“There will always be distractions or more areas we could try as we add people,” Nathan says. “We’d rather do a few things really well than try to spread ourselves too thin.”
Lesson #2: It’s okay to break convention
In most corporate circles, working just 36 hours a week would get you fired. But here, a 36-hour week is the norm. What’s more, we can work from anywhere we like because TeamGantt is a 100% remote company.
That’s all thanks to bootstrapping.
Without investors weighing in, John and Nathan said to heck with convention and built a company they’d actually want to work for. Since work/life balance matters deeply to John and Nathan, they put it at the heart of TeamGantt’s culture.
Going remote and limiting your team’s work hours might feel like a scary leap to take, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s enabled us to have our pick of talent across the nation. What’s more, team members start their day refreshed and work where they can be most productive. We consider that a win-win!
That’s just the tip of the iceberg
These are just a couple of things we’ve learned on our journey so far. But we’ve got a lot more to share.
We’ll take a deeper look at those leadership lessons—and show you how to apply them to your own team—over the next few weeks. You’ll get tactical tips on hiring, creating work/life balance for your team, effective communication, and setting your team up for success—plus resources to help you grow as a leader.
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