Among VC firms and the business press, retention is often overlooked in favor of all things new: new talent, new business, new tech. Steady progress might not seem glamorous, but it’s effective. At Heady, we see a business case in nurturing relationships over time.
One of the key lessons I learned coming out of my MBA was the value of long-term thinking, and during my 4 years at Heady, we’ve put that into practice. Below is a breakdown of how Heady’s focus has positively impacted our culture, employees, and products — and ultimately our profitability.
Heady has grown from two to 50+ employees in less than 4 years. How did we do it?
Attracting talent to a very small startup (<10 employees) can feel like a daunting task. One school of thought says that you should hire the talent you can afford and “upgrade.” But a different perspective is that your founding team can adapt — all while retaining their drive. These critical soft skills grow a company.
When Heady was founded, we were like many startups: with a restricted budget, an unstructured interview process, and limited time to evaluate if candidates could handle pressures. For these first employees, founders tend to tap into personal networks and make “leap of faith” hires. You see the potential in a person and hope your instinct is true.
In Heady’s case, these original employees became the foundational blocks of our team. By hanging onto talent, we’ve hung onto a growth mindset.
It’s a philosophy that endures. By setting a goal to retain today’s team members, we keep them in mind as budgets and business grow. We proactively make salaries competitive, have regular discussions with employees on their next steps (personal and professional), and involve them in plans for progress.
In return, we have a team that has internalized a growth mindset. After all, they have lived it.
Most brands that start working with Heady don’t stop working with us.
That’s because we value long-term partners as much as we value long-term employees. Much like your first hires, your first clients are valuable. They trusted you with their business and ultimately helped you get your start. Essentially, they are worth their weight in gold.
All are not equal, of course. Some partnered with you to get a competitive rate and may seek out another agency with the same agenda. However, the true gems are partners who seek passion and energy from smaller agencies, without a templated approach.
A nimble mindset is why they chose you. That means these original partners will be more likely to give you valuable feedback you can adapt to. A market feedback loop, while a start-up is growing, helps it introduce relevant product offerings, divest when interest lags, and lastly be top of its game if another player gains traction.
Heady has chosen to nurture and retain client relationships. We maintain positive and proactive communication about their needs, work through solutions when budgets are tight and are helpful and responsive to tech consulting. Essentially, we value their continued business.
If our partners thrive, we thrive. Re-investing any extra capacity builds trust — and ultimately a better relationship and product. Year over year, Heady’s partners have reinvested an average of 25–50% more into our company.
This decision has made it easier for our engineers to learn from each other, onboard new colleagues, and ultimately set our company (no longer a start-up!) to scale.