Worketc operates in the large and very competitive business software market, competing with well-known companies such as Salesforce.com and 37 Signals/Basecamp.
Marketing To Micro-Multinational
Worketc’s customers are mostly micro-multinational and they also operate this way.
Worketc has customers in 23 countries ranging from Malta to the U.S., New Zealand and China, and has employees and/or contractors in Nova Scotia (Canada), Phoenix (U.S.), Jaipur (India) and Manila (Philippines).
Managing Across Time Zones
Dan Barnett spoke about managing across time zones:
“The biggest challenge (and also the greatest benefit) is being able to effectively leverage time zone differences. So, it is great when a customer comes to you with a problem at 9 p.m. at night, and it is fixed by the time the client starts work the next morning because you had a team on the other side of the world just starting their work day. But sometimes this happens in reverse – an urgent problem arises and the only person that can fix it is already fast asleep. No one likes getting a panicky phone call at 3 a.m.!”
Saving Money By Hiring Talent Wherever They Are
Dan was explicit about the cost savings from working across borders:
“I can find great talent anywhere in the world, and not have to pay capital city rates for that talent. I figure my wage bill is maybe 25 percent of what it would be if [my whole staff was] in San Francisco, all working from the same office.
The cost of a traditional small business operational model makes starting up that much riskier. You need to be raising money (or be prepared to mortgage your house or borrow money from friends) and you have to get to a much larger scale before turning a profit. This level of risk and uncertainty certainly isn’t for me.”
Cultural Issues Of Being A Tiny Multinational
Dan also describes the cultural issues of being a tiny multinational:
“We have had contractors and customers from the Asian region who have tended to be quiet in nature. This butts up against a more Western, outspoken nature and this leads to all manner of miscommunication. For example, one early contractor we employed from the Philippines was very polite and quiet. Now, because the person didn’t challenge the other team members and didn’t add urgency around issues, everyone naturally assumed that this person either a) wasn’t working or b) just didn’t care.”
Scaling The Micro-Multinational Model
Asked whether, if capital were not a constraint, could he imagine scaling this business model tenfold, Dan told us:
“I believe so, but only if we continue to build out a flat organizational structure with each region becoming a “micro-multinational” in its own right — a hub-and-spoke structure rather than the traditional pyramid hierarchy.”
This hub-and-spoke model was mentioned by other micro-multinationals in their scaling plans. It fits the network model and is a theme we intend to explore in future interviews.
Next Is Micro-Multinational Bluewater
This is the fourth in a series of five articles on micro-multinationals. Next is Bluewater. If you run a micro-multinational and want to tell your tale to the world, send an email to bernard dot lunn at gmail dot com.