9.5.2014 | Sakari Nahi

2013 Analysis

The year 2013 was a success, but not an unqualified one.

Our turnover grew by 147%, and personnel by 150%. We work directly for end customers, and our projects are perfectly aligned with our technological focus - 100% of our projects are Microsoft Azure-based.

Our development process with unit tests, CI-environments and automated deployments is on par and competitive with any other competitor's process.

Our monthly company-wide retros give feedback regularly about crew's feelings, and we use this feedback to improve quality of life at work. The goal is that nobody is pissed off in the morning, this is partly the reason we moved our office into the heart of Helsinki in November.

Also the nature of our projects has extended. We are more and more often taking part in designing and envisioning the concept and ecosystem of a product, service or process.

For these reasons we are very happy of the year 2013.

But, it wasn't all smooth sailing - we did receive some difficult lessons as well. The nature of such lessons is that the price tag is easy to see and due immediately, but the gained experience is felt a lot later. Below I've listed some generalized lessons learned - they are common sense, but their effects are widespread and often result in difficult decisions.

LESSONS IN GENERAL

1. Not just getting excited about a new project, but also critical thinking

We have to be interested and critical about the financing, business model and also persons related to a new project.

In simple terms this means that we do not accept all cases anymore.

2. Not just freedoms, but more responsibilities

In the beginning when there were two of us, the only responsibility we had was high quality, and otherwise we had it easy: our own schedule, no budget discipline, workloads didn't matter, etc.

As the company grows, in addition to still having the responsibility for high quality, we have more responsibility for the success of the company. This correlates to the fact that Kompozure now supports 10 families while also offering stimulating and mostly stress free careers.

In practice our guideline is that whatever is correct for our employees, is also good for the business in the long term.

3. If your business grows alarmlingly fast, it's often more dangerous than when the times are troubled

Or: If there is too much money, problems are often solved inefficiently or in a wrong way.

When everything goes well, it is too easy to make decisions prematurely, or on too large of a scale. Inefficiently solved problems often affect company's fixed costs, and these can be hard and slow to fix later.

It is possible to progress in a controlled manner even if business grows very strongly, as long as there are some guidelines:

  1. If a trend is showing that some decision will probably be made in the future, wait for it to be as close to certain as possible before making the decision
  2. Follow your business' state in a realistic manner, so that you can base your decisions on facts and worst case scenarios, instead of e.g. false expectations of sales
  3. Before a large decision test your assumptions with your employees, partners, pilot customers, etc.

2013 FIGURES

We are content with the figures. We had satisfying growth, and even when our personnel grew from 4 to 10, the profit was still a bit on the plus side.

Turnover and profit

Personnel

That's that! Next week I'll blog about our objectives for year 2014 - regarding both our new SaaS business and ongoing project business...