Give your top people a share to make them care
Giving out shares to the top people in your business ensures their unconditional support, according to a serial tech entrepeneur.
Anna Assassa founded tech consultancy Tisski six years ago and the business now has a turnover of more than £4 million with 45 employees.
Assassa tries to empower her team as well as looking after herself after suffering burnout at the age of 26 following the creation of her previous business Clear IT.
“My top people have shares in Tisski so it makes the company their own too,” she told BusinessCloud.
“I think my whole team cares but if you’ve got other people with a stake in the game it’s really nice.
“You’ve got a few people on your side unconditionally, and they will also fight you if you’re making a bad decision. You need that.”
It’s also important not to work long hours, says Assassa, even if it’s expected of you by your employees.
“In my previous company I would work straight through weekends as well,” she said. “When you’re working early until late then Saturday and Sunday too that’s really hard so I try not to do that anymore.
“My advice is to have a few rules and make sure you do stuff for yourself. I used to have great guilt about taking an hour off during the day even though I’d worked the weekend because everyone else was working. Forgive yourself for it.
“Be reasonably clear with your team too. When I was young I had a much younger company and they used to work late and want me to too.
“If you have multiple people and one works late every night you then end up working every night. A more grown-up approach is thinking ‘I can’t do everything that everyone else can do’.”
Assassa believes skills sharing is key to the success of companies using tech. This collaborative approach shines through in Tisski’s company ethos, which is to be open and share skills with clients.
“We do a lot of partnering as well as working with customers and we are very interested in skills transfer,” she said.
“The best way to do that is to be working alongside someone and showing them as you go. If you’re good at what you do you share your knowledge.”
This leads to a more agile business approach which in turn gives better solutions, she says.
“What we really want to do is go in, work alongside the team, bring up their skills, deliver something and then to be out the other side,” she said.
“We’re helping develop their system – not necessarily the code but organisations change all the time and you need to be able to take systems with you.
“You need to be agile and flexible and if you’ve got to invite an outside supplier in to do that it takes something away.”
Empowering her customers is a big driver for Assassa, an ex-market trader who has been building tech companies since the 90s.
“I find it heart-breaking when I see headlines about big ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning software) rollouts that cost millions and then grind to a halt and cripple organisations,” she said.
“Tech used properly and provided by good providers is a fantastic, positive experience, but if you don’t take everyone with you and it’s done to you rather than with you it’s never going to be the success it should be.”
Her achievements have seen Assassa win several awards, the most recent being GoDo Entrepreneur of the Year at 2017’s NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.