A while ago, during a talk with a co-worker, I remembered our first milestone as a company. It was the first deal we signed for more than 100,000 euro, and it was something special for us. I signed it in person, and it meant a lot — it was a huge achievement, both for me and for the company. That client was a very large multinational company, so as a start-up, we truly valued being able to sign someone like that. I remember thinking, “if a company like them value us and trust us, then the world is ours”.
What I’m most proud of at Efficy nowadays is that, slowly but surely, we’ve found our way to be a player in the European scale. Most medium-sized companies are remaining local, and I’m proud to be able to call us a European-wide international company. For me, that’s a great achievement, and it really shows what we’re aiming for. However, we’ve had to go through a lot as a company to get here.
Which are our key business strengths?
I believe our biggest overall business strength is the fact that we’re a resilient company. Our revenue is mostly recurring and we’re prepared to face tough times. For example, when COVID hit, we didn’t need to use any government help to keep the business afloat and, most importantly, we didn’t fire anybody. We just got organized to be able to serve our customers as best as possible in those challenging times. This proves that we can get through trying times, that we’re solid as a company, and that we have a responsibility with our employees – who were all paid their full salaries throughout the pandemic, which allowed them to continue supporting the economy. Full circle!
We’re also a very diverse company. I know, I know. Everyone talks about diversity nowadays, but we’ve been diverse since day one. We have over 35 nationalities working with us and we’re truly global in Europe. Diversity brings great value to us and to our customers – It’s important to be able to speak their languages and understand their culture, but having a diverse team also allows us to collaborate between our countries. That’s one of our company’s strongest assets.
Two of our other business strengths are flexibility and adaptability. We’re fast to adapt to market trends and we are also a very efficient company (this is also why we are called Efficy!). We’re extremely efficient with our own processes and we try to give our customers very efficient work as well. And having a close relationship with our customers is also one of our company’s best qualities. We’ve always been close to our customers and I hope it continues to be this way.
An anecdote comes to mind when I think of this: when we first started our company in Brussels, I was the only guy working there, and we started working in a space that was right above our first customers: Beci, the Brussels Chamber of Commerce. We were lucky enough to have them as our first customers and we essentially co-created the first product together with them. The boss, Olivier Willocx, is an innovator, and was ready to invest in our product even if we didn’t feel ready. The fact that we were one staircase away really allowed us to work on that first product together.
We continue to do so even today with local teams that are onsite together with customers, working in their own languages, and they develop the next versions of our products with us. We’re small enough to be able to co-develop with our customers, and I believe that’s one of the things that makes us unique. So as a first piece of advice to younger entrepreneurs, I’d say build a strong relationship with your customers. Don’t be afraid to grow together and learn from each other as you go.
The most important thing is to know your business and its strengths
There is no magical recipe for a successful business. However, I truly believe that it’s most important to build a business that can survive in the long run, and to make it one you can be proud of. In order to get there, there’s some advice I’d like to share:
- First, I would advise up-and-coming entrepreneurs to find a market where it’s possible to do business. There are markets that are too small or hard to succeed in, so you need to find one that will allow you to grow.
- Next, you need a good team: great, talented people that will help you beat whoever’s your competition.
- And once you have those two, you’ll probably need a bit of funding to start. I talk a bit more about building your business from scratch in this blog post, so make sure to check it out for more useful tips!
And just like Journey said… don’t stop believing!
Finally, I believe that in order for your company to grow, it’s important to know yourself. If you know your business strengths and know how to work with them to continue bringing value to your customers, your work will probably do well. And it’s also good to stop every now and then and celebrate all the milestones, big and small, and give yourself a pat on the shoulder for how far you’ve come. We’ve come really far, but there’s still a long way to go!
What do you believe makes your company different? What’s your biggest business strength as an entrepreneur?
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