4 Things We've Learned from the Past 7 Years in Business

Early morning start at the original OrangeQC office space at Research Park at UIUC 2009.

Early morning start at the original OrangeQC office space at Research Park at UIUC 2009.

Happy 7th Birthday OrangeQC! 

This month of April, seven short years ago, marks the birth of OrangeQC and we’ve come quite a way since our humble beginnings. Throughout the years we’ve met with thousands of teams all over the world; we’ve empowered world-class organizations and put smiles on our customers’ faces; we’ve iterated, improved and learned quite a few lessons along the way. 

Some of these lessons we learned the tough way and others were passed down to us from mentors who always had our backs. In our inaugural blog post, we feel it’s only fitting to share some of the things that resonate strongest with us and will continue to be cornerstones for years to come. 

1. Simple is Best - We lucked out with this one from the get-go. Because we were working on a strict deadline and budget, we knew every move we made had to be a cost-efficient contributor to our business growth. Start simple; you can always add more later.

As you build your business, really scrutinize every piece of software, every process, every employee you bring on board. Before adding software to your company, ask yourself this: does this actually matter to my business and will it stand up for its own usefulness? Be like a strict gatekeeper when it comes to adding programs and people - you’ll refrain from adding things that will cause eventual problems down the road. It’s also important to take time to reevaluate your processes as your business grows. What might have worked at the beginning may not be as relevant to your organization six months down the road. Prune away the excess things that are keeping your company from reaching its fullest potential; do away with the complex things slowing you down.


2. Establish Checklists - At OrangeQC, we’re huge fans of checklists as a way to improve workplace efficiency. Atul Gawande stresses the importance of checklists in his book, The Checklist Manifesto, noting that it’s impossible for humans to handle the amount of complexity that we’re faced with everyday. Complex processes, no matter how routine they may be, are difficult to follow and simple steps are missed no matter how obvious they may seem. Checklists help us take any repeatable process and convert it into an easy to share document that can be updated at any time.  For example, to improve internal processes at OrangeQC, I’ll create a checklist and give our team access to modify and improve it over time.This way, everyone can add and improve upon the process. By making checklists accessible and editable, we can continually improve our checklists through the collaborative feedback we receive from our team.

There are several awesome advantages that come with checklists:

  • Clearly communicate your expectations without having your team commit everything to memory or worse, guess. 
  • Combine the best ideas and experiences from your entire team to create a definitive source full of expert advice.
  • Expedite new employee onboarding processes by using checklists to clearly spell out steps to get members up to speed quickly.

The bottom line? If something is repeatable, make your life easier by turning it into a checklist.

Meeting with customers at ISSA/INTERCLEAN

Meeting with customers at ISSA/INTERCLEAN

3. Encourage and Embrace Feedback - When you build a product, you want to create something that you know customers will use and enjoy. We often get asked which features to build first or how to identify what product features will appeal most to our target demographic. 

It all starts with creating an environment that invites feedback.

There are several ways to go about encouraging feedback. I personally answer calls from customers to hear about their experience with our software and to listen for ways that we can improve our services. As a company, we actively solicit feedback from our clients in annual surveys. Keep your surveys short and sweet - you want to be respectful of your customers’ time and make it easy for them to respond with their thoughts. We’ve had all sorts of responses that range from enjoyable compliments to thought-provoking suggestions that span multiple pages and we take every idea under consideration.

4. Happy Customer, Happy Life - It seems so simple, but happy customers really impact how successful your business will be down the road. We all know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of poor customer service so from the beginning we wanted to focus on providing the best experience possible for our clients. Really listen to what your customers want and need; take the time to get to know who they are as individuals; jump on a phone call to let your clients know their voice matters to you.

Your customers propel your company forward - when they’re happy with your service, they’ll keep coming back for more business. If a customer isn’t happy with their experience, listen to what they have to say no matter how difficult it may be. You’re bound to receive negative feedback at some point in your career but instead of brushing it off, use the criticism to identify what needs fixing. In business, the customer is (almost) always right. 


These four lessons are some of our favorites that we’ve collected over the past seven years since starting OrangeQC and there are plenty more we’ll be sharing in our upcoming posts. What are some of your favorite business lessons you’ve learned that others can benefit from? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!