Last week I was talking with a group of successful founders about how to setup a profit sharing and benefits program for their companies. In the conversation it became obvious that our system wouldn’t work for others because we have so many unique ways of running Convertkit.
These 10 ideas intertwine to create our unique culture:
1. We have millions in revenue and no office.
In my tech bubble and Twitter circle it’s easy to think that remote work is common. While it’s becoming more common, it’s far from standard. Even then most remote friendly companies still have a main office and hire just some team members outside of that.
Remote-friendly is very different from remote-first. Even today at $15 million in revenue we don’t have an office. It’s comical how often I’m asked, “but where does your team work?”
Mostly from home, but really wherever they are productive.
2. We pay standardized salaries.
Rather than negotiating every salary individually (and forever penalizing anyone who was a poor negotiator) as most companies do, we established standardized salaries for each role with data from Radford.
This data takes the national average and compares it to our two benchmark cities of Chicago and Portland. The blend of those creates the ConvertKit salaries. That spreadsheet is published to the team with the salary for each role and level public for everyone.
That means we don’t have a gender pay gap at ConvertKit. Each person is paid fairly based on their experience and role.
The downside is that we do sometimes lose out on candidates where another company is able to pay more. We’ve locked ourselves into a system where we guarantee fairness to all our team members.
3. We pay everyone the same regardless of geography.
Even companies that have standardized salaries usually have a cost of living adjustment for team members in more expensive cities or they hire offshore to get a discount compared to US salaries.
Geography doesn’t matter to us. You’re paid the same if you live in Seattle or Slovakia.
Equal pay for equal work.
4. We encourage side projects.
ConvertKit is made for creators, by creators. That means that we encourage our team to have side projects, especially if that means growing their own email list and using ConvertKit as a customer. Then they notice issues and suggest changes to the product while actually using ConvertKit as a customer.
Creative people need outlets to learn and experiment. While a lot of that happens inside ConvertKit, there are few things better for personal development than starting a side project. We just ask that it truly be on the side and not consume so much time that it affects performance at work.
5. We deliver direct feedback, even when it’s unsolicited.
When we have an issue with someone we bring it up directly. We read Radical Candor by Kim Scott and took it really seriously.
That means we carve out dedicated time to provide feedback at our team retreats even outside of the normal context. The prompt is simply, “if you are going to work with (fill in the blank) for the next 10 years, what do you need them to know?
This provides room to say, “well, this isn’t a big deal, but when you do x…” and give feedback on the smaller things that may grow into something big down the road.
6. Our revenue is public and updated in realtime.
Outside the company you can view all of our revenue, churn, and growth metrics on a dashboard updated in realtime!
Then the team inside the company can also view a monthly report with our financials, including all spending. This results in a level of awareness and responsibility throughout the team that isn’t common in most private companies.
7. We distribute 60% of company profits to the team.
We’ve now paid out over $1,000,000 to the team! Our mission is “we exist to help creators earn a living” and that includes the creators who work at ConvertKit.
Because so much of profits are shared directly with the team they are highly incentivized to run the company efficiently. Once a test server was left running on Amazon Web Services which wasted nearly $2,000. Instead of being met with a shrug of “It’s not my money” or needing a lecture from management about budget, the other members of the team just said, “Hey, it’s not a big deal, but that’s our money. Treat it that way.”
Another time we gave the team the choice of spending an extra $20,000 to go to Costa Rica for our team retreat, compared to our usually beach houses in San Diego. They saw the 50% increase and chose to stick with California. After all, it’s their money.
Those are just seven of the many unconventional practices we’ve adopted over the years. As I think of more I’ll add them to this article!
What are some unconventional ways you run your own company?