Fishbowl’s True Secret to Success

This morning I found myself starting out my day, as always, by reading and grouping my emails, voicemails and other necessary tasks, and assembling my list of things I must accomplish today. The tasks seem to get larger in size and scope every day, and completing all of them is a daunting challenge.

Ian Bird, VP of Operations at Fishbowl, Fishbowl Inventory BlogNot that I’m complaining. I love my job! As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a job I’d rather have or that is more rewarding than mine as VP of Operations for Fishbowl, the maker of the No. 1 inventory management software for QuickBooks.

I’m directly responsible for caring for our 90 employees and ensuring their happiness and valued contributions. I’m a people person, and I love our people! Serving them really is a joy and a privilege that I’m grateful for and never take for granted. When our employees are happy, they’re in the right mindset and ability to take care of their families, and our customers. I know that my work has a direct impact on our bottom line.

Keeping Up with Growth

We’ve had a wonderful ride so far in this, our 10th year of business. Growth is at an all-time high – at times it’s dizzying. This morning I was meeting with a few of our awesome employees to discuss the details of one of our current initiatives when suddenly and without warning, one of them burst out laughing and said to me, “Wow – Warp speed ahead, Scotty!” Seeing my confused look, she quickly explained that it was hard to contain her excitement (and occasional anxiety) about how fast we are growing and all the groundbreaking events and announcements that seem to be coming so rapidly.

Boy, I love that enthusiasm! After our meeting, I was reflecting on her comments and wondered aloud how we manage to continue to maintain our breakneck pace of growth and not have fundamental breakdowns of technology, processes or people. How is it that we can keep this up and never seem to experience serious missteps or setbacks?

Secrets of Our Success

Let me share with you what I think are a few of the most important and fundamental decisions we ever made that formed who we are and set our footing to be able to scale and grow so quickly, reliably and efficiently. You’d think it had to do with software and innovation, right? Think again.

1. Listening to Customers

Hands reaching to help, Fishbowl Inventory Blog

Firstly – We believe and explain to our employee family that we may be a software shop that sells the world’s leading inventory control software (beaming with pride when I say that J), but we are in the people business. We value relationships with people and technology, not technology over everything else. Yes, our software rocks, and our customers often tell us how easy it is to use and how efficient it makes them. But it’s our great relationships with our customers that really make this work.

We involve our customers in every step of development – idea generation, feature development, and product improvement. We write our program with them, not just for them. After all – who knows their business better than them? When a new feature or product is released, it’s been through rigorous testing and analysis, but it was indeed created in large part by our customers. Our developers simply coded it.

2. Happy Employees

And when I say that we are in the people business, I mean not just our customers but our employees and their families. Our people are paramount to our success – everyone from our world-class developers to our topnotch support team to our incredible dispatch, Marilyn (seriously – have you ever had a chance to talk to Marilyn? She’ll leave you smiling and wondering how a person could ever be that happy and helpful – I guarantee it!). Put people first and everything else behind them, and you’re setting yourself up for great success.

3. High Standards

Our CEO David Williams and President Mary Scott implemented what we call the four “Non-Negotiables” at Fishbowl early this year. These are values that we require all employees, regardless of tenure or rank, to live by if they want to “work in the Bowl.” They are:

  • Belief
  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Commitment

I know that our ability to serve and perform during our phenomenal growth has been predicated on our employees living these values. One of the great things about these values is that the more they are exemplified, the more they solidify and uplift others. When you believe in someone,  they believe in you. To be trusted, you must be trustworthy. Each employee trusts every other employee to do their job, and they have a firm belief that working together will lead to success.

As a matter of fact, in our Think Tank area where employees can relax and refocus, a large inscription on the wall reads: “No problem can sustain the assault of sustained thinking – Voltaire.” As a result of the tremendous belief and trust we have in each other, our people are naturally and firmly loyal and committed to each other, our customers, and our success. Cool how that works, isn’t it?

Most Valuable Asset

I’m thankful for all of the people I work with on a daily basis. I love our employees, our customers, our vendors, and especially our families. They make us better. They support us and uplift us every day. By taking care of them, they take care of us.

Who would have thought that our great and continuing success wouldn’t be rooted just in our award-winning software? It’s also in our biggest and most valuable asset – our people.

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