Yves Hiernaux, CEO and co-founder of Beebole (a time management suite for companies, founded in 2008) tells us about a growing team (and company) given space, and freedom to continue to grow.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Beehole.
Yves Hiernaux: I didn’t grow up dreaming of starting my own company or becoming an entrepreneur. In Belgium, where I grew up, this wasn’t something people aspired to, but it isn’t idolized like it is in other parts of the world. However, after working as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies and seeing the great need for a time-tracking tool in the cloud, I came together with my friend and colleague Mic Cvilic to create Beebole for just that. I’ve talked about this many times before, but starting a company is not about having some great, overnight billion-dollar making idea. We saw an opportunity in the fact that many companies didn’t have a standardized way to track their team’s time and analyze that data, and we came up with a tool. We have been self-funded since the very beginning, and though that was difficult, we persevered and made it through by sticking to our idea, being resilient, and being willing to pivot when necessary.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Yves Hiernaux: The habits that make the most meaningful impact on my life revolve around sports and nature. It involves going for a run in the woods when you can, commuting to work by bike, or even going for a walk in the park or forest at lunchtime. Often, this is actually when my best ideas happen.
How does Beehole market its products/services online?
Yves Hiernaux: We emphasize quality content for our blog and niche outlets. We do that by building our own network of experts to write content that is actually useful for our target audiences. We then focus our efforts on a mix of organic (SEO), referral and paid (SEM and social media) tactics. Then we approach every situation like a lab test: We don’t say no to any marketing hypothesis, and we test it. The result will tell us where to go and whether we should invest further.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Yves Hiernaux: Our marketing team has implemented OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), which seem to affect everyone’s drive and focus positively. This means quarterly meetings to know where to go, see how aligned everyone is with the overall business mission, and a full suite of reports and tools to track progress. So we have a dedicated budget for marketing tools: analytics, project management, campaigns and CRM, etc. Some tools are pretty well-known, like Asana, Ahrefs, and Hubspot. On the other hand, others are more technical, like Screaming Frog, Data Studio for reports, and the usual suspects for webmasters. There are many more, but our approach never depends on tools but instead on the questions we’d like to get answered.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Yves Hiernaux: Honestly? It’s not that we have a super complex hiring policy process or lots of steps to prevent turnover. As a fully remote company with a team located in Belgium, Spain, the US, the UK, and Italy, our main requirement is that people are self-driven. We look for experienced professionals for that reason, rather than junior profiles, and we are proud of the team we’ve built today. In the end, it is really about the people, and gut feeling in the hiring process is never underestimated. We are on the lookout for people who bring energy to the project. We try very hard to avoid micromanagement, so we let the employees build their own path, too, obviously aligned with business needs. This makes everyone much more involved, and this trust pays off. It’s a two-way street. When someone gets a bit stressed or is going through something, my motto is that “everything will be fine.” As long as the needle is moving forward somehow, it’s just fine. Maybe the question of how we retain employees should be asked to our team instead, why they’re still on this boat!
How are you funding your growth?
Yves Hiernaux: We’ve always bootstrapped. Everything comes from our own revenues from paying customers. This has given us the freedom to make decisions at all levels (technology stack, market fit, etc.), and we will continue to do so. We are grateful for this.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Yves Hiernaux: Well, when we started back in 2008, I can say that we were the only ones offering time management in the cloud. But more than a decade after, competitors can be counted by hundreds. There are many great suites out there for business time tracking. Our approach to stay in the game is basically to keep focused on what we are great at, on our product offer, and pay as little attention as possible to what competitors are doing because then we’d be running our business based on different needs and market fit. We are also proud of our customer support, based on the reviews we get. We like listening to our customers, but at the same time, we take every change we decide to include in our roadmap very seriously. But the changes we implement can’t be based on a few requests, the same thing with the technology stack. We try not to make decisions based on popular trends at the risk of making our tool less robust or secure.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Yves Hiernaux: The technology firm Cloud Perspective, a Salesforce Silver Partner and Informatica Certified Partner, use Beebole to run their entire delivery option. As a consultancy with people working on multiple projects simultaneously, it’s a key tool for recording both billable and non-billable time. That data provides direct insight into productivity at both an individual and a business level. From there, they can either export the raw data for analysis or work directly in Beebole to view various graphs, tables, charts, and more.
What are your final thoughts?
Yves Hiernaux: What we’ve been doing since 2008 has gotten us to where we are today. And we’re on the verge of launching some very exciting updates to our app. What I mean is we’re constantly evolving, always learning, and always finding new ways to stay motivated and motivate our team. And that’s what’s always worked for us.