Every once in a while at a conference or in an email, a Roompact team member will refer to me externally as their "boss". While I completely understand that it's the most simple way to express our relationship in an easy-to-understand one word expression, it makes me uncomfortable. I've only known bosses to be a bad thing -- an unpleasant necessity of life. I think of the "Pointy-haired Boss" from the comic Dilbert. He's an incompetent micromanager. There's even a movie called "Horrible Bosses", and it's about three guys who hire a hitman to kill their bosses because they hate them so much. Yikes! Other than the negative connotation, there are a couple reasons why I don't like the word "boss".
First, at a small business like Roompact, everyone works on everything. We're each juggling -- and more importantly -- leading several different projects. Because we're a small team, everyone in the company is a potential resource for every project. That means that even a recent hire will be directing me at some points. Therefore, they're my boss in this particular instance. Everyone's the boss of their own domain.
Second, our clients are the true "bosses" of Roompact. Our features, our new hires, our decisions, everything we do...we do because that's what our clients want. If we don't keep clients happy and we don't continuously provide value and improve our product, then we can't keep the lights on. Year after year, we receive the ultimate performance review -- each of our clients' decision to renew our contract or not. While I may technically be on the top of Roompact's organizational chart, our clients come before me and any other member of our team.
This is one of the reasons I don't believe in Venture Capital in our industry. If we took on a big investor who invested a million dollars in our company, do you know who's at the top of our organizational chart, even above our clients? The investor. Sure, for marketing and sales purposes you're going to say that your clients are #1, but that's not the case. The person who gave you a million dollars and expects a return on their investment within a few years is on top of the totem pole.
At Roompact, clients will always come first.