By Qwick Co-Founder and CEO Jamie Baxter
To understand the challenges of entrepreneurship, you might start by reviewing statistics. About 80% of small businesses survive their first year. Only 50% reach the 5-year landmark, and around 30% of startups make it to year 10. The U.S. Small Business Administration says those numbers have stayed consistent for the past 20 years.
This year, I’m incredibly proud to celebrate Qwick’s fifth anniversary. We’re transforming the way people work, while bringing prosperity to hospitality professionals and businesses. It’s been a journey of ups and downs as world dynamics, workplace culture, and business expectations continue changing dramatically.
As we look ahead to the next five years, here are five lessons I’ve learned about building a fast-growing company.
1. Manage your mindset.
From the outside, the entrepreneur’s journey might resemble a rocket ship that’s steadily climbing. But in reality, entrepreneurship is a roller coaster. Building a high-growth company means experiencing the highest highs and lowest lows, sometimes on the same day. You never know when the roller coaster will go up or down, but it’s all part of the ride. Adopting a positive mindset gets you through the tough times and helps you acknowledge the big wins.
I’ve always appreciated “The Man in the Arena,” a speech by Theodore Roosevelt. He highlights the importance of getting in the arena and striving to succeed. Even in times of defeat, Roosevelt recognizes that victory comes from daring greatly and doing the work. At Qwick, our team does the work every day. When facing challenges, we know that every one is “figure-out-able.” We’re always striving to accomplish our mission of changing the way people work while enabling individuals to take on the challenges that come with it.
2. Be intentional about the team you build.
I consider myself an introvert, and I certainly get energy from time spent alone. However, five years of working with an incredible team has taught me that relationships really matter. I learn so much from my Qwick colleagues, and I’m convinced that building the right team is key to building a successful startup.
Simply put, choosing the right people strengthens company culture and creates a lasting foundation for your business. At Qwick, we welcome team members with specific qualities relevant to our overall success. For example, we look beyond book smarts to find individuals who are innovative, resourceful, and ready to solve problems. We like hard workers who are motivated by our “hustle responsibly” cultural value. Trust is vital. Someone who lacks integrity or ethics can sink an entire ship. Excellent communication skills are critical, too. We need people to share clear ideas and give thoughtful feedback that helps the whole team improve.
3. View challenges as opportunities.
Another trait that’s common among Qwick employees? Grit. In a high-growth company, you’re guaranteed to face obstacles. Sometimes you’ll fail, and that’s ok. If you never fall short, you’re probably not pushing boundaries—for yourself or the organization. Failure often teaches us more than success, which is why we actually celebrate it at Qwick. It's in our culture to never give up. The key to taking risks is having the resilience to get back up and try again.
Grit also helps us overcome seemingly impossible challenges, like when the pandemic essentially shut down the hospitality industry overnight. Qwick stayed flexible. We temporarily pivoted and started staffing vaccine clinics and grocery stores so we could keep our local professionals engaged while also serving communities and businesses in need. That open-mindedness and determination helped the company thrive during an incredibly difficult time. It also enabled us to support the hospitality industry when it made its comeback, resulting in incredible growth for the company.
4. Take time to reflect.
In startups, change is a constant. When I look back on Qwick’s first five years of growth, I remember facing plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Surprisingly, some of the most difficult challenges ended up impacting the company in positive ways. When you set aside time to reflect on the ride, you’ll find that a little distance gives you clearer perspective. As my wife often reminds me, things always work themselves out in the end. The results just might look different than you ever expected or imagined.
5. Stay curious and welcome change.
Preparing for our future success is as important as pausing to celebrate Qwick’s fifth anniversary. We’ve matched thousands of food and beverage Professionals with flexible, well-paid opportunities while also helping our Business Partners navigate an ever-changing market. In fact, last month we reached 500,000 shifts filled across the U.S. and are projecting to fill 1 million shifts in 2023 alone. But as a company, we’re just getting started. While our mission stays constant, we know that success requires constant evaluation, brainstorming and innovation. I expect more iterations over the next five years.
The startup life is a marathon of sprints. There’s always more to be done, but long-term sustainability requires rest and recovery time. That’s why we’ve implemented a four-day workweek for the Qwick team. I see incredible potential ahead. Revamping our work schedule has given us the energy to tackle challenges and continue growing the company.
A Final Note: Cultivate Your Community.
People say it takes a village to raise a child. The same is true for growing a startup. You can’t scale a business without an incredible support system of employees, board members, investors, family members, and friends. To reach that elusive five-year business anniversary, surround yourself with people who inspire you to succeed.