Recently, we were placed as the 699th fastest growing company in the nation according to the Inc. 5000 list.
If I’m being honest, this came as a surprise to many of us.
Sure – we’ve all known for a while that Carrot is growing quickly (I think we hired 4 or 5 people in the last 6 months, making us a team of 20). But for the most part, we’re working, planning new projects, and having a blast while we do it.
Finding that we’re within the thousand fastest growing company in all of the U.S. is a bit like shooting hoops every day at the local gym and finding out five years later that you’re one of the best free-throwers in the nation…
You were just doing it because you enjoy it, but somewhere along the way, you became one of the best.
Really? Why? What did we do differently?
Well, we put together a list of 10 of our most integral beliefs as a company that contributed to landing on the Inc. 5000 list. We think (whatever that’s worth) that it’s these fundamental beliefs which guide our success and could guide yours as well.
1. Culture is More Important than Growth
Why do people get out of bed every day?
Why do they go to work?
What determines how hard they work, how productive they are, or the quality of that work?
At Carrot, we believe people work harder and better when they love what they do and who they work with. Every person on the Carrot team was chosen because of their passion for life – creating a culture that prioritizes itself before everything else.
The wonderful thing about a culture-focussed business, though, is that growth naturally follows.
When people love what they do and have genuine relationships with coworkers, they work harder and they stay around longer.
2. Honesty is More Important than Sales
While we passionately believe that Carrot is a good fit for the vast majority of real estate investors and agents around the nation, we also understand that Carrot isn’t a fit for everyone.
Some investors and agents have found success elsewhere – through a competitor or a private web development company – and more power to them!
We offer a service, we do the best that we can, and we believe that it’s one of the best real estate marketing solutions around. Still, it isn’t for everyone. And we’d rather have a mutually beneficial relationship with our customers than sell them something they don’t need.
3. One Lost Member is a Tragedy
Every member cancellation comes through our company’s #General Slack channel – which everyone in the company has access to. When someone cancels, we try to save them if we feel they’ve made a mistake – not through sales-speak and unhelpful promises, but through genuine concern for their business and a desire to help.
Many people cancel because they’re discouraged about business in general and they’ve hit a breaking point. These people just need a gentle hand to guide them in the right direction.
At Carrot, doing that isn’t below us.
If our desire is to help our customers, then that means we have to meet them where they are. Often times, a cancellation is a cry for help.
Which is why we treat every cancellation as a tragedy and an opportunity to inspire someone who’s lost hope.
4. Dreaming Big is More Important than Always Succeeding
We have an ambitious team of 20 people at Carrot.
People from support, marketing, product, services, and sales often have new crazy ideas they’d like to implement. Whether it’s testing new sales copy on our homepage, writing a book, or launching a new feature, there’s a way to make it happen.
In fact, we use a 1-page plan template that allows anyone to create a project, pitch it to the team, and get it approved, tweaked, or rejected.
Speaking from experience, few ideas get outright rejected – more often, there’s a recommended change or two.
And the person who pitched is then the leader of that project, setting due dates and seeing it through to the end.
It doesn’t always work, but the team always learns something new along the way. And down the road, that learning usually leads to product iterations, better processes, and a stronger business model.
Dream big. Learn along the way.
5. Saving a Member Time is More Important than Saving Ourselves Time
We’re in business to help people. And often times, helping people requires sacrifice – late nights, long calls, and/or difficult conversations with members.
But that doesn’t discourage us. It fires us up. It reminds us why we’re in business. It reminds us why we’re a part of Carrot.
Because we want to help real estate investors and agents save more time in life for the things that matter most.
To achieve our mission, we have to be willing to sacrifice our own time to help our members.
And while late nights, long calls, and difficult conversations aren’t all that common, each of us is willing to sacrifice an evening to make our member’s life a little bit easier.
6. 90% of Success is Believing You Can Pull it Off
We have a bit of an unintentional mantra here at Carrot. It’s dead simple and almost mindless – but it’s also indicative of the spirit Carrot employees carry with them everywhere…
“We’ll get it.”
Look, business often gets discouraging. Sometimes a process breaks, a customer struggles with our service, or a weakness in our company shoves its way to the front of our priority list… and we’re left to pick up the pieces.
We have to solve the problem.
But it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes, we’re left with a big question mark, a big “what’s next?” or “how will we actually solve this in the future?” type of concern…
Cue mantra: “We’ll get it.”
And we will – usually, we just need more time to think about the problem and come back at it the next day.
But the belief that we will get it never fades, despite setbacks.
7. Arguing is Better than Settling
If you’re overthinking a product launch, then it’s probably best to just bring it to market and adapt as you receive customer feedback. At Carrot, though, we’ve been in the real estate space for 5 years and we have a pretty good idea of what our customers want or need from us.
(There’s always more to learn, of course)
So when we are launching a new product, service, or feature, we argue. Not “I hate you,” “you suck,” type of arguing. But we passionately defend our positions on what we believe is best for the market’s need, while still being respectful.
We don’t throw personal jabs, we argue ideas, and we believe that ideas do not define a person – which then gives us the freedom to throw them out or refine them.
Because in the end, we’d rather argue about a product before launch than release a sub-par service or feature to our customers.
8. Open-minded Differences are the Secret to Healthy Company Culture and Thrilling Growth
My personality clashes with several people on the Carrot team. Several of them think differently than I do, perceive the world differently, and even live their lives quite differently.
Normally, I avoid these kinds of people. We all prefer familiar over unfamiliar, making us gravitate naturally toward other people who act like us, believe the same things, and live the same way.
Problem is, similarity makes growth impossible.
If everyone around you thinks the same way, acts the same way and believes the same things, they’ll never challenge you… and you’ll never grow.
At Carrot, that’s not the case – the differing personalities (quite extreme differences, often) force all of us to rethink our positions and adapt to the environment around us.
That, with a healthy dose of open-mindedness, naturally leads to thrilling personal and collective growth.
9. The More You Give, the More You Get
Call us hippies if you want (we are based out of Oregon, after all), but we believe that what goes around, comes around. We believe that by giving time and money to other people who need it will pay us back in the future.
We don’t know how it work…
But we believe it.
And that’s why, every quarter, we donate a portion of our company revenue to charity organizations around the U.S. – yes, usually we buy them a ton of carrots.
10. Changing Lives is Better than Getting Credit
I won’t lie – getting credit for your project or idea is awesome. Everyone loves to receive positive feedback about something they accomplished.
But you know what is 10x more satisfying than getting credit for something you did?
Receiving a message like this…
And that is why we’re in business – to change lives.
So long as we’re doing that, getting credit can sit under the table and be quiet.