Recently recognized as a finalist in CareerBuilder’s Big Strides in Small Business competition, Ontraport launched in 2006 with only three partners. Today, the software solutions company operates on a full-time staff of 30 and prides itself on a culture that encourages employees to voice their ideas, think innovatively and pursue personal and professional growth opportunities. Ontraport is committed to nurturing the success, not only of its employees, but of other small businesses as well: The company’s CEO provides pro bono business coaching for local small business owners. In the past year, Ontraport doubled its staff and expects to triple or quadruple its growth in the coming year. But all of this only scratches the surface of what makes Ontraport so remarkable. Lena Requist (pictured above), Chief Operating Officer of Ontraport, recently spoke with me over the phone to provide a peek inside this distinguished company.
What does being named a finalist mean to you? It really made a huge impact on our employees, because we already think our company is special. So the fact that an outside organization like CareerBuilder is recognizing us for what we’re accomplishing here really gave us concrete reassurance that we’re doing something right!
Ontraport prides itself on a culture where employees are working hard and having fun as well. Why is that important to you? Even though I love the business aspect, my true passion is employee development, which is a matter close to our CEO’s heart. Early on, when we were only five employees, we really made it a focus of our culture. Now we have several initiatives and classes we teach our employees on everything you can think of – from the technology and software to customer service to how to budget and practice critical thinking skills– anything that will allow them to move forward and advance them in their careers. If we can’t provide them with the growth opportunities they need within our organization, we use our connections to help them find that growth opportunity outside.
(Get a behind-the-scenes view of Ontraport’s culture here.)
You mention in your nomination form that the CEO “is personally in contact with all of his employees at every level.” How does he stay so accessible? We talk about that all the time, actually. That’s one of the challenges of any organization as you grow and add employees. One thing we do is have lunch or breakfast with one of our employees every week. We leave the office and just talk to them about what’s going on and their personal goals. We ask, “How can we help you?” We don’t want to make it about work. We’re really committed to their all-around happiness and helping them achieve their goals.
Ontraport is also very involved in the community – why do you believe it’s important to give back to the community? One of our core values is “care for your community”, and we take it from many points of views. One is the community within the organization – each other. Another is the community we live in, and another is the community of business owners that are our clients. But at the most fundamental level, we’re really talking about us and our organization – caring for each other in the organization. If there’s something our employees are doing, we want to go and support them. Landon and I both believe that when you provide a life of service and give back and share your gifts with the world, you really end up having a more fulfilled life.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? I think it’s that mistakes are good. Failures are good. I got this piece of advice years ago. Being in financial industry, dealing with millions of dollars, mistakes get made, but no one’s going to die from those mistakes. It’s better to just bring them to light and tell people, “This is a mistake, let’s learn from it,” and move forward. We may not always do things perfect, but there’s never a mistake that can’t be corrected or we can’t learn from.
About Ontraport: Ontraport is fast becoming the place where entrepreneurs go to start, systematize and scale their businesses. This all-in-one integrated platform delivers essential business features including; a powerful CRM system, one-click membership sites and WordPress hosting, outstanding email delivery, payment processing, direct-mail printing, affiliate management, and their innovative business automation suite. Arriving in the marketplace in 2008, Ontraport’s talented engineers have developed nimble processes for releasing cutting edge customer driven features at lightning speed. Coupled with humorous educational materials, affordable monthly subscription rates and a commitment to world class customer support, it’s no surprise that Ontraport clients are “Raving Fans.” Source: PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1cHTQ)
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