What does success mean to you?
Small businesses today are still challenged with digitalising their processes, and Adi Engel, the Chief Marketing Officer of vcita, has a lot to say about empowering this sector.
Engel leads the marketing team at vcita, a software company based in Seattle and Tel Aviv that provides tools for SMEs around the globe to optimise the way they communicate with customers, manage time and get paid.
What is your company all about, and how does it support small businesses?
vcita was founded with an aim to help small businesses compete on a level playing field, providing their customers with the service level they have come to expect in recent years. As consumers, we are so used to bigger brands ‘remembering’ our preferences, keeping records of our engagements, offering loyalty benefits and allowing us to self-serve by booking services online, uploading documents and crucially – paying by card or digitally, we are often not conscious of the technology that is powering all of that in the background.
vcita made it our mission to build this technology in an accessible and affordable way, designed from the ground up to support small businesses.
What time does your day usually start and end?
Personally, I am a very early riser and I start working during the quiet morning hours, but that’s a personal choice. It did come in handy, though, when we were launching a partnership in Australia, and I was based in the GMT time zone while catching up often with our partners in the US and our office on the West Coast.
I enjoy the unpredictability of my day to day; I don’t do well on a very strict routine.
What is your favourite part of your job, and what is your least favourite part?
First and foremost, I am a facilitator for my team, and being a people manager is an emotional roller-coaster sometimes. Being there for a person who is experiencing personal growth and success in their role is an incredible feeling, but you also feel their pain when they hit hurdles, and you get frustrated when they do.
As long as we fail well, I am happy with both highs and lows, but that’s a major commitment we all have to buy into as a team.
What do you think SME founders need to understand about success that they often overlook?
Hard to answer that one, as success means different things to different people, and perhaps that’s the most freeing element of owning a small business, to begin with. We speak to so many business owners who tell us success for them is personal growth and the growth of their clients, and they have no interest at all in what we are taught to believe is ‘proper’ business growth – chasing more clients, more employees, more revenues.
I would urge business owners to define what success means for them, what value system they would like to manage their day to day by, and check-in with themselves regularly to make sure they feel comfortable with where they’re at. And of course, make sure you adjust those goals over time, as it will change.
You provide services to SMEs based around the world. From your perspective, what makes UK-based SMEs different?
I can’t provide scientific proof of it, but my feeling is that the UK market is somehow more conscious of the value of local, privately owned businesses.
Communities are built around these local businesses, and the love of quirkiness and the diversity that is natural to the British culture, as I prefer to think of it, can only make the end client experience more unique and therefore memorable.
What has been the biggest challenge for your business?
We had to make some decisions early on regarding what would be the best way to make the most impact on our target audience.
We made a relatively uncommon decision of working with small businesses directly as well as through channel partners, and I believe it drove us to become better all-around – we know our customers better, as we speak to them daily, and we leverage that to drive value to our partners who in turn allow us to reach more small businesses. It’s a delicate balance, and we’re still finding it difficult to manage sometimes, but it makes us stand out in our category.