Two Bettys Grows Up
Anna Tsantir, Two Bettys Owner
February 13, 2020
A plant bends toward the light, reacting to its external surroundings to keep growing. That is Two Bettys.
We’ve learned from our early years, and have come out the other end better experienced following a couple of tough tumbles, hard lessons, and growing up through learning from our mistakes. That cycle of life, learning and growth, means that we’ve outlasted our naive enthusiasm, and we’re buoyed by our own resilience, motivated to make a difference in the world with our grownup pants on.
Two Bettys, a company I started with my partner, a bucket, a mop, and a few of our friends back in 2006, is now a collaborative leadership team of 5, an HQ staff of 25, 160+ employees, and 1700+ clients. That’s a lot of growth! The needs of a company this size are very different from the needs of a smaller company. We have to keep adapting. And, since so many of the people that work for Two Bettys are friends committed to the mission, making changes feels very personal.
The Seeds of Growth
One of the things that entrepreneurs struggle with the most is transitioning from working IN the business to working ON the business. When I started Two Bettys, a typical day would look like this: I’d train in a handful of new cleaners, clean three houses, and then go land five new clients in an evening of estimates. If we needed to make an investment, like hiring another cleaner, I knew exactly how many clients I needed to bring in to cover it.
As I got more comfortable with delegating certain tasks (what a relief to give the bookkeeping to a professional and not have to think about it any more!) I started to see how my strengths could better serve Two Bettys and the people who worked here and embraced the role of the Founder who sets and protects the vision and mission of the company.
One of the most difficult points of the last year was realizing, in my capacity as Founder Lady and with the help of my leadership team, that the organizational structure we had in place was no longer serving our business. With systems and structures still in place from a time when our cleaners were contractors, it was clear we needed a better way to support everyone.
I take very seriously my responsibility as a business owner and an employer. People depend on the income and the respect as workers that they receive from Two Bettys. Even though I knew it benefited our cleaners, our clients, and our HQ staff to make changes to our org structure, I still dreaded the level of upheaval that I knew we had to create. I always want Two Bettys to feel like a family (or at least like a cool group of friends-of-friends), so our culture is important to me.
My lesson from this process: perception is reality. If the team feels that leadership isn’t hearing them, or they don’t feel supported, the organism can’t function.
We see this in our intercultural work. We see it with our clients, with each other. I re-learn this as a parent almost every day… so much of the world is shaped by our perceptions of it, and by our perceptions of each other. The only antidote to mis-perception is constant, clear communication. As someone whose brain is usually five steps ahead of her mouth, I’m grateful to my leadership team for their help in reminding me of this when I need it!
One of the images we shared with our team through these changes was a graphic of our org chart as a tree. Leadership is the roots of the tree, and the organization grows upwards from there. When an Owner or CEO is at the top of an org chart, an organization can only grow at that person’s capacity for growth. But when a CEO is at the roots, then the organization is almost limitless because growth comes from the employees, and their potential.
Changing “business as usual” never ends – it’s constant learning. The tools, priorities, and even lingo of Big Business have seeped into every part of our society, but how do we take what tools we can from the business sector and build something that’s good for everyone (not just for the 1%)? Hopefully, by supporting workers and advocating for their rights to a living wage and paid leave, we can change the perception of what business can and can’t do.
We are still feeling the ripple effects of the re-org, but I am proud to say that we have transitioned into an org structure that better supports all of our cleaners and our clients. We have an incredibly talented leadership team in place helping to guide Two Bettys through these changes. Our collaborative leadership style means that I don’t have to fix everything myself (being always IN the business), I can rely on my leadership team, and their teams, to tell me what they think will work.
Through all of these changes, my mantra has been: “tough skin, soft heart.” Everything I do is for and with other people, whether it’s my work with Main Street Alliance, my advocacy on behalf of paid family leave, my commitment to paying a living wage, my passion for incredible customer service, and my Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journey. If I lose my tough skin and take things personally (which of course I do sometimes!!), then I lose my perspective and my resilience. And if I lose my soft heart, then what is this all for?