We talked to Yves Hiernaux about how Beebole is a timesheet for making the right decisions, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Yves Hiernaux: Like everyone else in the world, we’re all doing the best we can. Time is passing so strangely this year. On the one hand, I can’t believe it’s almost 2021, and on the other hand, the days and weeks can feel so long. Personally, living outside of the city center has helped me not feel the effects of strict lockdown or restrictions, and I’m fortunate that nobody in my inner-circle has been severely affected by Covid-19. Still, it’s not easy by any means. I go into Brussels at least once a week to see my mother, who lives alone, and for me, that’s one of the worst parts—seeing others feel lonely.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Beebole?
Yves Hiernaux: To be honest, I never dreamt of starting my own company. All I ever wanted was to go to college and become an engineer. I got a degree in computer engineering before beginning a 20+ year career in HR tech and consulting. During those years, I saw how hard it was for managers and execs to wrap their heads around things like time tracking reports, team rosters, employee time attendance sheets, and payroll data. My co-founder, Mic, agreed: We could make a better tool, something simple, beautiful, and functional for businesses. He’s the one who convinced me it was possible to be my boss and to build the life I never knew I wanted as an entrepreneur. That was almost 13 years ago, and here we (and Beebole) still are. It wasn’t always easy—particularly those first few years I had to go back to consulting during the day to keep the business afloat—but I’m happy to say more than 1,000 companies worldwide use our tool today.
How does Beebole innovate?
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Yves Hiernaux: Because Beebole’s clients tend to be in the B2B world, we haven’t seen as negative or direct an effect as other consumer-facing companies have. That being said, our sales process has taken on a new pace. I wouldn’t say they’ve gone down by any means, but the whole timeline has slowed down. Deciding to use BeeBole used to be a quicker decision. But now, our clients want more time to consider whether our tool is right for them and if it will be a good investment. Nobody knows what turns Covid-19 is going to bring next, and you can see people are taking more careful and calculated steps when it comes to investing in new tools.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Yves Hiernaux: As I said before, we’re not in a bad position. Generating new clients takes more time than before, but that’s something we can handle. This means that we’re in a good place to think about the future, push ahead, and continue investing in our tool and our team. Typically speaking, when you’re able to survive a crisis like the one we’re living through now, you’re left with fewer competitors. I’m keeping that in mind as we move forward with our plans—developing a new version of Beebole, launching a webinar, and even expanding our team. I will note that because we are a remote team, it’s been tough not to see each other in person, which we generally try to do twice a year. While that wasn’t a difficult decision to make at the time, it’s noticeable when we aren’t all able to get together and see each other face-to-face. My co-founder and I are looking forward to being able to do this again in the future.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Yves Hiernaux: Living outside the city is a significant plus for me. Of course, I’m close enough to visit my friends and family still whenever I’d like, but living in the countryside means I get to step out my front door and take long runs along the river without running into other people. I also have a garden that I tend to daily. Connecting to nature like this daily helps me deal with stress, and it keeps me grounded.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Yves Hiernaux: There are thousands of time tracking and timesheet companies out there, something you can see with a simple Google search. Beebole survived quite a few years without a marketing team, but I’ve come to realize just how vital a strong marketing strategy is. Part of our current approach is maximizing visibility and brand awareness, ensuring that when our competitors are mentioned on top time-tracking tool lists, we’re right there next to them. In such a crowded market, it’s a fight not to be unknown. Covid-19 or not, we’re continuing this effort, expanding our marketing strategy, and pushing forward.
Your final thoughts?
Yves Hiernaux: Beebole’s been successfully on the market for almost 13 years, and we’re not going to stop anytime soon. A big part of that is because I’ve always had a sense of resilience and pragmatism when running my own company. I don’t believe in overnight successes, and that was never my intention with Beebole. I think that intentionality shows up in almost every decision we’ve made. While this company started as an idea between two friends in HR tech, it’s also worth saying that it has grown into something much bigger than us. Without our team of developers, marketers, and sales & customer service reps, I’m confident we wouldn’t be what we are today.
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