How We Built Our Dream Company
TLDR; We're a fully-remote, self-funded, women-founded, owned, and operated small business dedicated to true work / life balance.
—by Meredith Monday Schwartz, CEO of Here Comes The Guide
Our mission at Here Comes The Guide is to create a company that provides smart, driven women with a meaningful career that feeds them.
But we believe that you can do meaningful work whilst also having true work / life balance.
It’s harder than we thought to find that kind of company in the world—one that values both the work and the lives, health, and families of its all-women workforce—so we decided to just build it ourselves.
So what does work / life balance look like in practice?
It starts with a 4-day workweek.
The 5-day workweek is a relic of the 20th century. And, more than that, it’s a relic of a time when men managed a 5-day workweek because they most often had a woman at home handling the children and the home-related tasks and chores.
That’s not our world today and the workweek needs to change to reflect that.
By instituting our 4-day workweek, we support our employees' need for more time. Time to do anything they need to do in any way they want to do it. Time for themselves, time to catch up on home-related tasks, time for their side hustle, time with their significant other. However they spend it, it means that they are fueled up mentally, physically, and emotionally to do clear, focused work Monday through Thursday.
And yes, we pay full salary for the 4-day (32-hour) workweek.
Why? Because we’re making more money now than we ever did before. That’s what a refreshed staff can do.
It includes understanding and support from management when life happens.
Every woman on staff understands that life happens. So, when we have an employee who has a sick kiddo or needs to take her mom to a doctor’s appointment, that employee is not going to get attitude from her manager. She’s going to get understanding and support. Hoppy sisters drop everything to help each other in the workplace, or with a personal conundrum.
You have a baby with a fever? You’re going to get advice for having a cozy day and making the little one feel better—not a dressing down for not being at work.
Why? Because I know my people will be back at their desks the minute they can be, giving their all to their clients. But at that moment, they need to be Mom—and we need to help them do that. To do anything else just makes no sense.
It means providing tools for mobility, flexibility, and productivity.
We provide our staff with the tools to work at home; but also, to work from the park or from a nearby coffee shop. Wherever they are most able to do their job at that moment in time. That looks like laptops and earbuds and plenty of gorgeous office supplies to tick off those to-do lists.
It means covering costs (and helping prepare) when there’s a new addition to the family. We pride ourselves on being a great place to be a working mom. And that means that we take maternity leaves seriously to make things as easy as possible. We have planning programs and mentors ready for when our employees need to get ready for their time with their new little one.
And, we are so happy to be able to provide 6 weeks of paid maternity leave and continued payment of their medical insurance for our employees during this time. We also structure the “return to work” phase in a way that is customized to the staffer, including a tiered schedule that makes things much easier for mom and baby during the transition back to work.
We also provide a ton of support and community when Mom returns to work. Those first 6 months are challenging, and our Sisterhood of experienced mothers makes this process much easier (and more fun).
Why? Because it shouldn’t be difficult to bring a new life into the world and keep the job you love.
It means encouraging relationship building over sales.
Yes, we make our money by wedding venues paying us to advertise on our site. But our approach is very different from most sales-based businesses.
We train our staff to never think about making an invoice, but only to think about building an authentic relationship with each venue. And we train them to listen to what each venue needs. If that's our advertising services, great. We can do that. But sometimes, it's not. And our staff is empowered to know the difference and act accordingly.
We have a no-commission structure for this reason. Our employees don't have to worry about their paychecks. They can instead focus on what is truly good for their clients.
This means our people know how much they'll make each month and can plan their lives accordingly. There's no end-of-month guessing game.
Why? We don't want our sales team to feel like they need to "sell ice to eskimos". They can lead with their hearts. And for this group of women, there's no greater joy.
It means offering advice (and a cheering squad) for a side hustle.
One thing that our 4–day workweek provides is a great opportunity to pursue a side hustle. I’m a huge believer in side hustles (I have a book podcast that I love!) and so, as CEO, I want to encourage that in my employees.
So, my team of Side Hustlers and I will meet up to talk about each individual’s project and we’ll brainstorm ways to get to whatever success looks like for that individual staffer. We are there for each other every step of the way and we are delighted by each other’s successes.
Why? I believe that side hustles, whether for fun or for cash (or both!) sharpen our saws, bring us new skills, help us gain confidence, and make us better at our job at Here Comes The Guide.
We take our mission of providing a fantastic workplace for smart, driven women very seriously, as you can see. And we are so proud to have built a company that is a model for what we think companies should look like in the world.
Check out (and support) our women-owned side hustles!
Meredith's podcast: The Currently Reading Podcast
Jenna's design biz: Absolute JEM
Jontell's photography: Jontell Vanessa Photography
Caroline's blog: Sweet Caroline Fugate
Becca's acting career: Becca Ballenger
Jenny’s photography: Jenny A. Rogers Photography
Chelsey’s design biz: Wave Creative Studio