Size up before you start working.
Iva Kozlovskaya is a Managing Partner and co-founder of Qubit Labs, an IT outsourcing company that finds and hires dedicated developers and opens R & D centers in Ukraine. She got a Master’s Degree in Psychology and started her career in recruiting. Now she has more than 10 years of experience in recruitment and HR. In 2013 she won an HR Brand Award by HeadHunter Ukraine. Iva also works as a volunteer lecturer at IT Sales Camp, courses for IT sales managers, where she explains students the basics of working with IT companies, various market segments, and sales strategies.
Six months ago Iva and her business partners started a company called Prostir. This business connects companies looking for software development outsourcing services with the most talented and verified firms from Ukraine.
Where did the idea for Qubit Labs come from?
Every business starts with a problem. Before starting my company, I had been dealing with recruiting and human resources in IT outsourcing companies for over ten years. When you work in the industry for quite some time, you start noticing its drawbacks. It often happened that the programmer our client wanted to hire and the programmer they actually needed were two different persons. Some customers paid attention only to the technical side and didn’t mention soft skills. The others, on the contrary, were so obsessed with social skills that they refused the candidates with needed expertise in programming. Nobody wanted to explain customer his/her mistakes as it posed a risk to signing a contract.
I wanted to change this careless attitude. The main asset of any company is human resources. Understanding this simple rule gave me the idea of what I should do in my life – I want to find dream teams for the customers, the teams that match their real needs in terms of programming language, soft skills, and psychological compatibility. This principle became the basis of Qubit Labs.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Divide and conquer! So, the “divide” part is planning my day carefully. This is how I start my typical day. Planning allows me performing better and staying productive during the whole day. Also, I just focus on the core. When you set the priorities right, you won’t disperse your attention to unimportant stuff.
It concerns not only me, but also my Qubit Labs team – we start our working day with a meeting. We set our daily agenda, discuss the needs and analyze company’s achievements and weaknesses.
When everything is planned and agreed, it’s time for “conquering”. I dedicate the rest of the day to business communication. I meet with clients, partners, and HRs.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Working non-stop. What the eye fears, the hands do – I simply put all my fears aside and do the job. Performance anxiety slows down the process and makes people reluctant to any actions and decisions. I resist it. Of course, first you need to check if your idea works, but you will never know before you give it a try.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Automation gives us unlimited opportunities to facilitate our lives, so I’m excited to watch the development of machine learning. Despite all the rumors about the rise of machines, I believe that ML will cause no damage to humans. Moreover, it is saving lives now, and soon people will no longer work in contaminated areas and participate in hazardous activities. Also, ML development will help to avoid human errors and make work faster. We will be able to delegate all tedious and monotonous tasks to machines, and concentrate on the things that can be done only by people.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The more I communicate with people, the more productive I am. Chatting with experts from different fields inspires me and gives me more ideas for my own business. When you isolate yourself from people that are not directly related to industry, the risk of burning down increases as you lack new thoughts and visions. Communication for me is like a breath of fresh air and a source of out-of-the-box solutions.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Size up before you start working. The conclusion I made is that zeal and enthusiasm work against company sometimes. When you are too excited about the idea, you forget to calculate its true value and the risks. You pitch investors, raise money, spend it on luxurious office interior, perks and other ways to attract attention… And suddenly find yourself in the middle of nowhere just because the idea was doomed from the start and you were too blind and stubborn to realize it. It’s hard to recognize that your idea has no future. But the sooner you do it, the more energy you will save up for the worthy projects.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
“I want it” doesn’t necessarily mean “I will get it”. The path to success goes not only through the sunny meadows. Get ready to enter the darkest shadows and fight with predators. It won’t be a straight road, so you need to be flexible and adapt to changes as you go.
And be realistic about the time you should spend to bring your idea to life. And there is a small chance you will wake up famous one day without ups and downs.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Lots of people image entrepreneurship as a paradise where you are free to do everything you want. But the truth is that it’s more stressful than being an employee. When you are just setting up your business, you always doubt every single decision you take. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible not only for yourself and your part of work but also for the people you hire. You need to find an individual approach to every person, know how to encourage and criticize them being fair and objective. The increasing responsibility gives you a shiver. But don’t be afraid, that’s the thing I strongly recommend you. Start working. And when you see the result, it will motivate you to continue.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? =
Seize opportunities and say “yes” to all of them. A friend of yours asks for business advice? Great, give her a tip. Long-time business partners need a recommendation? Share the contacts of a needed person and help people make connections. Your ex-boss offers you to take part in a conference? Hurry up and grab your chance! I grow my network by helping out people, and this strategy works indeed. Marketers emphasize the role of personalization and individual approach every now and then, but only a few tell how to make it so. This is my method, and it helps me not only to make friends but also to expand my expertise.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I asked one of our development teams to make a monthly report for a client. I was sure they would be honest and submit the right figures. But it appeared that I was wrong. They let down our customer and me, but first of all, they did themselves a disservice. However, it was a good lesson for me. Trust is good, but control is better. To avoid such mistakes in the future, I introduced a system of weekly reports that leave less chance for any ambiguity and help to monitor developers work performance.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Know what makes me angry? When I need to buy something online, and I open an e-store just to find the product with no price indicated. “DM me if you want to know the cost,” says the seller. I don’t understand why they treat the price as a kind of secret knowledge. And there is a way to make the market more transparent – we badly need a search engine like Google with one more searching criterion, the cost. Simply indicate the sum you can spend in a search box and get the most relevant results within your budget. It’d be a breakthrough in marketing! First, such search engine would significantly save the time as you don’t need to write the seller and wait for the answer. Second, all sellers would run a transparent pricing policy. And the last, but not least, it’d make people happier. Remember how disappointed you were when you heard the price that exceeded your budget? Nobody likes the feeling when they cannot afford buying something. Price search engine would solve these three problems simultaneously.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We got an intern. I strongly support the idea of giving young people a chance to try their hand at different jobs. Why not? It helps teens to understand what they want to do, bring their talent to light and start developing in the right way as soon as possible. So, I hired a young talent for our biz dev department. He is probably one of my best recent investments. Gen Z is so keen on technologies that they want and know how to automate almost everything. By working only a few hours a day, he managed to automate our lead generation process and provide us with decent market analysis. It saves our time, and communication specialists can concentrate on more complicated procedures.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
As I’ve already told, I plan my day carefully, and I like when my teams do the same. That’s why Monday is one of my favorites. It’s a team management tool that allows me to track their work process. I can set the tasks there and watch the progress. If needed, I simply leave a comment or give feedback to my team’s work. Oh, and the biggest advantage of Monday is that it can be used as a CRM.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I always recommend this book; it’s Darlene Price’s “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations that Give the Results”. It shows that the time is our most valuable asset, but we do not possess it, so we have to prioritize and focus only on the most important tasks. The minor and unimportant details should be sifted away. “Well Said” helps me to negotiate with the business partners, conduct sales and make engaging presentations.
What is your favorite quote?
“Doing half of something is, essentially, doing nothing.” Jeff Sutherland, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
- Don’t be afraid to take opportunities of helping people.
- Weigh risks and chances for success before launching a new project.
- Excess enthusiasm makes people blind.