Exponential Growth of Self (and Business)

Exponential growthWith a lot of talk about exponential growth (10x) vs. incremental growth (1x) I felt compelled to reiterate a way of thinking that I’ve employed personally and have preached about for several decades now. My hope is that one or more readers challenge it in attempt to prove it incorrect.

Here it is in the simplest form. Work gets done during business hours, Growth gets done outside of those hours.

At VoIP Supply we have often had “building your future” nights where we tackle growth projects either in the company or on the company. There are so many things to work on that just won’t make it to the top of the list when everyone is busy taking care of customers and operating a solid and growing business, as we do each day.

Every interviewee at VoIP Supply talks about career path and where they want to get to as their tenure grows and they become part of our family, but rarely do they highlight how and more importantly when they plan on doing what is required to climb that ladder or cut their own path.

You may grow incrementally during the day working on some projects that help grow the business, surely that is the case, but to really grow in an exponential manner you need to do so once the noise dies down and the distractions are gone. There is no other way without sacrificing in some other area where you are needed during the day.

If you have chosen a profession of some sort, it is your duty (in my opinion) to become the absolute best at that profession. No pro athlete expects to improve solely during the game and skip practice and training, why would you?

Practice, study, read, strategize, collaborate, experiment and discuss if you really truly want to get better at what you do and choose the path you say that you want to go down. You must invest in your future and that means sacrificing some (not all) of your evenings, weekends and personal time.

If you want to be a better leader, study leadership, read about other great leaders, best practices and practical application of those skills.

If you want to grow a new channel, division or team within your department or company, don’t expect it to just happen during the day. Put in the effort and investment of time required to grow for your own benefit and the benefit of those depending on you to be the professional you say that you are.

You may then and only then reap the rewards of exponential growth, personally, professionally and within your business.

Business Process and Procedure Documentation

One of the most important things you can do for your business, and your peace of mind.

Do you have current documentation of your company’s processes and procedures, all of them updated within the past 3-6 months? If so, you are working for a very well-run business. If not, please read on and make your company run better than it ever has before.

This is being written from the experiences during my 15 years as the founder and CEO of VoIP Supply, one of the oldest and largest reseller of voice-over-ip hardware and complete solutions. There were a couple of times when I could answer “yes” to the question above and then there was the majority of the time when the answer was consistently “no”.

Since this is a blog post, I’ll keep it to a bulleted list of why you should take the time to document 100% of your company’s processes and procedures across all departments and individuals.

  • It makes training new people a whole lot easier and takes up a lot less of other people’s valuable time.
  • It provides easy cross training for coverage of another team member’s responsibilities.
  • It removes any concern about not knowing how to get something done should an employee unexpectedly become unavailable.
  • It provides a way for existing employees to build a career path within the company by learning new skills and being able to move laterally within a company instead of having to wait to move up the ladder.
  • It reduces errors and allows for others to check the work for accuracy and completeness.
  • It makes your company more valuable to a potential acquirer or merger.
  • It prevents hoarding of knowledge for one’s personal objective of job security.
  • By regularly reviewing and revising, it allows each process to be as efficient as possible by removing, automating or combining steps/processes when business changes or new tools become available.
  • The provide a sense of comfort for the owner(s) and leadership team that the business can survive difficult financial times when a reduction of staff if unfortunately required.
  • There are plenty of additional reasons to do this, and they apply to all companies.

We completed this process at VoIP Supply in 2008/2009 when we were forced to lay off more than 50% of our workforce and still be able to survive and pull ourselves out of the recession. It was an amazing learning experience, a solid team building process, and the end results made our business far more efficient at both operating and training. As a result of this program, when the economy came back to life, we were able to return to our level of productivity from before the recession with the same reduced number of personnel.

If you want to learn more or would like assistance with this in your company, please reach out and connect, I would be delighted to help you and your team.

Overlooked by more than 99% of companies

Training your trade show exhibition team

Overlooked by more than 99% of companies is the proper selection and training of the people working in the trade show booth.

Having been to and/or exhibited at hundreds of trade shows and conferences, I am writing from experience and even some embarrassment from my own company’s flawed execution.

Companies spend thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars to exhibit at an industry trade show, yet less than 1% of them select the right people to go, for the right reasons, and the people that are going don’t receive any training on how to engage strangers (leads) walking by the booth in droves.

Your top sales reps may be great on the phone, but don’t have the skills to capture and qualify leads in person at the pace of a trade show.

Your top executives may know the company inside and out, but they have too much going on to be effective and focused in the booth.

Your engineer may have read every line of code in your application, but he hasn’t left his basement in years and doesn’t want to talk to strangers at all.

Think about it. Are there any other sales and marketing activities that you spend thousands of dollars on where you can’t determine if the investment was worth it and the people spending your money are not trained on how to do their job?

Successful execution at a trade show is a skill, one to be trained on and practiced well in advance of each event, and with careful forethought into who is working the booth and why.

Want to learn more? Check out Trade Show Stars or contact us directly.

Reactive or Responsive – Embracing change

Here @VoIPSupply we have long talked about the fact that nothing can improve without change and that without improvement, technology and competition will render you obsolete. In line with this topic are two of our Core Values, No Donkeys! and Be a Very Hungry Caterpillar. In short, these two core values speak to one’s attitude as well as one’s passion and ability to both learn new things and adapt to changes around them.

Anytime a change is introduced into the business (or life in general) there are two ways that people tend to handle it; they either react to the change or they respond to the change, two very different things.

An analogy would be a nasty case of pneumonia and a visit to the doctor. Once diagnosed, the doctor is likely to prescribe some antibiotics to fight off the illness. What happens when you take the antibiotics? Let’s say you return to the doctor the next day and he says that you are reacting to the antibiotics. Generally speaking, that’s bad news and means your body is rejecting or is allergic to the antibiotics. You need to stop taking them promptly. On the other hand, the doctor could say that you are responding well to the antibiotics. From experience, that is the good answer, meaning the medicine is working and you are on the mend.

When change is introduced into your workplace or personal life, you have the same two options and the choice all yours. You can react to it or you can respond to it.

Some typical reactions tend to be rejection, avoidance, dismissal, belittlement, objecting or flat out refusal to accept the change despite knowing that improvements cannot happen without change.

More favorable are the responses to change. One can ask questions and learn more about how this change is going to help them, they can adopt the change and begin integrating it into their role and they can come together as a team and help each other accept the change with the understanding that without change there is no opportunity for improvement.

If you slap a donkey on the ass, it will likely react with a kick to your face. If you feed a hungry caterpillar, it will respond and turn into a beautiful butterfly.

Buying or Selling a Company in Buffalo, Rochester, or Western New York?

If you’re a business owner, and are looking to sell your business or acquire/merge with another company, take a couple of minutes to read this. It could save you thousands of dollars and many valuable hours of your time.

I’ve built and sold several companies over the past 25 years. To date, I have not worked with a company that is less reputable, more greedy, and as arrogant as the one in this brief story.

I had spent the prior 15 years building a great company, doing good things, with the help of many great team members. When it came time to move along, sell the business, and start a new chapter, I reached out to a local company that claimed to specialize in “investment banking,” helping companies to buy and sell businesses.

Their contract stated that either party could terminate at any time, with written notice. It also stated that if the agreement was terminated, they would still be entitled to their “success” fee if the business was sold to anyone that a) they identified as a potential buyer, or b) anyone that they contacted on my behalf regarding the sale.

I ended up terminating their agreement and selling the business without them, to a company that they neither identified, nor contacted on my behalf. Can you guess what happened next?

That is correct. These people decided that it was in their best interest to sue me for their “success fee,” regardless of their own terms and conditions. In addition to being sued for something they were not entitled to, they were paid high 5-figures to produce incomplete work. This unprofessional production looked as though it had been created in the 1995 version of Word Perfect, at the hands of 12 year old.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details. However, I do encourage you to reach out to me before potentially hiring these people, and to prevent you from making a huge mistake.

Seriously consider, would you hire a mergers & acquisitions firm that is happy to sue a client who would likely create and sell additional businesses, a client who is affiliated, and in regular communication, with a network of more than 15,000 other entrepreneurs who could be potential clients? Every client they lose or don’t get is costing them multiples more than they could potentially make, due to this petty and childish lawsuit.

Good strategy, guys.