We just celebrated 30 years in business on April 1, 2022. Yes, April Fools Day. But it's no foolin' that it was 30 years ago I started this company in my basement with a $1,000 investment, a chair and table from Walmart for a desk, a phone, pager, and a $600 computer. I operated in a 100 Square foot area with nothing to offer my clients but my knowledge and charm. I am astonished at how fast time has flown. But it has been a great ride.
I can honestly say that the secret to our success has always been building and nurturing a great team.
Great teams are comprised of great leaders, players, and support staff. It is a team effort by all to make the magic happen. There is no question that great leaders and stars can accelerate the process, and my company has its share of stars. But the stars can't reach their potential if they don't have a solid support system behind them. We see this in major league sports where a star player goes to a crappy organization and does not excel. On the flip side, we see players who have never really blossomed excel when they go to the right team with the right coach. How often have we seen baseball players who were thought to be over the hill come to the St. Louis Cardinals and have one last great year? (We hope this is true with Albert Pujols this year.)
When I was by myself initially, my team consisted of me as the salesman, accountant, and janitor, along with my suppliers, who I treated as if they were my own company. Before I made my first phone call to sell something, my first move was to line up three suppliers who could handle the three essential products I planned to sell. I hired an answering service and made sure they answered the calls like they were sitting in my office next to me.
I had no money, so I arranged payment terms before sending any of them an order. For the first two years, those three suppliers were my lifeline. I made sure to keep them happy by working within their rules and paying them on time, whether my clients paid me or not. If I was short on cash, I used a small bank credit line I arranged or took a cash advance on my credit card to make the payments. I knew that making sure my suppliers were happy with me was critical to them performing in a pinch when needed.
Fast forward 30 years later and my team has grown to 45 people. We will likely do $12,000,000 in revenue or better in 2022 and will qualify for the Inc 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies list for our performance in 2021 with 145% growth.
I constantly stress that EVERY person in this organization is a critical piece of this success puzzle. Doing the best job they can and getting as much work out as possible every day is vital to higher profits. I payout 20% of my company's profits each year in a bonus program for employees. In addition, I plan to implement an ESOP plan over the next few years to garner even more employee ownership and commitment.
I know that the lifeblood of our success is rooted in a great customer experience and that only comes with great employees with the right attitude. The right attitude is a cultural thing that we constantly nurture.
No matter how big or small you are, your team is critical to your success. Don’t ever minimize the importance of nurturing and developing your team to support the customers at a high level.