The Vision for My First Multimillion-Dollar Company

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In the beginning, I pretended to believe my hosted VoIP company would generate millions of dollars in sales. As I wrote the FeatureTel business plan and shopped it around to attract investors for much-needed capital in 2002, I touted the 7 or 8 or 9-digit top line ultimate potential of the company. It wasn’t enough for some. To me, it seemed all but impossible.

Don’t get me wrong – the logic was sound. The business plan was solidly built on the established success of “traditional” telecom models. This idea was one step better than anything else offered at the time. It met a need every business had and it did it in an industry-changing way. On paper, it was so good it attracted investors and inspired critical partners and employees. But the proposed scale was something I had not experienced before and had no idea how we would reach.

What I did know was the core of any great business. It was easy for me to visualize the kind of company I wanted to grow – so I focused on that.

The vision for my first company of scale was encapsulated in the “FeatureTel Wheel”. It was created after I saw the Chrysler “Definition of Quality”. The “Chrysler Wheel” as it was known, defined a customer experience – a Proven Process. On one page, the company illustrated what was truly important in the process of creating loyal customers.

Chrysler Definition of Quality

I tweaked this a bit to simplify it and added core values and our purpose to the page. The stages of our process were to sell to a new customer, to implement the VoIP service for them, and to support them well. We said “the best marketing was a job well done” and we focused on making our service so remarkable that our customers would rave about it to others. Our passion was “to create raving fan customers” – a concept from Ken Blanchard’s Leadership By the Book.

Our core values were to be kind, smart, and helpful. We said every time we interact with a customer, we want them to come away feeling like we were kind, smart, and helpful to them.

The FeatureTel Wheel

If we were successful at these basic things, we’d succeed at our big goal. We called it “happy, happy, dollar sign” – which meant we’d have happy customers, happy employees, and the company would enjoy a healthy margin – so we could continue to pursue our mission.

This one graphic contains the answers to a few of the key questions of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) Vision/Traction Organizer (VTO) before we knew what EOS was:

  • Core Values
  • Core Focus

Rounding out the VTO:

  • 10-Year Target (Bhag)
  • Marketing Strategy
  • 3-Year Picture
  • 1-Year Plan
  • Quarterly Rocks
  • Issues

A company that defines the answers to these 8 questions – and ensures they are Shared By All in the company – has defined the vision of the organization. When everyone is on the same page and rowing in the same direction, the organization is well on the way towards making the most of the opportunity.

FeatureTel grew beyond my wildest expectations. We got well into the 7-digit millions in revenue before being acquired by a bigger fish. We were in the right place at the right time and we focused on the basics that make any business great. We documented the core vision so everyone was clear about what was important and kept our focus.

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