We had our last growth spurt in 2007 when we went from less than 10 employees to 16 while at the same time spending over a $1 million on our data center facility in Las Vegas and acquiring another company. It was an exciting time for BannerView.com and with the economy booming, we were on cloud 9. However, as everyone knows, the market started retracting in late 2007 and later tanked in 2008. We got caught in the middle.
All of a sudden we were hemorrhaging cash and tapping lines of credit just to survive. Thankfully, we never had to lay off any employees since we had people take other jobs or move out of state during that time. After taking a beating in 2007, we (thankfully) quickly returned to positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization) in 2008 by better controlling expenses and focusing on revenue growth.
A few things happened that caused our struggles. While most people love to blame the economy for poor financial performance, most everything was within our control. With the distractions of building out our new facility, increasing staff and trying to manage growth, one key thing got us into trouble. I had too many things on my plate where I neglected going out into the community and generating business as I had successfully done in years past.
In addition, my job had its focus taken away by becoming mirrored in the details of watching our construction project come to completion and baby sitting employees that were simply not a good fit for our company culture, especially during a time of such change. When you start adding to your staff rapidly, you can easily lose your culture.
We made a few critical decisions in 2008 that had an immediate positive impact on our company. The most important thing was hiring my first executive assistant. I had tried to hire assistants in the past, but Lisa Schonsheck was my first true executive assistant. As a matter of fact, today is her birthday so happy birthday Lisa!
That did a number of things for me, most specifically, allowing me the time to go back out into the community and generate business for our company by developing partnerships and attracting customers. It also took a lot of the mundane things off of my plate and freed up time for me to focus back on the company's future prospects.
I can't say that the entire process was the smoothest since some of the customers that worked with me on a daily basis for years felt that they got passed off to my assistant and rightfully so. The truth was that I had no choice because I wasn't able to personally service their needs anyway so I put someone in place that could. I rarely take on new customers directly because it's difficult to scale when you have your company president managing customer relationships. My role is best served as a facilitator of new business relationships, not the direct servicing of customer accounts. It's a win-win for both the customers and BannerView.com.
The hiring process was a challenge as I had more than 2 dozen applications for that position and ended up interviewing 13. Lisa wasn't my first choice actually, but my gut was telling me to hire her so I did. After about 9 months working directly with me in my office, I kicked her out! I said, "You're ready, so get out!" She knew I meant it in good humor.
Not too long after we moved her to a different office within the building, she was promoted to her current position of Administration Manager for BannerView.com. I had still utilized her in an assistant role for many more months, but eventually she became so busy in her department that I'm rarely able to do so anymore.
With another year of positive EBITDA in 2009, we continued on a role in 2010 by growing revenues over 30% from 2009 levels and had our first bottom line profit since 2006. Now in 2011 we are at the highest level of employees we've ever been and we are continuing to grow.
Without that particular hire, we wouldn't be where we are today because it allowed me to pursue strategic opportunities for the company. However, I now find myself in the same position, without an executive assistant, and I'm becoming busier than ever before!
Therefore, I need your help. I need to find an Executive Assistant to the President. I'm looking to grow someone with the company and this is the opportunity for them to learn from the best. If you know someone that may fit the qualifications, feel free to tell them to apply!
The last thing I want to do is get too busy where I neglect doing the things that have brought success in the past. So here's to BannerView.com's future growth prospects! Oh, and we'll have some more exciting announcements to share in the near future as well so stay tuned!
|About the author
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, developers of BannerOS, the software that helps companies turn their websites into powerful business tools. Mark is also the author of the book "The Banner Brand – Small Business Success Comes from a Banner Brand – Build it on a Budget." Read Mark's full biography. You can find him tweeting on Twitter and starring in videos for the company's YouTube channel.
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