Sunday, October 17, 2010

How To Achieve 377% Sales Growth

When you see "377% sales growth," you could first think it's a typo. Achieving 37% growth is commendable and plausible, 77% is astounding, but 377%? It's reality for Jason Caras (pictured), co-CEO at IT Authorities in Tampa, FL, who we had the pleasure of talking to last week during a one-hour webinar. Here are excerpts of an article on IT Authorities written by webinar co-host Gennifer Biggs of Jameson Publishing:

When it comes to increasing revenues, improving sales, and growing your business, there is a lot of advice to be had. Books, webinars, seminars — you name it. But one fast-growing company has another suggestion. Try changing your life, and those of your employees, for the better, and then see what happens.

Jason Caras, who is co-CEO of IT Authorities, has challenged himself, his co-CEO Jason Pollner, and his 30 employees to live a different kind of life, what he calls the “high performance” life. Caras started his journey years ago as a young man who initially struggled with personal success, but eventually found that living life well — as in being respectful of others and himself, and with higher personal expectations than others — was the path for his success. “Leadership success starts when you ask yourself, ‘What am I becoming’ versus ‘What am I getting’?’ says Caras.

That realization came after studying such leadership gurus as Jim Rohn and Wayne Dyer. Those teachings led to Caras’ business philosophy, which is rooted in two main concepts: CANI (Constant And Never-ending Improvement) and the 212-Degree Concept. CANI is based in Kaizen, a Japanese management philosophy that challenges each person to arrive at work (or simple to face) each day with the powerful intention of being better than the day before. The 212-Degree Concept focuses on the idea that one extra degree separates the good from great, just as one degree separates hot water from boiling water.

For IT Authorities, that has translated into unbelievable success. “I’ve just found that when you are willing to strive for constant improvement, to push a little bit farther, walk with your shoulders back and head high because you are doing your very best, it translates into success,” explains Caras. “When you are invested in your own success, you tend to be more invested in your company’s success.” To prove that point, consider this: The company, founded in 2006, has nearly 100% retention of employees, which translates directly to happy customers as well. IT Authorities was recognized as the #1 Company to Work for in Florida by Florida Trend Magazine and can be found of the Best Places to Work in Tampa Bay list produced by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. IT Authorities is ranked 801 on the Inc. Magazine 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list with a three-year growth rate of 377%.

Think that number is something you’d like to see in your own business? Well, Caras says those leaders interested in inspiring success should start at home. “You must start with yourself, you cannot ask others to buy in to a philosophy you are not living,” he says. Then, be ready to hold yourself to the same standards, because Caras believes firmly in 360-degree leadership in a successful business. “IT Authorities is a place where leadership is required regardless of what position you hold,” he says.

Caras stresses that leaders need to understand that it is not easy to lead others down the path to a high-performance life. Be ready to challenge potential hires about their ability to come to work every day ready to inspire and be inspired by your coworkers. Also be ready to fire anyone that isn’t willing to be part of the team. “We tell people are very slow to hire, and very quick to fire,” says Caras. “It is easy for someone to have on their game face but then sometimes you are just wrong, and they do not bring anything to the workplace. They need to go and quickly.”

Perhaps one reason Caras’ philosophy resounds with me is that our parent company, Jameson Publishing, has a similar culture. For example, our culture is based on a document called “What We Stand For.” On that list are six statements: Continuous Self-Improvement, Achieve Desired Outcomes, Know Our Truths, Work Hard & Work Smart, High Character Behavior, and We Will Not Be Great By What We Accomplish, But Rather By What We Help Others Accomplish. Those values share daily interactions between the team, our customers, those we work with as a magazine, and more. Perhaps most important is that no one person in our company — from our owners to our president to the receptionist — is exempt, and everyone is encouraged to participate in 360-degree annual reviews and challenge any action taken by the company. What that creates, as Caras has learned, is a workplace excited about performing as well as it can, every day, and slowly but surely working to improve on that performance. Employees are engaged, happy, enthusiastic, and creative — all of which moves the company toward success.

To view Caras' free one-hour webinar, just click here.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.


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