What's in a name? What's in a code? How about 007, as in James Bond 007? What does it tell you about the man, the mission, and what it's all about? Well, if you haven't read the books or seen the movies, it doesn't tell you a whole heck of a lot!
How about 100 million dollars? Sounds a lot like Mike Myers' character Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies, raised pinky and all.
I started to use the code name 100MM as a shorthand way to say a whole lot of things without actually saying them. It was catchy, it sounded like a nice round number, it meant so many different things that I couldn't get out one by one. So, I just kept saying, "I want Aquascape to be a 100MM dollar company." Unfortunately, this also created a whole lot of misunderstandings -- namely that Aquascape was only about money.
I want to take the time to lay out exactly what I mean when I say I want Aquascape to be a 100MM company. To me, when Aquascape hits 100MM, it will mean:
People will actually know what a water garden is vs. thinking it's a sprinkler system, a fountain, or the myriad other responses I get when I tell people, "I build water gardens."
People will want water features as a lifestyle upgrade and won't associate them with high maintenance nightmares!
Our customers will feel respected and valued and will choose to do business with us because they appreciate our knowledge and relationships and our ability to offer the most profitable opportunities for their business.
Our employees will be part of a team with a higher purpose and their opportunity for advancement will be commensurate with their abilities.
We will impact the environment positively and in a sustainable way by launching products and solutions that are cutting edge in regard to capturing, cleaning, and recycling the world's most vital resource, water.
Finally, when we hit "100MM," we will have reached a scale and profitability that allows us to increase our humanitarian efforts like the ones we're currently engaged in with Africa and the Dominican Republic, bringing clean water to people whose lives are at risk every day without it.
It's exhausting just thinking about it. And that's exactly why it's worthy of my pursuit!
There's one more analogy I want to offer, and I promise it will be my last. 100MM represents the gold medal to me. I guess you could argue that part of the value of a gold medal to an Olympic athlete is in the value of the gold itself. The weight of that gold however is only a fraction of the sweat that was shed to get it and only a fraction of the overall value it represents. Rather, I'd argue that the medal represents the pinnacle of success. It's about being the best and accomplishing something great. It is a symbol. So is my use of 100MM. Being dropped on Everest is not the same as having climbed it! It's about the journey and what you must overcome to get there.
In summary, 100MM is the prize, but only if I get there by building a sustainable business model. That means water gardens go mainstream, the consumer prospers by living the lifestyles, our customers prosper by selling this notion to consumers, our teammates flourish in an organization that stands for something, and the environment wins while we're in a position to give back to the world at least as much and maybe more than we received.
So, it's not about doing 100MM or 50MM or even a billion! It's a code name for doing good things for all of our stakeholders -- from the customers to the consumers to our employees and even the environment we all must learn to live in.
Lastly, 95 percent of all of the companies started never reach 1 million in annual sales. Ninety-five percent of those that do reach 1 million won't ever do 10 million. A 500,000-dollar company doesn't look like a million-dollar one any more than a 50- million-dollar company looks like a 100-million one. I didn't get to 50 million dollars in sales by being a mail order company. I changed my mail order model when we hit 27MM in sales and added distributors. I wasn't going to hit 100mm in sales by only going through the distributors I had in place at the end of '06. Wasn't going to happen. Time will tell if I made the right choice to open up my distributor model. Customers speak with their pocketbooks, and so far we've closed January up 40 percent over last year. Let the games begin!