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Recent posts by Benjamin on VoIP Insider

As most of you who are reading this already know, a little less than two month’s ago we underwent a major upgrade of our ecommerce platform – the one that powers the world’s most popular VoIP store, VoIPSupply.com. Similar to what many other businesses experience when tearing out a piece of business infrastructure and replacing it with something new, things didn’t go 100% according to the plan.

Hey, we never said we were perfect.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of taking part in an undertaking such as this, it is essentially the equivalent of flipping a dilapidated home (or retail store). In essence, you don’t always know everything that is right, wrong or indifferent about the structure, until, well, you …

To preface this, the intended audience may or may not be in the VoIP industry, they may work for VoIP Supply or somewhere else, they may even be the owner of their own business. This commentary is stream of consciousness and written to reflect on experiences during the week at my company that I hope will be of use to others in some manner. Your comments, positive or negative, are always more than welcome and highly encouraged as I too love to see things from someone else’s perspective in effort to always being improving.

At VoIP Supply, we have some excellence within our management team. We also have ways to improve and provide a greater leadership experience to our staff. Some things that our management …

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As with many of my blog entries, the intended audience is just as much my staff as anyone working elsewhere and is not necessarily focused on the VoIP industry as much as it is general business, entrepreneurship and effective management. Please comment with the intention of improving the idea and providing additional value and insight.

At VoIP Supply, we are not a large company by any means, but large enough to have a layer of management between the executive layer and the departmental team members. While sometimes this layer of management is a bridge for the staff to reach out to the owners with ideas and suggestions, often times it is a dam preventing ideas from reaching the surface for a variety of reasons.…

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What’s your definition of success?

Everyone defines success differently. How about you? Particularly as a business owner and entrepreneur, this topic comes up quite frequently. The related question that also comes up is to ask when enough is enough. The two are actually directly related within my definition of success as there is no end point, only milestones.

Success is the company as a whole:

  • The culture: Creating a work environment where the staff is happy and excited to come to work, proud of their accomplishments, and able to build their own career path to follow. Work is work but does not need to be a dreaded destination, which should be left to the dentists. Receiving feedback from the staff letting me know that they

Based on current research, VoIP Supply represents 50 percent of online VoIP hardware sales with more than a dozen competitors making up the other 50 percent. Interestingly enough we also represent more than 50 percent of the total personnel involved in online VoIP hardware sales with 70 employees at the end of the first quarter of 2008.

While we have continued to grow our business over the past few years, enough to earn a variety of awards including the Inc. 500 last year, we have lost some of the market share we used to have to these new ecommerce start-ups. We also lost our largest competitor last year as a result of what I perceive to be a flawed business model; the model that all …

The executives and managers at VoIP Supply all have and advertise an open door policy to our employees. Remarkably many staff do not take advantage of this opportunity, even though it is encouraged and the outcome is nearly always better than expected.

Regardless of the reason for making the initial visit, the outcome and direction of the conversation generally goes somewhere completely different, with greater-than-expected results. Typical open door uses are when there is an issue or opportunity outside of the authorization level for the individual employee to approve. Certainly an excellent reason to walk in and engage your manager, but managers and directors should seize that opportunity to address that issue and pry into more detail with that specific employee.

Rather than extinguish the …

Our customers are our most valuable asset, and are a group of people that we strive to impress all day, every day. With more than 57,000 customers since August 2004, growing the company from 5 employees to 65 employees, more than 100,000 shipments and over $65,000,000 in gross VoIP equipment sales, I can safely say that we have had some hurdles to overcome, but have always placed the customer first and done our best to over-deliver.

Over the years there have been a few instances where we just plain got it all wrong. Like any growing business, we have made decisions that started with good intentions but ended up with poor results. Some customers have been nice enough to point out these issues to others; …

Best Places to Work
Yesterday VoIP Supply was awarded the Best Place to Work in Western New York (for companies with 51-100 employees).

This is a tremendous honor and a testament to the quality of staff employed at VoIP Supply. Growing at such a rapid pace, constantly adding more and more people and always having to change in order to set the pace and stay on top of our game is a challenge. Ensuring that the workplace is safe, fun, and enjoyable while maintaining a high level of morale makes that challenge that much more exciting.

So far this year we have added 23 new people (more than 50% growth), changed our ERP and CRM platforms, expanded into additional office space, refined and documented all company processes and procedures, …

Always an interesting component of the CEO’s role is the summarization of one’s employment at the time of departure. These are usually quite different when the employee is leaving on their own versus when they have been terminated. We conduct exit interviews whenever possible to determine the reasons for the change from the employee perspective and to learn how we can improve if necessary.

“The grass is greener.” Often times people leave the company because they feel that there is a more suitable opportunity elsewhere. In many companies I am sure this is true; at VoIP Supply the owners and managers work very hard to create an environment where people can grow their own green grass and not feel a need to leave. If the …

Previously I have written about the value of reading the manual early on in your exploration and use of a new application, toy, tool or otherwise. However boring the material is, the advanced reading will almost always save you significant time trying to make things work and will reduce your overall level of frustration.

In any business, someone needs to write the manual before others can read it. If you are fortunate to be in a position of being first, you are also likely to be challenged with this task. This is so often overlooked by small companies, particularly young ones in rapidly changing environments. This step is also frowned upon by those with any ounce of creativity in their job as they often feel …