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About five years in, we were doing about $6-7 million and struggling to find good people. We had just a handful of leaders to get everything done. I knew that was not how businesses grow, and I knew we needed to mature from an entrepreneurial-run startup to a professionally-managed company. But making the transition was beyond my experience or my ability. I tried another peer group for about a year, but wasn’t really getting what I needed. I spent a year at the University of Chicago Center for Entrepreneurship taking classes, but I still felt I needed something more. The answer for me was Vistage.
What has been the ROI from membership in Vistage?
From the very first year I entered, 2007, Vistage paid for itself about five times over. Our business was growing like crazy when I joined, but within my group several firms were strong leading indicators that the economy was heading for turbulent times. I had the good fortune to watch what was going on with their businesses and anticipate a downturn that was coming for us. Six months in advance of the downturn, we were already battening down the hatches, tightening expenses, and trimming labor. Even though we saw a 15% drop in revenue in twelve months, it ended up being our most profitable year because Vistage helped me see the crisis before it hit. The bigger value, though, is in lifetime returns. The lessons you learn in Vistage you learn once, but you apply them year after year. Participating for five years pays you for the next twenty.
What effects have you seen in yourself as a leader and a person over time?
I credit Vistage for transforming what I thought it means to be a leader. I had a Hollywood idea of what a leader is: be at the front of the pack, hold the sword high, and yell the loudest. But now, I see leadership as development. It is a continuous growth path, not forged by one person but by a constantly growing and evolving leadership team.
Sells first successful venture, a scuba sales company; pivots to small firm selling tension fabrics.
Small firm struggles, Rogers launches own tension fabrics firm, Dimension Design.
Dimension Design celebrates profitable first year.
Firm reaches $7M in revenue, staff is stretched; long-term sustainability at risk. Joins Vistage with the mission of transforming from entrepreneurial environment to professionally-managed firm.
Successfully navigates economic downturn and realizes most profitable year to date, thanks to support from Vistage peers.
Successfully transitioned from entrepreneurial environment to professional management.