History and Philosphy
It was 1983, and my brother, Pat, and I started a landscape business… just like that. Our work truck was an old Volkswagen, and with the windows down, we could just about fit all our tools and lawn mowers. I am sure it was quite a sight! We advertised by putting flyers in mail boxes, calling on neighbors, and telling our friends. We were now proud owners of a new business. That first year the business grossed $36,000, and we each made $7500… for the year! Both married and with baby boys at home, we raced the high school kids through neighborhoods after snow storms, shoveling driveways for milk and diaper money. The next year the business would nearly triple and we were off and running. From humble beginnings, this lawn cutting business soon evolved into a landscape design and construction company that would gross several million dollars a year.
HOW DID THIS ALL HAPPEN?
Although we had strong backs and a healthy work ethic, we had a lot to learn about running and growing a business. Our father, a dentist, was the first to give us some great counsel. It is what has inspired me to write my first article on the principles of success. It also started me down a lifelong path of conducting an informal survey of sorts. I found a treasure of these principles with my most successful customers, many of whom were very eager to share their “secrets of success”. These customers come from all walks of life and various industries. Many do not have college degrees. Most of them are not very religious, yet have a strong moral sense of right and wrong, and treat people fairly. These principles can be boiled down to habits in personal character, attitudes of professionalism, and the art of communicating to customers, employees, bosses and coworkers… really well. Many of these principles are not earth shattering revelations, and yet most are ignored or inconsistently practiced. Incorporating these principles into business practice became the key to successfully building the business, and even spilled over into my personal life as well.
What really struck me was how many of these principles were truths found in the Bible. I am a Christian, but as I mentioned, many of these successful people were not religious. Character is character though, and good practice is good practice. These principles work whether you believe they come from the Bible or you believe it’s just good common sense. They are time tested, work for these customers of mine, and they work for me.
I needed answers to tough questions. How do you balance business and family life? How do you retain employees and get their best efforts? How do you handle trying to run a company with integrity, while competing with unscrupulous businesses? How to get the real “edge” over your competitors? What are the best ways to handle unhappy customers? As I asked the questions, I wrote down the answers. I tried to incorporate these ideas into my business and began to see some true benefits. Sometimes the results came almost immediately; others took longer to see the real worth. My quest for these principles and incorporating them into my business and personal life continues to this day.
PUT THEM TO THE TEST
So began these articles I write on how to transform Biblical principles into business practice. The series of articles are called “The View from Ground Level”. These principles work if you own your own business, work in corporate, as a teacher, or even in a church. Take a look at a couple of them and see for yourself. Put them to the test, as I did, and see them work for you. I am confident they will.
Sitting recently at my daughters masters graduation ceremony, the keynote speaker, a highly successful business owner and honorary doctoral recipient, spoke of the virtues of relationship building and networking in progressing ones career. The key, he said, is to be authentic, truly having the best interest of the other person in mind. This authenticity speaks of incorporating these principles of success into you as a person. Let them shape your character, the way you think and act. They will surely help you grow your business, but more importantly, enrich your life. It is to also understand, it’s not just the “right thing to do”, but even more gratifying, the best way to live.
"The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out." ~Proverbs 18:15
"A good name is seldom regained. When character is gone, all is gone, and one of the richest jewels of life is lost forever." ~J. Hawes, American Clergyman/Author