Assure 10 years in business with these tips


April 14, 2016


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Pop the champagne! Bring out the giant cake! Schopen Pest Solutions is 10 years old this month! If anyone is thinking of getting me a gift, I’m registered at Crate and Barrel, Lord and Taylor and Quiznos. Ten years is the aluminum anniversary, so tasty gifts of imported beers in aluminum cans will also be greatly appreciated.

Seriously though — 10 years! Man, how the time flies. Ten years ago, I was still in my 30s, had an infant at home, was beginning my first year as a baseball coach and weighed 21 lbs. less. Ten years ago, I was negotiating with Pest Management Professional (PMP) Editorial Director Marty Whitford about writing this column on the ups and downs of a start-up company. Ten years ago, the St. Louis Cardinals won their 10th World Series ring. Ten years ago, 5.4 million companies were started in the United States but, as of today, only 1.78 million, or 33 percent, of them are still in existence.

I am so thankful to God, my wife, my family and my clients for helping Schopen Pest Solutions remain one of the 33 percent still cranking out paychecks. Since 2006, I’ve had 15 current or former employees, owned nine trucks, generated $4.136 million and serviced thousands of clients.

Ten years doesn’t sound like a lot when you compare it to the lifespan of a sea turtle or the history of the Roman Empire, but for a small business, 10 years is a long time.

Starting up a business is a scary proposition. During my first three months after incorporating, I was living on credit cards and knocking on people’s doors from Lake Geneva, Wis., to Elgin, Ill. According to Forbes magazine and the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly one out of three businesses go under in the first two years. Fifty percent of new businesses make it through the first five years.

After that, it gets even tougher. Only 33 percent survive to year 10, and only a quarter of all new businesses make it to year 15.

Why do so many companies go under? There are several reasons, but in 2016, the failure of many businesses can be attributed to poor websites, lack of capital and bad management.

How can you make it to year 10?

  • Call clients back.
    Whether it’s for new business or just a general question, call your customers back lightning quick.
  • Keep plenty of cash on reserve.
    I have always tried to keep between 5 percent and 10 percent of my company’s yearly gross in the bank for emergencies or to pay off debt. I also have a $25,000 line of credit I won’t touch unless there’s a real emergency.
  • Maintain a simple, but engaging website.
    Make it easy for new clients to navigate around your pages. You need to generate traffic, and a cool website is the way to go.
  • Be nice to your employees.
    Happy workers will try harder for you than sour employees.
  • Invest in good equipment.
    If your sprayers and trucks are always breaking down, you’ll kill your company.

I don’t have time for a big celebration. I know I should. Maybe we’ll blow it out big time in 2026, but for now, it’s just about pressing ahead and moving forward.

I thank all of you who have read this diary I’ve been writing for the past decade. Lord willing, we’ll be talking about our businesses for another 10 years.

Schopen’s Open Book

Start-up: Schopen Pest Solutions Inc.
Headquarters: McHenry, Ill.
Founder: Peter F. Schopen Jr.
Start-up Date: April 11, 2006
Number of employees: 7

2006 Revenue: $97,235 (one employee)
2007 Revenue: $172,495 (one employee)
2008 Revenue: $203,732 (one employee)
2009 Revenue: $243,427 (two employees)
2010 Revenue: $325,960 (three employees)
2011 Revenue: $425,847 (four employees)
2012 Revenue: $489,887 (five employees)
2013 Revenue: $572,772 (six employees)
2014 Revenue: $687,326 (one part-time and six full-time employees)
2015 Revenue: $858,180 (one part-time and seven full-time employees)
2016 FEBRUARY: $50,535 (29% increase over February 2015)
2016 PREDICTION: $1,081,306

Pete’s Predictions: 10 Years from Now


  • We will have our first Hispanic president.
  • Google will become the first trillion-dollar American company (sorry, Apple).
  • App developers and social media managers will rival pharmacy techs and healthcare providers for the most sought-after jobs.
  • The Cubs and the White Sox will play in the same World Series.
  • Schopen Pest Solutions will hit $9.5 million.
  • I will take my wife on a European river cruise before 2026 (I promise, Baby!).

Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.


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