Share your knowledge with future entrepreneurs


January 24, 2019


Based in Morristown, Tenn., Walters State Community College has several satellite campuses; this is the Sevier County campus. PHOTO: WALTERS STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

My wife, Tammy, and I recently were asked to speak to a group of students in an entrepreneurship class at the Sevierville, Tenn., satellite campus of Walters State Community College. The group wanted to learn from actual businesspeople and not from a textbook, even though they had one.

Our presentation also was simulcast to four other Walters State campuses in the East Tennessee area. The technology worked great, and it was pretty cool that we could see and hear each class on different screens. And of course, they could see and hear us.

Prof. Joe Fall scheduled, for the entire year, different speakers from a variety of businesses to give some well-rounded points of wisdom. His class was held only once a week, but it was three hours long — with the first two hours devoted to the speakers, including time for a question-and-answer session.

The Johnson Tag Team

Both Tammy and I are used to public speaking. We just kind of winged it, as no set plans on our talk were laid out beforehand.

Being a gentleman, I let Tammy go first. My plan was to listen to what she said and then fill in the gaps afterward. She did a great job, explaining how 10 years after I started my business, she came in and helped me set up a lot of human resources policies, including procedure and safety manuals, and insurance program offerings. She told students that early on, she was nervous for me to open up a business, but had great faith in me that it would all work out.

When it was my turn, I started by advising students to not put all their eggs into one basket by relying on one big account. Rather, I suggested they should spread the risk around and keep many smaller accounts scattered across their business plans.

I told them I prefer mostly residential accounts, because there’s not a lot of loyalty in the commercial world. I also revealed my favorite business revenue model: a strong recurring revenue model that we in the pest management business enjoy today. When I told them this, I could see everyone writing down that advice, as they were intrigued with this topic.

I then talked about the importance of money management and saving for a rainy day. I also mentioned they should have several bank accounts for transferring funds when needed for payroll, chemical and supplies, general savings, and future taxes owed.

In addition, I shared with them the importance of having multiple sources of income. After achieving a level of success, I told them they really should consider either making investments in income-producing rental properties or the stock market. I really stressed the importance of proper money management and saving, as it is vital for entrepreneurs to do both.

A few days ago, I ran into one of the students who heard our presentation. He said he and everyone in the class learned from the practical approach and simple words of wisdom we brought them that day. If you’re given an opportunity like Tammy and I were, I hope you pass along your knowledge to an upcoming class of entrepreneurs.


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