In 1989, I left Waste Management, the company to which my father sold his pest control business in 1987. My wife, Jennifer, our then-1-year-old daughter, Marsha, and our dog moved from Nashville, Tenn., to Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) market to start our new business.
Before that trip, I had been in the DFW area maybe once in my life, when I was about 12 years old. I had no idea of what we were getting into. Jennifer went to work as a teacher so we could have a steady income, and I hit the streets trying to drum up my first customers.
Today, starting a business has many differences from those I experienced almost 33 years ago. One lesson I learned is that when trying to grow a business, you need to decide what kind of business you want to have. I am not talking about the residential or commercial pest control or lawn care services you offer, but more the “who you are” of the business you want to grow.
Today, it is as important to decide “who you are” as it is to determine where you will be located, what trucks you will use, or what services you will offer. This will become the overall personality of your business. “Who” will your business be in the community? What will make you different from the other pest control companies that operate in your area? What compelling reason will you have for people to hire you, or for people to come work with you?
Honestly, I did not give these questions much thought when I started. I was much more worried about getting my first customer, hiring my first employee, buying trucks and materials, and on and on.
When I look at our organization today, it has a distinct personality. That personality is something I hope makes people want to come work with us and customers want to hire us.
Today, we have our Core Values that spell the word HUGS:
- H is for Humor. We can’t get through a day, or a tough time, or deal with a setback if we don’t have a sense of humor.
- U is for Unfaltering Integrity. If we can’t trust one another and our customers can’t trust us, then we really have no business working together.
- G is for Growth Oriented. We always want to be growing as a business and as individuals.
- S is for Servant Heart. We are a faithful organization that recognizes there is a God who truly is in charge of everything. Serving people, both our customers and our fellow employees, in a manner that honors God is critical to us.
Once you have chosen words that reflect values that are core to “who you are,” you can begin to make decisions as a company that reflect those values.
Today, we use a tagline in our marketing and internal materials: “At ABC, it’s not just about what we DO – it’s also about who we ARE.”
Whether you are just starting your business or are many years in, deciding “who you are” is as important to growing your business as any other decision you will ever make.