This semester, my daughter was able to study abroad in Florence, Italy. Not only was this an incredible experience for her, but this made for a great vacation opportunity for for my wife and me to visit her.
I love to run when we travel. It’s a special time where I have the streets to myself and can explore everything around me before the streets get filled up with tourists. As I travel around an area, I try to find the oldest buildings, churches and the restaurants off the beaten path we may want to explore.
Italy is full of history. You can barely turn a corner without coming across another beautiful church or building that goes back hundreds, sometimes even thousands of years.
One of the most incredible places we visited was St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. It is “only” around 400 years old, which was fairly young compared to some places we visited. It is truly awe inspiring. Not just by its size and height, but with the statues and mosaics reaching to the highest point of the dome.
Our guide was incredible in giving us a lesson on how Michelangelo designed the original plans in the 1500s. Other architects wanted to design the building bigger and taller. But Michelango studied all the other great buildings, and he knew bigger did not always make it better. The key was to keep it simple and focus from the foundation up. Today the building is still perfectly level. That’s a building built on a strong and perfect foundation.
If you want to build a strong business, you must begin with a solid foundation. Our family pest control business was struggling in the early years when I first joined the company. I like to joke that we made every financial and marketing mistake you can make at least one time.
Many mistakes were made over and over until we finally figured things out. But for all the mistakes we made, we did one critical step right. Our company was built on the foundation of quality. My dad gave our customers the absolute best services possible. Fifty-five years ago, we became the first company in New York City to guarantee to eliminate pests from homes in the city. Whatever it took to get the job done, Dad was willing to do it.
For all the challenges I faced trying to fix our company’s finances, I never doubted we wouldn’t succeed. I knew we were building on a strong foundation, and once we figured things out, we were going to build something incredible.
At a seminar recently, I found myself catching up with a supplier representative I haven’t seen in awhile. He mentioned how he’s helping a friend with a small pest control business that’s been struggling, trying to figure everything out. His friend was having a hard time training and maintaining quality service to his customers. Together, they came up with a plan to expand the business to other areas. They hoped that with the increased revenue they could afford to hire service managers to correct the issues.
I stopped him right away and pointed out that no one should try to grow and expand upon a broken foundation. They had to take the time to fix the issues before they tried to grow. If not, the same issues would continue to hurt the company.
I also let him know how lucky they were. They already did the hard part. They knew what was broken and what needed to be fixed. Fix that foundation and everything else will fall into place.
The foundation of our business may not be pretty and glamorous. But it is essential if we are going to build something incredible that will last for generations to come.
Have a great run!