This year marks the 20th anniversary of Management Services Northwest (MSNW). Taking a small cleaning and landscaping company from the living room of my home to a multi-state facility management firm has been an exciting journey with many lessons learned along the way. Over this year, I am sharing with you 10 tools that greatly influenced our success, and took our company from ordinary to extraordinary.
Tool #3 Watch the Wallet
One of the top reasons that businesses fail, frankly individuals as well, is the inability to live within their means.
I was very frugal starting out, holding down another job for the first two years until confident the business could support our family. I remember purchasing our very first work truck, a little red ranger for $1,000 cash. That truck got a lot of miles on it before we put it to rest. As the company grew and had need for larger purchases, each one was planned, budgeted, and paid for with cash.
Years later I consulted a new business and shared my conservative approach. I urged the owner not to be distracted by the shiny new trucks and equipment he wanted to purchase but couldn’t yet afford. He didn’t listen to my advice and had the most beautiful fleet on the road. When times got tough his business went under.
The conservative financial approach really paid off during our recent recession. Companies felt the pressure of lost business and reduced margins, and those with high debt load found they suddenly couldn’t pay payroll. Many went out of business as they had no bridge of cash to carry them through. When our construction division dropped 30 percent over night and we had a fleet of vehicles in the yard, we had no debt on them, allowing us to carry the business forward without concern.
Watch the Wallet. Spending wisely and conserving cash over the last 20 years has brought us through the worst of times and made our company extraordinary. MSNW is well beyond our little red truck, and now has a professional fleet of vehicles and equipment that billboards our brand all over the region.
Nothing happens without focus. Don’t try to do everything at once. Take it one step at a time. — Dave Ramsey