What path do you take when your 20 year career at the Orlando Sentinel ends? That was a question I recently had to answer and it was an easy decision for me. I was to become an entrepreneur, of course, a business owner, a master of my own fate, if you will. I became a Mr. Handyman franchise owner and I haven’t looked back since. A big change? Sure, but maybe not as difficult of one as you would imagine.
My first career as an auto mechanic, coupled with my frugal nature, allowed me the opportunity to fund my way through five years at the University of Florida. I came to Orlando proudly holding a Master’s degree in Accounting. With my savings now depleted and college loans due, it was time to ply my new career as a CPA at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Eventually, this led to a finance position at the Orlando Sentinel. Fast forward twenty years later, as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the Sentinel, I found less and less fulfillment in my job. Yes, it was no longer a career, just a job. You see, daily print journalism is a declining industry, and a finance professional, especially a CFO of such a company, is responsible to actively cut expenses. Euphemistically, it’s called head count reduction or right-sizing. To put it bluntly, people lose their jobs. Eventually, my turn came to leave.
So, what does one do after 20 years with one company? I spent those years developing a lot of business skills including a stint in new business development. And, for a long time, I had a nagging envy of those special people who started new ventures, ran small businesses and made them grow. Some had a product, some a particular skill to ply, or just a knack for growing a business. Success, however, seemed to come from one primary element: the owner’s passion for his company.
So it was with that I came to Mr. Handyman. I don’t know of any handyman service quite like this company. Its creation is based on the assumption that we can deliver quality handyman technical skills with professionalism and customer service, something you don’t see from many in this type of industry. It’s interesting, owning a small business is nothing like I ever thought it would be. There are numerous challenges, hurdles, successes and smiles I never thought there would be. Running a small business is something like owning a house. There is always something you want to do or some change you want to make to really make it yours, to really make it succcessful. That’s why the handyman trade and I work so well together.
The reality is that Mr. Handyman and I; we are a perfect match. First, we have a repair trade. Skilled craftsmen fix things or create items of beauty. Not unlike my auto mechanic days, there’s a sense of satisfaction to repair something and bring it back to its original state or, better yet, an improved state. Second, we add professionalism to an industry generally lacking in professionalism. I am proud of what my company stands for: complete satisfaction from our customers. Third, my finance and business skills are well used. One finds a need to apply all your accumulated skills when you’re running a new business in recessionary times. Finally, I can grow this business. Yes, small business owners generally work more hours, but they’re more fulfilling hours.
I’m no longer reporting to work creating the next head count reduction schedule, and that, my friends, is worth a million dollars.
Article by Michael Slason