For today’s episode, our guest is Bryan Clayton. He is a serial entrepreneur that has just recently exited from his first company.
One of the two companies that you founded is named Peachtree. When did it start and how young were you when you started the company?
Peachtree was a landscaping business. It was a company that would mow people’s yards, plant trees, shrubs, mulch– things like that. Bryan was 17 years old when he started the business.
Over 15 years, he grew that company from just being himself, to over 150 people. In 2013, he sold the company to one of the landscaping business in the United States.
When did that idea get into your head? When did you think to turn that into a business?
He realized that with the money that he was making, he might as well just keep doing this grass cutting thing instead of entering the job market.
Bryan’s dad never really thought that he would capitalize on this. His dad was proud that he put Bryan on to run his own landscaping business. He was one of the biggest influences in Bryan’s life.
His father taught him how to be a leader as he grew their company from 10 to 150 people. Bryan had to learn and apply how it is to be a good leader and manager. His father would be the one to point out things that he was doing wrong.
When did you realize that you had to hire more people?
Bryan realized soon in his business that he was leaving money on the table. He can’t get it all, especially when he’s starting a business alone. He did the marketing, the labor, the invoicing, he used to do everything.
Understanding that alone, he can’t get to all the work that’s coming his way, was enough to make him realize that by hiring someone, they can do so much more.
This sounds a lot easier than it is. In many ways, going from zero employees to one employee is as hard as going from 10 to 20.
That’s because you’re doubling your business and you don’t have the resources. It’s a leap of faith.
How did you hire during the time that you were expanding from 1 to 10 employees? What was your hiring process? What did it look like?
Nobody is going to do it exactly like what you want.
Bryan’s business started with his name under all of the roles mentioned. But as he started to hire people, he was able to scratch his name off that and put somebody else there.
He created a document that would be handed to that person so that they would know what is expected of them and the roles and goals of their position.
How were you able to lead 150 people?
Most of the people that worked for Bryan were older than him. That’s because this was when he was in his twenties. That experience wasn’t without any challenges. What worked for Bryan was to invest in the culture of the business. He made his business run like a family and less like a big company.
Why they did that, however, was simply because it would make their clients hold on to them. When the company wins, everybody wins.
One of the most fun things that they’re able to do was that every quarter, they would identify a project that one of their people wanted to do. If it’s approved, then they’ll provide an interest-free loan to their employees. Soon they were able to help fund the construction of multiple things such as a supermarket, a new car, a new home, even tuition fees! They’d talk about the progress, and if the projects did well, and it was a lot of fun for the company.
When the 2008 financial crisis hit the United States, it wiped out a lot of Bryan’s competitors. They were able to survive through it because of their strong culture.
Culture is going to be one of the strongest points that will make teams thrive. Particularly in this time of a pandemic.
Champions are not made in the ring. They’re made during training, in the locker room, while preparing for a fight in the ring. This is what Bryan did. He had a great culture and he communicated it every day to his team.