You may not know the name, but David ‘Jim’ Penman might just have one of the most recognisable faces in Australia.
The founder of Jim’s Mowing started using his face on adverts as a student because he got a better response from customers for his odd-job lawn mowing services.
That was when he was still $35,000 in debt and desperately hoping his part-time work would raise enough money to fund his PhD.
“I absolutely did not intend to be in business, I had no desire to become rich, to make money, I just wanted to be an academic and develop ideas about society,” Penman told Your Money Live.
“I initially just had to keep going just to pay off my debt and pay my rent and stuff. And I just kept looking at ways to make things better.”
Penman said a drive to fund an academic career and fanaticism about customer service saw his client base increase enough that he started putting on sub-contractors and was able to start expanding.
“I kind of went gradually toward the franchise that way. No real plans, just looking at what I’m doing every day and asking how can I do it better?”
Penman said he started to get serious about running the business after finishing his thesis, only to realise that his ideas were “far too radical.”
Today the franchise Jim’s Group serves 35,000 customers a day with a turnover of more than $35 million a year.
However, Penman admits that he does have a few weaknesses, including an inherent ‘laziness’ and a ruthlessness that even saw even him once fire his own sister.
“I’m often surprised that I’ve ever succeeded at all.”
Watch the interview in the video above.