A Part of the Equity Bank Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership
The Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership, brought to you by Equity Bank and Richard Rierson, is all about sharing inspiring and educational interviews with today’s most relevant and motivational leaders. Rierson talks to leaders and influence experts who dedicate their lives to truth, common sense and courageous leadership.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Steven Werner, CEO & Founder of Lawn Buddy, an on-demand lawn care service that connects lawn care providers, has a background that is nothing short of unique.
In fact, he doesn’t even like to be called an entrepreneur.
“I hate calling myself an entrepreneur,” says Steve. “I can't even spell it most times, but even when I do say I’m in the “entrepreneurial community” I almost cringe because I didn't grow up with that idea. I was never taught entrepreneurial skills. If I was doing something it was because I wanted to make money.”
As a former military member of the United States Marine Corps, Steve Werner knows a thing or two about putting in hard work, but why he entered goes beyond just learning to work hard and be more disciplined.
“I really wanted to make a difference in the world,” said Steve. “I know a lot of people say that, but I just wanted to broaden my horizons.”
The military introduced him to the idea that there are different types of leadership styles—one of which he has chosen chose to utilize for his own business.
“In the Marine Corps, they talk about ‘autocratic’ and ‘democratic’ leaders.” he says. “An autocratic leader is a tyrannical leader who's just telling you what to do and then you have the democratic leader who's rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty with you. A democratic leadership style is the one that I adopted. There’s a big difference between leading and managing. I wouldn't tell someone to do a job that I wouldn't do myself.”
For Steve, it wasn’t a matter of taking a ton of classes on business and entrepreneurship. For him, it was about retaining the bones of what he learned in the military, and using that to succeed.
“You can read all the leadership books you want, but if you don't put it into practice then you're just reading,” says Steven. “Once you remove all those leadership fundamentals from the Marine Corps and remember how to take orders and be a good human and a good employee, it can really help you excel.”
Things weren’t always simple though. When Steve first moved to Wichita, he was hit with a few obstacles.
“I left a job where I had several years of high-level experience and I thought I was just going to plug that into Wichita and be able to find a project management job because there are engineering firms everywhere here. But that wasn't the case,” he says. “When I got here, I went to every engineering firm and every project management company. I walked in and gave them my resume to show that I was different and that I would be successful, but it didn't matter because they wanted that degree.”
So, Steve regrouped and decided it was time for him to do a little homework himself.
“I ended up just working in security because that's what the Marines are good for,” he says jokingly. “Finally, I just decided that I’m going to get that degree and enrolled at Wichita State University. They didn't have a structural engineering program at the time, but I went to their entrepreneurship department and I lasted two semesters before I left because I wanted to focus on what I was doing and that's made all the difference.”
Enter Lawn Buddy.
An on-demand lawn care service, Lawn Buddy is a marketplace driven, mobile location-based technology platform that connects lawn care providers, otherwise known as “lawntrepreneurs,” to homeowners by using a simple, user-friendly mobile app and/or website. This actually started as a side-hustle for Steve
Lawn Buddy aims to create value for both the homeowners and the lawn care providers by improving the overall customer service experience for homeowners and providing convenient, quality lawn care at an affordable price.
“I'm passionate about helping others and their businesses and giving them the tools and technology they otherwise wouldn't have,” Steve says when asked about his company. “Today, we’re at 3,000 users on the platform in the United States and we grew that within the last seven or eight months. What we're doing with the technology is instilling the integrity back into it. We’re giving the technology back to others so that they can be successful. That’s how we've been successful and how we're going to continue to be successful is by providing value through technology.”
Since lawn growth is rather inconsistent, the on-demand business model of Lawn Buddy and Lawn Buddy Pro allows users the flexibility of only getting lawn care when they want it, liberating them from the constraints of a fixed schedule. Lawn Buddy’s efficient app gives users back their precious time so that they can spend it on the activities they enjoy. But that’s not all the company has planned, as they also have a new platform they think will be even better.
“Where we’ve really had our growth is by providing a product that added value to people’s lives and helping them grow their business,” said Steven of the Lawn Buddy model. “We’ve also launched a new product that we called Lawn Buddy Pro which was essential for the lawn care industry to manage their businesses. We have some big dreams for the company, especially in terms of the number of companies that we're able to help here in the United States. Our primary focus is going to be continuing to provide value to the customers we have and growing that customer base.”
However, while Lawn Buddy is a large success, Steve has a different definition of success than most entrepreneurs and has a much bigger vision for his career.
“How I think we're going to be successful is by helping others,” he says. “It's all about helping other people. That's how I define success. Not by the money coming into the company's bank account, but by how many people you’ve helped.”
To listen to Richard Rierson’s full podcast interview with Steve Werner, click here.