Did you know that one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs has an inspiring Christian foundation? But Jim Penman’s persona goes way beyond the popular image of a man pushing a lawnmower.
Jim is the founder of Jim’s Mowing and Lawn Care Service, a business that has grown to over 4000 franchises and an annual turnover of $500 million. What started as an Australian business has now gone global, expanding into the UK, New Zealand and Canada.
Jim recently joined us on 20Twenty to give us some insights into his business, his personal Christian faith, and his interest as a historian. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, Jim’s Mowing has continued to grow and prosper.
‘Whether we’re mowing lawns, cleaning, doing pest control or dog washing,’ Jim says, ‘all these things are related. They use the same software systems and customer service support. The contracts are very similar, so it’s almost the same business.’
Jim says he never anticipated how big the idea would become. He initially started the business as a kid to earn a bit of pocket money. But years later after finishing his university studies and having no job to go to, Jim decided to go back to mowing lawns again.
‘I don’t believe my business would have been successful if it wasn’t for God,’ Jim says. ‘People talk about business as though the only responsibility you have is to make money. I don’t believe that is my goal. Right from the beginning I wanted to empower my franchisees to be successful.’
Jim’s franchisees can move to a different franchise if they’re not happy, and they can also veto changes. He says his job is to serve them, and that we’re taught by the Bible that Christianity is a better way to live and a better way to run a business.
‘The core Biblical passage I would refer to is Jesus washing his disciples’ feet,’ says Jim. ‘It was extraordinary, and that attitude of service was something that was revolutionary to Christianity. And that’s how I see what we do here at Jim’s.’
Jim believes he could not have been successful without applying Christian values. “God’s principles work. I’ve been in a situation where I was so desperate that I had to pay my tithe, my electricity bill and my phone bill. But I paid the tithe first. I can’t explain that logically, except that when you honour God somehow things work out.”
Jim wrote a book called Every Customer a Fan that can be downloaded for free from his website here. ‘It tells the story of what I’ve done,’ Jim says.
‘It’s very helpful because it tends to attract people who have the right values. The philosophy appeals to those who really want to love and serve others.’
Listen to Jim’s full interview on 20Twenty below: