When Irish Green Lawn Care first launched in 2001, Shar McLaughlin’s husband was the only one working on lawns around Oklahoma City. She would help out in the office — their garage — during her evenings and weekends as the business grew. Over the course of about 15 years, Irish Green Lawn Care added a couple of trucks and a few office staff.
But McLaughlin wanted the business to grow faster. She was anxious about hiring employees and figuring out how to grow and be profitable at the same time. She feared she didn’t know the business and leadership skills she and her husband needed to take their business to the next level.
A longtime SCORE client, McLaughlin has worked with volunteer mentor Henry Dumas for more than three years to calm her fears and develop her business skills.
McLaughlin reports growing the company to four full-time techs, a salesperson, two full-time office staffers, and her husband and herself as owner-operators. “My profit margin is improving. Maybe the biggest improvement has been both mine and my husband’s stress level,” she says. “We are enjoying being small business owners since I began working with Henry.”
In January 2017, the company started offering hybrid weed control, which decreases the amount of synthetic chemicals used on clients’ properties by 50 to 75 percent.
She still has big plans to grow this small business. “I want to be a large enough company so my employees can have a career at Irish Green with health benefits, paid time off, retirement and opportunities to learn and grow. One of our big goals is to be environmentally friendly leaders of our industry.”
“Originally SCORE helped me with my first business plan and three years of projected financial statements so I could acquire the very first business loan from a bank,” McLaughlin recalls. That loan helped them purchase initial equipment to start the business. She attended in-person workshops in those early years of the business, but now enjoys online webinars.
Mentoring meetings, however, are still face-to-face events for this business owner. “I have often felt so isolated and getting out of my office so I can focus 100 percent on the conversation with my mentor has been extremely beneficial,” she says.
She continues to work with her most recent mentor, Henry Dumas, to learn as she scales her business. “There are a lot of new skills I still need to learn to be capable of the growth I desire to achieve,” she says. The pair meets monthly to review the implementation of her three-year strategic growth plan, which Dumas helped her create.
Dumas nominated McLaughlin for an Emerging Leaders program through the Small Business Administration. “Working with Henry as my business coach and completing the nine-month Emerging Leaders program has been a phenomenal learning experience,” she says.