With their company's promise being they will take their customer's property from tragic to Green Magic, Carita and Larry Koen say they know exactly the kind of determination and drive it takes to keep a landscaping company afloat, but that doesn't mean the process has always been easy.
Take a look at the struggles this couples has faced over the years, as well as how they continue to keep a positive outlook, even in the midst of adversity and hardships.
Green industry struggles
As the chief marketing officer of Green Magic Landscape LLC in Mobile, Alabama, Carita says her goal is to reach out and develop relationships that will hopefully turn into gaining a client, getting a referral or becoming strategic partners, but she says there have been too many times to count that she’s either been ignored or turned down due to her gender.
“You have to develop thick skin, which can be very frustrating at times,” she says. “As a business owner and an entrepreneur, your elevator pitch is something that you always need to have on hand. What keeps the drive going for me are my four children.”
Sometimes, Koen says she’ll attempt a conversation with a prospective client and once she mentions she is Larry's wife, they will only want to discuss business matters with him.
“People don’t realize that most of the monetary or financial decisions, whether it’s in a company or a household, are made by a female,” she says. “I have to have that conversation when I’m speaking to people because we still live in a society where a woman is thought of as secondary and you have to run it by the man first, when a lot of times it should be the opposite. I’ve done case studies on it, and most of these decisions are being made by women. And we are absolutely killing it in the entrepreneurial world.”
Ultimately, she says you have to take each situation with a grain of salt and try to respond in a professional manner that could still help you get the client without compromising your beliefs.
Koen says she is a huge advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, and she highly encourages more women, women of color and minorities to be part of this industry.
Her hope is that more green industry women will come together, whether it’s via online platforms or future events, and share their experiences with the world.
“Being a woman in the green industry, no matter your color, is tough,” she says. “It’s just different. But just because we are different and we have to be treated differently, it’s not a disability. A woman being in the field is an asset. I think hearing these women, hearing their feelings and having an open platform where we can go and talk openly helps provide healing and sisterhood moving forward. This is a male-dominated industry, but it is a place for us, too.”
Since starting the business, Koen says the biggest lesson they’ve taken from the experience is to take every opportunity and treat it like it’s your last because you never know what’s going to happen.
“Entrepreneurs don’t know where their next opportunity or next job is coming from,” she says. “So, when we’re on a jobsite, it’s our job to do the best that we absolutely can because that’s where referrals and your next opportunity come from.”
She also says it’s important to keep in mind that you won’t always be able to please everyone, and there’s no need in exhausting yourself by trying.
“Concentrate not so much on the quantity of people that you’re helping, but with each person that you take on, concentrate on the quality of how you treat them in the service you’re providing,” she says. “In turn, the quantity will come.”
For those interested in starting their own business, Koen says first and foremost, you need to figure out why you want to start a business. If the reason is strictly to make money, she says you’ll need to find another driving factor if you want to last long term.
Once you’ve determined your mission, she says it’s important to find your driving force that will keep you going, whether things are going well or if they are looking poor.
“Once you know who you are going to serve, find out how you are going to reach them,” she says. “Then figure out how you are going to serve your community and give back. Lastly, you have to have faith because that’s what keeps you going.”
To read part one in this series, click here.