At the age of 14, Scott Mooney was bitten by the entrepreneur bug. He started selling horse equipment out of his father's barn from a rented location in his hometown, Ottumwa, Iowa. He loved running his store so much that he convinced the administration of his high school that they should let him go to night school for troubled kids, many of which had drug dependency issues, so he could keep his store open during normal business hours.
Scott is a perfect example of the "bloom where you are planted" theory. He loves horses, loves his small town, and loves helping his hundreds of thousands of customers take care of their animals.
On the other hand, his passion to find and help more customers is what drove him to grow with a catalog rather than stick to a one-location retail operation.
What do you think? Did growing up in a small town affect the kind of work Scott chose to pursue? Sure. Especially since he started working and earning money when he was 14, all the things he could do were right in front of him. This was before the Internet and when long-distance phone calls were expensive. Steve Jobs would probably never have built a computer while a teenager if he had grown up in Florida. In the Silicon Valley Jobs was surrounded with engineers and found parts and a friend with an engineer father to put together the machine that later launched Apple Computers.
Do you see your roots as an asset to discovering your calling? Could your upbringing give you clues to what you might love most to do with your life? Have you decided what kind of work you want to devote your life to? Do you know what kinds of things you do well? Have you had jobs you loved? Have you had jobs you didn't like? What did you do with the job you didn't like?
Just by watching Scott with a customer, does it look like he is having fun at his work? It should if I did my job. I spent many hours with Scott and enjoyed most watching him with a handful of customers who are truly devoted to buying from him. At the end of this clip we saw him listen to Roxanne and come up with a creative solution to her problem then they both had a big laugh about it.
What does Scott's joyful spirit communicate to the customer? First of all, everyone wants to hang around happy people. Second, Scott reminds us that Jesus-followers should carry joy and pass it along to others. Even if you don't like your work, as long as you are receiving a paycheck for that work, Jesus is expecting you to be joyful while you are on duty. Joy is one of those fruits of the Spirit, we are promised in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
If you can't be joyful at work, what do you think you need to do? Ask Jesus to help you and work on your heart and your attitude. Perhaps get some new training for a different kind of work, or ask your boss to discuss what opportunities the company might have for you to change jobs. If you own the business and don't have joy like Scott has, think about what changes you can make that might lift whatever burden is weighing on you.
Scott found his calling. He told me that as he grew the business he leaned more and more on what he had learned in Sunday School. Scott said, "I had to reach down inside and hold on to the Scripture and the big idea that I would always try hard to do the right thing for my customers and my employees. It's been an amazing ride."
HATTIE in the Studio: Hi, I'm Hattie Bryant. Vibrant small towns are incubators of small businesses. Most small towns don't have a big business and they are dependent on small businesses to create all the jobs. Once in a while some of these businesses outgrow the town. This was the case with Scott Mooney, founder of Country Supply. Learn now how Scott managed to grow his business without leaving his little home town of Ottumwa, Iowa, a place he loves dearly.
HATTIE: The horse business is large and diverse. Famous horses like Seabiscuit captured the imagination of Americans in the '30s. And when Funny Cide came close to winning the Triple Crown in 2003, even those of us who don't normally pay attention to horse racing were on the edge of our seats.
HATTIE: But professionals only make up a part of the equestrian industry.
HATTIE: Victoria Wojan and Rob Hutchins are horse lovers and horse owners.
There are over 11 million horses in the US, 30 million horse lovers and four million horse-owning households who buy over $25 billion worth of goods and services for their horses every year. Roxanne Wojan is Victoria's mother.
HATTIE: Roxanne, why did you want a horse in your front yard?
ROXANNE: Relaxation, enjoyment. Horses are something else to love and they give love back unconditionally.
HATTIE: Really. Better than a dog?
ROXANNE: Better than a dog. They're bigger, they're fun to ride, they're exercise, they're something to sink money into.
HATTIE: Those words are music to Scott Mooney's ears. Roxanne is a customer of Scott's creation, Country Supply.
Operator #1: Thank you for calling Country Supply.
HATTIE: The Ottumwa, Iowa-based mail order catalog he launched in 1984.
SCOTT MOONEY: 'Cause you know there's going to be people out there that can buy it.
Employee: But they will run out as fast as we're selling them.
HATTIE: At the time of this taping he had 450,000 customers who receive his catalog at least six times a year—while best customers receive catalogs 10 times a year. This effort generates over $17 million in annual sales.
ROXANNE: Scott, one suggestion.
ROXANNE: We need to shorten the reins a little bit for kids.
SCOTT: Shorten the ... well, do you have a knife? (reaching into his pocket) And in fact, I have a ... (laughter)