Updated: Mar 24, 2021
WiM is celebrating just a few of the women business owners who are part of the Women in the Marketplace community. This post is an interview with Lyn Sutton, owner of System 4 of Eastern Tennessee.
WiM: Tell us a little about your business. What do you provide? When did you get started?
LS: I own a facility management company in Knoxville, Tennessee. The routine portion of the business is janitorial work, we also provide anything a facility needs inside or out such as carpet cleaning, mowing and floor care to name a few things. My company is a franchise model and I purchased the Knoxville territory in Aug of 2019.
WiM: What motivated you to start your business?
LS: I had spent 25 years at one company and had been feeling the pull to do something else for a long time. I enjoyed what I did and the people I interacted with but was missing a purpose. I lost my mother in 2018 and it gave me a freedom and a perspective to break free from the security and comfort of what I knew to the uncertainty and excitement of what could be.
WiM: Who is one woman who has inspired and/or encouraged you in your work?
LS: I received encouragement from my mother. She supported me in everything I did but also would push me to grow. I was in analytics most of my career and spent most of my time engaged in left-brain activities. My mother would constantly ask what I was doing to feed the right-brain and then usually send some fun money for a dance or stained glass class. She had many business roles in life and was always reinventing and learning. Her example of continuous learning was a constant reminder that life has different seasons but you can always find a purpose in each season.
WiM: How have you seen God’s hand in your work and the growth of your business?
LS: If I was asked in my 20’s to put a bet on owning a business, a janitorial company at that, I would have been all in that it would never happen. Only God could have taken an introverted, analytical, safety seeking woman and transform her into a salesperson who takes risks daily. When the pandemic hit last year, I felt a rush of uncertainty in the decision I had made to leave a company I had tenure with and was stable for the uncertainty of owning my own business.
I was challenged on a WiM call to pray each night for my workers who were just leaving for work for the night that they be protected from illness, that they provide a quality service and help companies keep their associates safe. While I might not do it every night, I did for a bit of time and still pray protection over the workforce weekly. God had a hand in the type of business I owned and the location it was in. While I had a few nail-biting months, He was faithful and recently has been providing abundantly.
WiM: How do you see your work as a means of unleashing your faith and loving people?
LS: Being the owner of the company, I set the tone for my interaction with my customers and my affiliates who do the cleaning. I have the responsibility to conduct business ethically, lovingly, with grace and humility. My ability to get and keep accounts enables another to have employment. In the past I might have seen that as pressure but now I see it as an opportunity to use skills God gave me to help others. I have cut margin on some accounts because it is a non-profit or a school that holds special ties to my past.
I treat my affiliates with respect and lean into tough conversations when needed. I expect and give transparency into situations so we can all be better together. I am still growing into this new role of business owner but with Gods help I know I can show his love to the people I am charged with leading and in doing so reflect his kingdom through my actions, words and faith.