MyLife With Evan Keller

Date: July 01, 2014

One small business owner finds joy in giving back.

The usual suspects for reasons to become a small
business owner: “I can control my own destiny,” “I can find my own work/life
balance,” or “I can choose the people I work with.” (Here are more motives to start your own business.)

All of these incentives show there’s plenty of
personal satisfaction to be found in being one’s own boss. But NFIB member Evan Keller, who runs a company
that provides tree-removal services, finds his biggest joy comes from a
different reason: giving back.

Name: Evan Keller

Business: Tree Work Now, Orlando, Fla.

Employees: 22

What does
owning a business allow you to do that most people do not get to enjoy?

The best thing is having the time to
take quarterly trips to Haiti and Honduras. It’s for a nonprofit organization
called Creating Jobs Inc. I’m going on five trips this year. We do business
mentoring and training to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, which helps
create jobs to better serve their communities. On these five-day trips, we sit
down with each local entrepreneur individually, talk through their challenges
and opportunities, and strategize with them on ways to increase their
efficiencies to expand their product and services. In their communities,
they’re leading the charge: getting schools built and sewage lines laid, and
supporting churches and orphanages—really making a difference.

What has
been your proudest moment as a small business owner?

We did a job for a guy and worked out a deal with him so that the proceeds
would fund the digging of a well in a small Haitian village. My employees knew
that our tree-service company wasn’t getting paid, but they were still getting
their regular hourly wages. It was cool to involve the customer and the
employees in something that was bigger than just the particular job being done
that day.

What is the
best part of your day?

Right when I wake up, often a great idea or two will
come to me. I don’t know if it’s something about the human mind while you’re
sleeping that the right solution or creative ideas comes along, but I try to
pay attention to my thoughts right when I wake up and before I get out of bed.
Sometimes my best thoughts happen there.

What do you

I like to read economics and theology books that challenge my view of the world
and offer solutions to the world’s problems. I recently read a book called The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable
. A theologian and economist co-wrote it. It’s pretty interesting
how their perspectives dovetail. The big idea in the book is that capitalism,
as much as it can be used for ill, does have incredible potential for good.
That goes along with the work that I’ve been trying to do. 

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