“At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves why we do what we do. For me, the reason I do what I do all comes down to people.”
In 1990, Sam Okafor went to work for a ServiceMaster Clean distributor while still in college. Today, he owns three franchise locations in Oregon and Washington. Here Sam shares his advice for other entrepreneurs, his proudest accomplishment, and in honor of Black History Month, his perspective on being a black-owned business leader.
What is your best advice for people who want to open their own business or franchise?
Figure out what your passion is and go and pursue it. Small business leaders are the bread and butter of our economy, so if you’re trying to work for yourself, know why you want to do it, pursue your passion and go do it. Be ready to never stop learning – you have to have a thirst for knowledge and to continue to grow and evolve.
What about ServiceMaster made it the right company for you and your career?
The distributor I had an opportunity to work with in my early days with the brand was instrumental. I also had the opportunity to work with a franchise owner who believed in the best of everybody, and that was a very big motivating factor for me to stay in this business and pursue a long-term career. Buying a ServiceMaster Clean® franchise has been a great investment for us because the network is strong. As a small franchisee, I may not be able to source everything I need, but the power of the brand name and the resources the system provides is very strong.
What does it mean to you to be a black-owned business leader?
I don’t think of myself as a black owner. I think of myself as a franchise owner. The possibilities of thriving and doing well are there for anyone who wants it. The restrictions that we place on ourselves is the only thing standing in the way of us pursuing our dreams.
What accomplishment are you most proud of as a franchise owner?
The number of people and the team we’ve built around us is my proudest accomplishment. We have sustained growth over a number of years and have people with 20+ years of experience who are still with us – a testament to how we do business. It truly feels like family. Everyone who is part of my management team was promoted from within. We strongly believe that our number one goal is to help people develop and that development should be a continuous process. Every day we have to help people be the best they can be.