MAY|JUNE 2019

Success 2.0: A New System for Entrepreneurs

By Dave Brumbaugh

How do you measure success?

The business world has plenty of numerical gauges. Profits. Sales. Personal income. Percentage growth.

Janelle Bruland does well by these standards. Bruland is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MSNW, a Ferndale company she started in her living room in 1995 with a handful of employees. Today, MSNW is an industry-leading company with 480 employees, offering complete facilities management, janitorial, landscaping, maintenance, and specialty services in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

MSNW was named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by both Inc. magazine and the Puget Sound Business Journal. Bruland personally has won numerous awards, including the James E. Purcell Leadership Award by an industry trade group, the Washington State Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year.

Yet Bruland is focused more on success in life, not just business. She has proven that you can be successful in the business world and maintain balance in your personal life without constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

“I have made mistakes and learned many valuable lessons along the way,” Bruland said. “Through it all, I learned to think beyond the narrow bounds of a successful career to a significant life.”

Now Bruland wants to share those lessons and a different pathway to “success” with business leaders. In 2014, she co-founded, with husband Graham Youtsey, a leadership development company, Legacy Leader, when Youtsey became one of the first global Zig Ziglar certified coaches. Legacy Leader teaches entrepreneurs and business professionals how to build legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. Bruland then wrote The Success Lie, which was released in April.

“I have a burden for those overwhelmed and exhausted running on the treadmill society shows as the way to success,” Bruland said. “Work harder, longer, sacrificing everything, even your health or family. I was compelled to write this book as I have been there and want to share that there is another way.”

A modest beginning

Bruland became a business owner like many others before and after her. She saw an opportunity, but wasn’t particularly prepared for what awaited her.

After the grind of several years working in management in another field, and nine months pregnant with her second child, Bruland launched Management Services Northwest (now MSNW) in 1995 from a small office in the upstairs landing of her home. She knew little about the janitorial industry at the time and admitted it to her small team of employees.

“Similar to the startup stories of other emerging businesses, I ran MSNW out of my home and operated it from there for many years while my children were young,” the Lynden native said. “I managed all aspects of the business from my home base, often holding team meetings, taking client calls, and warehousing supplies and equipment.

“In the beginning I wore a number of hats from sales person to receptionist, chief strategist to accountant. By maintaining our commitment to quality service promised during my very first team meeting, we steadily grew the business.”

MSNW grew both geographically and in the scope of services it offered. The company evolved from a strictly janitorial service operation serving Whatcom County to a full-scale facility management company serving clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. As clients requested new services, such as landscaping or snow removal, Bruland added those specialists to her team as they made sense financially for the business.

Just as her company was beginning to take off, Bruland faced a hurdle unique to women business owners: She suddenly became a single mother with three daughters, the youngest two only 4 and 7 years old.

“I wasn’t sure how I could possibly raise them on my own while carrying the weight of my growing business,” Bruland told Forbes magazine earlier this year.

“During this time, I could have given up and certainly wanted to at times. I had a choice to make. Was I going to let this troubling situation paralyze me or would I persevere through the struggles? It was difficult, but I made the decision I was going to be the best parent I could be, the best employer, and have the best business.”

You can place a checkmark by her business goals: MSNW achieved more than $17 million in revenue in 2018. But Bruland’s oldest daughter says the company wasn’t her top priority.

“I had a front-row view to how my mom prioritized her schedule this past decade,” said Terell Weg, who has been part of MSNW since its beginning and succeeded Bruland as company President earlier this year. (Bruland continues as CEO in 2019 and then will remain involved with the company in an executive board role.)

“Specifically, my mom never missed a football or basketball game with my baby sister, Paige. She cleared her calendar for those games to make sure her No. 1 priority, family, was taken care of first.  It wasn’t always easy, or convenient, but she named that as her No. 1 thing in my sister’s senior year of high school, and truly dedicated herself to it. 

“… She encourages all of our team members at MSNW to make family their No. 1 commitment and work second,” Weg said. “Her example of that is so important in this rapid, easy-access world.  What is most important to you, and how are you going to make sure that stays No. 1?”

Bruland is confident the company will continue to grow and employees will prosper with Weg at the helm

“We are confident that Terell is a great fit, not only in her experience but also in her core values and results-oriented leadership style,” Bruland said. “I know that Terell is well-equipped to take the helm and continue our momentum as a leading management company in the Northwest region.”

A new chapter

With a leadership transition to Weg in place, Bruland could devote time to the hard work of writing and promoting The Success Lie. Bruland knew the challenges she had faced were shared by many.

“Entrepreneurs and business professionals often struggle with juggling too many balls and find themselves frustrated and overwhelmed trying to keep up in this fast-paced world we live in,” she said. “Technology is making it even worse with the constant barrage of communication.

“Business leaders find themselves enjoying success in some areas of life, perhaps exponential success, but they have done this by sacrificing other things that are important to them, and find a gap between where they are and where they want to be.”

While many leadership books seek to motivate readers to work harder and longer to achieve success, Bruland offers them a different path and destination.

“First, you will identify and understand the habits and patterns of where you are now,” she said. “Then throughout the book, you will receive step-by-step instructions, tools and disciplines to break free from those things holding you back, and transition to intentional living. The result is you can overcome overwhelm and enjoy true peace of mind.”

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