Brittany Auman didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur.
Auman’s husband-to-be, Caleb, needed help with his landscaping company. Brittany Auman literally learned the business from the ground up. “I was 21 years old, and I started going out on a few job estimates,” says Auman of her start at Auman Landscape, in Carroll, Ohio. “When I got there, people weren’t expecting me. A few of them even asked to postpone the meeting until Caleb could be there. It was crazy, because one of the people was the mother of somebody I went to school with—so I knew the people, and they knew me, but there wasn’t a lot of respect for women in the industry or in that specific position.”
Fast-forward a dozen years, and Brittany Auman has helped turn a basic landscaping business into an outdoor powerhouse. In addition to traditional lawn care, the Aumans are leaders in “hardscaping”—installing outdoor living spaces, patios, pavers, water features and swimming pool decks. They also run The Hardscape Academy—an online-based tutorial program for new landscaping professionals that reveals tricks of the trade for both technical topics like specific product installs and management strategies like training new crew members.
In the world of landscaping, the Aumans have become heavy-hitting influencers—all while raising three children under age nine. “People started following us on Instagram, and we’d get these questions like, ‘How do you do this?’ or ‘What’s the best way to cut a curve on a patio?” says Auman. “And we thought, there’s a place in the industry for this. A lot of people just go into mowing right out of high school and miss some of the skills that go into running a business. Our goal with the academy is to give people some help, where they don’t need to go into $80,000 or $100,000 in college debt to figure some of these things out.”
Auman’s journey represents exactly what American Business Women’s Day in field service, celebrated on September 22, is all about. When she joined Auman Landscaping, the company had no automated processes—which meant that after 14-hour days out in the field, Auman was up late doing bookkeeping and other back-office chores. “We were great workers, but we were bad business managers,” she says. “We were making money, but we weren’t doing the things as business owners should be doing—like setting the vision, setting the goals, and hiring the right people in the right places to help us achieve our goals.”
Now, Auman has two crews working full time, with a third that pitches in during especially busy times. “Now, we all have our specific tasks,” Auman says. “The guys in the crew have theirs. I have mine. My husband has his, and everyone works together. Everyone is important in the company. It’s not just me or the foreman. We’re always developing better and newer processes, so we can change and grow.”
Auman’s advice for women beginning their entrepreneurial careers—in landscaping or otherwise? “Be patient, and give yourself and your family some grace,” she says. “It’s going to take three to five years to feel successful. If you don’t make it the first year, or you have a good year and then a bad one, stick it out. If you have an idea, go with it. A failure is just an event. It’s not something that defines who you are.”