Mr Penman, who founded the wildly successful Jim’s Mowing behemoth in 1982, was originally planning to become an academic and was in the midst of his PhD when a series of poor decisions, personal failings and rip-offs saw the bills pile up to $35,000.
But after his first marriage, Mr Penman realised something needed to change — and he said it was the mindset shift he needed to turn things around.
“I just started mowing laws, working incredibly hard six days week and doing a great job,” he told news.com.au.
“Customers loved me and I got repeat work.”
Then, in 1989, it became a franchise, and Mr Penman became “Australia’s accidental backyard millionaire”.
But that incredible success didn’t come smoothly.
In Jim’s Book, a new biography by novelist and TEDx speaker Catherine Moolenschot released today, Mr Penman doesn’t shy away from his own flaws and weaknesses, his many regrets and controversial decisions — including the “horribly unfortunate” situation that led to him firing his own sister.
“She still hates me … she got another job within a few months but she’s never forgiven me and I don’t blame her,” he told news.com.au.