After being an owner of a restaurant for six years, then having sold it, then taken a year hiatus, both relaxing and at a later point working for a local municipal government, I discovered that I was antsy to get myself involved in another business venture. While inclined to do it, I had no idea what I wanted to do, nor what I could do, nor what I could do that required a safe amount of personal financial investment.
I found my my mind sifting and wondering in an abstract sense over the course of weeks once that feeling and drive to own a business resumed, and at points Id sit down in my office and meander through ideas of interest, and Id sometimes sift the internet looking at goods and services that were trending without a saturated market in terms of companies delivering those goods or services. But, nothing struck me as something doable nor something of interest.
And then there was that sunny yet cool afternoon when my then father-in-law strolled over for a visit. His visit led to one of the bigger and eventually more lucrative business ownership endeavors that Ive ever had. He and my then husband and I were sitting in our living room listening to him regale us about his recent lottery win for some eleven thousand dollars. Hed had a habit of winning over the course of years, and it was always fun listening to him tell about his moments of discovering a big win with a big payout, and about what hed done or planned to do with his winnings. During this conversation hed broached needing my husband to cover a carpet cleaning job of his that was coming up. And this was where my aha moment started to happen.
As we sat, drank coffee, kibitzed, my mini epiphanic moment began forming, my mind tingled with vague anticipation, I started asking him questions about his side business of doing carpet and tile cleaning, after my husband told him hed cover that job for him.
My father-in-law had worked for the city where he lived for over twenty years, during the day, and supplemented his income by doing carpet cleaning jobs, commercial and residential, in the evenings and during some weekends. He had a truck mount machine with a trailer hitch that fit onto his truck which he used for providing service. He always kept this side business to a minimum due to health issues and to ensure he had enough family and church time leftover each week. Id never thought much of it, and it had never dawned on me to consider that business as a primary one for him – or for anyone else.
I probed him for information on what was entailed with each type of commercial and residential job, asking him how long each took, how much cost was involved in terms of chemicals, occasional trailer and machine repairs, etc. I asked him how much he grossed per job, on average. I asked him how he procured his clients. And, as he provided his answers I pulled my legs up underneath me on my high back floral print living room chair in awe at the simplicity of providing that service and the massive percentage of net income gained. Anytime I revert back to my high school years sitting position of folding my legs up underneath me its a given I am thoroughly engaged with a project or idea, and that I am committing, and that the outcome will be good to great. This event was no exception to that rule.
As I let his responses really sync into my mind, I began asking him more pointed questions about his commercial accounts. Some of his clients, like his commercial related ones, were routine, usually guaranteed monthly service and income. My mind was moving towards plausibility, estimating how much my start-up cost would be to test a business model in this industry in our locale, versus how many clients I could procure within a short period of time that would provide me a minimum monthly income. As we explored I went into hyper mode and knew I had stumbled across a business opportunity with both the potential to start-up at minimal cost, without having to borrow or dig into a vast amount of savings, and that if I ran my sales and marketing properly I could end up making over a hundred thousand per year within a couple of years, expanding on net income and new contracts as I went.
As our conversation progressed I began formulating a task list on what I needed to learn in terms of the technical aspects of carpet cleaning, and, naturally, began tabulating income potential in greater detail, running a variety of variables into a variety of potential outcomes. Somewhere at this juncture both my husband and father-in-law verbalized their awareness that they recognized the look of determination and interest on my face, and my father-in-law simply stated that when I was ready he would help me gain equipment and instruction. They both knew, if I hadnt yet, that I would progress this into a full-time business venture.
I found myself burrowing my legs deeper beneath me and clinging to my coffee cup as if it were The Ring and I was Smeagol, my mind wrapping around feasibility, tasks, large income potential, and how Id further to improve the lives of my family, for starters we had five children between us and adopted animals galore akin to a scene straight from Dr. Doolittle. I discovered Id gone full on internal processing mode as my connection to our living room, listening to my husband and father-in-law talk, became so remote as almost non-existent. And this is when I snapped back to the external world excusing myself then half running towards my office to begin mapping my plan of action.
In my first YES YOU CAN article of its series YES YOU CAN, Start Your Own Business I mentioned being able to start a business in either a field were passionate about or a field that will provide you great income, and how if were lucky enough we can find ourselves in both, the former merged with the latter. This was an example of that. My initial passion stemmed from the notion of supporting my family in a very comfortable manner. I think we can all understand that a business in carpet cleaning isnt something towards which anyone is naturally passionate in itself. I think youre all experienced enough to understand how lucrative this industry is. My real and deeper passion developed once I was involved in it, from realizing what a great and necessary service this actually was. Obvious businesses like medical facilities, for instance, and the not as obvious like restaurants, must keep their floors sanitary as well as aesthetically pleasing. Discovering that we were fulfilling as an absolutely necessary public as well as private service with respects to sanitary regulations developed and fueled more passion stemming from my realization that peoples lives, their physical well-being, truly was reliant upon the type of service we provided.
Great business ventures can, and often do, stem from the most innocuous, unsuspecting, casual moments. What started as a conversation in my living room about lottery winnings bloomed into a very lucrative business spanning three states within two and a half years, with extremely minimal start-up cost, with its evolution paying for itself – expansion investments made from net gain.