Melissa Weed completed the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program in Cherokee County during the Fall of 2018. Below she talks about the impact that this program has had on her as an entrepreneur:
Describe your business and how it began since participating in the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program.
"Our business is called Honey Does LLC, or Honey Does Cleaning. We serve residential and commercial customers in the SEK and SWMO areas. We are based out of Pittsburg, KS. We offer general cleaning, deep cleaning, rental house cleaning, pre/post-event/holiday and guest cleaning, and maid services. Honesty and integrity are top priorities at Honey Does LLC. We understand your home is personal, and we do not take it lightly that customers choose to invite us into their homes and businesses.
I did not own a business prior to attending the IHEP. My husband and I were very busy with our full-time jobs, him as a Store Manager for Walmart and me as an Event Planner for a non-profit organization. We decided to go to the IHEP in Cherokee County with my Mom to support her, and we are so glad that we did! The class opened our eyes to a world of possibilities.
Part of the framework of the IHEP is to find a problem in a community, and then implement a corresponding solution. In some of our class sessions, Janet would have the class come up with various ideas and 'walk them through' the Ice House Opportunity Discovery Canvas to see if our ideas could stand the test. One of our ideas was a cleaning company. We had done some preliminary 'market research' for the class to see if there was an actual need, or just a perceived need for all of our 'ideas' that we 'walked through' the Discovery Canvas. The cleaning business was the only one that proved to have an actual, real need in our community (out of the ideas we had at the time).
At the time of the class, we were not serious about starting our own business, but a seed was planted. Over the next year, I developed a logo and came up with a name for a potential cleaning company, but never acted on it. Almost one year later, my husband and I were brainstorming how we could make more money to pay off our mortgage early. I was working part-time, so I had some time that I could find other work to increase our income. I applied for multiple entry-level positions, but got denied for all of them. I remember talking with my husband, upset and discouraged, about what we could do. My options were limited, especially if I kept my part-time job, which was the plan. In that conversation, my husband said, "Why don't we pull out that business idea and bring it to life?" I couldn't believe what he was saying considering he is very conservative when it comes to taking risks! Out of almost unbelief, I asked him if he was sure about what he was saying a few times. He said, "Yes! Let's do it," with no hesitation.
I reached out to Dacia at the SBDC in Pittsburg (who we met at one of the class sessions) that night and scheduled a meeting with her the following Monday.
I went in that Monday with my Mother to collect more information and to see what the next steps were. We had almost everything we needed to get started, minus some of the more official things such as an EIN and a business bank account. Dacia helped us get a plan that would allow us to launch the business one month from the date of our meeting which would be September 1, 2019.
My husband and I worked hard to get everything in line by that deadline that we had set, and hit it out of the park! We were serving customers by September 1, 2019.
I remember having a conversation with Dacia when we were setting up the EIN, and she asked me a question that was required to get the EIN. She said, "Do you think you'll have employees within the next six months to a year?" I said, "Absolutely not. There's no way. Maybe that might be a 3-year goal, but definitely not that soon." The demand for cleaning services required that I have employees less than a month after our official opening. It was an amazing problem to have. I couldn't keep up with the incoming cleaning requests from multiple different sources."
What were your key takeaways from participating?
"Our main idea that we were actually possibly considering as we went through the IHEP was far different that what we ended up implementing. I like to make graphics and video, that kind of thing, and we thought that we might open a marketing business or something similar. That is the idea that we stuck to and centered our entire perspective on throughout the class, but our community didn't need another marketing firm. The biggest takeaway from participating for us is that what you think you want to do is not what your community needs. Doing what you want to do is not necessarily meeting a need ---- doing what your community needs is thinking like a true entrepreneur. If you're willing to go where no one else is, you'll find the entrepreneurial opportunity."
What are your plans to grow your business in the future?
"We would like to continue to grow our client base in the SEK area. In addition, we would like to expand our services into SWMO further. One of the biggest things for us is to take care of our current customers, and slowly add more on IF we think our team can handle the work load. I refuse to consider growth if we cannot take care of our current customers."
How do you think the entrepreneurial mindset will help you to move forward?
"The entrepreneurial mindset is the only thing that will help us move forward! We are only in the 7th month of operation, so things are changing, processes need to be updated and refined, new ideas on how to better serve our customers surface and that mindset is the what will get us to greater heights."
Check out the Honey Does LLC website here.