I’ve heard it referred to as drinking the “Austin Kool-Aid,” one swift sip and you are hooked. It’s the taste of possibility, freedom and the unknown. It is something that Austinites love and what has made this city so popular. It’s entrepreneurship. The opportunity to start and grow your own business is not only prevalent in this city, it is almost a rite of passage to truly experience Austin. However romanticized, starting your own business does not come without hardships. Besides the obvious teeter-totter that is job stability, there are many things to consider before taking the plunge. Luckily Tiffany Lemieux, owner of Lemieux’s Cleaning Company has a few tips for anyone ready to embrace the unknown.
Surround Yourself with Support
When first starting out, Tiffany knew that it was important to surround herself with positive people. The support system that you choose to surround yourself with can make a big impact on your success. Tiffany’s circle of support, which included her friends and family, were thrilled to see her embarking on a new venture. This kind of energy also affects the energy that you have during both your best and worst days. In addition to a solid support system, Tiffany sought out a team of counselors who specialize in marketing, HR, sales and business development. They provided the initial guidance she needed to start her business out on the right foot. As Lemieux’s Cleaning Company progresses, she continues to seek guidance from these outside sources as well as conducting her own marketing and business research.
Starting a business is an adventure, and an enticing one at that. However, before you make this leap it is pertinent that you have a strategy. Before officially launching Lemieux’s Cleaning Company, Tiffany made sure that she was clear on her goals and laid out a 7-year financial plan for her business. Having solid goals gives you more motivation to work towards them because you can easily track your progress. Although setting goals that are unachievable can become more of a burden than motivation to do better. Your goals should be attainable, realistic and motivating at the same time. “My personal goals included learning the importance of being self-sufficient and creating opportunities for myself instead of depending on anyone to create opportunities for me,” claims Tiffany. You can choose to be more specific in your goals as you develop your business.
Walk in Everyone’s Shoes
No reward comes without struggle. Starting your own business is a risk at any point in your life because there are no guarantees. When making the jump from employee to business owner, Tiffany had to change her mindset. As a business owner, you are responsible for every part of your business, from the behind the scenes administrative work to the employees and customer service. “As an owner, I work alongside my staff on some assignments to learn more about the business so that I can speak to my customers intelligently about the scope of work expected for each site,” shares Tiffany. This gives her insight to her employees’ day to day experiences so that she can understand what they need. Once you do have a staff, it is your personal responsibility to keep them employed. For Tiffany, this means landing sales and always making payroll on time. The people who work for you have to trust you.
On the customer service end, Lemieux’s Cleaning Company operates with both residential and commercial clients. Therefore, every customers’ needs are different even if the scope of work is similar. As an owner, you must understand what each customer wants even if they do not directly communicate it with you. The best businesses anticipate your needs so that they can guide you and recommend services.
Embrace the Struggle
Everyone and every business is different. Ultimately it is up to you to decide how much you can take. It may make is more bearable to know that the experiences of struggle and disappointment are perfectly normal. “Sometimes, disappointments are a part of the journey, so expect to fail and embrace your failures as learning opportunities. It’s actually a good thing,” according to Tiffany.
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages that you will encounter along your journey. One obvious advantage is working for yourself. Knowing that you are your own boss can provide a sense of freedom and be incredibly rewarding. For Tiffany, the pride and satisfaction of generating revenue from her very own creation is the best feeling.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have to accept that you will experience pitfalls along the way. You may not have a stable schedule or finances for a while when getting your business started. In addition, you are likely going to be working at all hours of the day because you always have to be on call. Again, every failure and struggle is a chance to learn something new. Each one can make you stronger and more prepared for hardships in the future.
Looking back on this past year, Tiffany is filled with pride. Lemieux’s Cleaning Company has already generated a significant amount of residential and commercial customers. Tiffany says that she has even met her first year goals! She has embraced the entrepreneurial spirit of Austin and intends to spread the feeling. “I believe that every young person should know how to create a business for himself or herself and learn how to become self-sufficient. I’m enjoying every minute of my journey as a business owner, even the challenges.”