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How skills training and a microloan helped Consuelo Rosales thrive through the pandemic

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Consuelo Rosales, who owns a small cleaning services business in Jonesboro, Arkansas, draws strength from adversity. A Mexican immigrant and mother of three boys, Consuelo has faced plenty of it in recent years.

Trapped inside an abusive marriage, she decided to start her business with a clear objective in mind: making sure she’d earn enough to make ends meet as a single parent. Once the business got going, she found the strength to leave her husband. But as the business gained momentum with a growing stable of clients, the pandemic hit, and most of her business dried up.

That’s when she leaned on a website she had built with the help of Communities Unlimited, a nonprofit that she connected with through GoDaddy’s Empower social impact program that provides digital skills training and other support to people in the rural South.

Being online has allowed her to bring in an entirely new set of customers and propelled Consuelo Cleaning Services to new heights.

“It’s during difficult moments that I feel like I’m propelled forward,” Consuelo says. “I’m falling down, but get back up stronger.”

Today, Consuelo has an office, two full-time and four part-time employees and around 30 steady clients, including restaurants and businesses. And she has the flexibility to be home at 3 p.m. when her kids return from school.

“It’s been a huge change for me,” Consuelo says. “This business has helped me to believe in myself. It’s helped me have this time with my kids. I can control my schedule and take them to their after-school activities. And most importantly, I’m showing them that they, too, could choose to work for themselves someday.”

Jonesboro, AK metro area snapshot

Steps to starting a business

In many ways, Consuelo is representative of micro-business owners throughout the country, 92% of whom have fewer than 10 employees, according to a Venture Forward survey. When COVID-19 hit, rather than close shop, many, like Consuelo, moved online, with 60% saying their website helped them navigate the pandemic, the survey found.

For Consuelo, the journey has been anything but easy. When she left her husband three years ago, Consuelo had been working as a housekeeper and custodian. As a single parent, she quickly realized she would need multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Her sister suggested she start a cleaning business. Her first try, with a partner, quickly flopped. Without any savings, she decided to start again on her own.

“My only asset was my know-how and experience as a cleaner and my hope of creating something,” she says.

Person cleaning with a dust ragTo find customers, she would go door to door, offering her services. Business picked up slowly, spreading through word of mouth. But her big break came when she connected with Communities Unlimited. The organization gave her a microloan to buy more cleaning equipment and supplies, taught her basic business skills, and helped her build a website with GoDaddy Websites + Marketing.

Access to capital and help with marketing are among the top challenges facing micro-businesses, according to the Venture Forward survey. In the case of women entrepreneurs, 53% report needing less than $5,000 to get their businesses off the ground. Just 34% say they need more than $10,000 compared with 40% for all others.

Meanwhile, women who own microbusinesses are 68% more likely than men to say they want to convert a side hustle into their primary income.

Growing the business during the COVID-19 pandemic

By early 2020, Consuleo had two employees and nearly a dozen clients. She felt confident enough to rent an office.

The pandemic hit a month later and derailed everything.

 

As customers canceled, she moved in with her father to save money.

“No one knew what was going to happen, how long it would last,” Consuelo says.

Almost ready to give up, she decided to give herself two months to learn some new tech skills that might help her drum up new business.

With the help of Communities Unlimited and someone she hired, Consuelo learned new tech skills and got her website listed in Google’s local search directory.

Then the calls started coming in, slowly at first, and pretty soon with more frequency. “I no longer have to go find new customers,” says Consuelo. “They come to me. And once I have them in front of me, I’m good at closing the deal.”

In addition to making her website more discoverable, a Facebook page with glowing customer testimonials and a reliable staff have helped.

All of Consuelo’s Cleaning Services workers now follow COVID-19 protocols and wear uniforms adorned with the business’s logo. Even her 6-year-old son, who sometimes accompanies her on new customer visits, has a shirt with the logo. “It makes him feel he’s part of the business,” Consuelo says.

Consuelo Rosales

And while Consuelo still cleans on occasion, she spends more time in the office handling invoices, customer calls, inventory of supplies, and other matters. She also goes on site visits to ensure they’re cleaned to her exacting standards.

Helping other female entrepreneurs

Her success has allowed Consuelo to dream big.

“I’ve got a long way to go before I reach my goals,” she says. She wants to be able to give back, advising other women on how to start their own cleaning services, perhaps even as franchises under her name.

She’s likely to find receptive ears. She believes a lot of women who lack basic business skills, English language proficiency, or access to capital could benefit from her experience.

“Maybe I can help them make fewer mistakes than I made,” Consuelo says. “I’d really like to do that. It’s a long-term goal.”

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Starting A Business

Everything You Need for Starting a Pressure Washing Business

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If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and feel ready to go into business yourself, the pressure washing business could be the best option for you.

Starting a power washing business doesn’t require lengthy learning and the startup costs are relatively low. Since the demand for such services is always high, this business can provide a solid flow of income if mastered and managed properly.

Like any other business, a successful power washing business requires proper preparation and planning and this article offers a step-by-step guide for embarking on such an entrepreneurial journey.

Research the Market

Doing some in-depth research about the pressure washing market, what customers you want to target, and how many similar businesses are already operating in your area is essential. Even though this business is expected to register decent growth in the coming years, you should still dig a little deeper to see if there’s more work than the existing pressure washers can take on.

You can choose to focus on residential accounts or take on commercial clients. If you feel that you can manage more work, explore opportunities for pressure washing in surrounding neighborhoods and towns.

Proper research and identifying what opportunities exist is a crucial step in establishing a flourishing pressure washing business.

Get Your License

The moment you decide that this type of business is a golden opportunity, you need to check the local requirements for doing business as a pressure washer.

Depending on the state you live in, you may or may not need a business license. However, you should apply and obtain one before getting started as it will cover you legally. Make sure to check with your local authorities on what the rules and regulations are to stay on the right side of the law. 

This is also a major plus when attracting potential customers as they’ll feel more comfortable and it will help establish trust in your business. It may also help in meeting the requirements of other parties, such as vendors, who might want to see your license before deciding to do business.

Get Insurance

Even though it sounds easy to start a pressure washing business, make sure that you develop the proper skills on how to pressure wash without destroying the surrounding area, damaging your client’s siding, and causing an injury to yourself or somebody else.  

However, accidents happen, so in order to protect your new business from claims of negligence, injuries, accidents, financial risks, and legal fees, you should purchase insurance coverage. Nowadays, insurance companies can provide you with a quote for pressure washing insurance online, so you don’t have to waste time standing in lines.

Not only is pressure washing insurance a safety net for your business, but new potential clients will also take this as a positive sign that you’re a professional who takes their job seriously and ensures customer satisfaction.  

Choose Equipment

Depending on your service offering and scope, the type of equipment you’ll need might vary. If you only intend on working for residential clients, then you’ll be good to go with a pressure washer with a force of up to around 4,000 PSI, but for commercial work, you’ll need stronger equipment that offers more functionalities. Since this business is physically demanding, choose equipment that is fast but safe and helps you get certain jobs done efficiently.

Practicing also plays a big role as you don’t want to accidentally damage someone’s landscape while power washing their siding. Regardless of how technologically advanced your equipment is, not knowing how to efficiently handle it can get you bad reviews and cause unwanted accidents and lawsuits.

Before making any big investments, rent a pressure washer and practice on your friends’ patios, or driveways as this will give you the best hands-on experience.

Price Your Services

Once you’re done with all the administrative work, decide on your pressure washing service prices. Since you’re a new business owner, you should start with lower prices while trying to attract new clients.

Test what hourly rate gets you most jobs and try to slowly but surely bump the price up every year as your expertise gets better.

It might feel overwhelming at the beginning but focus on mastering few services first and settle on a rate that works for you. As you improve your skills and your business grows, you can adjust your prices accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Market research, obtaining the right pressure washing insurance, choosing the right equipment, and pricing your services, are all important aspects on the road to becoming a successful business owner.

We’re sure that you’ll be glad to have considered all the above-mentioned steps once your pressure washing business is set up and running.

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A Basic Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business

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Starting a business in 2021 is much easier than it was twenty years ago. With advanced technology and digital marketing, anyone can step into the role of an entrepreneur. In some cases, all you need is an idea and a computer.

Becoming a business owner is a path to financial security. Even if you don’t give up your day job, starting a home-based business can lead to financial freedom down the road. 

Are you wondering how to start a business? Keep reading for an essential guide to getting started.

Choosing a Home-based Business

Choosing a business that’s right for you is vital to your success. You want something you’ll stick to for the long run. The best home-based businesses are those you can operate from the comfort of your home. 

Start looking at things you are good at and research to learn if there is a market for what you want to offer. For example, if you have certification in accounting, you can start a business performing accounting services for other small businesses.

Creating a Business Plan

Like any business, it’s essential to create a business plan. This document outlines what your business offers, competitor analysis, marketing strategy, and financial goals.   

The business plan is a great way to measure success and to remain focused on reaching your goals. If you’re starting a business and require financial backing, you’ll need a business plan to show lenders. 

You can maximize solar savings by creating a green business.

Incorporate Your Business

A home-based business is no different from starting any other business model. You want to incorporate your business to add a layer of protection. It’s also valuable for opening a business bank account. 

Separating your business from your personal assets is essential in growing a business. It will help you build business credit. Plus, if you are ever sued, you don’t want someone going after your personal property. 

Get an ECommerce Website

Once the paperwork is done and your finances are in order, it’s time to get your business website up and running. Most businesses can benefit from an eCommerce website. These websites help grow efficient businesses that do not require a physical location or multiple employees.

With an eCommerce website, you can sell products, take deposits on bookings, and so much more. 

Marketing 

A powerful marketing strategy is essential to a home-based business. Determine which social media platforms have the greatest reach for getting noticed by your target audience. 

Use your website’s blog options and photo storage as a launching pad for the information you’ll share on online platforms. 

Don’t be afraid to try different marketing trends, including digital ads.

It’s Time to Invest in a Business

A home-based business is an excellent investment. Once your business is up and running and turning a profit, consider a second start-up. The potential is limitless.

If you need more great tips and information on business start-up trends, we have you covered. Continue to browse our site and check back often for new content.

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How To Set Up a Successful Electronic Business

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Consumers can purchase a range of mechanical items and parts from an electronics company, such as cell phones, televisions, computers, peripherals, and components. If you aim to create this type of business, you should arm yourself with knowledge so you don’t end up like huge electronic retailers that collapse. Read on!

1.Examine Other Electronic  Businesses

Examine and comprehend the business models of existing electronics businesses before starting your own. This comprises the typical markup on commodities, overall consumer satisfaction strategies, and managing supplier relationships. You’ll need this information to determine competitive store policies and prices. Compare and contrast the success of successful electronics stores with those that have closed or failed.

2.Research Your Interest Area of Establishment

If you’re just starting, you’ll focus on the local industry first. It’s also possible that you won’t be the first to play the electronic game. You may be competing with a lot of other small businesses in addition to big stores.

Make sure you do your homework before deciding where you want to locate your business and whether it is a good idea to do so. If your neighbourhood is densely packed with stores, consider looking on the opposite side of town or imagining how you may stand out. People may be hesitant to go through your doors if you come in and offer nothing more than another store.

3.Obtain The Necessary Permits

Check with your state and city to determine if there are any additional criteria for opening your store. If you repair computers, you may be required to pass a state-licensed test to ensure that you are aware and capable of providing proper care.

You’ll also need to check into various business licenses and other forms of documents to ensure that you’re following all of the rules.

4.Have a Competitive Business Plan

Due to the competitive nature of the electronics retail industry and the high risk of failure, you must develop a comprehensive business strategy that focuses on your competitive advantages. Use the information you acquired from your initial case study in the market and business profiles, as well as any personal experience you have with electronics, to show why your electronics company would thrive. 

If you’ve managed an electronics store, for example, you’ll be familiar with the inner workings of this type of retail operation and may have an advantage over other new stores.

In your plan, you need to include the brands you’ll be selling. You need to ensure that they are of both quality and outstanding market performance. For instance, working with certified wholesalers of closures and boxes, guarantee you offer the consumers new brands that are outstanding.

Also, don’t forget to include other regular but essential products such as lights and screens. This is because it is always good to offer a pool of varied products to your customers.

5.Choose a Brand For Yourself

idea

Your company’s brand is both what it stands for and how it is regarded by the broader public. Your company will stand out from the neighbourhood competition if it has a strong brand.

So, while naming your firm, don’t go with a generic name like most electrical stores these days. Try to come up with a distinctive name because the right name is really important. You can begin by considering the business’s nature. In your absence, your chosen name will operate as an extension of your brand, representing you. Part of your brand representation in what you sell. You can add some wire connectors. They are always widely in demand by everyone.

We recommend checking to see if the business name you want is available as a web domain and securing it as soon as possible so that no one else does.

6.Get Startup Funds

banknotes

For starters, you’ll need thousands of dollars to launch an electronic business in the first few months, with a large portion of that money going for rent. A significant portion of the funds will be spent on getting certain in-demand electrical goods as well as marketing your new business.

Personal cash, such as savings, loans from financial institutions, and borrowing from friends and family who are interested in assisting you in starting your business are all options for raising capital for your business.

7.Promote Your Store

Starting a business takes time and effort, as well as determination and vision. If you’ve already decided to work in this field, you should first check into legal and technical issues. After you’ve successfully achieved the first two responsibilities, you should build your brand and sell it. 

You must stay up with the most recent advances and maintain high standards at all times. It isn’t enough to have good items. To expand and develop revenue, it must be adequately publicized. The advertising team must be ready to provide you with a marketing strategy that will interest the audience.

As a result, the two key techniques of attracting new clients are word of mouth and local advertising. Many electronic stores promote in local media and provide first-time customers discounts and advertising billboards. Keep in mind that customer retention is crucial. Take extra precautions with the newcomer. 

They are your billboards. They are ecstatic and will brag about your store for hours. Be friendly to everyone that walks into the store. It’s more difficult to keep customers than it is to get them.

The Bottom Line

Starting and maintaining a business to its success is not an easy task. You need to be dedicated to the course and understand that however hard things get, you need to surpass them. Electronic stores are quite demanding, but a nice business to invest in altogether. Best of luck!

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