At the end of last week I began the story of how we became self-employed. You can read Part 1 of the story here. And now it continues…
Our first customer
In the seventh month, my husband was able to secure our first customer and things began to change. We were in no way experts in the industry. My husband had a little bit of experience from a night job when he was in school and I had no experience other than cleaning my own house. But we worked hard and made sure that we were providing our customer with the best service possible. And it worked.
But growth was slow! We continued to get shot down on sales calls. We continued working our separate 40 hour/week jobs and leaving our daughters with a babysitter during the day. Life didn’t become easier, it became much harder. We had the responsibilities of our full-time jobs, two daughters to raise, a cleaning job to fit in after work, and the work of trying to grow our own business.
Then we started to grow
We got our 2nd and 3rd customers around the same time. It was more than a year after we started our business. At this time Dustin realized that it was in our best benefit for him to quit his full-time job and have the time during the day to grow our business. That was a terrifying moment. Even though I worked a full-time job, he was making the majority of our money. We would be giving up our main source of income and replacing it with only 3 small cleaning accounts. To me, the math didn’t add up. We didn’t have a huge savings account just waiting to be tapped into. We prayed and then we took a leap of faith.
People thought we were crazy! It was 2010 and the economy was horrible. Quitting a job and giving up a steady paycheck to start a business was not what our friends and family thought was a smart decision. But we stuck with our decision and God came through for us! Dustin quit his job and after a week or so his previous employer contacted him and asked him to work part-time from home. He accepted. God provided us with a way to keep some steady money, have Dustin home with our girls while giving our business a chance to start growing.
Then I quit my job
A few short months later we gained another customer and I quit my job too. This was probably more of an emotional decision because I couldn’t wait to be at home. About 1 ½ years after starting our business Dustin was working part-time from home with his employer and I was home. This continued for a little more than a year. A few weeks before we welcomed our 3rd baby girl into the world, in October 2011, Dustin worked his last day with his employer. We were officially self-employed!
If you have never been in that situation before, let me tell you, it is an odd feeling. All of a sudden all of those direct deposit paychecks aren’t just going to show up in your bank account each week. We were responsible for paying ourselves, withholding and paying our own taxes, and so much more. There were a lot of months that were a struggle, but we were doing it! We were creating our own schedules and working for ourselves (as much as you can work for “yourself” when you have ongoing customers needing your attention).
It was awesome
As our oldest daughter started elementary school my husband and I were both able to drop her off and pick her up from school on most days. We were both able to attend her Halloween parade in the school hallway. When our middle child had her preschool graduation at 10:30 am, we were both there to cheer her on and take her picture. A few days during each week my husband and I were able to sit and eat lunch together at home.
Now, owning a small business isn’t just glamorous and enjoyable all the time. There were a lot of days we ate dinner at 4:30 because one of us had to be at our customers in the evening. There were some days that we worked from morning till night and ate dinner at 10:30 pm. But overall we were thrilled with the freedom that owning our own business brought us.
We didn’t have to ask a boss for a pay raise. If we wanted to bring in more money we worked harder to gain customers. We weren’t dependent on someone else providing our paychecks and setting our limits. And our business grew. We got to a point where we added employees and dealt with the challenges that being an employer adds. We continued to keep our standard for quality above the competition and we kept reaping the benefits
So if we were so happy working for ourselves what would bring us to the point of wanting to sell the business? Find out later this week in Part 3 of our story.