Laura Hooks graduated from Jacksonville State University with a degree in finance, and started her career at a bank and then at an investment firm.  In early 2014, Laura chose to leave the workforce so she could spend more time raising her children.   It did not take long for their family to miss her previous income, so she decided to help the family budget by offering to clean a friend/acquaintance’s house bi-weekly.  Word spread quickly, and Laura was contacted by another individual that wanted to hire her to clean her house. 

Two factors led Laura to want to start a cleaning business. One, the idea that others would seek out her service and two, the fact her husband had recently earned his Associate Degree in nursing and wanted to enter the JSU nursing program at the beginning of 2015. To do this he would have to leave his present employer. Laura contacted the Alabama SBDC at JSU requesting start-up assistance with a cleaning business she planned to start in the Gadsden area.

In her initial meeting with the SBDC, she explained that she wanted her cleaning company to be a legitimate business.  With the initial customer, and a commitment from nine others for future business, she was ready to form the company.  Her goal was to add another ten customers bringing her total to twenty in the following 90 days after receiving her business license. Once that goal is reached she plans continue to add customers and will hire an employee to help her with the cleaning.  Eventually, she plans to hire enough employees so she will be able to work from home managing the business.  At that poin she will have reached her initial goal of being a stay at home mom and earning enough income to support the family while her husband is working on his nursing degree.

Buckets and Belles

Laura’s Business Advisor at the SBDC provided her with a written list of steps to follow to be legally recognized as a business.  The list included department names and addresses, a review of the three major types of small business legal entities (i.e. Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, and S Corp), and a review of the six major elements of a business plan.  The SBDC recommended that she find a niche that would set herself apart from other residential cleaning services and use that niche in her marketing.  Another recommendation was that she consider operating in the beginning as a sole proprietorship because it would save her $260 in starting the business; in the future, when she is ready to add employees, an LLC could be formed.  The Business Advisor also discussed types of liability insurance and bonding that would cover damage, injuries and other problems that small businesses can face while providing service.

One month after the initial meeting at the SBDC, Laura had started her business, Buckets & Belles, as a sole proprietorship, and had already added three new clients.  Due to the nature of the business Laura only had to invest a couple hundred dollars to start the business.

The business progressed rapidly, and two months after it was formed, Laura was ready to hire an employee and form an LLC.  The Alabama SBDC at JSU provided her with the all the Alabama Secretary of State forms and instructions she needed to form her LLC.  
Buckets and Belles
Laura emailed the SBDC to express her gratitude – and how she is spreading the word about the SBDC, “Mr. Grimes, Thank you so much for all your help! An attorney wanted to charge me $500 and you told me step by step how to form an LLC. I even saved some money for a friend of mine wanting to do the same thing. Thanks Again!

A little more than a year after she started, the business had grown to a total of six employees, and Laura had invested $3,000 in equipment for the business.

Now, just over four years since Laura launched her business, she is proud to report that her company has over 100 regular residential and commercial clients.  This number of customers translates to approximately 250 cleaning jobs every month. In addition to traditional residential customers, they also provide cleaning services to many realtors and property managers for one-time cleanings.  In the first seven months of 2018 the company had already exceeded the 2017 revenue number, and employs six full time and one part-time employee. 

Laura has no plans to slow down.  The company is doing well and growing; she manages the business from her home office, and still has plenty of time to spend with her family.  Her husband has almost completed his master’s degree, and plans to start the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Jacksonville State University.

Buckets & Belles – A Clean Path to Success January 31, 2019