By John Pantoya
Two women had one idea and a lot of motivation, and as simple as it may sound that is all it took for Whitney Prescia and Joni McKinley to venture into the business world.
“Hey, let’s start a cleaning company,” McKinley said as she recalled the random comment that gave life to their business. “We were both tired of sitting around at home watching college commercials.”
From that point on, the two women were motivated to delve into the world of entrepreneurship, and in September 2010, Maid of Steel became Pueblo’s newest cleaning company.
“Some people might say that starting a business in a down economy is not a good idea,” Prescia said. “But we make our own hours, we can never be laid off and we’re busier now than we’ve ever been.”
The venture was strongly supported by Prescia’s father, who happens to be an owner of two businesses himself. Both women carefully heeded his advice and also attended networking meetings with him.
“My dad has been a big help,” Prescia said. “He has always encouraged entrepreneurship and refers people to us all of the time through his other businesses.”
Having the support from family members made the women even more confident to pursue their business venture. They both said that nobody questioned their decision and they received a lot of encouragement. Because of that, they had no doubt in their minds that starting a business was a great idea.
Flexibility was also a key factor when making this life-changing decision, they said. Prescia, a full-time student at PCC, and Mckinley, a full-time mom, needed an accommodating schedule. Prescia also didn’t want to have to return to the monotonous work of serving at restaurants for a living, she said.
“The only work experience I had was working at restaurants and I wanted to do something outside of that,” Prescia said. “I didn’t want to do retail because I don’t like just standing around. My biggest pet peeve is when I feel like my time is wasted.”
Cleaning houses became their choice of business because they knew they were both capable of doing it well. Knowing how well they could perform gave them the confidence they needed to pursue the business.
The leg work started with researching other cleaning companies, both in town and online. Doing this helped the ladies gain a better grasp of what services other companies offered, as well as how they priced certain jobs.
“We went door to door to businesses and left our cards, but we’ve gotten most of our work from word-of-mouth,” McKinley said.
Originally, the pair wanted to clean for business offices, but they received more residential calls instead. In the long run, the girls found that residential jobs fit around their lives a little better. They clean residential homes during the day, as opposed to cleaning for businesses, which must be done at night when they are closed.
The process to request Maid of Steel’s services involves an initial estimate, which consists of a complete explanation of the cleaning you would like to have done. They also try to estimate the amount of time it would take to complete the job, McKinley said.
“By square feet we can tell about how many hours it will take us to get it done,” McKinley said. “They tell us whatever they want done and we estimate that into the price.”
Maid of Steel hasn’t been in business as long as other cleaning companies, but they do just as great of a job and are one of the least expensive companies in Pueblo, Prescia said. On a busy day, the girls will clean up to three houses, and currently average about 12 homes per week. They have the motivation to clean up to five homes per day, she said, and they hope to build up to that number.
Keeping that motivation has helped their business grow and has given them the freedom to structure their days according to their schedule, a luxury many hope for but don’t think is attainable. McKinley and Prescia found out just how easy it really is to own a business, and encourage it as an option for others.
“If anybody wants to start their own business I would definitely encourage it, because it’s not as complicated as you think,” McKinley said. “Our most important thing is our imagination. It’s thinking outside the box.”