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We wanted to make $1 million and be our own bosses: Our side hustle made it happen

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Maid Easy co-founders and husband and wife team Bridgett Price and Marcus Shields
Photo by Anneke Marie Photography.
Key Points
  • "We treat our business as a living, breathing thing, not something that is set in stone. We want to be efficient, but it is important to us that we stay open to new ideas, and encourage our team to share theirs with us," writes Maid Easy co-founder Bridgett Price
  • "You don't have to reinvent the wheel or come up with the next big thing to succeed in business. If you have an interest or passion in an industry that is more evergreen, especially if it is service and customer-oriented, there are so many ways to innovate."
  • "The freedom that comes with choosing the hours and days we work and building toward passive income is unmatched."

In our early twenties, all my husband and I knew is that we wanted to "be rich." That idea wasn't well-defined. I had no idea about concepts like passive income or generational wealth, although my husband had always been in pursuit of financial freedom. We vaguely thought that $1 million was the be-all and end-all, and we tried our hand at a little bit of everything to make that happen.

Beginning in 2006, we started multiple small business ventures between us, including reselling products on eBay, developing a gaming app, owning a printing company, and starting a consulting business. Both of us had a passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to be our own boss. 

Finally, we joined forces, and we launched our cleaning company Maid Easy together in the fall of 2017. Over the course of our first six months in business, it became a hit with our customers.

To date, our company has made $1.7 million in revenue. From July 2019 to October 2021, we made $1.3 million, and we are on track to make $1 million in 2022. 

In 2019, I left my 9-to-5 and in 2021, my husband Marcus did the same. Even amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, we have been able to bounce back from a drop in sales, and grow even more than we thought possible. Here's how we did it. 

We used our setbacks as learning opportunities

The Maid Easy that launched in 2017 was actually a second attempt at the business. Two years before, my husband found a free online course about starting a professional service based-business in 27 days through the learning platform Overthink Academy. The teacher of the class based the program on his own experience starting a cleaning experience. 

The concept of a cleaning business appealed to Marcus because it seemed like a service people would always need and that could scale well. But rather than follow the guidelines provided by the class, he made some modifications based on our previous business experiences, thinking it would accelerate his progress. The result was that he became burned out and had to pause and regroup. 

After some time working at just our 9-to-5's, Marcus in particular was feeling inspired to try again. We were undeterred by our previous missteps, but we understood that we couldn't just keep doing things the same way. We sat down and decided that rather than go off and try to make something work by ourselves, we would tackle every aspect of a business together and see how we fared.

So in 2017, we took the lessons from years past, worked as a team with our complementary styles (Marcus is more process-driven and I am great at building relationships) and approached this new venture as a blank slate. 

We prioritized efficiency and ease of use  

In our 9-to-5 careers, Marcus worked as a UX/UI developer/designer at big companies like American Express, and I worked in marketing at corporate law firms and marketing agencies. 

We both knew what it was like working in corporate offices that had redundant practices because the mindset was, "That is the way things have always been done." 

We knew we didn't want that to be our experience, so we came up with a golden rule: If a task had to be done more than twice by any staff member, we would create a dedicated process for it. So we established systems for everything from quality assurance to cleaning team management to customer service that emphasized both ease of use and the potential to grow. 

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For example, we don't do in-home estimates. Instead we use square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms to provide an instant quote. It creates a baseline for our employees to easily refer to when meeting a new client and customers tell us that they appreciate the feature because it provides convenience.

We treat our business as a living, breathing thing, not something that is set in stone. We want to be efficient, but it is important to us that we stay open to new ideas, and encourage our team to share theirs with us.

We weren't afraid of what we didn't know

When we started Maid Easy, we didn't have any background as cleaning professionals, but we didn't let that discourage us. Instead, we were committed to becoming as well-versed as possible about the ins and outs of the industry, and we learned from the very best.

We connected and networked with cleaning professional experts and leading business owners on Facebook and social media, attending webinars and connecting with them one-on-one over the course of four years. From learning the technical aspects of cleaning to hiring and cultivating a great culture, they provided great insights.

My best advice is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel or come up with the next big thing to succeed in business. If you have an interest or passion in an industry that is more evergreen, especially if it is service and customer-oriented, there are so many ways to innovate.

We use our plans to help make calculated risks

Over time, as our careers advanced and we earned more, our money mindset shifted. We realized that rather than hitting a big, arbitrary number, all we wanted was to have our company fund our relatively modest lifestyle, to save for our future and to give us the ability to make smart investments.

The freedom that comes with choosing the hours and days we work and building toward passive income is unmatched. In retrospect, this is what a million dollars represented to us.

Before we took the leap from side hustle to full-time, we drew up a spreadsheet that listed all our expenses for a year, and decided that we needed to have at least 50% of those costs in our savings, and the ability to earn the other 50% through the business or our 9-to-5's.

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While we grew the business from 2017 to 2019, we both worked full-time and saved as much money as possible. I left my job in 2019 and Marcus left his in 2021.

And after a much-needed push from our bookkeeper, we started paying ourselves in October 2020. Prior to that, we funneled all profits back into the business to grow it. But having a plan has made it possible to sustain ourselves amid all the ups and downs of the last few years. 

Maid Easy has created a foundation for us to pursue other businesses and given us the confidence to take more calculated risks. One of my goals is to help others realize their entrepreneurial dreams. I started a podcast in March of 2021 called Entrepreneurs in Progress with a good friend and fellow entrepreneur to share what the experience is really like in an effort to demystify the process and to help others navigate the journey.

All of our experiences brought us to this moment. What we have now is the culmination of the different paths and roads we took to get here. Understanding this has helped us feel empowered, and allowed to turn long-held dreams into a reality. 

Bridgett Price operates Maid Easy alongside her husband, Marcus Shields. Together, they have generated almost $2 million in revenue and will expand their business later this year in new markets. Bridgett co-hosts a podcast called Entrepreneurs in Progress, highlighting the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and helping others become confident and successful entrepreneurs.

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