A common and accepted truth throughout the business world is that connections are everything. Through my father and his neighbors, I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of interviewing Misti Reed for the informational interview that we were assigned in the beginning of the year. When trying to decide who to interview for this assignment, I asked myself what I wanted to get out of the interview and conversation with the chosen individual. After deciding that I wanted to explore the sector of small businesses, Mrs. Reed was the obvious choice. Misti and her husband, Rob, own Grayson Recovery Services and the name speaks for itself. They are in the business of restoring, repairing, and recovering both commercial and residential properties in the region of North Texas. They deal with the aftermath of leaks, fires, busted pipes, and just about everything in between, and according to their website, “GRS is a full-service restoration and cleaning company. Our team is committed to providing our customers and clients with an exceptional experience” (Reed, 2016). Starting your own company is always risky, however Misti and Rob chose a specific area of focus in which there is hardly ever a deficit. Most of their income is due to small natural disasters or accidents that are nearly impossible to avoid, which was an ingenious route to follow. Instead of handling transactions directly with their customers, they are contacted by the insurance companies that are employed by said customers and therefor, never have to worry about the inability of an individual to cover recovery costs. While there are always accidents to be made and disasters to handle, public relations also play a large role in the success of any small company. Nell C. Huang-Horowitz found that, “For small firms, a positive reputation is built upon credibility and legitimacy” (Huang-Horowitz, 2015). Grayson Recovery Services ensures their integrity and trustworthiness through their website which lists countless testimonials from pleased clients as well as cites their years of experience in the industry. By owning and maintaining this website, they are able to reach out to a wide range of clients and connections while still retaining the friendly and intimate feel of a small business. Utah Business states that, “No business, regardless of size, can compete in today's economy without a well-designed telecommunications system that meets the needs of both clients and business owners. Voice, data and Internet are survival tools for a healthy business…” (King, 2009). It is not easy owning and managing your own company, but Misti Reed always has a pleasant demeanor and encourages young entrepreneurs simply by helping people through her work and loving that work she does.
The Interview with Mrs. Reed
I had met Misti and her husband before during a handful of casual neighborhood events and the topic of discussion was always centered around her two beautiful children. I knew that they owned their own company, that the hours were challenging, and that Misti loved it. I had no idea what field their business was in or what I was signing up for when I asked Misti for an interview. I expected to hear a formal business plan from a revered professional and instead had a wonderful conversation with an intelligent and capable young entrepreneur. I started the interview by asking how she came to the decision to start her own business to which she answered delightedly. She told me all about the hurt she endured through multiple lay-offs and dismissals due to the struggling and inconsistent Real-Estate world. I had always considered real-estate as a back-up plan in case I never found a satisfying career or realized my potential elsewhere, so hearing of her difficulties definitely opened my eyes to the harsh reality of not only real-estate, but the business world as a whole. Her husband had and continues to have difficult hours as a fireman and Misti came to the conclusion that she was going to be in charge of her own schedule and destiny.
This lead to the next obvious question which was; What was the process of getting started like? Apparently, there are union-esque organizations for small business that allow for the sharing of ideas and cultivation of helpful strategies for all types of companies. This worked for the Reed's for a short time before Misti realized that she could run the business better and for less money on her own. While she did glean many helpful tips from the organization, overall it was a waste of money, time, and brainpower that could have been devoted to bettering her company. I was not aware of these type of start-up alliances and after doing some quick research, I found a mix of negative and positive feedback about them. Hearing Misti's perspective was incredibly illuminating as she touched on the powerful “clique” influence that tends to arise in any group dynamic. As someone who finds sharing information or opinions difficult in an intimidating set-up like the one Misti described, I really took this section of the interview to heart.
Learning of Misti's troubles with the organization was a perfect Segway into the next question about any profound difficulties that arose in the beginning. She reiterated that the previously stated organization was a minor setback, but without it she doubts she would have been as confident in herself as an entrepreneur. The biggest struggle for her company in the beginning was trying to find a balance between obtaining new clients and ensuring an excellent execution of work already underway. She had a habit of devoting all of her time and resources to ensure the perfect quality of work was being done on the houses and commercial properties she was tasked with restoring, which left her with a gaping hole in the realm of advertising. Finding the balance was a difficult process of trial and error, but as with any small business—it's all about finding your niche. Hearing that this successful business went through some difficult patches and was not perfect from the start was very comforting as you rarely see or hear about the struggles, only of the glory with most businesses.
Following the topic of advertising, I asked Mrs. Reed what her strategies were for getting her company some attention. When they first started out, she was in charge of the advertising, which was mostly done online and in-person with the insurance companies that act as a liaison for her customers. This worked for a while as they had a rather small clientele, but as her company grew, her time was better spent on the executive tasks. She soon hired a marketing specialist who has been a part of her staff ever since and is in charge of advertising the company in a friendly yet professional manner. The day-to-day operations of the company are still handled by Misti, but she now has a team of employees to whom she delegates the more minor tasks to. Her main responsibilities, which was my next question, consist of finalizing schedules, handling payments, speaking with clients, and basically making sure that her business runs like a well-oiled machine. One of my biggest concerns about starting my own company was the weight of responsibility. Starting a company from scratch comes with a wide array of tasks and liability that lie solely on the owner and I have always had problems with asking for help. Learning that Misti had similar issues, but eventually learned the proper way to gain success was incredibly inspiring and reassuring.
Lastly, I asked Misti who she turns to in times of doubt or uncertainty about her business. After I asked this question there was a brief pause, she thought about her answer and then said with a smile, “My dad.” This answer brought me back to reality and allowed me to realize that this is just a human being I am having a discussion with. There is no need for me to be nervous or feel insecure about my future because everyone experiences that feeling in their lifetime. Even people who own their own company and have a firefighter husband and two wonderful children. I thanked Mrs. Reed graciously and we parted ways both feeling relieved and with a renewed sense of motivation and comfort.
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