We believe that small business ownership is one of the greatest things a person can do. This country was built on small business and we have noticed a resurgence of the small business spirit during this new economy. Small business is the key to lifting America back to the economic powerhouse that it can be.
By helping others start a business we are doing our part to improve our community. With every successful small business that is created the economy recovers just a bit more. Even if you start a business in Vermont, your new business helps the entire U.S. economy, which in turn helps business in Illinois. It’s all an interconnected system.
Starting A Small Business Isn’t Easy
Starting and growing your business from just an idea to something that fulfills your personal, professional and financial goals leads will make you proud. But the road to financial and personal freedom is long and sometimes painful.
After both entering the workforce, we became sick of working for others and decided to venture out on our own. In 2000 we started a remodeling company in the Chicago suburbs. For the first five years we struggled to make a real business. For several years we made less money than we had at our 9 to 5 jobs. Slowly we began to figure out the secrets to running a successful small business. Not to say that we are the ‘experts’ of small business. We are just two guys that have been in the trenches and are still learning everyday.
Thanks to perseverance we now have a company that provides for our families’ incomes as well as several employees. We are not getting rich overnight, but we are making a nice living. More importantly we are living the freedom that small business allows us!
It’s our goal to pay it forward and keep you from making the same mistakes we made in our early years. We want to give you the five year head start we wish we had. Use our SIMPLE Plan to help create the profitable business of your dreams.
Brothers, Neil and Joel, are the creators of Help Start My Small Business. Listen to Podcast Episode One to hear their full story. Including how they created several of their own small businesses.
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I am a licensed architect with a degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I started working with my hands at a very young age building every kind of back yard fort you could think of. I built things of many types and took the time to decorate them with spray paint. Many times in my young career I had my painting privileges taken away due to overzealous creativity with the spray can!
Like many, my skills as a craftsman took some time to develop but that didn’t stop me from trying. Check out my first remodeling project on the right. I started my career as a carpenter in the homebuilding industry. Straight out of high school I worked for a local homebuilder earning the money to pay my way through college. After college I interned to get an architectural license and worked for a firm as a project architect. 11 years ago Neil and I started our remodeling company and have been working in it ever since.
In recent years I have developed a weakness for classic Camaros liking anything from its first, second and fifth generations. The 1969 convertible is my favorite but I certainly wouldn’t turn down a 2012 convertible either (did anyone say ZL1?). There isn’t a local classic car show I miss. I could spend hours looking at classic restorations of early cars. I’m a purist that prefers the untouched classics or a numbers matching restoration.
I live outside Chicago with my wife, Karen, two daughters and one large dog, Otis. I’ve always believed that if you’re going to do something, do it big. Otis is 195 lbs. of lazy dog that sleeps 23 hours a day at the foot of our bed. It’s a stark contrast to Neil’s dog, Striker and his double bag of crazy!
I have a degree in Entrepreneurial Management from Northern Illinois University. I remember my first job at age three! My dad paid me a penny per bucket to carry dirt out of a basement. I would draw a hash mark on the wall as I left with each bucket. I doubt I lasted very long. I can’t remember how much I made on that job!
After that I created several other businesses including; hot dog stand (see photo), lawn mowing, newspaper route, freelance musician, buying and selling antiques, another lawn maintenance company and several versions of remodeling companies. My mind never stops coming up with the next idea. It’s a blessing and a curse.
I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Entrepreneurial Management. After school I caved to societal pressure and got a “real” job. I worked at a lumber yard for eight years, starting at counter sales and working my way up to yard manager. In between I was a shop foreman, inside salesperson and a buyer. Buying was by far my favorite position. It was like having my own little company within a company.
Joel and I always worked side-jobs together when we had those “real” jobs. When he suggested we start our own remodeling company I jumped at the idea! I couldn’t wait to get out of the corporate, butt-kissing life. We’ve been working together for over ten years now and I never regret making the change.
I have a couple hobbies outside of business. I love reading, photography, travel and music. My wife, Jennine, and I have recently begun to travel the world (isn’t small business great!) and visit different cultures. We recently went to Egypt and saw most of the sights of the Ancient World. Totally humbling. We have other great adventures planned in the coming year.
Jennine and I live outside Chicago with our crazy Weimaraner, Striker.
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