Deciding to make the leap into business ownership can be a daunting task. With 68% of business owners saying the first year is the toughest, the odds of survival can feel bleak. However, women have been making great strides in business ownership within the construction industry. There has been 64% growth in female owners from 2014 to 2019, making women 13% of construction firm business owners. So what are some tips to ensure a small business owner can get off on the right foot? We caught up with Business Owner, Christyn Ford of Lotus Tile. Chris launched her company back in 2018 with the vision of combining her passion for the trade, her well rounded skill set that allows for truly custom work and her exceptional customer service.
Here’s what she had to say about her journey, and the blood, sweat and tears it takes to dive in…
ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS IS FINDING A NAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND IT CAN BE REALLY DIFFICULT. HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON LOTUS TILE?
CF: When I was branding my company, I wanted something that was softer, and would attract clients with a similar lifestyle as myself.
HOW LONG HAD YOU BEEN WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY BEFORE YOU STARTED LOTUS TILE?
CF: I had been in the industry for about 8 years when I made the decision to go out on my own. It was the best decision I've ever made.
WHAT TYPE OF PROCESS DID YOU WORK THROUGH TO FORM THE VISION OF YOUR COMPANY?
CF: I had helped run the last company I was at. There were many years of trial and error with that company. So when I decided to start my own company, I had a pretty effective system in place. It took me a few hours to set up my LLC, create an internet presence, and be scheduling my first consultations.
HOW DID YOU ASSESS YOUR AVAILABLE MARKET AND WAS IT WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE?
CF: When I started my company, I had also relocated to Colorado from California. So I was starting all over. I had glanced at Craigslist before moving and got the feeling the market was it good here. I was shocked at how much work there is in Denver. Especially if you do skilled work.
WHAT GOALS DID YOU SET FOR YOUR FIRST YEAR?
CF: To be able to support myself and pay my bills. I wasn’t sure if things were going to work out or not, so I just wanted to be able to survive. I far surpassed that goal, and have continued to grow exponentially each year. Hard work really does pay off!
IT DOESN’T TAKE LONG TO LEARN THAT YOU ARE VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT BEING ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY. WHAT METHODS DO YOU IMPLEMENT TO ALIGN YOUR COMPANY WITH THAT VALUE?
CF: I try to use products that are earth friendly, I have methods for recycling water, and I try to reuse or recycle as much waste on site as possible. Last year I purchased a product called the Beast Mixer, it's a bucket liner that helps save your buckets. I haven't had to purchase, or throw away any plastic buckets (which take 2000 years to break down on a landfill), in over a year. Construction is a very wasteful industry, so my focus is to reduce my footprint as much as possible.
I asked myself how badly do I want to be in construction... And I really wanted it, so I found away to make it work for me.
— Christyn Floyd
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU HAVE OVERCOME BEING A WOMAN IN A MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY?
CF: Oh lordy, where do I start!? The harassment, and disrespect is my biggest challenge. I try to only work for homeowners, and avoid working on larger projects with many crews on site. I don't enjoy having my job mansplained to me by another trade. There was a point at my last company, where our crew was being harassed so horribly by another crew. The owner of the company wouldn't say anything to the GC, and wouldn't do anything to stand up for her crew. I asked myself how badly do I want to be in construction... And I really wanted it, so I found away to make it work for me. I think the challenges we face as women in the trades, make us better trades people. You have to really want to be here to put up with all the BS just to earn our spot.
WHAT ARE SOME ADVANTAGES YOU HAVE FOUND BEING A WOMAN WORKING CONSTRUCTION?
CF: There is a client base that is really excited about hitting up a woman for their projects. So that has been helpful.
There is plenty of work to go around, I don’t see any reason to be afraid of other contractors.
— Christyn Floyd
IDENTIFYING COMPETITION IS A COMMON STRATEGY FOR NEW BUSINESS OWNERS. HOWEVER, IT SEEMS YOU COLLABORATE OFTEN AND CELEBRATE OTHER TILERS IN YOUR AREA. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS APPROACH AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT HAS BEEN BENEFICIAL TO YOUR COMPANY’S GROWTH?
CF: I feel it has been extremely beneficial. I took on a larger flooring project recently, and that would not have been possible if I hadn't had help from one of my peers here in town. I don't really look at other contractors as competition. If we have a network of other installers, then we can all take on larger projects, without having to have employees. There are a few guys here in Denver that we all throw work around to each other. There is plenty of work to go around, I don't see any reason to be afraid of other contractors.
HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE STARTUP COSTS OF YOUR BUSINESS?
CF: Honestly, I didn't. I was going through some major life transitions, I was traveling for any work I could find, and then my granny passed away. She left us grandkids a small amount of money. I used that, and the little bit of savings I had, packed up what would fit in my truck, and moved to Colorado to start my own business.
DO YOU HAVE HELP ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE SIDE OF YOUR BUSINESS?
CF: No, I handle all of the administrative side of my business, including marketing, and managing my website. My background is in marketing and office management, so that party came easy to me. Tile was the new thing I had to learn.
YOUR WEBSITE IS GORGEOUS AND IS SUCH A GREAT REFLECTION OF YOUR QUALITY OF WORK AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON A NEW BUSINESS OWNER’S APPROACH TO THEIR ONLINE PRESENCE?
CF: Thank you so much! I would say to really think about the branding of your company. What is the image you are trying to portray, who are the clients you are trying to attract? For "advertising", I've had great luck with Nextdoor, and my Google page.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO A WOMAN WANTING TO GO OUT ON HER OWN AND DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL ADVICE ON HOW TO ENSURE THEIR BUSINESS’ SUCCESS?
CF: Don't be greedy, don't try to grow too fast. Try not to make decisions out of desperation. I've taken jobs out of desperation and fear, knowing that I shouldn't take the job, and it's always gone horribly.