[quote style=”boxed”]I would be less cautious with expanding. With my cleaning company we didn’t want to get too big and not have quality employees to clean. So we priced and marketed ourselves with slow, steady growth in mind. Looking back we should have taken the big opportunities when we could have.[/quote]
Kyle Clayton started as an entrepreneur in 2008 after the recession caused his employer to shut down. Still in college at Arizona State University, Kyle decided to start his own business with a friend of his. Jackrabbit Janitorial, an eco-friendly cleaning service was created and fit perfectly with Kyle’s school schedule. In 2010 Kyle finally graduated college with a Bachelors degree in Spanish and a minor in International Business. Since his janitorial business was doing so well, Kyle didn’t need to get a ‘real’ job after college. He kept building the business and eventually started Grey Area Consulting a small business development company that has helped develop and launch 10 other businesses. In 2012 Kyle and two partners launched Awesome Cookie Company, a baked good company that specializes in unique, artisanal cookies. Currently shipping nationwide, Kyle is now working on retail locations for his new product. Finally, this year Kyle and a group of business partners started, SimpleHome USA a home automation and energy management company. From controlling your home from an iPad to having a completely smart home, SimpleHome does everything! For the last 5 years Kyle has been developing, operating, and expanding his businesses throughout Arizona and the Southwest. In February 2013, Kyle was asked to join The Young Entrepreneurs Council or The YEC, an invite only group of business owners founded by Scott Gerber. Kyle Clayton is a young an upcoming entrepreneur with a solid background in business development and startups. With plenty more ideas on the horizon, who knows what this serial entrepreneur will be doing next.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on staffing and automating my four businesses.
Where did the idea for Jackrabbit Janitorial come from?
In 2007 the job I was working at closed down due to the recession. I was still in college with two years to go. I decided on a cleaning company because my business partner fired a bad company and the manager mentioned how busy they were. It seemed like an easy, flexible solution and it worked! Once I graduated I didn’t need to get a ‘real’ job!
How do you make money?
I make money four ways. Through my cleaning company, a cookie company, a consulting company and a home automation company. We are all for profit companies, we have certain margins we run depending on the industry and stick with a pricing method that allows that margin. We have flat rates for services and sell our customers on the quality of the product or service they are getting.
What does your typical day look like?
Normally I am up by 6 or 7a and spend an hour having coffee and checking email, social media, reading the news. By 8 or 9a I am out the door for sales meeting, walkthroughs with homeowners, or helping a cleaning crew out. I try to schedule lunch or coffee meetings on days that I can do that. Most evenings I am going to networking or social events to help promote the businesses.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We just launched, Awesome Cookie Company, and we brought that idea to life just this year. It started with a buyer’s event for a local grocery store that was about 30 days away. So for 30 days my business partners and I brainstormed names, experimented with packaging and cookie recipes. The name was the last thing we figured out and we just started naming adjectives and checking domains, Awesome Cookie Company stuck! Some of our best work is because of a deadline. We launched in Sept. of 2012 and have been growing since.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Buying Local and Made in the USA, are trends that excite me. I try and frequent local businesses in my area and buy products made in the USA. I’m also happy to see the entrepreneurs of America innovating and making products and services we will buy.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job was at a call center selling Internet for a major provider. It was so bad but it taught me a great lesson, call control. You can control and shape the conversation you have with people in sales, management, or in general.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would be less cautious with expanding. With my cleaning company we didn’t want to get too big and not have quality employees to clean. So we priced and marketed ourselves with slow, steady growth in mind. Looking back we should have taken the big opportunities when we could have.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I try and have lunch with someone cool and interesting each month. It helps me to connect with local business owners and gives us an opportunity to help each other. It’s about building a business and a community for me. Meeting new and old people helps keep us connected and keeps ideas flowing!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The loss of my first employee was my first failure. I was still in college and trying to start a business, she ended up leaving on bad terms. So I had to work on how I manage people and not take things personally. I finally found an awesome book and it helped change my management style.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This is a hard question; I’ve always needed a dinner delivery service. Working so much I want to eat at restaurants but can leave the office. Pizza gets old after a while.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I hate harmful cleaning chemicals! I would ban them and teach everyone how to clean naturally!
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I can memorize a song after 1 or 2 listens, after that I’ll never forget it!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Highrise: it manages my customer communications, client anniversaries, and other information all in on place. I also like Dropbox, we use it for working virtually and with multiple employees. Square, I use it for all my businesses! Collecting money has never been easier!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Switch, How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It helped shape my management style and I use their analogy on managing people all the type. It help explains what motivates people and how to get the to go and do what you want, effectively.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
@TheFabulousOne: Her name is Amy and she’s a comedian making a documentary on kidney donation. She is a living donor who found her recipient on twitter.
@theYEC: The Young Entrepreneur Council provides support and promotion of entrepreneurs and how to prevent youth unemployment through entrepreneurship.
@cohootsphx: My favorite coworking space and the only coworking space in downtown Phoenix.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Monday, watching a video on the internet of goats yelling like humans.
Who is your hero?
My grandfather James Hallen, he was our family’s first entrepreneur. He built a painting business and sold a successful RV park in Chicago and Arizona.
Did college prepare you for being an entrepreneur?
In some ways it did, I took Spanish and Business classes so some of my classes directly helped me become a better entrepreneur. In general college taught me how I work as a person and what motivates me to get things done. Colleges need to teach more on entrepreneurship and some large colleges are starting to. I think it’s the key to having a good local and national economy.
What is your crazy, dream job?
I would love to be a music video director. Music gives me energy and helps me work so I am always thinking of good, sometimes funny music videos. For now I am happy being a small business owner.
Awesome Cookie Company on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AwesomeCookieCo
Jackrabbit Janitorial on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackrabbitPHX
Kyle Clayton on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kyle.s.clayton
Awesome Cookie Company on Twitter: @AwesomeCookieCo
Jackrabbit Janitorial on Twitter: @JackrabbitPHX
Kyle Clayton on Twitter: @KyleClaytonGore
Kyle Clayton on on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ksclayton