Building & Growing
When Ashley Kosharek started AMK Cleaning Services in September of 2012, it was out of frustration. After years of working in customer service, retail, and restaurants, she was tired of barely making ends meet.
"I was a single mom and knew that I had to do something that made enough money so we could make a living and not be scraping by," she said.
Because she had five years of experience housekeeping in hotels, she started cleaning homes in her free time. As word got out, she began to receive more referrals and added accounts.
After attending the Western Dairyland Women's Business Conference in 2013, Kosharek registered for QuickBooks and Business Plan Basics classes at the Western Dairyand office in downtown Eau Claire. Dozens of similar classes are offered each year for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners.
Later that year she approached the Western Dairyland Business Center for advice. "We were at the point where it was either get bigger or stay small, and I didn't really know which way to go at that point," she said. "It made me scared to get bigger because I knew managing people was going to be hard, but I knew that if I wanted to have a retirement plan and have something to show, then I needed to get bigger."
Kosharek's next step was to meet with Western Dairyland Business Development Specialist Ken Pearson. Western Dairyland staff members provide assistance with business plan writing, financial projections, setting up record keeping systems, establishing business legal structures, and developing marking plans. Additional services are offered depending on the type of business being considered. Together, Kosharek and Pearson figured out a way to add vehicles, increase wages, and reduce employee turnover.
Since then, AMK Cleaning Services has experienced quick growth. Kosharek went from one employee to fifteen (including five full-time) and in June she started leasing an office on Fenwick Avenue in Eau Claire.
She currently serves between 80 and 150 residential and commercial clients, but sees the need for reliable cleaning in rural areas. Eventually, she hopes to expand and open satellite offices.
Kosharek controls her own marketing and sales and has invested in a computer system to make managing her clients easier. She has also gone paperless, providing employees with iPads so they can quickly access important documents while out in the field. For the most part, she now runs her business independently, but it's reassuring to know that a Western Dairyland counselor is only an e-mail or phone call away.
She recalled that in the beginning, owning her own business seemed impossible, but now she knows she's right on track. "It's crazy to look back and see how much we've done and how far we've come."
"I was a low-income, single woman and because of this help we've created a livable career and created jobs for other people, so that's probably the biggest success," she said. "Building and growing a business was always a dream of mine and it became a reality with assistance from Western Dairyland."