Edmonton’s Darren Steele, owner and founder of outdoor home maintenance company Darren Does That, is a person who knows what he wants in life. He’s driven by the need to build relationships in both his private and professional life.

An actor by training, Steele figured out early on in his career that he loved connecting with people, and he wanted a stable income that could provide for his family. Twelve years ago, he left his theatre career behind and embarked on a new path working in the window and gutter cleaning industry. In March of 2020, when the company he was working for experienced a downturn and laid him off from his management position, Steele realized he needed to take control of his career again.

When life hands you lemons…

He quickly polished up his resume and sent out dozens of them without much luck because COVID-19 lockdowns were just beginning. Looking for work in the middle of a pandemic just wasn’t great timing, so he decided to take control of the situation and become his own boss.

Starting a business at the beginning of a pandemic may seem counter-intuitive, but Steele has a knack for looking at situations and making what he can of them. With his theatre background coupled with his 12 years of experience working in his trade, along with three years in a management position, Steele knew he had the tools he needed to offer a service that people would still be in the market for.

“Darren Does That was born from necessity, if not desperation,” says the new entrepreneur. “I needed the shortest path to earning an income. As the COVID crisis unfolded around my start-up, I had no choice but to thank my lucky stars my work is outdoors so I could potentially keep working.”

What’s luck got to do with it?

Steele sees himself as very fortunate that he was able to get his small business up and running quickly, but his success is very much due to his worldview and his professional abilities. He knew he wanted to build a business based on honest relationships and trust so he got to work plotting out a plan. He contacted Futurpreneur early on for guidance and to explore the financing options available to him. Through that process he was able to harness his abilities into a coherent business plan.

“Working with Futurpreneur has been a huge benefit for me arriving at some of the decisions that I’m so confident in now,” he says. “The financing is great; it certainly helped me to get things kicked off. But the experience of working with experts to build my business plan is probably the even more valuable part.”

Integrating a digital twist into a traditional business model

Being your own boss often means having to do tasks that you don’t love. For Steele, being out in the field and working directly with his clients is when he feels most engaged with his work, so he didn’t want to be spending a lot of time in his office creating job quotes and invoices. He turned to the Edmonton-based small home services business app Jobber to help him organize the administrative tasks needed for running a business. The app helps him organize the operations side of his business, from scheduling jobs to invoicing and collecting payments.

Another time-consuming part of the job is doing site inspections in order to create price estimates for prospective customers. It could be a logistical nightmare for a small home services business, but Steele again harnessed the power of the digital tools available to him. He uses remote mapping and measuring apps to help him generate timely quotes for clients who can request a price estimate directly from his website.

Getting the word out

Although Steele was starting up his outdoor home services businesses in Alberta in the springtime when the weather is unpredictable, he saw the timing as fortuitous. “Since most of my work requires warm temperatures, I had a month to build the systems and marketing plan for my business,” Steele explains.

His theatre training and his background producing podcasts came in handy here. He set to work building his marketing strategy, which included creating an engaging video that he posted to Kijiji that proved to be immediately popular. Coupled with his easily navigable website and the seamless process for requesting price quotes, Darren Does That was quickly in demand by local homeowners. The company is consistently booked full time, and Steele says he feels confident about the future.

The rewards of treading your own path

For Darren Steele, becoming an entrepreneur was a lucky happenstance. Running a small business keeps him rooted to his personal values about connections with the people he works with and his family. He has a measured growth strategy that will see his small business hiring more skilled workers so he can offer more services to his clients, but he wants to maintain trusting relationships with all of his clients.

Ultimately, Steele says he’s achieved the work-life balance he was striving for. “Owning my own business is empowering. I’m working longer hours but I’m happier, I’m less stressed, and I’m more engaged in my work than ever.”

 

To learn more about Darren Does That visit their website at darrendoesthat.com

 

 

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