Did you know May 1st-7th is “National Small Business Week”? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t either until yesterday when someone said, “It’s National Small Business Week”. I did a little digging and found out that the first National Small Business Week was created by a proclamation of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. This week was meant to celebrate entrepreneurs and encourage their efforts and success. I think this is warranted today because more than 30 million small businesses employ almost 50% of our nation’s workforce. These statistics prove that small business is the backbone of our economy. Therefore, this year is especially important to take time out to celebrate the achievements of small businesses, as our country is still feeling the effects of a worldwide pandemic. The resiliency of small businesses has been truly amazing and something that should be celebrated.
Because I am a small business owner and I have passion for entrepreneurialism, I wanted to celebrate this even if I was a little late to the game. I looked at ways to celebrate and quickly learned that Hallmark does not make a card for this occasion, and I am not crafty enough to make my own cards. After feeling bad about my art skills for a minute, I decided the next best way to celebrate this week is to share my story of how MJI Building Services started.
Fresh off the farm in 1993, I started my career in construction while going to school for architectural drafting at NWTC. Since then, I worked for several general contractors where I learned the business by working my way up from the bottom. There were many valuable lessons of “what to do” and equally as many lessons of “what not to do”. There are so many great stories in my journey that I won’t bore you with in this blog, so let’s fast forward to December 2014. This is when MJI Building Services was born. The first day was a day I will never forget. I spent the night prior loading every tool I own into my 2005 Mazda 3. I learned that a Mazda 3 was really not meant to carry that kind of weight, but it worked out. The first day on the job, I was contracted to help a friend and fellow contractor frame a house. I arrive 30 minutes earlier than anyone else and proceeded to shovel fresh snow off our work area. Needless to say, by lunch time I was tired, cold and questioning my decision, but I pressed on. Fast-forward 3 years, I formed a partnership with my business partner, who had many more years of field experience than I did. This partnership allowed the business to self-perform more work efficiently. We quickly realized that we can’t do it all ourselves and 3 months later we hired our first employee, who is still with us. As MJI grew we realized that managing customers, projects and the endless financial bookwork was too much to handle. Fast-forward another 18 months, we realized that we needed someone to manage our finances, human resources, advertising, procedures, employee handbooks and so many other tasks. This is when we hired a full-time bookkeeper who is now our Chief Financial Officer. Fast-forward to today, we now employ 19 full-time employees including some hired through employment agencies. The team is made up of a group of talented folks that handle administrative duties, accounting, human resources, project management and field crews. All of which are an essential part of our small business. The lesson that we have learned many times over the years, is that we can’t do it all ourselves and we need to rely on great employees!
MJI Building Services has come a long way from the first snowy December day in an overloaded 2005 Mazda 3. The one thing that has not changed is that drive to succeed and that entrepreneurial spirit. Our hope is that we have started a legacy, where this small business can provide a great place to work and a livelihood that will last for generations to come.
Therefore, I believe that the best way to celebrate “National Small Business Week” is to ask a small business owner to tell their story. I guarantee that every story you hear will be different but will have a common thread. That common thread will be their entrepreneurial spirit and passion for what they do.