Micah Smith: Trust the Process

by | May 31, 2024

In January of 2020 I decided to start my own plumbing business. I had worked as a plumber in South Carolina and got a similar job when I moved my family here to Maine in 2017.

I had been medically discharged after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years and got connected with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services here in Maine. I wanted to get approved for a business grant from the Veterans Administration and a requirement for that grant was a business plan. VR referred me to New Ventures Maine and I signed up for Venturing Forth.

The class went online at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I continued to take the class while I was getting my business—Sgt. Smith’s Drain Cleaning Service—up and running. At that time, the business focused on minor plumbing repair, mostly because of the equipment I had, and it was an essential service. That, as well as lower gas prices and faster travel times, boosted my business as I was just starting out.

Now, we’re adding a pump truck to clean out septic tanks so I’ve readdressed the business plan to take into account the number of jobs I need to take on and what to charge in order to make it feasible and profitable. We came in just shy of $1M in revenue last year and we’re already seeing extra income because of the new changes.

Venturing Forth gave me confidence in my business plan. I can set prices and do the job, but what the class taught me is that when times are tough, I have a business plan that I can trust. When I added new services I had to make adjustments, but the framework is there and I can trust it.

When I think about how far we’ve come—we literally started from scratch 4 years ago—I can appreciate all of the steps it took to get here. I truly enjoy taking care of my customers and employees and that’s really important to me.

The hardest part of running my business is retention of employees. But, this company is providing for my family and the families of my employees.

We also sponsor youth sports programs and give back to the community in other ways. We wouldn’t have what we have without New Ventures Maine.

If I was to give advice to others starting a business, I’d say: trust the process and follow it through to the end. Be dedicated to the classes and do the work. No matter what happens, your business is yours and having that ownership is empowering. In the end, it’s something that very few people can do. It’s an investment in yourself.

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