Today marks three months since Michael Pulliam got out of prison. He returned to St. Louis and immediately got to work alongside his mother, Sylvia, who started a cleaning business 8 years ago.
In that time, Sylvia has built a client list of more than two dozen regular, residential customers (and one commercial. But she’s never formalized the business. Michael took that as his charge.
He’s already set up the business entity with the government, opened a business bank account, and is starting to set up administrative tools like Quickbooks. “I also came up with a list of potential names and let her choose her favorite,” shares Michael. “Mom chose Beyond Compare Cleaning.”
Michael always joins Sylvia to help clean. During the coronavirus, they’ve picked up six new clients. “Mom has developed such strong relationships with clients that we are even getting paid for some houses that we’re not cleaning. They know how much she’s poured into this business and want to help in any way they can.”
Formalizing the business will make Beyond Compare Cleaning eligible for federal relief and allow them to have contracts with clients, but it’s deeper than that for Michael. “Mom has sacrificed her life and her finances for her children. She’s getting up every single day to clean despite her ailing body. My goal is to grow the business so that we can hire people and help her retire.”
Michael has been looking forward to this day for a long time. “I was in prison for 10 years and Mom was in prison with me. She spent every moment of her life making sure I was okay.’
“She used to say, ‘I could be paying for your college right now, but I’m not. I’m paying your way through prison. I want you to make this the best you can.’ Mom kept money on my books (like a prison bank account) and she bought me lots and lots of books.”
Reading those books is how Michael learned to formalize the business. “I read a textbook on accounting, I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I got a paralegal certificate… Mom spent thousands upon thousands of dollars so that I could educate myself. She went to bat for me, so now I want to go to bat for her.”
Michael is taking his wages from cleaning and investing them back into the business. “I can never repay her for everything she’s sacrificed for me. Mom has just given to others her entire life, now it’s finally time for her to receive.’
“My fear is that she won’t be able to get out of the hole she’s been living in. Helping me get through prison forced her to burrow in to weather the storm. I want to help her get some sunshine and enjoy the years we have left together.”
That’s what fuels Michael to grow Beyond Compare Cleaning. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re going to rock it and I’m going to move as fast as we can. I’m really excited about getting our next commercial account.”
Getting the business in a position to grow has pulled Michael in many different directions. He’s ordered business cards and uniforms, started drafting the website, and is working on a marketing message to include in their new sales sheet. “My next step is to write a business plan so I can feel focused.”
Beyond Compare Cleaning is a true labor of love, a tribute to all the mothers who teach us every day what it means to live selflessly in service of those you love.
No single Mother’s Day can do justice for everything our moms have done to help us along the way. Thank you for loving us despite our faults. When the world feels upside down, there’s no one better to clean up the mess than a mom.
Here’s to making fewer messes, and giving moms like Sylvia the rest and credit they deserve…
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Determination, Incorporated is a 501C3 nonprofit in KCMO creating a pathway of opportunity for formerly incarcerated people through entrepreneurship. To learn more, contact us here.
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