As we observe Veterans Day, the Madison County Chamber salutes all men and women who have served in the U.S. military. Read about the experience of one local small-business owner and Army veteran.Rodney Ellis, owner of What A Day Carpet Cleaning in Alexandria, learned important life lessons during 12 years in the U.S. Army. He learned to:• Be confident in who you are.• Look respectable – make a good first impression.• Continuing education is important – keep learning.
“Three and a half years as a drill sergeant also taught me how to talk to and listen to people,” Ellis said. “The military was tough. I learned to adapt, overcome and survive, which also applies to owning a small business.”Ellis served overseas in Operation Just Cause, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Shield and Somalia. He finished his military career serving in the Army Reserves.
“I have a long family history of military service,” Ellis said. “I feel strongly about serving my country, fighting to preserve our freedom.”
After his military service, Ellis worked in the carpet/upholstery cleaning business. He took a leap of faith and opened his own business five years ago. A business call to the First Baptist Church in Elwood eventually led him to become the church’s pastor.
He offered these points for small business success:• Tell your customer up front what to expect. Be honest about what the end result will be.• Price your service to fit the market.• Give satisfaction.• Do the job until it is done right.
“Doing these well will build your reputation,” Ellis said. Most of his new customers are from referrals by satisfied customers.
“I would advise someone building a business to be prepared to ride it out. Don’t go head over heels in debt to try to make your business into your dream. Let the dream build as your business grows.”