Our humble family business, the domilya GROUP, was started after my husband Rachid moved on from his full-time work as a homebuilder. He was getting an increasing number of jobs on the side, and he realized that he wanted to do his own work with his own clients. With a steady stream of contracts to work on, he got started. I joined him as a business partner soon after I was laid off. We’d like to share what we’ve learned about starting your own business.
Best practices for starting your own business
Starting a business isn’t easy for anyone, but it can get tricky when your business partner is also your spouse. Here’s what home building partners Heba and Rachid Malki recommend:
Trust your partner.
Appreciate the client.
Cultivate your network.
Read on for details on the strategies that have fueled 10 years of business success for the Malkis.
1. Trust your partner
I feel what makes my partnership with my husband work so well in our business is that we both respect each other’s work and we truly trust each other. We know how to listen to each other.
We’re fortunate that in the 10 years of our business partnership, Rachid and I have really only had a handful of arguments. We’ve learned how to communicate with each other, and when we find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue, we trust each other enough to know that we’ll work through it. We’re both determined and tenacious individuals, so we won’t let obstacles get in our way.
We communicate well and make sure we have the time to discuss anything important.
Rachid handles the contractor side of things while I manage the business side, such as marketing and social media (I also manage another online business, SendOutCards). We don’t really invade each other’s space or try to dictate what to do; we have faith in each other’s abilities and skills.
2. Appreciate the client
When starting your own business, what’s crucial is the client. We make sure whenever we begin working with a new client, that they’re appreciated from the very start. We sit with them, go over what they’re looking for, discuss any risks or problems and we thank them for choosing us.
When we’ve finished the job, we double down and express our sincere gratitude for their business. We look to make a personal connection with them during our work, and then demonstrate that connection in the form of a custom gift. This can be just about anything, ranging from gift cards to food.
Perhaps our client has a fondness for chocolate or a particular store. It makes it feel less like a transaction and more like a friendly, neighbourly relationship. In this way, we have been able to avoid having upset, frustrated or angry clients.
Rachid is a bit of a perfectionist in his work, so even if a portion of a project might be considered passable, if he’s not entirely happy with it, he goes back and tries again. We make sure we deliver a top-quality result and a professional commitment to our work.
Dealing with problems
If a customer has a problem with a project, we look for solutions with them and work from there. We’ve never had a problem we couldn’t solve.
It’s also important to maintain a good idea of when it’s okay to contact a client and when it’s not. Try to get as much information as you need at once without constantly poking them throughout the day.
Our model for appreciating the client, following through on our work, and maintaining a strong working relationship with the customer has helped our business grow immensely.
3. Cultivate your network
As important as it is to perform well in the field, it isn’t all that we do to be successful; it’s also about having a consistent and reputable online presence.
Know your competitive landscape
Online trends change rapidly and it’s crucial to be on top of them, aware of what your competitors are doing and decide if you can learn from them. What sort of things are they adding to their site? What kind of format are they using? Try to figure out what’s working for them and is there a way you can incorporate it or emulate it for your business.
Connect with influencers
Learn who the key influencers in your industry are and make connections with them. I used hashtags and social media to gently nudge Bryan Baeumler and his team to pay attention to our operation. With enough time and dedication, it worked: we’re now Baeumler-approved and working alongside Bryan regularly.
Be professional, always
We don’t just post online without first thinking about what we’re saying — we have checklists out the wazoo. We diligently follow the news and are careful to not post a confusing, misleading or possibly inappropriate comment. Really, it’s about using common sense.
One time a client told me that they Googled the domilya GROUP and looked for about an hour, scouring our social media for any kind of disrespectful post but couldn’t find anything. I was so proud of us in that moment. It showed that our dedication and focus to maintaining a professional web presence had paid off.
Whether it’s online or offline though, we know that what we do and what we say is representative of our business and us, so we’re always careful. Honesty and integrity are such core values for the domilya GROUP and us; we practice them every day.
Starting your own business takes work
Both Rachid and I put the hours into our work and it has paid off immensely. HGTV and our peers in the industry have recognized us for our hard work but, while we’ve learned a lot from others, we don’t just rest on our laurels. Times change, sometimes faster than we realize, and we try to keep up with them. You can never learn everything, you can always improve and you should always be grateful for the opportunities you get.