Steven Pierre hadn’t considered owning his own business until a few years ago. He says that entrepreneurship isn’t an opportunity often discussed in his hometown of Opa Locka, Florida, just outside of Miami.
“If you come from where I come from,” he says, “a lot of kids grow up thinking their only path to success is either through sports, entertainment, or in some cases, through illegal means. The idea of making it is about outshining the next guy.
“But it doesn’t have to be like that.”
That’s a lesson Pierre hopes to prove to younger members of his community as a recent addition to the Stratus Building Solutions franchise system. He purchased a franchise unit with the commercial cleaning and janitorial brand last year, opening in November with plans to grow his business portfolio.
And it all started with a conversation.
Pierre once met an older man cleaning the building at his former job and learned that whatever preconceived ideas he held about that man’s job were mistaken.
“Here I am feeling sorry for this guy, but I find out he’s doing really well,” Pierre says. “He broke it down to me, that he’s actually a franchisee himself. He’s a business owner. So I thought about what he told me, started doing more research, and eventually got in touch with Stratus.”
Following his conversation with that man, Pierre’s focused his research on identifying not only the kind of business model he wanted but the kind of people he wanted to work with.
“Most places just want to get your investment, train you, and then you’re on your own,” he says. “After doing my due diligence with a number of cleaning franchises, I knew after my first meeting that Stratus Miami was perfect for me. Their ability to break down and simplify every aspect of the business and eliminate any surprises was great. Plus, their willingness to focus on my own personal interest instead of solely their own is what really stood out to me.”
Of course, the financial aspect of buying into a franchise is a major consideration. But after years of consideration, Pierre had dedicated his time and energy to make his vision a reality.
Working in a hospital at the start of 2020, he claimed as many overtime hours as possible. 16-hour days and 80-hour weeks were constant. Eventually, Pierre saved enough money to purchase a franchise and make a major investment in his future.
“It was a hard year for me,” he said. “Where I’m from, it’s difficult to save that amount of money. You want to buy things that you need right away. It takes discipline not to think about ‘right now.’ Investing that same amount of money and energy into your future can really change things.”
And that may be Pierre’s biggest lesson to share — especially to youth in his community.
“That’s one of my goals — being a mentor or an inspiration for young black and brown kids,” he says.
Though currently running his Stratus Miami Unit Franchise operation alone, Pierre says one of his main ambitions is to not only provide useful employment opportunities for members of his neighborhood but to show them a blueprint of what’s possible with the kind of work he put in.
“Everyone sees the glitz and glamour of South Beach when they think of Miami, but everyday people are out here trying to make it,” he says. “I love the grind and the hustle of where I’m from, and I hope my work shows that. You don’t have to grow up with a silver spoon to start your own business. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to become successful. I want to be able to show these kids that even the simplest ideas can change your life for the better.”