Adairsville High graduate Jacob Smith has started his own house-painting business in Cartersville through Student Painters, an affiliate of Young Entrepreneurs Across America, an organization that gives motivated college students the tools to become the country’s next great entrepreneurs through running his/her own painting company.
Last fall, the sophomore finance major was sitting in class at Kennesaw State University when “this guy named Calvin” came in and told them about Young Entrepreneurs and Student Painters, a company that allows students to develop communication and business skills through a summer of real-world business experience while also earning money to pay for tuition.
“... He said, ‘We give college students a chance to be their own entrepreneur,’” said Smith, who lives in an off-campus apartment in Kennesaw. “The whole thing is we run our own business. They just give us the idea. They already gave us the idea of painting, but we have to start it from the ground up so I have to hire a marketing team, painters. I have to set their payroll, their schedules. You get the whole experience of running your own business.”
He added the program provides a “wonderful opportunity for both local students searching for jobs and for homeowners in search of a quality paint job with excellent customer service.”
Smith said he’s not receiving any college credit for participating in the program because students don’t get credit for internships until their junior year, but he signed up anyway because it’s a “great resume-builder.”
“It gives you the real-world experience that no other internship can really give you,” he said. “I don’t know of any other internships out there that give you your own business to run and say, ‘Here, start it from the ground up and show us what you can do.’ So to me, sitting in that room, it just sounded like an opportunity that I couldn’t give up.”
The young businessman said he had to go through two interview processes before being hired in October. Since then, he’s attended a couple of workshops and an official three-day training program in Greenville, South Carolina, last weekend to get ready to launch his business, which will offer power washing, deck staining and exterior painting.
“The training is basically the start of everything so as soon as you get out of there, you already know everything for the business,” he said. “You know what you need to do now so this week is kind of my starting week as far as marketing and just getting out there goes.”
Smith said he’ll spend the spring hiring employees, marketing his business’ services, giving free estimates to homeowners and lining up customers for projects that will be completed during the summer.
“It’s harder to paint in the fall and the winter seasons,” he said. “Summer is really just the window.”
Currently, he said he’s spreading the word through Facebook posts, flyers and business cards and hiring a marketing team that includes his brother, Chandler, “just because he knows how important this is to me.”
He hopes to hire two or three more high school or college students to work as marketers, he added.
In April, he will begin looking for painters, who “can be anybody, not just KSU students.” All painters will go through an extensive training process with Sherwin Williams, the program’s partner.
Smith said he sets the pay rate for the painters and will offer them incentives for exceptional work.
“If we really nail it one month, I’ll take them out to like maybe a steak dinner or if they want to go out to Topgolf or something like that,” he said. “I plan to give them those kind of incentives just to work hard.”
Though he hasn’t done any painting before, Smith said he will paint if he needs to; however, his main purpose is building his business “so [company officials] don’t want us out there painting the whole time.”
“But you need to fill the gaps where you need because it’s your business so you’ve got to take pride in that,” he said.
The painters will be beautifying houses in Cartersville and “within 10 minutes of Cartersville, just because this is the territory they gave me,” the branch manager said, noting this is the first year Young Entrepreneurs will be operating in the Cartersville area.
When giving estimates, Smith includes the cost of all materials and labor for the prep work, painting and cleanup.
“The main thing is that we want a quality paint job ... and also your paint job is only as good as your prep work so with prep and painting and everything, we put all of that into time so we don’t want to cut those corners for our customers,” he said.
According to the Student Painters website, painters will not leave until the homeowner is “100 percent satisfied that we have done everything stipulated in your contract to perfection.”
“When we finish a job, before we leave, all of our painters put down their tools and diligently look over all of the work we have done and fix anything that may have been missed,” the site said. “If that isn’t enough to make you comfortable, this is not where our commitment ends. Before we ask for your final payment, you will take a walk around the home with your branch manager. Anything that is not done correctly will be fixed before we ask for payment.”
Smith said he and Young Entrepreneurs each get a cut of the money he earns.
“What I’m planning to do with that cut is just help me pay off my student loans because right now, that’s a big thing in today’s economy,” he said. “I’m a finance major. I need to pay off that debt before I get out so this is one of those ways I can pay that back and hopefully customers see they’re investing in that and in me because they’re helping me pay that off, too.”
Once the summer projects are completed, the work will be done until next spring, Smith said.
If he decides to continue the business next year, he said he’ll come back to his Cartersville territory because he’ll “already have my roots here.”
Finally getting his business up and running is “exciting” for the son of Marie Smith and Shane Smith.
“It’s going to be a journey,” he said. “There’s going to be ups; there’s going to downs. But through it all, I just hope I keep a calm head, and I hope everything goes smoothly. Just trying to make everybody proud.”
For more information on Student Painters, visit www.studentpainters.biz.
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