DON'T DOUBT

YOUR

DREAMS

Elease Jones

A MOTHER'S LOVE CHILD CARE

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“Everything about Elease Jones and her application said we were reviewing a loan application that was extremely well thought out, well prepared, and presented by someone with enormous passion for her business,” says Kate Robertson, the economic development director for Benton Development Group who serves on the loan committee of the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG). “Elease’s application to help fund a licensed daycare for 125 children was more thorough and better prepared than almost any other application I’ve reviewed, and it was clear that she is a curious and determined person with a strong entrepreneurial outlook.”

 

What Elease envisioned was a daycare offering both child-initiated and teacher-directed activities and experiences. The curriculum would support and enrich the development of those children physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. In each classroom would be posted a weekly lesson plan.  The plans would contain a number of activities, designed to foster each child’s development.

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“Everything about Elease Jones and her application said we were reviewing a loan application that was extremely well thought out, well prepared, and presented by someone with enormous passion for her business,” says Kate Robertson, the economic development director for Benton Development Group who serves on the loan committee of the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG). “Elease’s application to help fund a licensed daycare for 125 children was more thorough and better prepared than almost any other application I’ve reviewed, and it was clear that she is a curious and determined person with a strong entrepreneurial outlook.”

 

What Elease envisioned was a daycare offering both child-initiated and teacher-directed activities and experiences. The curriculum would support and enrich the development of those children physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. In each classroom would be posted a weekly lesson plan.  The plans would contain a number of activities, designed to foster each child’s development.

 

Elease wasn’t before the committee as an experienced early childhood educator, or a highly experienced business person, or as someone with years of experience in a large daycare. And yet, the detail and thoughtfulness of her application was what made it so memorable for the committee.

 

Elease had worked in customer service for a local company but wanted something that fed her need to care for people. “When I was growing up I wanted to become a nurse,” she says, “but when I got older and figured out the job might involve a lot blood, well, that was pretty much it for me. I became a CNA and worked in a nursing home, but I hadn’t fully anticipated the emotional toll of caring for people at the end of their lives. I just wasn’t cut out for that.” 

 

After leaving her work as a CNA, she became a licensed in-home daycare provider but soon realized she would be telling a lot parents she didn’t have space for their child. She also knew from her experience as the mom of a child with a learning delay that, along with keeping kids happy, safe, and secure, there was also a need for programming to help them develop.

 

Next on her journey was research into the business of childcare in a larger facility. She studied programs that would support learning and development, and further memorized the staffing requirements for a larger licensed facility. Next came formal business plan development with the help of SBA and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).    | Get links to these resources

Be willing to ask for advice from people

with the experience you don’t have.

 

“I've come to realize that as long as you're asking for help and you show up, stay interested in your goal and stay consistent, that the help will find you and you'll be able to be successful,” explains Elease. “Sometimes you’ve got to dig a little bit deeper. You have to say you don’t understand a concept, and be willing to ask for advice from people with the experience you don’t have.”

 

Putting a variety of financing sources together, ‘A Mother’s Love Daycare’ opened in October of 2019. By February of 2020 there were 75 children at the center and the business was performing a bit better than the business plan’s projections. Then…. along came a virus that would upend all Elease’s hard work and research.

 

According to Elease, she was almost paralyzed when the pandemic very first hit. “It was very terrifying at first. Many of our parents still needed to go to work and they were depending on us to care for their children. But then I worried about being responsible for a child getting sick, exposing other children, and all those families who could get sick, along with my staff, me, and my children. Then I thought, oh, my gosh, am I going to lose my business? Is this going to be something that's just going to take us out?”

 

She decided to close and most parents were supportive of the concern she felt for everyone’s safety.

 

Two and a half months passed by with the center closed and employees laid off, which gave Elease plenty of time to research cleaning protocols and dig for the best advice available on the virus and children. Armed with better information, she became confident that the center could open and keep everyone safe.

Just take that first step.

 

Despite the difficulties she’s experienced, Elease remains upbeat about business and ECICOG’s role in helping her get started. “I would tell people if they have an idea or a business that they want to start or expand to just do it, to just try it. Just take that first step. There will be times where you feel like you're failing and that's OK. That's a part of being in business. That's part of life. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and then figure out, you know, from that failure how you can do better.”

(ECICOG) made the process very much down to earth.

 

She is also appreciative of Robyn Jacobson, the ECICOG staff member working most closely with applicants and the loan committee. “I worked with Robyn for a couple of weeks before my application went to the loan committee. We were going back and forth by email and she made the process very much down to earth. It was all very overwhelming and kind of scary at first, but Robyn definitely made me feel welcome, putting things in layman's terms and clearly explaining the process. The other great thing is that the decision was back in a week or so with favorable rates and terms.”

 

Elease’s suggestion to anyone dreaming of a new business? “Don’t doubt yourself.”

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