Start Dakota, Episode 10: CO.STARTERS Feature: Taking the Leap into Entrepreneurship

Start Dakota Episode 1-

Episode 10 of the Start Dakota podcast features CO.STARTERS graduate (EmBe cohort), Desiree Donovan. The founder of a cleaning company, Donovan’s Diamond Details, she sat down with Brienne Maner to chat about jumping into entrepreneurship. 

Donovan has 25+ years of restaurant and hospitality experience, primarily in management roles, but she never imagined starting her own business. Nearly a year ago, however, she was working for a cleaning company and had the feeling she could run things better on her own. 

She set a goal of opening in February 2022, but when the time came, she still didn’t feel ready. As a mother of three, she wanted to feel more stable before taking the leap, so she held off. 

By July, however, nothing had changed, and she was still feeling frustrated at work.

“I was trying to decide what to do. Change jobs? Jump into this? Then CO.STARTERS came across my Facebook page. It just kept popping up, so I applied,” she said. 

CO.STARTERS participants dive deep on the process of customer discovery.

Donovan says Sioux Falls has two things going for it in terms of the cleaning industry — a booming construction and home building industry and lots of families with busy lives. 

desiree donovan

She hopes to serve these two areas by providing post-construction cleaning and staging, as well as assistance for families who don’t have time to devote to their homes. 

There’s no shortage of competition for Donovan. However, she believes the love she brings into her work is what sets her apart from other companies. 

“When I walk into somebody's house, I see, ‘Okay, we definitely had hockey or baseball this week.’ I don't just walk in and see the mess. I see all the things that have added up to the chaos, and then I just give it a lot of love.”

She clearly has passion, but when it comes to self-identifying as an entrepreneur, Donovan hits a wall. 

“I was definitely one of those people who didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur,” Donovan said. 

She talks about comparing herself to the other women in the room and the types of businesses they’re pursuing. 

Brienne Maner on Start Dakota

“One thing I have learned is even though I don't necessarily feel like I have this booming business sitting in front of me right now, all of the skills that I've built over the last 20-some years of management have given me so much more information than I thought I had, and I was actually able to offer some of that to some of those other ladies,” she said. 

She says building that self-confidence was one of the things she most appreciated about CO.STARTERS.

“One of the things I was hoping to get from this class was confidence in myself, knowing that I could move forward with anything I needed to do. I borrowed that power from those other women — I know it doesn't necessarily make sense, but you feel it when you walk in a room, when you know that everybody has their hands on your back and are going to push you towards whatever it is you're looking at.”

There’s so much more to hear from Desiree! Tune in to the full episode wherever you listen to podcasts.

Show Notes:

  • CO.STARTERS Challenge: Marketing 
  • Complete your “fieldwork” before the next episode
        • Define your messaging and add it to your canvas. 
        • What does your customer need to know?
        • Why should your customer like and trust you?
  • Business Minute: Learn more about SD CEO

This project is made possible through a partnership with Startup Sioux Falls and grant funding provided through the Community Navigator Pilot Program, powered by the SBA. More information can be found here.