Interview with: Author and Entrepreneur Cheryl Ecton


Choices Change Everything: Choose to Get Up When Life Knocks You Down

Cheryl Ecton, an inspiring author, and entrepreneur knows all about adversity and how to push onward, even when life goes sideways. She has encountered more than her fair share of obstacles but has always landed on her feet at her next destination.


Ecton built, from the ground up, a thriving business in a male-dominated industry despite only having a high school diploma. She navigated the serious medical needs of her daughter with grace and fortitude.


She faced a crumbling marriage and bitter divorce head-on and came out the other side stronger than before. No matter what she’s confronted, Ecton has found a way to live a life that is true to herself with humility, humor, and hard work.


Her book shares Ecton’s experiences from all parts of her life and the lessons she learned along the way, she offers helpful advice about starting a small business, leading with your values, and knowing when to change your mind.


Using her personal experience and insight, Ecton teaches us to understand how to overcome obstacles and disappointments as we follow our path to success.

“It has been said that life is not a ladder, it’s more like a lattice. My life has been like a lattice. The goal isn’t always up. The path isn’t truly straight,” Ecton explains in her book. “Eventually, I know I’ll reach my destination, but there will be some unanticipated twists and turns along the way.”


Cheryl Ecton is the founder and CEO of Elite Building Services, a multimillion-dollar commercial cleaning and building maintenance company that serves clients nationally. She believes in treating her employees as well as her clients and lives by the motto, “If better is possible, good is not good enough; always put the customers’ needs first.” Cheryl lives in the Mid-Atlantic region with her husband, two adult children, and two grandchildren.


How have your business priorities changed from when you first started your business?


When I first began, I did not really look at it as a business, but only as a means to make extra money. As the months went by I realized I had the opportunity to turn this into a business, but at that time my priorities were to simply take on a few more clients. As the business began to expand so did my vision. My priority then began to focus on building a team that could help with the growth and management that would be required to meet my vision for Elite.


What are 4 skills you would encourage someone starting out on their entrepreneurial journey to learn?


Interpersonal, management, decision-making, and organization skills are probably my top suggestions. I learned very quickly without these 4 skills things would start to fall apart. I quickly enhanced these skills realizing if I wanted to stay on track with operating a bigger business I needed to also have my mindset organized and ready to make decisions at a moment’s notice.


What has been the biggest change in your industry since you started?

When I started the business, it was a male-dominated industry. It wasn’t only until a few years ago that women started to come into owning and managing commercial cleaning and maintenance companies.


How do you create motivation for yourself?


I realize in order to motivate my team I need to set the tone. I knew the importance of my setting the example of having a positive attitude. My daily routines consist of exercising, eating properly, having a daily gratitude journal, and spending 10 minutes each day meditating. Since my day begins at 4 am this allows me time to get ahead and prepare for the day.

How about when it comes to your team?


I realize that our team is sometimes coming into the office with personal issues or struggles, so I try my best to lead by example. I also have an open-door policy when my team needs to discuss issues or concerns.  Also, acknowledging my employees and being grateful for their being a part of my team helps.


What qualities do you look for in friends?  


I look for honesty, integrity and good moral ethics in my friends, over the years I have realized that some friends come into your life for a reason or a season but only a few last a lifetime. Someone once told me you count the number of great friends on one hand.  In mentors? I look for the same qualities as I do in friends, honesty, integrity and good moral ethics, they are even more important in a mentor as they help guide you.


What are your tips for successful networking?


Being open-minded, friendly, and authentic has always worked for me. Don’t aim for just meeting potential clients, meet others that can connect you with others and vice versa.


What is your TV guilty pleasure?


I tend to get hooked on a Netflix series and binge-watch; it usually is a suspenseful type of series. Since I am an early riser, I usually fall asleep during an episode at night and have to re-watch it.


Do you have a favorite local restaurant and if so, what are you ordering?


I love Firebirds Wood Fire Grill for lunch, they have a Colorado Chicken Salad that I am addicted to. All their food looks good but I get the same thing every time.  I don’t have a real favorite restaurant for dinner but my husband and I like to try new places.


How do you balance work and home life?


I’m not sure there is a true “balance” but I love this quote from Confucius who said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”.  It’s not that I loved the cleaning business when I started Elite, it’s more that I love to work, I loved the idea of owning my own business and the excitement it brings.  My work and my life have meshed together over the years so much so that I see it as all one big bundle of activity!  I do have to consciously separate the two by taking the time to enjoy spending time with my husband, children, grandchildren, family, and friends. I’ve also learned the importance of “me time.”


What was your favorite and least favorite thing about your book writing and publishing experience?


My favorite part of writing the book was realizing how far I had come and also knowing that I was able to handle very difficult situations and still survived and thrived. Also knowing that my intention for this book was to inspire and encourage women who may have been in a similar situation. It took me three years to complete the book with, of course, life getting in the way, having mental blocks, edits, and also wanting to be sure it was going to be a powerful read. I’ve always been intensely private so for me, being transparent and open about very personal adversity that I have faced was difficult but necessary if I wanted to help other women with similar struggles.


Do you have a favorite summer pastime?


My husband and I are beach people; we spend our summer weekends on the beach. Favorite summer drink? I love ice tea and lemonade.


What is the most important message you want your readers to receive from your book?


It was always my intention from the start to have readers realize that life is like a lattice rather than a ladder. Sometimes we need to step sideways or down to take care of personal issues. It is your race so go at your own pace. Stay focused and never give up on your dreams. I experienced many meltdowns and realized no one was coming to rescue me so I made the choice to get back up and keep moving.


I deeply respect and find it so inspiring when successful women that share honestly the pros and cons of their entrepreneurship journey. This book would make a great gift for anyone struggling to start and grow a business.

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