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She Started a Successful Company by Mistake

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Kristen Hadeed is the founder and CEO of Student Maid and MaidSuite. Her TEDx talk has been viewed over 1 million times. Kristen is a graduate of the University of Florida.

Sometimes the world leads us to believe that one special day, a big gift box is magically going to show up on our doorstep when we are least expecting it.

When that day arrives, we’ll know it’s the one thing we were meant to do – our passion. But how will we know? “It will just feel right,” they tell us.

Well, that’s a crock of you know what. In reality, your passion isn’t going to jump in front of you shouting, “It’s me! I’m here!”

During college, we are swimming in a huge sea of the unknown. We begin questioning everything about life. Questions like “What do I want?,” “Who do I want to be?,” and “How will I find what I am meant to be doing?,” regularly pop up.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. And guess what? It’s N-O-R-M-A-L. And that’s ok.


I don’t know why, but society has put this intense pressure on twenty-somethings to have life completely figured out.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the unknown isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, it’s actually pretty awesome.

When I was 21, I started a company by mistake.  I was a junior at the University of Florida and wanted a pair of jeans that I couldn’t afford.  So, to pay for them, I put an ad on Craigslist to clean houses. It turns out that my idea turned into a pretty big business. Six years later, my cleaning company Student Maid has two locations and employs over 500 students. We are working like crazy to grow our brand across the country and we just landed a big book deal to share our experience with the world.

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But here’s the thing.  It happened by mistake.  I went to school for finance (after changing my major about 5 times), and my ultimate dream was to move to New York City and become an investment banker.

However, life got in the way and my plans completely changed. I ended up getting a cleaning contract for an apartment complex, hired tons of people, and the rest is history. When I graduated in 2010, I was offered that “dream” six figure finance job I thought I always wanted.


I immediately turned it down. Why? Because I was super into my house cleaning business, even though at the time it wasn’t making any money.  I knew there was a chance it could fail big time but I decided to take a chance on the unknown. If there’s one decision I’m so thankful for, it’s that one.

I’ve grown to learn that the unknown is amazing. It’s only in the unknown that we’re forced out of our comfort zone and truly get to learn about ourselves and grow.  When you get comfortable being uncomfortable, you’ll be surprised at what can happen.

Next time someone asks “What are you doing with your life?,” or you begin to question yourself; stop, breathe and smile.  Confidently reply “I don’t know yet,” and own that answer.


Here are some other tricks that will help you as you are swimming in the deep unknown sea:

1) You won’t know anything until you try a lot of things.

The only way to figure out what you want out of life is through experience. Volunteer, intern, apply for positions on campus, take a crazy job, etc. When looking at an opportunity, ask yourself, “Will I learn something from this experience?”  If the answer is yes, do it.

2) Pick something that interests you.

The worst thing you can do is spend too much time choosing the “right” major or career. Instead, pick something that excites and motivates you. The more you experience, the more you will learn about yourself. You might even be surprised to find the things you thought you wanted really don’t interest you. Like my finance job!

3) Go with the flow.

Here’s a suggestion. Stop being so uptight!  Learn to go with the flow and take opportunities as they come. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the “what ifs” and try to spend more time in the “right now.”  The key is to say YES to opportunities. And remember, saying yes doesn’t mean a lifetime commitment. You got a long way to go. Take it easy, killer.

You never know what doors will open, who you’ll meet, or what you might learn when you are living in the unknown.  Embrace it. Love it. Live it.

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Campus Contributors are a select group of recognized leaders and experts in topics relating to college students.