Family United Transportation Keeps Families Connected
Family United Transportation Service, LLC
Audra McLeod | Kansas City, Mo. | Startup
In 2012, Audra McLeod saw a problem: more than 31,000 people are incarcerated in the state of Missouri alone, often at long distances from their families. Most family members, she discovered, have inadequate or no transporation to travel to visit their loved ones. So, like any entrepreneur who sees a problem in desperate need of a solution, she started Family United Transportation, a full-service transportation company that helps keep families connected.
Her first step, turn to KC BizCare, a free business resource, advocacy and information center for new and existing businesses operating within Kansas City, Missouri. KC BizCare provided Audra with technical assistance on local permitting and licensing requirements when she first launched her business.
Below, we asked Audra to share her journey as business owner, the challenges she faced, the sacrifices she had to make and her biggest triumph so far.
What inspired you to start your business?
Family United Transportation started as a prison ministry, helping to transport families to visit their loved ones incarcerated in Kansas and Missouri prisons. After fours months in business, we expanded to become a full-service transportation company offering affordable rates for everyone.
What sacrifices in your personal life did you have to make to become a business owner?
I sacrificed quality time with my family. In 2009, I started attending Webster University to pursue the Bachelor’s in Management. In 2011, I founded Family United Transportation. The business launched in June 2012. I completed the Master’s in Marketing in December 2013. In addition, I sacrificed a traditional job to become a business owner in a non-traditional environment. In the past, I’ve held management positions in an office environment. As a business owner opportunities to wear many hats is a given and we get the best of both worlds.
What’s your big news in 2015?
I was awarded with a Certificate of Recognition for Community Activist presented by State Representative Brandon Ellington 22nd District Missouri House of Representatives and am nominated for the Warrior Women award in Wichita, Kansas, on December 5. Our latest project is Family United Services, Inc. It’s a nonprofit that will serve as a reentry, transitional housing and workforce development program for men.
So what do you people need to be successful entrepreneurs?
Passion, Determination, Enthusiasm, and Motivation
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Our challenge thus far is not having the equipment to meet our demand.
What was your lesson learned the hard way?
My biggest mistake was I wanted to have everything right away. I had to understand my sense of urgency was not urgent to others. In other words, prioritize your business need and start from there. It may not be financing. Family United Transportation was in need of promotion. Getting the word out.
When times get tough, what inspires you to keep going?
My passion for working with the people and knowing they would like to have someone who is compassionate and understanding of what they need and want is my inspiration.
What can/should Kansas City do to be more business friendly for multicultural/women entrepreneurs?
Kansas City can offer more networking forums or focus groups targeting multicultural women allowing sharing of ideas pertaining to marketing, branding, etc.
Where does the city get it right?
The city has several programs to start and grow businesses. It must continue to bring entrepreneurs and business owners together engaging and working for the common good of people in Kansas City. As businesses start to engage, we will see more opportunities for continuous development and growth to form partnerships in surrounding areas outside of Kansas City.
Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire.
- Carol Taylor, Owner of A Clean Slate, LLC. I’ve known Carol for many years and admire her hard work, diligence and integrity.
- Zandra Baheyadeen, owner of ZAN CAN. She is a personal assistant and provides concierge services for busy professionals. The services may include arranging home maintenance services for shopping and returns. I admire Zandra’s enthusiastic approach and upbeat attitude. If you can’t, ZAN CAN!
- James Andrews, owner Titan Limousine. Titan Limo offers upscale travel for entertainment to events and parties. When I founded Family United Transportation, Mr. Andrews offered his assistance, advice and words of wisdom.
What has been your biggest triumph so far?
Stepping out on faith and surviving in an industry that is male dominated.