What her business does: A construction company that specializes in complete home, kitchen and bathroom renovations for out-of-state and foreign investors who buy houses and investment properties in Detroit.

How she got started: In 2011, Denson got laid off from her job as a highway engineer at BF&S Engineering. While out of work, she went to carpentry school in 2012 at the Detroit Training Institute of Technology and earned a builder’s license. From there, she started doing renovation work for homeowners and houses she bought as investment rental properties. Denson has renovated rental homes for owners in Canada, China, Israel, Taiwan, California, Florida, New York and Texas. She has marketed her services through a YouTube channel and uses Facebook Live and the mobile phone video chat app Marco Polo to communicate with overseas or out-of-state clients. Last October, Denson held a seminar for a group of 50 investors in New York’s Bronx borough on how to buy and manage Detroit rental properties. The seminar resulted in new clients. She has since held additional seminars in Orlando and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Keys to growth: Denson credits her use of social media and sending clients photos and videos of her finished projects with generating referrals and repeat business. Also, her time is money. In 2014, Denson stopped doing free estimates and started charging $50 for an estimate. “When I did that, that cut all of the BS by 50 percent,” she said. “I don’t stress, I get the better clients.” She has since raised her estimates fee three times to $75, $100 and then $150 in August.

Advice to other entrepreneurs: Don’t be afraid to turn away problematic customers. “People lie. People will definitely try to get one over on you,” she said. “I’m sweet as pie. But sometimes I have to put my big girl pants on.” — Chad Livengood

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