You may be stuck in that 9-5 rut and have been looking for a while for a way out. That was me. I didn’t dislike my job, just the paycheck. I think I’m one of those rare breeds of people that can just “get along” in any situation. My boss was okay, my co-workers were okay, my morning commute was okay, but trading my hours for money was NOT okay.
My wife and I were planning for a family and had set some money aside to allow us maternity leave without stretching our budget to the point of breaking it. However, we had not planned on my wife having to leave work because of high blood pressure problems and go on bed rest months before her due date. This was a hard place to be because the job I worked wouldn’t allow overtime and the schedule made it almost impossible to pick up a second job in the evening. Almost impossible. I found work at a FedEx packing trucks in the evening. This was a couple weeks before the holiday season so it was fast-paced and very tiring.
I worked 8am-5pm at my day job, went home for a couple hours to sleep, then went to work at the shipping company from 9pm-3am, back home for a few more hours of sleep and repeated day-after-day. It only took 4 weeks for me to get burnt out, but with no other options on the table, I couldn’t quit. I knew I had to do something. All the hours in the evening was starting to affect my full-time job during the day. My boss was starting to notice, my attitude was poor and my wife missed me. I knew I had to do something, but didn’t know where to start. I started researching small business ideas. I kept coming across articles online about people selling on eBay, selling candles, house cleaning business and some other less appealing ideas.
I shared what was going on with a co-worker and told him I was interested in starting some sort of business. I mentioned the ideas I had been coming across, including the house cleaning, when he spoke up and mentioned he had a friend down south that started a commercial cleaning company years ago and had built a fairly large business. It was enough motivation for me to dig a little deeper that weekend. I came across a few websites, eHow articles, forums and YouTube videos that all seemed to be preaching the same message: “Commercial cleaning is inexpensive to get into and potentially very lucrative”. When Monday finally arrived, I called my insurance company and asked about liability insurance so I could get an idea what the initial costs would be. They came back with $600 annually, and that could be broken up into quarterly payments. Next were supplies. I had a vacuum, some cleaning chemicals and I priced out business cards online.
My initial investment was LESS THAN $75 !!!!
I started by targeting property managers, so liability insurance wasn’t necessary. That decision saved me $150 right off, and already owning a majority of the equipment I would need saved me some money too. The only out-of-pocket expenses to start for me was a mop bucket, mop & handle, business cards, embroidered polo shirt and some flyers. I made my total investment back on my FIRST JOB!
( I plan on going into great detail about the process of targeting property managers and what a sales flyer might look like for you in a later post.)
The first job I picked up from the property manager was an end of tenancy cleaning. When apartment owners or property managers have a tenant move out, they will often pay someone to come in and clean the unit completely. I wasn’t sure exactly how long it would take to do this type of cleaning, so I cleaned my own home from top to bottom the same way an empty apartment unit would be cleaned. It took a few hours, and I found the majority of my time was spent cleaning the bathroom and kitchen.
I charged $80 for the first unit I cleaned, and made sure I took my time. It took me about 4 hours, which is just about what I thought it would take, since it was a little larger than my home. The property manager was very happy with the outcome and that one unit has led to many, many more end of tenancy cleanings, and also common area/laundry room upkeep for all his properties.
To finish my story in short, I used my first couple weekends after this to continue doing end of tenancy cleaning for this property manager and others. I made enough money just doing this to get done working nights at FedEx. Shortly after that, I started to contact small offices and quote prices for cleaning services. There’s a lot to dig into there, so I will be doing a series of posts on how to bid on offices. This was where I finally found financial freedom. Within a few months of starting my cleaning business, I was making more part-time in the evening than I was working 45 hours a week at my day job.
I have truly been blessed in this aspect, but the results are ABSOLUTELY REPLICABLE. I have seen friends and family have success in running their own cleaning companies and choosing their own schedules. If I didn’t think others could benefit from starting a cleaning company then I would not be wasting my time, but because I was able to build a business with very little and profit greatly, I feel like I have an opportunity to help others do the same!