Cleaning for goodness sake?

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I’m an accidental entrepreneur. That is to say, I didn’t have a ‘eureka’ moment that led me to tip over my desk, tip tepid tea over a tetchy boss and tiptoe into the bank for a start-up loan. No, I just needed to pay the bills and no one was taking any notice of my CV and job applications, so I put a postcard in the newsagent’s window advertising myself as a cleaner. Job done!

Within six months I was employing a part-time cleaner (Sonia) and making enough money to pay the mortgage and meet my living expenses. Sometimes I think that’s where I should have stopped. Comfortably managing self-employment, and the very reasonable expectations of a middle aged cleaning assistant who admired me for my colour coded cleaning cloth process and matching mop heads.

There was a time when Sonia and I were working 30 hours a week each, leaving me lots of time to send off CV’s and find a proper job, and I was making £22,000 a year. Today, I turn over a significant six figure number but dream of making 22k profit. My overheads used to be Sonia’s Latte and Blueberry Muffin on a Friday lunchtime, now it’s rent, rates, insurance, uniform, training, holiday pay etc. etc…………….

You see, the average margin within the cleaning industry is somewhere between 4 and 7%.

Sonia stayed with Chores for nearly 5 years before leaving. She said, “I preferred it when it was just you and me.” I wanted to tell her she earned more than me, but I didn’t.

This isn’t a complaint blog, not at all. It is what it is, and every cleaning business bigger than I am will have gone through this middle ground transition stage. Currently, in the domestic market I’m competing against sole traders who have just put their own postcard in the local newsagent’s window, and in the commercial market, national and international cleaning companies who can bang in bids with 3% mark up. But my business plan is taking me in the right direction and with hard work I’ll be in a better place in a couple of years.

However, I do wonder if things might have turned out differently with that postcard in the newsagent’s window? I could have thought of something better than cleaning for goodness sake!





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