Starting a cleaning business is a goal many people hold. Unfortunately, many do not live out their hopes and dreams because they are afraid of failure. Especially if you are new to the business, it can be an extremely intimidating process to figure out what you are doing. Not only does it scare people, but it takes a lot from the – energy, funds, and free time will all need to be sacrificed. That being said, if you have a passion for your work and can step up to the plate, you might just hit a home run with your cleaning business.
In the text below, we discuss what you will need to know every step of the way on your journey. Sometimes just knowing that you are not alone can make all of the difference.
How to Start a Cleaning Business
- Research Your Community
- Specialize Your Cleaning Business
- Write a Business Plan
- Legalize Your Cleaning Business
- Secure Business Financials
- Surround Yourself with a Team
- Serve Customers Above and Beyond
- Market, Market, Market
Eight steps might seem like a short trip between you and successful cleaning business, but there will be a great deal of work along the way. As you make your way through these steps, you will not only find yourself prepared for your endeavor but also more and more confident in your abilities to run the business you’ve been looking forward to for so long.
Step 1: Research Your Community
Before you start anything, you will want to conduct what is called market research. Market research is the act of listening to the needs of your community before you assume that you know what is best for them.
Not only will market research be an excellent way for you to understand how you can help your community, but it will also help you build relationships with those around you.
There are quite a few things you can focus on when conducting market research. You may wonder if you are doing it correctly. As long as you are paying attention to the people in the area your business will be located in, you are doing important work that will benefit your business for the years to come.
To get started, here are a few questions to consider:
Do People Need My Business?
This can be a tough question to ask yourself because it can feel quite personal. However, it is an essential one to tackle.
You need to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that people need the cleaning business you are going to start. You do not want to put all of the time and effort into starting a business and find out that no one wants to patronize your business.
Will People Pay for My Services?
Not only do you need to know that people will utilize your services, but you need to be sure that they will pay you for them.
Ask this of your community clearly as you conduct research. Press each person to understand more deeply if they are just intrigued by your business or if they are ready to pay for your cleaning services.
You can even ask them straight out how much they would be willing to pay for various services.
Pay Attention to Who Stands Out
As you research and interview people, there will likely be people who are especially eager to utilize your cleaning business. Think about these people and look for similarities in the demographic that describes these people.
If you notice a trend, it could be a helpful indicator of who you should target most carefully with your cleaning business.
If you are having trouble figuring out what connects these people, pay attention to the following details as you conduct your market research:
- What does this person do for a living?
- How old are they?
- What do they do with their free time?
- What is their income?
- What are their priorities, hopes, and values?
As you discover a particular demographic emerging, you can even more closely question the folks that match your target customers.
Being an avid note-taker will be helpful for you as you take in a great deal of information and try to use it to make your cleaning business the best it can be.
Understand the Other Local Community Options
It can be helpful to have a full picture of what the cleaning business’s environment looks like in your area before you even begin.
Thankfully, it’s easy to ask questions about the other cleaning options your community already has when you are completing your market research.
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some questions to equip you as you have your conversations:
- What other cleaning businesses are operating in your community?
- How successful have these cleaning businesses been?
- Why do you think they have or have not been successful?
- Do these cleaning businesses have any specializations?
- What specialization do you think is missing in a local cleaning business?
- Are there any other businesses that you think we should keep in mind to work with?
As you ask these questions, you will learn more about the environment that you are about to start your business within.
You may be able to learn more about these answers through other means as well. There may be a local business directory where you can learn even more about your competitors than may be widely known.
Will This Cleaning Business Be Profitable?
Pay special attention during this phase to whether or not your cleaning business is going to be a profitable endeavor.
As you are considering this fact, be sure to take taxes and costs into account. These are necessary evils of any business and will take money from your potential revenue.
Another aspect to consider is how soon you need your business to be profitable. Some people do not need their work to be profitable right away. They have other streams of income or a nest egg and can ride along on their journey without making any money from it right away.
Other cleaning business owners will need to see a profit right away so that they can afford their daily costs of living.
A helpful factor about cleaning businesses is that they do not have a ton of startup costs. Many businesses will require a hefty startup fee making it very difficult for the average person to enter the market.
With a cleaning business, you still have costs, but it is much more accessible. Keep close tabs on how much money you need to make and the amount you are estimated to make and you will be in a good place.
Step 2: Specialize Your Cleaning Business
Now that you have completed all of your valuable research through your market research, it’s time to put it to work for you.
As you take a closer look at your findings, you need to consider how you might be able to best specialize your business. Deciding on specialization will help your target customers clearly understand how you stand out from the other cleaning businesses. It will also help them to remember how you are uniquely able to satisfy their cleaning needs.
Specialize in What is Missing
One wise way to specialize your cleaning business is to focus on a need that needs to be filled in your community. Look at your research and find what your target customers are looking for in their community. Pay special attention to something they are seeking out but do not have.
Another section you can focus on is your target customers’ responses to your question about how they wish their current cleaning business was able to serve them better.
They may have even opened up a bit with you about why they stopped using a cleaner. This is important information for you as consider what you could specialize in that may be helpful for people.
If it is a widespread need that you hear repeatedly mentioned, it could even be something you focus your entire business on.
Specialize in What You Are Passionate About
Another way you can specialize in your cleaning business is by focusing on your passions. Some of us have passions that shape most of our lives – why not use that passion to make your cleaning business stand out to your audience?
One easy example of this is if you are focused on natural healing or holistic health, you may be able to find a way to tie that into your business.
You are probably much more knowledgeable about and experienced in using chemical-free cleaning solutions already. Why not use these skills to help others who are passionate about this focus as well?
If this is already a passion for you, it could even be exciting for you to create an entire business around the idea of being 100% natural in your cleaning solutions.
Another reason this could be a great focus for your business is that people who are particularly focused on health-conscious cleaning products are often used to paying a higher fee in other areas of life for similar services.
If it’s important to them, they will pay the price to make it happen.
One note on following your passions:
You need to balance out your passions with the community needs we discussed earlier. You cannot solely rely on following your particular desires without paying any attention to what your people want.
If absolutely nobody mentions the idea you have been thinking about in your interviews, you may need to re-imagine your focus to be more in line with your people’s needs.
Sometimes it helps to hear a few ideas to get the ball rolling in your mind. In case you need to hear a few examples of specializations, we are providing a few options below.
Again, you need to weigh these ideas along with both your passions and your community’s needs. Just as we discouraged you from specializing in something you are passionate about but there is no need for, we would discourage you from specializing your business in a niche that you have absolutely no interest in at all.
You need to have at least some level of interest in and excitement for the focus you will build your entire business around. Without that, you will not have the drive necessary to push your business into a success.
Health-Focused Cleaning Business
While we already addressed this possibility, remember that you can take this specialization as far as you’d like. You can simply make sure you are using chemical-free cleaning products. You could also decide that you will completely avoid all plastics, only utilize organic-made tools and supplies, or even offer free recycling to your clients.
Procrastinator’s Cleaning Business
It may be difficult to figure out the logistics for a more last-minute-focused cleaning business, but this type of focus will cause you to come to mind first for anyone who needs quick clean-up.
An important piece to pay attention to is how multiple last-minute needs affect you personally. It can take a large toll on your mental health to constantly be tending to last-minute emergencies, so pay attention to how you can best care for yourself in this kind of specialization.
You may need to hire some additional workers to help you out when last-minute needs arise. This could increase your ability to attend to more of these procrastinated needs if there are multiple that arise at once, which could be more likely to happen during holidays or special local events.
A Pet-Focused Specialization
Should you decide to focus on pet owners with your cleaning business, you will certainly win over a lot of hearts just by declaring this your niche.
Pet owners have specific needs and you could be the person to help them with those needs – especially if you enjoy animals and do not mind getting dirty as you tend to the mess they leave behind.
This type of focus offers a few benefits to pet owners who need your services.
First, the person who is using your services will know that you are likely going to be more than comfortable cleaning around their energetic canine or nosey feline.
This is a complete game-changer for clients who have boisterous or sensitive pets that need
Another benefit that you offer pet-owners is that you know what you are signing up for. Some pet owners have serious cleaning needs. If you are specializing in cleaning for pet owners, those pet owners know that they do not need to be shy about their dog-hair-filled rooms or soiled carpets.
Check out what services you can offer HERE.
Cleaning Business Clean Outs
Typically cleaning businesses are separate from companies that offer move-outs.
However, you could specialize your cleaning business by also offering clean-outs for those who are moving.
Just like with a pet-owner-focused cleaning business, if you position yourself as a cleaning business that is willing to take on larger cleaning projects such as a clean out, other larger scale projects may be more likely to come your way.
If you are specializing your business as a clean-out cleaning business, you will want to be conscious of how much time it takes you to complete various projects and price yourself accordingly.
You may not be able to find a one-size-fits-all price, but perhaps pricing yourself by the hour would be more appropriate for the type of work you are doing.
Difficult Project Cleaning Business
Another way you can specialize your cleaning business is by being the cleaner who is willing to take on any kind of a mess, no matter how large the need is.
This can be helpful for those who are embarrassed with the size or difficulty of their mess as they know that you are willing to tackle anything and everything. As you assess the needs, you can even focus on comforting the potential client so that they do not feel ashamed about their need.
This is another example of a specialization that you may be able to charge more than usual for – especially depending on how big the need truly is!
Step Three: Write a Business Plan
You will need a business plan for any type of business that you are planning to start, but especially for a cleaning business. This plan will help you outline where you are going in your business.
This will guide you along your way so that you follow a clear and intentional plan rather than your feelings at any given moment.
Any lending company will also need to see your business plan before deciding to do business with you, so it is truly in your best financial interest to craft a business plan as well.
Cleaning Business Plan Sections:
- Basic Information
- Cleaning Business Mission Statement
- Market Research Data
- Plan for Marketing
- Some of these topics will be discussed in a later section. For now, we offer an overview of each of these sections:
This is where you will keep the important identifying information of your company. You want the readers of your business plan to have everything that they need to know available to them as they read your plan.
Your contact information, information about the structure of your business, and information about how it will be managed should all be included.
Cleaning Business Mission Statement
Share the specialization that you decided upon earlier in your company preparation.
Make sure that the mission that you choose is one you can seek to live into every day and not just words on a page.
Market Research Data
This is where you get to show off some of your hard work from the market research section.
You will not want to include every single piece of information that you discovered in your work, so take the time you need to synthesize the important information that you want to share with those who may review your business plan.
You want to focus on highlighting the way your cleaning business is going to fill a need in the community you are establishing it within.
Dive into the details about how your business’s finances will work and when you estimate you will become profitable. It may be challenging to pull this information out of nowhere, but do your very best based on the information you do have.
Develop and create a space for the policies you will hold in your cleaning business.
This could include safety information for employees and customers. Having this information written out ahead of time will help demonstrate how prepared you are for all scenarios.
Plan for Marketing
While marketing will have its section later, you need to be sure that your business plan shows the ways you will establish customers and continue your outreach as you start to become busier and busier.
Who Do I Share My Business Plan With?
You want to be careful with who gets to see your business plan. While you do not need to be overly cautious, locking your business plan away from everyone, you also do not want it to be overly available either.
Because your business plan shares a great deal of information about your plan of business, you won’t want it falling into the wrong hands. Competitors could easily steal your work and bring it to fruition before you even have a chance to.
Keep the plan to those who need to see it. This may also include your family as you may want to encourage them that you truly have a plan for this effort that is taking much of your time and energy. It always helps to have the support of family and friends on your journey as an entrepreneur.
Check out our tips for creating a business plan HERE.
Step Four: Legalize Your Cleaning Business
The process of legalizing your business can feel overwhelming to new business owners. No one wants to mess up, lose money, or have issues with the law.
However, this does not need to be a difficult or scary process.
Choose a Business Structure
First, you need to decide on a business structure for your cleaning business. This will affect your finances and how you pay taxes.
Other business leaders, lawyers, and accountants will be great mentors for you as you decide.
A sole proprietorship is an easy structure to set up because you are automatically a sole proprietor when you start cleaning houses for money.
This is good for new business owners who are not sure whether or not they want to jump into a cleaning business 100% yet. However, it may not be the best long-term solution.
This is a simple structure where two or more people are coming together to run a business. It is run as a partnership where one partner has unlimited liability and the other has limited liability and control.
Money that is made through the business is passed through to a personal tax return. The partner with unlimited liability needs to pay self-employment tax.
Limited Liability Partnership
In a Limited Liability Partnership, limited liability is offered to each owner. None of the partners are accountable for the actions of the rest of the partners.
Limited Liability Company
An LLC is typically a safer option for your business structure. You can enjoy the benefits of partnerships and corporations. Members do not pay self-employment tax toward Social Security and Medicare, but they also do not have any corporate tax.
There are multiple examples of corporations. These entities pay income tax on profits which can be taxed twice. Corporations can also sell stock to raise money which could be helpful for riskier businesses, but might not be as relevant to smaller cleaning businesses.
The people who use the cooperative service own this type of entity. User-owners generate profit and there is typically some sort of board of directors involved.
Register Your Cleaning Business
There are multiple ways you must register your cleaning business before you start signing up clients.
First, register with your state. To do this, visit your state’s website and fill out the appropriate forms.
Talk to your local authorities about what is needed to register as a business in your town. There may or may not be specific zoning permits needed depending on your community’s laws.
Employer Identification Number
You may need to apply for an EIN which acts as your business tax ID. This free form can be filled out as soon as you register your business.
Separate Your Money
Open a business bank account to keep your business and personal finances separate. A lawyer or accountant can help you with this process if there are any specific forms needed.
Separating your personal and business finances helps protect you from being liable if your business ever runs into any difficulties financially or legally.
Step Five: Secure Business Financials
There is a good chance that you will need some added funding as you start your cleaning business. Not every business owner will need a great deal of assistance in the startup phase. If you find yourself in need, there are a few options to consider.
You need to pay back loans. Many times, you will need to apply for loans and even meet specific criteria to be given them. You will likely also have to pay back additional money for borrowing the money in the first place – this is called interest.
Loans are extremely helpful if you find yourself in need of start-up funding. However, you will want to make sure you understand the entirety of the loan agreement and that you have a solid plan in place to pay it all back.
When someone invests in your company, it can be much like a loan. They are giving you money, but they often want something in return, depending on how much they are investing in your business.
Like loans, you need to understand all of the details of what you are signing up for. You do not want to be surprised by an unexpected pay-back plan.
A grant is a money that is gifted to you and your business, often based on your location or the type of work that you do. You can talk to local authorities about any small business grants that may be available for people in your area.
You can also look online for grants that are available to people for cleaning businesses like yours.
Work Your Way Through
Another way to fund your cleaning business is to keep working while you start your company. This may not be feasible as a full-time job, but even a part-time job will help provide some funding as you get your business off the ground.
If you are not able to work while starting up your business, family or household members could also agree to support you as you begin your journey.
Make sure you have enough to pay your bills as you keep moving forward in your business.
Step Six: Surround Yourself with a Team
If one thing is for sure when it comes to starting a cleaning business, it’s that it is far better to have a team surrounding you than trying to go it alone.
You will need encouragement along the way. You will also need expertise beyond the skills that you have experience in.
Legalizing Your Business
You need an attorney that you can call on. They will hold your hand as you enter this strange new world of leading your own cleaning business.
They will also help you select the best entity structure and prepare any necessary documents. Lawyers can help you write up contracts and deal with any legal issues that arise along the way.
Various attorneys will have different expertise, so make sure that you find someone who is going to help you with your particular needs.
While some lawyers can be expensive, not all of them are. Know that any money that you invest into proper legal consultation is money well spent.
You will need some sort of tax official or accountant as you move forward in your cleaning business. This person can assist with tax needs, payment filings, and how to best advance your business.
Just like a lawyer, a tax advisor may have a hefty price tag but they are an essential aspect of your business. Make sure to find an accountant who is willing to guide you in understanding what they are doing. This may take some of your time as you learn their processes, but it will be money invested into your future as a well-informed business leader.
Other Members for Your Team
Board of Directors
You may need to have a board to comply with rules for your business structure. However, even if a board is not required, you may get a lot of value from having a group of folks who can help guide you in your business pursuits.
One of the best decisions you can make when selecting people for your board is to select people who have different experiences than you do. You want all the perspectives you can find to help your cleaning business to succeed.
Even if you choose not to go the traditional route of a Board of Directors, you may want to have a select few mentors in your back pocket to advise you as needed.
These can be people who have already gone down the path you are hoping to travel who will bounce ideas around with you as you take your journey.
The People Who Matter Most
Believe it or not, your employees are a huge part of your team.
Sometimes your customers will only engage with your employees, especially as you work your way away from doing every single task in your business.
You need to be intentional about the employees you hire. Make sure they are committed to the mission of your company and prepared to strive for excellence in all that they do.
And, of course, your customers are some of the most important people in your business as well. Your business is created for them.
While you are certainly living out your dreams and making a living (hopefully!) in the process, it is your customers that you must focus on with every step of the way.
Keep close tabs on how satisfied your customers are and maintain positive relationships with them so that they can continue to guide your moves as your business changes and grows over time.
Step Seven: Serve Customers Above and Beyond
It may seem silly to acknowledge, but it is one of the most important factors in whether or not your business will succeed. You need to provide service that goes above and beyond expectation.
This is how you will win over your first few customers’ loyalty as you get started.
You want the first few people you engage with to find your service so phenomenal that they will want to tell anyone and everyone they know.
Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to grow your business. All of the advertising in the world will not do nearly the amount of good for your cleaning endeavor as a few loyal customers love to spread the word about you and your work.
Once you have a few people who are raving about your work, others will be quick to jump on board. Keep all customers happy – new and old – and you will grow your business to more and more clients in no time.
Do you need some practical examples of how you can go above and beyond? We will provide some below. Simply imagine that your customer’s needs are the most important priority for you and you are bound to provide excellent service.
- Answer any questions. Offer as much time and explanation as desired.
- Offer free extras in the beginning – a free estimate, checklist, or list of recommended products.
- Teach your clients more about cleaning processes or products
- Clean more than you were asked, as long as it isn’t a bother to the client
- Leave a token of appreciation as you connect with new clients
- Do your very best not to disturb your clients as you are cleaning
One tactic you can employ to encourage your customers to tell their friends about your services is to initiate a referral system.
A referral system not only offers an incentive for customers to spread the word about your business, but it also gets the word out about your cleaning in the most effective method possible – word-of-mouth!
Step Eight: Market, Market, Market
Many business owners believe that marketing is an important factor in the start of their business efforts. While this is true, marketing is equally valuable once your business is well established. You will need to consistently market even while your business is running, even at full capacity.
This can be a large drain on your time and energy, which is why it might make the most sense for you to hire a staff person who can be your online and offline marketer.
This will allow you to focus on other areas of your business that you may feel more equipped for. While you are doing those tasks, your marketing employee can get the word out about your cleaning business to reach as many people as possible.
Be Valuable to Your Customers
While many business leaders get distracted when it comes to marketing, we encourage you to focus on being valuable to the people that you are trying to reach.
Marketing is not just about promoting products or spreading the word about your business. You also have to earn the trust of the people that you eventually hope will buy from you.
One way you can do this is by consistently being a valuable presence in their lives. It may take time to develop the type of rapport that will have your customers buying from your services, but it is completely worth every ounce of energy it takes.
The reason it is worth so much energy is that once you have earned a customer’s trust, they will be loyal to you – likely for life. They are much more loyal than someone who saw a neat advertisement you made and decided to buy from you. This is because they have developed a relationship with you over time and have already been helped by you in many ways.
There are two major ways you can provide value: online and offline. We will dive into each deeper below.
Providing Value Offline
When you provide value to potential customers offline, you are taking hold of tried and true methods that have worked well for decades of years.
You can host free seminars, training, and even post fliers with helpful cleaning tips, tricks, or discounts.
While it might feel like a waste to host anything for free, know that every relationship that you form in these free seminars is a potential lead that could one day be a customer.
Consider what companies in your community you could start a relationship with – even for free. Can you volunteer to clean a local church just to get the word out about your services? You need to make sure whatever you offer is cost-effective and manageable for your business, but focus on providing value above all else.
As you get to know more and more people, your community will start to learn your name. You will come to mind as their need for a cleaner arises in the future. Forming those connections is what this phase is all about!
Providing Value Online
What would a section on marketing be in our day and age if we did not acknowledge connecting with people online as well as offline?
The internet has taken over our reality. Most people spend multiple hours a day scrolling on social media, reading email, or digitally connecting with others.
Consider how you can provide value to potential customers online. This could mean developing a social media presence, offering online education, or crafting some digital revenue streams.
People purchase online courses and products all the time, so do not shy away from this income stream just because it feels different than what you are used to.
Above all else, help your customers however they want to be helped and you will be bound to find success.
It’s Cleaning Business Time!
Throughout this article, you have learned how to start a cleaning business from the very first market research questions to the daily marketing that will be needed once you are established.
Now it is time to put it all into action.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes potential business owners make is never actually getting started. They do all the research they can do but never take the steps necessary to bring their dream to fruition.
Don’t be like these people!
Now that you know what needs to be done, take each step one step at a time. There is never a perfect time to start a cleaning business, which means the best time to begin is today!
Which platform should I make a social media profile for?
It can be easy to go overboard with your social media presence which will quickly lead to burnout. Instead of going all-in on multiple platforms, we recommend you choose a select few platforms that you will feel most comfortable sharing yourself on.
For example, once you feel comfortable on Facebook, you may be ready to move to YouTube or Instagram.
Can I make a living with a cleaning business?
Absolutely! People do it every single day.
Any business owner will tell you that you will get out of your business what you put in. So make sure you are prepared to give consistent effort, a decent amount of finances, and time to your cleaning business. You will be on your way in no time!
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
To learn more on how to start your own cleaning business check out my startup documents and course here.