Starting a Residential or Commercial Cleaning Business

Homes and businesses around the industrialized world require constant cleaning and upkeep to remain inhabitable for residents and workers alike. Residential and commercial cleaning is big business, generating over $40 billion in revenue in the United States in 2011. Due to the sheer size of the industry as well as the low start up costs associated with a cleaning business, it’s also an easy game to break into. If you want to start your own business, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better entry point.

Plotting a Strategy
For starters, you’ll need to decide what kind of cleaning business you’d like to run. It’s probably wise to focus on either residential or commercial cleaning exclusively and then branch out later if you feel like it when you’re comfortable. Once you’ve set your sights on one specialty or the other, you can do a little market research to size up your competition and know how much to charge. Gauge the demand for your services in your area before you begin.
Minding the Paperwork
If you’re going to run a professional cleaning service, you’ll need to get your business license from the local authorities. Visit the local Secretary of State homepage to familiarize yourself with the regulations that pertain to cleaning businesses in your area. As with any small business, setting up an LLC and getting insurance to protect yourself from any potential liabilities is prudent. If you need start-up capital, apply for a small business loan to defray costs. Finally, set up a home office for your bookkeeping needs.
Rounding Up Supplies and Equipment
Depending on your specific business goals, you may want to get a van or truck to haul your equipment. You’ll definitely need to purchase soap, window cleaner and cloths. Look into online wholesalers that can provide you with these items at a significant discount. As for cleaning hardware, you’ll certainly need a sturdy vacuum, some brooms, a squeegee or two and a few mops. For commercial work, an industrial vacuum, a floor buffer and an equipment cart will be necessary when tackling big jobs.

Networking & Marketing Your Business
Surely the most challenging part of getting any business venture off of the ground is attracting those first few clients. Your best bet is to advertise through community organizations and bulletin boards to gain some momentum. Putting up flyers around town and handing out some business cards would also be advisable. Advertising cleaning services on social media sites is a bit tricky, but it’s still worth your while to set up pages on Google+ and Facebook.

Expanding the Operation
As you grow your business and take on new clients, you’ll probably find yourself struggling to keep up with demand. Intelligent entrepreneurs know when to delegate tasks. At this point, you’ll need to go from working on your own to overseeing others. Managing the transition from solo freelancer to employer can be tricky if you’re not ready to make the switch. If you do plan on hiring a few employees, you’ll need an EIN from the IRS to keep everything above board in the tax department.

Taking the First Step
Getting your foot in the door with homeowners and businesses should be your main priority in the beginning. Offering your services on a trial basis is a good way to introduce yourself to potential customers. Ultimately, your business will live or die based on the quality of your work and your reliability. Consistency is the key to having a long-lived enterprise that’s profitable and worth your time. Fortunately, it’s possible to operate a fruitful and rewarding cleaning business if you put in the effort.

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