Dusting Up on Business
How to Start a Cleaning Business

They say small businesses are the engines that run the economy. If you're considering starting your own small cleaning business, know the hard work you put in will not only be personally fulfilling and economically rewarding, but it will also enrich your community.

But getting started is the hard part. Though the following isn't a complete list of what to do when you're starting a business, it should give you a jump on your business planning.

Choose Your Legal Business Entity

Choose Your Legal Business Entity

Not all businesses are treated equally by the law. Simply opening your doors and doing business creates a basic legal status as a business entity, but you can formally organize your company in other ways that provide you with financial protection. The main types of business entities are…

  • Sole proprietorship or partnership. This is the simplest route, but also the riskiest. You don't need to register with your state government, but you will personally be on the hook for the debts and performance of your business. That means any liability incurred by your company can threaten your personal assets (e.g., your house or retirement accounts).
  • Corporation. Registering as a corporation creates a "corporate veil" between your business and your personal life. Your business becomes a separate financial and tax entity, but it also becomes regulated by the body of corporate law. That means you must run your business in certain ways.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC). Offering similar protection as a corporation, LLCs differ in some of the details, such as tax treatment, registration requirements, and legal regulations concerning the management of the business. Think of this structure as a halfway point between corporations and partnerships.

Other options exist (see this overview from Nolo.com). Whether one of these or another legal structure fits your business plans will depend on a number of factors. Consult an attorney who specializes in business formation for advice specific to your needs.

Devise Your Business Plan

Devise Your Business Plan

Having a solid strategy based on market research and thorough financial planning is not only a good business practice. It may be required to get financing, leases, investments, insurance, and licensing. That's why creating a detailed business plan is a crucial step when starting your small cleaning business.

For more information on business plans, read our blog post, "Business Plans: How They Work for Your Small Cleaning Business and Why You Should Build One."

Create Contracts, Policies, and Employee Guidelines

Create Contracts, Policies, and Employee Guidelines

Establishing your business the right way involves investing time, money, and thought into foundational legal documents that regulate your business relationships and how you wish to operate your company. You'll want to create policies that manage…

  • Customer relationships. Defining your services specifically and disclaiming liability for certain risks is a must. Get it all in writing. Written contracts between you and your clients help avoid misunderstandings and disputes when things go wrong.
  • Vendors and business partners. Have written contracts with your suppliers, landlords, and other entities that specify deadlines, assumption of risk, pricing, and dispute resolution measures. Defining these details makes the business run smoother.
  • Employees. Because the laws covering employer-employee relations are complex and serious, devising a clear employee handbook and other guidelines provides protection in disputes and incidents involving your employees.

Because founding and operating a business is already a risky enterprise, limiting risk in these ways is essential to giving your company the best chance at succeeding.

Get Your Name Out There

Get Your Name Out There

As part of your business plan, devise a marketing strategy that will connect you successfully with your intended client base. Radio, TV, flyers, Craigslist — any or all of these may be effective for your company.

In today's world, one of the easiest and most effective marketing tools is your company's website. For tips, tricks, and perspective on creating a web presence, see our article, "Should I Start a Website for My Janitorial Business?"

Get Bonded: Surety Bonds and Small Business Insurance

Get Bonded: Surety Bonds and Small Business Insurance

Despite settling on a legal structure, meeting with a lawyer, and arming yourself with legal contracts and policies, you'll never be able to eliminate all liability and risks from your cleaning business. Mistakes happen, accidents occur, and the financial stability of your business can be threatened.

Investing in the appropriate kinds of small business insurance and getting bonded protects your bottom line when things go wrong. For more information on getting bonded, see "How Do Surety Bonds Work for Cleaning Businesses?" To learn more about cleaning business insurance products, check out our offerings.

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