This week I was joined by Kelly Jones AKA The Cleaning Girl to discuss having six figures and freedom in business.
Kelly excels at maintaining a work-life balance. She owns The Cleaning Girl, a residential cleaning company based in Delaware. She has a virtual company, running everything through her app.
Kelly’s been on the entrepreneurial roller coaster for many years, and her insights might just give you the helping hand you need in starting out by yourself.
How did you begin your entrepreneurial journey?
“20 years ago I was working at a bank, juggling commuting, early starts and two toddlers. My husband’s schedule trumped mine, so I was responsible for daycare drop offs, running around – the mom stuff.
I got into a car accident while I was working at the bank and was offered a period of time off over the summer. I spent the time with my kids at the University of Delaware pool, and when I started getting calls to return to work, I wasn’t ready.
I received a call from the bank stating they wanted me back in after Labor Day weekend, which was less than a week away. I told my husband then I was not going to go back there.
He asked what I was going to do, what I was good at and I told him, ‘I can clean’. I put a $60 ad in the paper, and within my first month I had six clients.
Within the first year, I’d acquired another cleaning company.”
How did you come to the decision to sell your first company?
“About nine years in, I had a new baby – a whole lifestyle change. I now had two kids in middle school and a newborn. This was during the 2008-2009 recession, so my husband had been laid off.
The company was bursting at the seams, and I had lost the freedom component of business.
I started to feel resentful that I was out all day scrubbing toilets instead of being home with my newborn, and I decided I was done.
I told my husband, and he asked what I was going to do. ‘Sell the company.’
I met with a girlfriend whose mom was a local competitor, we had a discussion and she took over my company about six months later.
I had a two year plan, I decided I was going to take two years off from working. But things didn’t really work out that way…”
What are the biggest lessons you learned from your first company?
“I think as a woman, and a mother, you have to listen to your body. I started to get sick and I was literally burning out.
When I sold the company, I had a grand plan of going back to school and getting back into Corporate America. But I found I was just getting right back into the tunnel I’d climbed out of ten years before.
I learned that I needed to listen to my body, and that I had to do what was right for my family. My husband was back in work and again, his schedule trumped mine. I was attracted to going back to work and not having the responsibilities of running a business, but the work life that’s out there is not conducive to a home.
When I first started my cleaning company, things got out of control because I didn’t have a structure in place. As I moved forward into the next phase, I’d learned that I needed to run a business that was both beneficial to me and my family, and beneficial to the people who worked for me.”
What are the top factors that allow you to have the freedom in business that you have today?
“The main thing is having a plan. It doesn’t need to be a five-page business plan, but simply knowing what you’re doing today vs tomorrow. Following the 12 Week Year book has allowed me to chunk time into manageable tasks for me and my company.
I also started investing in my weaknesses. One of my main issues ten years ago was that I didn’t ask for help – I didn’t know to ask for help!
Now, I know that managing a business, running day-to-day ops, isn’t my Zone of Genius so I hire someone that’s better at it than me to delegate and manage my team. My strength is marketing – that’s the role I take in my company.
I’ve also gotten very specific about who gets to come into my time. I am not going to risk everything I have invested and built on someone who isn’t right for the company just because we need new blood.”
Kelly, what would you say to your fellow cleaning girls out there who feel overwhelmed?
(I see this a lot myself in the service space, where we want to get out of corporate. So we start a business and just go for it, and suddenly you’re operating at a different level. It makes you feel overwhelmed.)
“I would let them know that about 95% of the cleaning industry is overworked and overwhelmed. People get in way too fast and over their head, and don’t know when or how to stop.
I think as business owners, we don’t reassess our goals often enough. A lot of the time, we’ve left a structured environment to create our own business, but all we’ve done it end up giving ourselves a glorified job.
Not everyone is meant to be a business owner!
You have to pause and ask, What am I good at? What do I need to get this ball rolling? And who do I need to help me?
Just because you’re great at cleaning doesn’t mean you’d be great at running a cleaning empire. You have to pick a lane.
Pick just one lane and get great at it. Once you have that down, it’s profitable and runs like a well oiled machine, then you can move over to the next lane.”
(You don’t need to clutter your services with a million different offers: if you aren’t getting enough bookings for your cleaning service, suddenly offering a laundry service is unlikely to help.
You need to make sure you’re not just throwing money and offers at the problem if what you have is a marketing problem…)
Kelly has spent time building herself a business that allows her to have six figures and freedom to enjoy family life, and you should really check out the full interview on YouTube.
There’s an ongoing culture that equates business success with non-stop hustle, but you really need to take a time out, invest in your weaknesses and focus on your zone of genius.
Otherwise, why did you start a business in the first place?!
Also, check out my website to learn more!