Starting a house cleaning service is relatively simple; actually doing the job is the hard part. Like any job, running your own house cleaning service has pros and cons. I can attest to this fact since I’ve been doing the job for a very long time. It’s a job that isn’t for just anyone, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully.
Self Employment Means You’re In Charge
Everybody wants to be their own boss. Who wouldn’t want the total autonomy to do as they please without anybody looking over their shoulder every minute?
Self employment has a lot of perks. You can take vacations at will, set your own schedule, and pick and choose for whom and where you will work. Best of all, you decide your own rate of pay and you decide how many hours you want to work. You’re in control of your own paycheck.
The down side is that when you take a vacation, you don’t make any money. When you don’t feel well enough to work, you don’t make any money. When you’re sitting at home figuring out what next week’s schedule should look like or doing other paperwork, you’re not getting paid.
Running your own business is hard work, and not just physically. While it’s great to set your own schedule, it’s not so great when things go wrong and you end up running way behind and there’s no one but you to fix it. You have to wear many hats; you are the manager, the laborer, the administrative support professional, the bookkeeper, and the public relations specialist.
Keeping Customers Happy is Important
It’s really nice to be able to take a vacation when you want to without fanfare or rigmarole. But you’ll find that your clients’ life events will factor into your decision about when to go to Aruba. The week of Mrs. Blueberry’s daughter’s wedding will be a very bad time for you to be out of town. That is, if you want to keep Mrs. Blueberry happy, which you do because she’s one of your biggest accounts and she’s sent a lot of work your way. So, while you don’t need anyone’s permission, your decisions directly affect your business.
Fortunately, Mrs. Blueberry’s daughter will only get married once or twice, and there are lots of other weeks in the year. My point is: house cleaners have many bosses and are accountable to each one. You work for each of your clients, and these nice people have every right to expect that you will perform the duties you agreed to do when you were hired.
Sometimes clients will ask you to do things that make you unhappy and there won’t be a supervisor acting as liaison between you and the clients. It’s all on you to decide if you want to keep your client happy at your expense or make yourself happy at the client’s expense.
So while you have the freedom to pick and choose your clients, your workdays and hours, even what tasks you will perform, you still answer to your customers. If they’re not happy, you don’t have a business. And sometimes dealing with customers can be challenging. You’ll need to be able to diplomatically handle a wide variety of situations.
You Must Be a Self-Starter
Self-employment isn’t a walk in the park. When you are your own boss, you must be self-directed. You must have the skills and knowledge to figure out how to do whatever needs doing and the willingness and ability to solve whatever problems arise. You must be responsible enough to hold yourself accountable.
Some days you’ll have to really push yourself to work even though you don’t feel like it. There’s no one to ask to step in to take your place. You can always take a sick day when you’re really sick, but there will be many days when it’s more a question of motivation. Or maybe you’ve got a headache, so you’re not really sick enough to stay home but don’t feel all that enthusiastic about working either. It’s tough being the boss, especially when you’re the only employee. The upside is you get to keep all the profits for yourself.
You Keep All the Profits and Pay All the Bills
While it’s a beautiful thing to take home 100% of the profits you earn, it’s not so nice that you can’t count on cushions like paid sick days, employer-sponsored health insurance, or matching contributions to your retirement fund.
Self-employed individuals have to pay social security self-employment tax. You may want or need to be bonded and insured. Your travel time isn’t covered in your pay check.
You’ve got to take a good look at the numbers to make sure whatever you charge is enough to cover all the expenses of self-employment and still leave you with a decent living wage.
You Don’t Have to Dress Up
One of the nice things about being a house cleaner is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on wardrobe, hair, or makeup. While you should dress in decent clothing and not wear anything that’s too shabby or unprofessional, you don’t have to dress up or spend a lot of time getting ready to leave the house in the morning. And no dress code means wearing shorts on hot days!
Good footwear will be more important than any other aspect of your wardrobe. Being on your feet all day is a lot more comfortable if you’re wearing comfortable shoes.
You’ll Meet Lots of Different People
One of the best parts about house cleaning for a living is meeting some really nice people. Often, you’ll develop long-term relationships with your clients.
On the flip side, every once in a while you may run into a client who is impossible to please or whose personality just doesn’t mesh with yours. Then you’re stuck deciding whether it’s worth toughing it out or not.
Cleaning Gets You Moving
Another advantage: cleaning houses every day is a great way to get exercise. You’ll burn enough calories to occasionally indulge in the treats you’d have to skip if you worked sitting at a desk all day.
The downside is the wear and tear on your body. House cleaning is hard work! Sore elbows and knees are to be expected, at least occasionally.
Another big drawback is the potential damage to your body from exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals. This can be minimized by using natural products.
Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of self employment as a house cleaner.
~You are in charge.
~You make your own hours.
~You schedule vacations and personal time at will.
~You’ll meet some nice people.
~You decide who to work for.
~You decide where to work.
~You decide what to charge.
~You don’t have to get dressed up for work.
~Cleaning is great exercise.
~You are in charge.
~Your personal life will be affected by your clients’ needs.
~You wear many hats.
~You don’t get any employee benefits.
~Sometimes you’ll have to handle difficult situations.
~Cleaning is hard work.
~You may be exposed to cleaning chemicals.
Like any job, professional house cleaning has its ups and downs. This post should have given you a clear picture of the good and bad points. It’s a job that isn’t for just anyone, so be sure to understand what you’re getting into before diving in.
For more tips about starting or running a house cleaning service, check out my book How To Become a Cleaning Pro: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service, available on Amazon.