Your business plan will help you determine the direction of our business, lay out a plan for operations, and other important matters. However, the next step is putting the actual business together so that you can follow that business plan to success. From the name to the finances, there are many matters to take care of before your business is ready to go. Each of the following is a critical step towards building a successful business on your own.
Naming Your Business:
You want a catchy business name that sparks a positive image in a customer's mind. Whether you play on the words of popular phrases, use catchy rhymes, or stick with something simple, you want the clients to picture a hard-working, dedicated cleaning team. Your name should reflect your style and the services you offer, so keep it true to your business.
How do you begin to find a name that meets all of the above standards and more?
1. Brainstorming session - Sit down with a pen and paper and write every thought that comes to your mind, no matter how terrible the ideas sound. This will get your creative thoughts flowing and you may end up with a great idea in the midst of all the terrible ones.
2. Try it out - Run the name by a handful of friends and family, and see what their reactions or initial thoughts are. If you aren't settled on just one name yet, then pick a few of your favorites and ask for some thoughts on which one you should go with.
3. Check up on the name - Make sure that the name you have come up with is not already taken in your area! You can do a search online at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Some people may choose to use their personal name in the name of the business, but just be aware that this may make reselling in the future a bit more difficult! If your business is personalized and has your first name in it, buyers might not be as interested since they don't share the first name. If your plan is to resell in the future, then keep that in mind as you develop your business name. Think of something that would attract buyers, just as it should attract the customers to use your services. Don't limit your potential client-base by the name, which is a possible risk if you create something with stereotypes or too specific of an audience.
It is necessary that you check up on what the requirements are in your state and local area. A business license is generally used for tax purposes and identification. Find out what local requirements might apply to your specific business and follow through with that so that there are no related issues in the future. There may be fees to cover in order to obtain the proper licensing, so keep this in mind as you finance and budget.
Since your business involves working on somebody else's property, business liability insurance would be a wise investment for you. There is always a risk of damaging the customer's property, falling from a ladder, theft accusation, and a wide number of potential lawsuits. Without proper insurance, you are at risk to expensive legal fees that could bankrupt your new business. Don't put yourself in that situation, but instead prepare ahead of time and tackle the problems before they arise.
Many commercial clients even require that you have insurance before they will consider hiring your business, as they don't want the hassle of dealing with a non-insured business in the event that any of the aforementioned risks occurred. Liability insurance covers you in the event of property damage or personal injury, both of which are a risk in the cleaning industry. The cost of the insurance annually is worth the price you would pay otherwise, in a lawsuit or in damages. Not only does it cover you and your business, but also the risk of your employees.
If you aren't sure what insurance company to use, ask around with other cleaning services or research local options that might be a cheaper or more personalized option. There are certain bundles and deals you can get to make the insurance a little more cost-efficient, depending on what you are looking for. Look for someone in particular who specializes in what you do, as they will be able to expertly guide you through the process and make it easier on you. They will know exactly what you need in an insurance package to cover all the bases and keep your business safe and secure.
Starting a cleaning business entails a lot of unique legal issues, compared to other small businesses. As mentioned above, you will be working in people's homes and on their property, so this puts you in a different position than many other business that operate from their own property. There are a few important matters that have not yet been addressed which you will need to keep in mind:
On the other side of the matter, make sure that you are also treating your employees fairly and legally. Check into what the required minimum wage is, look into benefits for full-time workers, and stay true to the assurances you make them regarding pay and hours. Being fair to your employees and following the law will keep your business from a nasty lawsuit.
Where will you acquire the money to get your business started? There are a lot of bases to be covered financially, and it might be some time before you begin making a profit, so you can't afford to slack in the financial area of business. Take a moment to consider everything that needs to be financed and paid for from the very start of your business:
If you are starting this new business on your own, it might be a safe bet to assume that you can't cover all these costs with money out your own pocket. If this is the case, the good news is that you do have options available to you. There are a few different routes you could take to obtain the funds, such as investment, loans, or raising the finances through other means. Take a look at all of the options available to you and determine which direction you see your business taking:
Develop a plan before you start asking for money, so that donors know they aren't just throwing their money away to a failing. Draw up the business plan and present the projections to any potential investors who are wary, if you need to convince them that you have what it takes to succeed. All you need are some finances to get you going. If you choose to use an online platform to accomplish the crowdfunding, always be sure to read the fine print, because many of those sites have an "all-or-nothing" type approach. That means that you either hit the target goal of funds, or you don't get any at all. If this is the case, set your request low enough that it is reasonable for you to achieve. Be gracious to your donors and award them if possible, through discounts or thank-you gifts. Let them know of the progress of your business and how you are putting their money to good use.
Show them that you are serious about your business and have a plan to make it succeed. Communicate and be clear with the progress as you go along, and demonstrate clearly how you are putting their money to use in your business. Write down the transaction, even though this is only a loan between friends, because a verbal agreement is often not enough if conflict should arise.
Before you are accepted for a loan, there may be other required documents to turn in as well, depending on your specific case. Income tax returns, financial statements, business credit reports, and other legal documents are all part of the reviewing process. The SBA website has a loan application checklist that is a free resource for you to start figuring out whether this is the right path for you.