I LOVE green cleaning. We use mainly vinegar in our home, but there are lots of amazing green cleaners out there!
In the next two weeks, we’ll be focusing on going green with a green cleaning service an a green cleaner. This week: Tidy Earth Cleaning.
I’ve known Tidy Earth Cleaning’s owner, Emilee, since high school. She is kind, reliable, and knows her stuff! I’d highly recommend her if you are looking for cleaning services for your home or business (or if you just need a little help getting ready for Christmas).
WW: Tell me about your business. Why did you start? When did you start?
It’s funny, because I never really started cleaning. I always have. Since childhood I was always neat, organized, and clean. It comes so naturally to me it’s a little ridiculous. I can recall points from every time in my life I helped other people clean, whether they wanted it or not sometimes. In adulthood it became more and more useful in helping my friends and family until suddenly I realized I was working a full time job and also had 4 regular cleaning clients on the side. In July I went official and left my full time retail position. A retail position may be good for some people, but I really wasn’t happy and suddenly it was clear that what I needed to do had already found it’s way into my life. I have this thing that already comes so easily to me and has helped all these people in my life, let’s just take it and run. Between the city being full of people who just need a hand sometimes and the genuine care I put into making sure the job is done correctly, my client list quickly grew into a base that fully supports me just within a few months.
WW: What makes Tidy Earth Cleaning stand out from the competition?
I believe that what makes me stand out against all the maid services and other people who have their own cleaning gigs is really my passion and care. There’s no special cleaning solvent that can get the job done correctly if the person wielding the sponge doesn’t actually give a hoot about what they’re doing. Cleaning is something that is really so simple it’s easy to get into and find work in. There’s plenty of maid services and little companies hiring decently above minimum wage. The problem is that it is such a simple premise that it attracts everyone. Some people just need a job, cleaning is simple enough. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you get someone who cares about how they clean. Lots of people want to get in and out and charge you the cash and move on. I enjoy cleaning enough that I don’t skim over the details to take the cash and run. I try very hard to make sure that I’m giving each person who brings me into their home the level of care and cleanliness that I’d expect in my own home. And, trust me, I’m particular.
WW: Does Tidy Earth Cleaning have a mission statement?
I don’t know if I’d necessarily call it a mission, but the green cleaning premise is something I actually find very important. When I had decided to really go headfirst into creating a real business, I almost didn’t even question it. If you can do something in a manner that puts less chemicals into the world, creates less waste, and uses recycled materials, and still does what you want just right, why not? It’s important to me and to most of my clients to use eco-friendly products and practices, which is why I’m always looking for ways to improve my impact and reduce waste in my cleaning, in my business practices, and in my own home.
WW: What advice would you give to others who want to start a small business?
If you want to start a small business, the best advice I can give you is to try to balance your fantasy and reality. What I mean, and what I tried to do, was to take all of the ideas I had, big or small, and research my head off to see how functional and realistic my ideas were. And then try to implement them. A lot of people think the greatest resources for starting a business are money and exposure and accountants and all that official stuff. While so much goes into having a business, your biggest resource is going to be your ideas. Figuring out how to turn your own ideas and motivations and even your reasons into making a business of your own into functional and useful things in your business is such a great asset and is truly satisfying at the end of the day.
WW: It’s tough being a small business owner. How do you manage your business time, free time, and home life?
While it’s tough to admit this publicly, I just don’t. But that just might be me. I already mentioned that I really value and put effort into seeing my ideas for my business come to fruition. Unfortunately that means a lot of my evenings at home on the couch are spent with the tablet in front of me scouring websites and reading reviews and researching HTML code for projects. It means lots of jumping up while trying to watch a movie with my boyfriend to run to my office and jot ideas down. Sometimes I get home from working and jump right into so many home, work, and life tasks I’ll get to 8pm and realize I never stopped to take my shoes off. Though I have to say it really is a trade off because sometimes that means the next day I can come home and jump right into relaxing or going out. I’m just a little crazy and eclectic with it. I need to complete my tasks while I’m “on” and not necessarily on some type of structure, not to discount the benefits of structure.
WW: How has your business changed throughout the years?
While I’ve only been officially in business for half a year, I have been doing the general tasks involved for some time and I have seen myself grow throughout the process. To reflect and watch the whole idea take shape from random apartment turnovers trying to clean with whatever my friends left in their place to a full line of products and a full process to clean efficiently and fully is fulfilling. Going from random calls from friends-of-friends to online booking and payment packages and logos and uniform shirts really shows how far I’ve come from the raw idea.
WW: Who was your biggest business mentor?
My first, most important business mentor was the internet. That’s not romantic or heartfelt, I know, but it’s true. I spent ages scouring every resource and forum and article I could on any topic I needed help with. While there’s a lot of hogwash out there there’s also a lot of great ideas and resources and people who tried to spread whatever information they can. My second business mentor would be my boyfriend. He operates in a different world of business as a tattooer, but having someone who has owned and operated his own shop for years offers such a helping hand in guidance and debunking my bad ideas.
WW: What is your favorite marketing tool?
My favorite marketing tool would have to be the website Thumbtack.com. It was the first place I had created a profile and began my journey in building my business. Thumbtack allows clients to create a 24-hour posting in whatever category they require, including some basic information. As a provider, you create a profile including photos, question and answers, and a home for reviews. When a client posts a job in your category within your area you get the chance to quote that client. A 24-hour time period means it won’t be around forever, and a maximum of 5 quotes limits just how much you have to compete with. While a profile is free to make, as a provider you have to pay for credits to quote on jobs. It sounds annoying, but it means that as a client you get serious providers and not an avalanche of anyone like you would on Craigslist. In addition to this, you have the option to do background checks and other forms of verification to further your profile and reassure potential clients. I’ve found several clients through Thumbtack and all of the reviews for my service are posted there. I even found my accountant through posting my own job. So basically you are given a free profile and job leads emailed directly to you. It’s been so useful for me and I recommend it to clients who are looking for service providers in other categories.
WW: How do you see your business in 10 years?
I’d love to see my business flying high as a national housekeeping chain while I sit back and sip tropical drinks on a beach somewhere, using the money I sold the company for to become a world traveling food connoisseur. In reality, I feel it could go one of two ways. I’d love to grow enough to create a few small operations and be able to sit back and manage business from my home office. On the other hand, while I’m young now, cleaning forever is difficult and I do have more dreams and aspirations. If the business never takes off as far as I wish it may not be around in 10 years. I’m going to play it by ear, for now!