2023 new business idea #4: Start a commercial and/or residential cleaning business

By Michelle van Schouwen

Why start a cleaning business?

Several reasons it may work for you:

-Barriers to entry are low. You can start by yourself or engage an employee or two and grow as you go.

-Cleaning is a necessity. For businesses, it is an anticipated expense. For many working families, hiring a cleaning service can mean the difference between having extra time and not.

-Depending on your region, several potentially profitable niches may be available. Residential, commercial, carpets, windows, pools, and other specialties are all opportunities.

-In 2020, the cleaning service industry in the United States generated approximately $61 billion. Globally, the business sector is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.3% between 2023 and 2030.

Tips for starting a cleaning business

-Evaluate the needs and market in your area. Are there a lot of offices or commercial settings? Residents with disposable income? What does the competition look like? Be sure to read online reviews of local cleaning companies so that you can more effectively compete with them.

-Decide on and set up a business structure, potentially a limited liability company. Follow this with appropriate insurance, especially to protect against damage to property or injury to employees or others.

-While you and employees will of course need a well-developed skill set to do the job well, these skills are attainable for most people, and in many cases require limited extra education at most. For commercial cleaning, you and your employees may require or benefit from some certification, which will vary with the type of companies or organizations for whom you clean. For residential cleaning, such certifications can set you apart. Start by checking out ISSA, a leading trade organization for the professional cleaning industry.

-Procure equipment specific to the types of clients you plan to serve and the type of cleaning you want to provide.

-Find additional ways to stand apart from the competition. Environmentally sustainable cleaning products and practices and incentives for repeat business or referrals are just a couple of examples.

-Make booking and paying for your services as easy as possible. An online interface is ideal, but also make sure you or someone else is available to take phone calls.

-Make sure you actively market your services, and that you request Google and Yelp reviews from customers.

-Keep a sharp eye on customer satisfaction, because clients have definite ideas about what constitutes a good cleaning service, including quality of work, reliability, courtesy of employees, and perceived company and employee trustworthiness.

-On that note, make an effort to make yours a company for which people want to work. Cleaning service work is sometimes regarded as menial, and commercial cleaning often requires working at night. It’s your job to overcome negative perceptions that your potential and current employees may hold. Train your employees so they don’t get hurt, respect their work, listen to their needs, and take steps to encourage retention (for example, providing health insurance and other benefits).

A genuinely good cleaning service, with quality work, reliable cleaners, friendly customer service, and fair pricing is very valuable to customers. You can build long-term clientele and solid referral business. The reward for all your business-building efforts can be a profitable, steady, and growing cleaning company.


Michelle van Schouwen is principal of Q5 Analytics, providing advocacy and communications for climate change mitigation and adaptation. For 32 years, Michelle was president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company. In 2017, she sold vSA. Michelle is available for speaking engagements on topics including her work on climate crisis mitigation and Florida coastal water issues. She speaks to business and student groups about marketing launches and entrepreneurship and works with start-ups to support their development.

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