a $150,000 8(a) contract with the Department of Agriculture to maintain two buildings, Lincoln’s firm grew to a multimillion-dollar business over the next nine years.
Entrepreneurs get into the cleaning business from different angles, says a spokesman for the BSCAI. Many start businesses after working for another cleaning company. Some start a business on the side while going to school, then decide to go into the cleaning business full time.
To get started you need some technical knowledge of cleaning and basic business management skills. Start-up costs include cleaning supplies and equipment, which can often be leased. The main cost in operating the business is direct labor, which is nearly 70% of total expenses, according to the BSCAI. Most people finance the business from their own savings and many hire family members to help them get started. The major challenge: keeping good, reliable employees. Turnover is notorious in the industry. Also, a good salesperson is important in getting business and contracts.
“Try to line up a contract before incurring any overhead costs,” Lincoln advises, “which will help determine the amount of money you’ll need.”
High-Tech Prospects: IT Consulting
Computer and information technology (IT) are probably the
hottest industries in history. More than 65 million Americans have personal computers on their desks at work, not to mention the number of home-based systems. While the price of the computer itself may average $1,500, the actual cost over time is closer to $10,000 when you factor in upgrades, software, programming and training.
Those who provide these and other services, such as database management and maintenance, are raking in profits. New technology creates increased demand for installation, customization and training-a self-fueling cycle that promises to keep the high-tech service industry alive and well far into the next decade.
A particularly hot area in the information technology field is providing businesses with qualified professionals on an as-needed basis. To gear up for Y2K and keep pace with rapidly changing technology, companies are hungry for skilled computer professionals who can help them meet increasingly complex and specialized needs on a project-by-project basis.
“It is one of the fastest-growing businesses in the country,” says Don McLaurin, chief executive officer, National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses. “The growth rate of the IT staffing industry over the last five years has been in excess of 30% a year. It actually has been crucial in helping American industries across the board become more competitive in a global marketplace.”
Renée Logans, president of Access Data Supply (ADS) Inc., a computer hardware and software consulting company in Houston, is not only in the middle of a hot industry, but in a prime location as well-one that places her at the heart of “a technology-centered city with a low unemployment rate.” Companies like Compaq, headquartered in Houston, and the technology-oriented oil companies in the area, draw qualified candidates.
Logans, who has a pre-law degree, veered toward marketing instead, working for Xerox and Control Data before stepping out on her own. “The computer industry was booming,” says Logans. “I asked myself, ‘Do you want