Building A Successful Home-Based Business

Setting up shop at home is not as difficult as you may think. Here are three great business start-ups for the new American workplace

normal workday. Start-up costs range from $3,000-$10,000. This includes a fax machine, computer equipment, printer, copier and memberships in trade associations.

For more information about international trade, contact: Trade Information Center, 1401 Constitution Ave. NW, Room 7424, Washington, DC 20230; 800-USA-TRADE. Or contact: The International Association for Business Organizations, P.O. Box 30149, Baltimore, MD 21270; 410-581- 1373.

Who has time to clean? Between work, the gym, dinner with friends and your usual five hours of sleep, there seems to be little time to wash windows and vacuum the carpet. But this lifestyle is making cleaning services very profitable ventures. In fact, home cleaning alone is a $92- million-a-year business. There are also many commercial cleaning franchises that can be purchased for as little as $5,000 and operated from the home. (See “15 Franchises for Under $50,000,” this issue.)

Cleaning services are perhaps the easiest and cheapest businesses to start in the home. With less than $1,000, a few cleaning supplies (many of which you can get from your own cabinet) and just the knowledge of how to use a mop, some Mr. Clean and a bucket, you can open for business.

Mae Harbor, 50, owner of Royal Enterprise, (913) 334-4926, in Kansas City, Kansas, started her home cleaning company in April 1996, after being laid off from GST Steel, a manufacturing plant. She operates her part-time cleaning service along with another home-based business. “I clean Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and keep Mondays and Fridays open for speaking engagements,” says Harbor, who also owns Target Communication, a public speaking consulting company. While her public speaking company has yet to turn profitable, Harbor’s home cleaning service generates about $2,500 per month. Typical revenues for a full- time person working alone range from $20,000-$30,000 annually.

To drum up business for your home cleaning service, list your company name in the Yellow Pages or distribute flyers in your neighborhood or business district. “I ran one advertisement for three months, got two customers, and from there it has grown,” says Harbor, who now has more than a dozen regular customers. Fees for house cleaning range from $10- $20 per hour and $50-$75 per day. Harbor, 50, charges by the house. “It depends on how large the house is, how much activity there is and how often the client wants it cleaned. It can range anywhere from $45-$100 or better,” she says.

Most cleaning businesses are perceived as low-status operations, so image and professionalism are everything. You must be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard. “My business is taken seriously because I put serious work into it,” says Harbor. “When customers walk into a room, they don’t see dust and spider webs still in the corner. They don’t see crumbs at the edge of the counter c
abinet, and the sinks sparkle because they get a royal cleaning treatment.”

For additional information about cleaning services, contact: Cleaning Consultants, Inc., P.O. Box 1273, Seattle, WA 98111; 206-G82-9748.

While operating a home-based business is low-risk,

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