This is a follow up story for CleanLots.com . If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, I’m Brian Winch, creator, and author of Cleanlots - America’s Simplest Business.
I grew a niche commercial cleaning service from a side hustle into a six-figure business of 40+ years. I started in 1981 without much money, business education, or related skills, but plenty of passion, patience, and persistence. Here’s the link to my original Starter Story interview back from 2020.
I got the idea for this business from my dad, who had unexpectedly passed away at the age of 61. He was a janitor who supplemented his income by doing a variety of outdoor side hustles. He would cut people's grass, shovel snow, and clean up litter material outside a nearby shopping plaza.
He had taken me along to assist with his litter cleanup gig a couple of times when I was a young teen. We would walk the exterior property in the early morning hours before the businesses were open, and clean up litter from the sidewalks, parking lot, and surrounding landscape. It was almost as easy as a walk in the park!
I was 21 when I realized I needed to find a way to make more money. My opportunity to advance from my dead-end job wasn’t good. I had no desire to return to school. I didn’t have much money saved.
I decided to start my own parking lot litter cleanup business. Within 6-7 weeks I began making more money from my side hustle than my job. I quit my job and scaled my business to a simple one-man operation generating just over $100,000K.
Word spread among property management companies about my niche commercial cleaning service. I recruited an army of cleaning sub-contractors to assist with the cleaning and revenues grew to over $700,000K per year.
You need to have passion, patience, and persistence in whatever you do.
My dad would have been very proud of what I had accomplished from my humble startup. I chose to share my experience with others in an affordable manner. Cleanlots - America’s Simplest Business was born. It’s my way of honoring him and giving back. I also offer free coaching to people who also desire to make an environmental impact in their community.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
The cleaning business has done well over the past 3 years. What can I say; people litter. They always have and always will. It’s both recession and pandemic-proof. You can make very good money cleaning up after others.
The service is performed on foot using unique hand tools that allow us to clean up more material in less time. We also provide our clients with free reporting. This is a very effective way to provide exceptional customer service. We notify our clients of any incidents of property damage, graffiti, dump, runs, or burned-out exterior lights. They value how we make their jobs easier.
There are many effective and inexpensive (free) ways to market this business. I coach my students to set up a Google Business profile using strategic keywords to show in local searches. The same applies to setting up a company page on LinkedIn. This is a B2B business so you need to be where your prospects are.
I want to tap into the group of people, who like me when I started, have little money, education, and skills to start a business as a side hustle.
I’ve had some success working with influencers to help me share this opportunity. They do so by signing up as an affiliate for my books and related business-building products.
The influencers that have worked out best for my opportunity are side hustle and finance bloggers. Similar podcasts have also done well. Many of these people release their content on YouTube besides other channels.
I start by following them and commenting on their posts. I follow up after a while with a brief email congratulating them on their content then propose a partnership. I provide details on my affiliate compensation to demonstrate how we both can win if they agree to share my niche commercial cleaning opportunity.
I’m working on my own YouTube channel to release a series of informational videos. You might want to check it out.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
I’m 63 and at a stage in my life where I want to make the greatest impact through my business. I enjoy the peace and solitude of working my early morning hours before the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 routine of most others. I’ll continue cleaning up litter outside commercial properties for as long as I’m in good health. It is, after all, almost as easy to do as going for a walk.
It’s been challenging to find influencers interested in sharing such a niche commercial cleaning service as mine with their audiences. My business is not glamorous but can be very profitable and enjoyable for the right individual. I’m very grateful for the affiliates I have and will continue to try and develop more to share this opportunity.
I can’t help but recall when I was searching for a simple, low-cost business opportunity that I could operate from home. I want to tap into the group of people, who like me when I started, have little money, education, and skills to start a business as a side hustle.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
There’s a process that must be followed. I wouldn’t say I learned this in the last year, I’d say I was reminded of it a few times.
You need to have passion, patience, and persistence in whatever you do. Too many people are looking for quick success without following the required steps.
You need to have the energy from believing in what you do to pursue your goals. Focus on the benefits of your service (or products) when communicating with your prospects. Too many people try to sell something and then give up if they’re not successful on their first go.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I’m going to record some YouTube videos about my niche commercial cleaning business opportunity. I’m hoping I’ll find an audience that will enjoy the content and become customers. I take great satisfaction from helping people in this business.
Personally speaking, my wife and I hope to finally vacation in Italy which was postponed due to the pandemic.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
I’m always reading and trying to grow both personally and professionally. I can’t single out anything specific. There has never been a better time in history to learn. Information is literally at our fingertips. The internet didn’t exist when I started my business in 1981.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?
Are you selling or sharing the benefits of your products and services? People don’t like to be “sold” something. They prefer to make a smart choice that will be of benefit to them.
Are you trying to do too much? Can you niche down and be seen as the expert in your field?
If you work your business, your business will work for you.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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