How to set up a house cleaning business

Written by john kibilko
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How to set up a house cleaning business
You'll need to determine what cleaning services to offer, establish rates and acquire equipment. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

There are numerous ways to set up a housecleaning business, but no matter what services you end up providing, you'll need to address both business needs and the licensing requirements of your state and local jurisdiction. First, you must decide what type of business you want to establish---a full-service, full-time company that may employee other people, or a simpler, work-from-home entity in which you're the sole proprietor. You need to determine the types of services you'll offer, a cost structure, financing, advertising and marketing issues. Choosing a business structure and name are the first steps.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Choose a business structure. You'll have to decide among a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation and various subdivisions within each category. A small, single-man operation probably will file as a sole proprietorship, although you need to check with your state and local municipality for the details of business structures. A sole proprietorship, for example, offers the advantages of ease of establishment, sole profit benefits and total control. However, you're also solely liable financially and legally.

  2. 2

    Register your business name. Again, requirements differ from state to state. Most states offer search assistance to ensure the name you choose isn't already in use. Michigan, for instance, delegates issues regarding sole proprietorships and partnerships to counties and requires such small businesses to register as "assumed name" or "doing business as" companies. Corporations, limited partnerships and LLCs must file with the state's Corporation Division of the Bureau of Commercial Services.

  3. 3

    Check with the city or local municipality regarding other licenses or permits. Also research federal and state requirements for issues such as insurance, acquiring an employee ID number and state tax requirements. These issues are usually tied to your business structure and whether or not you hire employees.

  4. 4

    Create a list of cleaning services that you'll provide and hours of operation. Services may be determined on an individual, client-by-client basis, or you may decide that you simply won't perform certain duties---such as laundry or cleaning up after pets.

  5. 5

    Develop a cost structure. Decide on an hourly rate, a per-service fee, or a weekly or monthly rate negotiated with individual clients. Don't undersell yourself. Research going rates. Call housecleaning companies to ask about their rates. Also inquire about what they charge for "extras," such as cleaning ovens or basements. Create a quote sheet to leave with prospective clients, along with your business card and referrals.

  6. 6

    Acquire your supplies. The list should be exhaustive, including cleaning solutions, cleansers and chemicals, rags, scrub brushes, brooms, gloves and vacuums. Some homeowners may offer the use of their own supplies, but have your own inventory. Not all homes will have items to offer for your use. Depending on the size and scope of your business, you may need to seek a business loan.

  7. 7

    Purchase business-related items such as a cell phone, calculator, a van or other vehicle to transport you and your supplies, uniforms and forms such as invoices and receipts.

  8. 8

    Advertise and market your company. Also consider an online site. Many states, such as Michigan, offer assistance in establishing and registering domain names. House-to-house solicitations may be necessary to get your business off the ground, and word-of-mouth references can be priceless once you have a few jobs under your belt.

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