Why did I start my cleaning business?

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by Tom Watson on December 21, 2014

In what seems like an eternity now, there once was a time where I worked for someone else. It was a manufacturing facility that produced electronic equipment for sale worldwide.

I was a small cog in a big plant, and though I did enjoy working there I always harbored a desire to start my own business. When I was growing up I can remember purchasing Entrepreneur Magazine and Small Business Opportunities at the bookstore each month. I would scour the pages looking at all the different ways to make money.

My road to becoming a business owner

I can’t say it was the money that got me excited about becoming a business owner, it was more of the lifestyle I suppose. I wanted the FREEDOM to do things the way I wanted them done. I wanted to be able to do them at my own pace and if I could make some serious money that would be a bonus.

I bought all type of courses and programs but never had any success. I can’t blame that on anyone other than myself, as I just did things half-hearted. I never went “all in” from a mental standpoint. I just went through the motions I suppose. As a result I never really got anywhere, except frustrated that is.

So by the time that I was hired at the manufacturing facility I was kind of content to just “put my time in” at this job. I had put the business idea on the back burner and just went about collecting my paychecks. Everything went smooth for a few years then an unlikely event took place. I was eating and when I bit into my sandwich my tooth started to hurt.

How one tooth motivated me to start my business

So to make a long story short, I went to the dentist and he said my tooth had cracked and I needed to schedule the work to be done with another dentist who specialized in that. He gave me some pretty strong medicine for the pain then gave me the number to the specialist. I called that dentist and they scheduled me in for the following Friday.

I was hoping for a faster appointment because I was in pain. I didn’t ‘t want to be on painkillers 24/7 for close to a week but I had no choice. To make matters worse a holiday weekend was coming up and if I didn’t get it done on Friday, it would have been on the other side of the 3 day weekend. I didn’t want that. So I went into work the next day and told my boss I needed Friday off.

He said no to me because it was too busy at work. I didn’t make a stink about if because I knew I could get my work done before Friday. So I worked my tail off for a few days then I went back to him and told him that my work was all caught up and I needed Friday off. He said no once again.

I was pretty ticked off at this point. I explained to him that I faithfully showed up each and every day on painkillers for the last week to make sure my work was done. I needed the dental work done because my tooth could get worse at any moment and I didn’t want it happening over the holiday weekend when the dentist wouldn’t be around to fix it.

Well… he said no once again. Before leaving his office I told him “I won’t be in tomorrow. I went beyond the call of duty as it is and my health comes first at this point”. He didn’t say anything. I took the next day off and had my work done. When I returned nothing was ever said about it, but things would never be the same for me again.

My dream of business ownership was given new life

It was at that moment, in his office, that I made a promise to myself to go out and start the process of becoming a business owner. I was never again going to have someone tell me I can’t have off to go take care of something that was important to me, especially concerning my well-being. I can still remember how resolute I was in my beliefs. I WAS GOING TO DO THIS!

That little story I just shared is why I got into my own business. It came down to a burning desire to be business owner, a bad tooth and a boss that said no. What a crazy combination. Now tell me your reasons! Share your thoughts below on what motivated you to do your own thing. I can’t wait to hear!

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon Nix December 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Thanks for sharing this Tom! You and I sound a lot alike. Thanks for the motivation!

2 Tom Watson December 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Thanks Sharon!

3 Mike December 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I follow your blog regularly. This was a fantastic experience Tom. Very inspiring. In your instance, both health and work situation reminded me of a quote. “Not until the pain of the SAME… is greater than the pain of CHANGE, will you embrace change.

Sometimes we really do need that pain in one form or another to light that spark in us.

Thanks for sharing.

4 Tom Watson December 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Great quote Mike. THNAKS for sharing that!

5 Terry Clark December 21, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Hi Tom!

Hi course members!

Your story resonates with me in many ways Tom, I remember thinking as a kid that it would be fun to be a small business owner. I had a friend who’s parents owned a pizza shop, and I used to clean with my parents for a commercial cleaning company.

Through my journey in life I’ve read a few motivational books, entrepreneur books, to manufacturing books; and I’ll tell you, my burning desire for change is being fed from a few things in my life, but I’ll discuss the main one below, that is, working for someone else, an indentured slave with low wages. I think daily, “Working here is hindering my ability to live within my means, and be free to enjoy life!” So, I’m mostly after a different lifestyle as well, a life with more options and personal freedom eventually.

Going back, I got out of the Marine Corps in 2007 and got that ol’ 9 to 5, except now its 2- midnight, and now, I’m on year 2 of a Tuesday through Saturday schedule… Not only is it different to be on second shift but, having every Sunday and Monday off just makes me feel almost not existent to the connections of life. I’m one of 2 on this schedule. Others seemingly enjoying working 6 days a week there. What’s disappointing to me about this company that I work at, is that even last night the computer to load parts went down, I text the lead, who’s already on holiday break, “The computer is down and I’m taking off early.” As I was the only one there, and I sent my teammate home early while I finishing up. This lead had the audacity to ask me if I was able to get some other secondary work done and ready for when we get back off Holiday break. Thankfully someone did some prep work earlier and I was able to start by Holiday break on sat. night 6pm. By the way, I’m the one locking up, and I’m not even the Supervisor! lol

That is an example for me and its nice to see some other examples.


I’m still gathering names from local businesses, I felt uncomfortable calling around, but I know it’s what I must do, and I need to grow more into it. I’ll be mailing out flyers very soon, and I know that once I get one account my confidence and excitement will soar. 2015 is my year! There’s no turning back now!

Happy Holidays Everybody!


6 Chris December 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Thanks Tom, . That story just lit a fire underneath me after reading it. Mike , liked that quote.

7 Tom Watson December 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Thanks Chris!

8 Tom Watson December 21, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Hi Terry! Thanks for sharing your story. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I worked both second and third shifts for a few years when I was younger, and I know what you mean by feeling all alone. You are the odd man out on that schedule as you are working when everyone else is enjoying themselves. Happy holidays to you as well!

9 Shannon Nix December 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Hey Tom I have a question. Do you clean up after your customers when they have parties in the office? Twice now they have left a terrible mess.

10 Tom Watson December 21, 2014 at 7:06 pm

We do clean up… we just try to steal the time from somewhere else so we spend the same amount of time there. Most accounts are not an issue, but some… well, you know… they can be a challenge.

11 ruthie galles December 22, 2014 at 9:33 am

hi tom sure is nice to read this information you have , have good holidays ok good luck too

12 Tom Watson December 22, 2014 at 11:09 am

Thanks Ruthie! Happy Holidays.

13 Ron December 22, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for sharing your story Tom. I have been cleaning for others for years and I learn that I was just wasting my skills as a good cleaner on someone esle who were not really paying nothing to me but making all the money for themself. I also wanted the comfort of being on my own time and my own dam boss! Oh” and also making much more money then I was with others. I also love being the captain and picking my own cleaning team! Thanks again Tom for your super advice and great encouragement.

14 Tom Watson December 22, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Thanks Ron! Happy Holidays!

15 Jim December 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I always want to have my own business too, and after being employed by big companies and going through lay-off and down-sizing I thought it was time.

As far as time off though, now I feel like I work 24/7 and can’t really get away because of employee issues of someone not showing up. If I could solve this problem I would love the business.

16 Tom Watson December 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Hi Jim! I feel your pain, as I’ve been there OVER AND OVER. Those issues will be there no matter what on a certain level, as you will go through stretches where your staff is good, and other times it will be prone to call out.

While no solution is perfect, my mentor always told me “get rid of the toothaches”. That was always my approach. Generally you have 10% who give you 90% of the problems.

17 Jon-Michael McKinney December 23, 2014 at 11:42 pm

This was a great post! I decided to start my business because I always knew that I had it in me. While working for another cleaning company, my Supervisor suggested that I go into business for myself as he figured I would do well based off of the results I was bringing to the company. Long story short, I went for it after several years of thinking about it. I like the fact that starting this type of business wouldn’t require a tremendous amount of financial investment, yet yields the opportunity to make of it what you desire. Also, staying connected to your posts and podcasts kept my interest going in the right direction.

I’m excited to say that I made about $13,000 in my first 7 months, and I currently have new business opportunities with a few pending contracts from potential clients that are looking to come on board in January 2015!

18 Tom Watson December 24, 2014 at 8:00 am

Hi Jon-Michael! Wow, what a great story to share. I’m so happy for you. Keep it up!

19 Joe M January 7, 2015 at 11:39 am

Hi Tom,

That’s why I am in business for myself. Funny as over the past six months I worked day shift for a cleaning service at a school well my wife became ill and trying to get time off was like (pardon the phrase) pulling teeth. So I left in Dec. Now I promise myself I will never go back to work for some one else.

20 Tom Watson January 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Hi Joe! Our stories are quite similar as far as that goes. What annoyed me was I show up NO MATTER WHAT, yet I get a hard time for asking for a day to tend to MY HEALTH. I still get mad thinking about it 🙂

21 clinton January 19, 2015 at 11:39 am

I step on a nail and also broke my foot on the job one of the head mechancis there said that i did it on purpose just to take a few day off so that inspired me to go ahead with my business.

22 Tom Watson January 19, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Hi Clinton! Yea… break your foot on purpose, that’s a good one. Thanks for sharing that.

23 Brandon January 20, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Great motivating story. You’re an inspiration to us Mr. Watson. How long did it initially take you to get your very first cleaning account?

24 Tom Watson January 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Hi Brandon! Honesty, I don’t remember exactly. I started all my homework first (getting flyers together, getting names to mail to, not to mention all the other little stuff out of the way). That took a while to get together, so I kind of count that towards my total time. Once I started mailing letters, I guess I had a call in about a month or so. It was a real estate office, small job, but it gave me money to reinvest.

25 Rachel March 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm

I have worked HARD for others since I was 15 (about 30ish years). I make it a point to go above and beyond as a standard. I have helped build the businesses for my employers and I am always left feeling like they don’t fully appreciate all that I have done until I am gone. I have been denied vacations, raises, and other simple requests but my employer calls me from Paris to ask me to stay late to do a report – REALLY? I got tired of that circle scenario. I want my children to be that employer and not suffer for the gain of someone uncaring. So I have been trying tons of ideas to start a business – it is difficult to change my focus from that job to my own business.

26 Tom Watson March 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Hi Rachel! I know. I started my business because my last boss said I couldn’t take one day off to go to dentist (to fix a broken tooth that I’ve been showing up for work with for nearly a week). He said we were too busy to take off! Anyway… lots of those uncaring people.

Changing that mind set is a process. Your best bet may be to do a lot of homework FIRST while keeping your job. This way you allow some more of the mind set change to take place over a period of more time. Just keep investigating, reading, learning and let the rest take care of itself.

27 Sean Williams April 13, 2017 at 6:06 pm

The reason why I started my own business is because I had a job that work seven days a week and 13 straight days I got tired of that no off days and get mad when you tell them you need a day off so I just work my normal job and just saved all of my money and I wanted too make show my kids get drop off and pick up

28 Tom Watson April 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Thanks for sharing that Sean!

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