10 cheap business ideas to start for under £5,000

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10 low-cost business ideas

Cleaning business

What does a cleaning business involve?

The contract cleaning business is all about providing an exceptional service to clients. A typical job will involve cleaning building interiors, like offices, to an agreed standard within a contractually agreed cost. You could also set up a domestic cleaning business, cleaning people’s homes.

How much does starting a cleaning business cost?

Start-up costs will vary greatly depending on the type of business you set up (whether domestic or commercial). Commercial contract cleaning will usually incur much higher start-up costs, as you will often need to buy specialist equipment and take on more staff. However, the earning potential can also be much higher, while contracts are generally more frequent and reliable.

Some 80% of a contract cleaning business’ costs are labour. The remaining costs are likely to lie in equipment and disposables.  You’ll also need to set aside some of your budget for marketing, such as leafleting and advertising. Providing a great service is also key – contracts can often be picked up when clients are dissatisfied with the incumbent contractor.

How much can I earn running a cleaning business?

Andrew Large, director general of the Cleaning and Support Services Association, says: “It’s important to be realistic – very few people get rich out of cleaning, and there’s plenty of competition out there. Many clients will expect to pay the National Minimum Wage; even as an employer, you may only end up being paid at that rate for certain jobs.”

Margins in the industry are typically 5% or less, so if you want the money to start rolling in, you’ll need to differentiate yourself on the basis of service breadth, service quality, sustainability or specialist service provision.

What sort of skills and personality do I need?

Aside from the technical skill in cleaning, you need skills in contract negotiation, staff management and a lot of personal drive. Cleaning jobs often require night working or very early starts, and only the very dedicated will be able to keep this up.

Top tips for cleaning success

  • Keep your costs under control
  • Concentrate on satisfying your customers
  • Look to differentiate yourself from all the other cleaning businesses out there

If you’re a perfectionist who’s prepared for early starts, read our eight simple steps for how to start a cleaning business.


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