Lessons learned from my mother (who ran a successful cleaning business into her late-80s)

This will be my first Mother’s Day without my mom, so I’m not particularly looking forward to it. To honor her memory, I wanted to share with you a few lessons that I learned from her over the years. She started her own cleaning business after retiring from a corporate job at age 65, calling me up to ask me to teach her everything I knew.

That was over 20 years ago and she ran her successful cleaning business until she passed in February of this year. Looking back, I love that she was my first coaching client and I was able to help her launch her own business. I was afraid at first; I knew my system worked but I wasn’t sure it would work for her. She’d never been an entrepreneur, but she took my step by step formula and followed it. We had coaching calls on the weekend where I talked her through what to do and what not to do. Within a few years her business had grown to have 14 employees with an office manager to run the day-to-day, and one of the reasons she was successful was that she followed my proven formula step by step.

I taught her about running a successful cleaning businesses, but there are many things that I learned from her as well. Here are a few:

Lesson 1: It’s never too late to start.

Anyone who thinks that they’ve missed their window of opportunity to create a successful business should consider her example. If I can help a 65-year-old woman who has never owned her own business and never even cleaned her own house, I can help you!

Lesson 2: Be an great delegator.

My mom was an amazing delegator. I learned this lesson from her a long time ago when she was delegating tasks to us kids to help around the house. People who struggle with perfectionism have a hard time delegating responsibilities. They trip over their own perfectionism and hold their businesses back. You need to learn to delegate to the right people who have adequate training, and then back off. Delegation will help you create freedom and increase your quality of life. But it’s hard to delegate if you refuse to give up your perfectionism. This will kill your opportunity to grow your business. But remember, it’s never too late to learn to do it right.

Lesson 3: Be generous – give give give.

Both my parents were givers. They helped struggling families in our community and I didn’t realize at the time what they were doing. That spirit of generosity carried over into my mother’s cleaning business. Her employees absolutely loved her— they cried when she passed away and all of them came to her funeral. Generous people are loved by others. A generous employer will be loved by their employees. This doesn’t mean you should be wasteful or careless with your generosity, but when you create a business that is so profitable that you can be generous to your own employees, you will experience the joy of giving.

When I launched my non-profit, Cleaning for a Reason, my mother was one of first cleaning partners to donate free cleaning services to women with cancer. She didn’t have a huge company but she never turned down a cancer patient. Every time one applied to get a free cleaning in her area, she’d take them on. Generocity = reciprocity. What goes around comes around. If you’re a giver, life will give back in one way or another.

Lesson 4: Respect everyone.

Respect starts with loving people. If you respect people, you don’t treat them badly even if they deserve it. Treat everyone the way they should be treated, not the way they deserve to be treated. Some people might not deserve to be treated well— they might steal from your customers or even steal your customers—but you should still treat them with respect. This doesn’t mean you let people walk all over you. I have fired people and given them hugs and prayed with them as I’m firing them. My mom had a few bad employees over those 20+ years that she had to fire because they thought they could walk over her or stole from her, but my mother didn’t berate them or demean them when she let them go. When you have a policy of treating everyone with respect, whether they’ve earned it or not, the benefits of that policy will come back tenfold.

If you want to benefit from my training just like my mother did, please join me in Atlanta for the Speed Cleaning for the Pros conference on June 29 and 30. It is absolutely worth the investment and you’ll start to reap rewards immediately.

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