Clean Trade: Why I Quit My Glamour Job To Clean Toilets

Cleaning Diva Jessica Agate
Courtesy Jessica Agate (right)

More often than not, when I tell people that I left a glamorous travel writing job to start my own cleaning business, they look at me cockeyed. You traded in your passport and pen to scrub toilets?
Really? Why?

I'll tell you why.

I didn't want to spend the rest of my working life making money for somebody else. I didn't want a boss anymore, and I certainly didn't want to be stuck working at a desk behind a computer from 9-to-5 daily. I wanted my own business. I wanted to be able to make as much money as I desired, without the fear of being victimized by downsizing. I wanted to make the rules and not answer to someone else who was writing my paychecks. I wanted all of my dedication, hard work, long hours, and passion to put money in my pocket, without limitations. I wanted satisfaction.

And I got it.

Quite honestly, at first I didn't know how I was going to do it, or what I was going to do to get my own business, but I did know a few things – I love to clean, I'm really good at it, and I truly enjoy helping other people. So that's where I started.

I cleaned a couple of houses for friends, and quickly realized that my "clean" gene was much more prominent than I had thought. I felt euphoric and accomplished when I saw the transformation from dirty to clean evolve. I was happy. My friends were ecstatic. They referred me to neighbors, and those neighbors referred me to friends......and that's when I realized I could seriously start a cleaning business. Oprah would call it my "aha" moment.

I was really excited and knew I had to act fast to capitalize on the momentum. What was my business name going to be? How was I going to keep getting new clients? Do I need money to make money? No. What I needed was a business plan, stat.

So I got my game plan together, named my business The Cleaning Diva (because that's what I am), created a sassy logo, had some business cards made up at Staples and put an ad on Craigslist promoting my services. The response was instantaneous. One phone call led to another, and another, and I soon had a steady roster of clients, most of which are still on my current schedule and continue to refer The Cleaning Diva.

Referrals are vital to my business.

It's not just about the cleaning. I build relationships. I clean and treat my clients' homes as if they are my own, but I also enjoy and value the time I'm there engaging in conversations and really getting to know them. That's what makes The Cleaning Diva tick. It's also a principle I've passed along to my team of Divas. Yes - my team, my other lifeline. The Cleaning Divas take pride in having meticulous cleaning skills, trustworthiness and reliability, and most importantly, strong relationships with clients. Leading by example is crucial.

I'm a journalist by degree, and never took a business course, so The Cleaning Diva is definitely an ongoing, hands-on learning experience for me too. Some things are trial and error. Others just come naturally. Sometimes I have to do research. But at the end of the day I truly can say I love what I do, and it shines through in my energy. Every morsel of my hard work comes back to reward me. I have my own business. I control my success. Not someone else. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

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