I was a landscape contractor for 20+ years before returning to the window cleaning business. I learned a few things in that time, much of it what NOT TO DO. What needs to happen for a measure of success running a small business is outlined simply below.
When our 2-year-old granddaughter Charlotte used to struggle to put her shoes on, she expressed considerable frustration at times. We could see that after some ongoing “failure” she was ready to give up and quit. But most of the time she’d press on, keep working at it until she succeeded, and then we’d hear: "I did it! I did it!” That excited expression was delivered with a grand smile and much joy. I’d like to suggest that we all can learn from Charlotte.
The local paper did a story on my window cleaning business in San Diego when I started it a little over 7 years ago. When the economy went south (people in the south probably hate that phrase), I was out of work, no real prospects for work, had normal expenses to pay which included a Point Loma mortgage. My wife and I were very anxious and had real concerns about how all this could be worked out. I sat on the edge of our bed at times, nauseous with anxiety. Some of you may know the feeling. It seemed impossible.
As I wrestled with what to do I recalled that I had cleaned windows for about four years in the 90’s and it was enjoyable work to do and a profitable little business. Given that good experience I decided to hand out some slips of paper soliciting window cleaning work. I received a few calls, then a few more. Ultimately the response to my efforts was such that I launched my window cleaning business, Blue Ocean Window Cleaning, focusing on Point Loma and Ocean Beach, our home for the last 20 years.
Seven years later, I can say: “I did it!” Today, I have a good income stream, I am my own boss, and I have an A+ rating with several ratings entities. I now have 9 employees working full or part time and we serve or have served nearly 2,000 customers.
Now, for those of you who currently have your back against the wall because you’re out of work, facing a layoff or other difficult circumstance, I’m telling you: “You can do it too!” You may be facing uncertainty, feeling anxious and fearful, you may be in the worse-case scenario, but if you do just a few things, it can all turn around in ways you never expected.
This is America. She’s not perfect, but it is the land of opportunity. You can succeed, even in a “Great Recession.” WARNING: Be prepared to work! Prepare to see efforts not work out as planned and be ready to reinvest your earnings. Expect some frustration, disappointment, setbacks, and nominal support from some. And absolutely anticipate this… “Negative mind chatter,” the voice in the head with discouraging words of fear and failure. To reduce the voices simply be aware of the distressing thoughts when they arise and in that moment of noticing there is now actually a little gap between you and the troubling thought. You are now not thinking the disturbing thought. As you practice this awareness, you will find the negative thoughts appearing less and less until they are reduced to nearly nothing. As you are “in action” you can also expect the universe, God, Life, to begin to work with you and support your action. Be prepared to see doors open, and to get good ideas that will take you to the next level. Be attentive to the creativity that will arise within you as you weigh paths to take toward your new day. Here is a key to success: Do what your hand finds to do TODAY. Stay out of tomorrow and yesterday! We as humans have a great propensity to live in fear of the future and in regret about the past — and these persistent thoughts rob us of the joy, peace and power of NOW. The negative mind chatter will take from us the freedom to excel. We need to plan and give some consideration to the past and future, but there needs to be openness and sensitivity to what’s around us and a readiness to run with the ideas that come to us. A new venture can be the seedbed for personal growth and enriching life experiences.
After 7 years of “keeping on keeping on”, Blue Ocean Window Cleaning is clearly in the black. We will do $400k in sales and a profit margin around 25%. The finances at home have stabilized. We now have 3 service vehicles on the road, added screen repair to our list of available services, and have seen sales double or triple, quarter over quarter, since we started in 2010. We love the people we serve and love being in business.
So, you can do it!! Get in action, stay in the now, and listen for that still small voice that will guide you.
Blue Ocean Window Cleaning