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How to Start a Cleaning Business with NO Money

Published on September 14, 2018

Great! You’ve made an awesome decision to take a big first step and start a cleaning business.

But you may be worried about the upfront cost of doing business. Will it be expensive to get started? And what do you do if you have NO money on hand?

Luckily you have several options available to you that’ll help you start that cleaning business and keep it running with little to no immediate hassle.

How to Get Money to Start Your Cleaning Business

You’re going to need money to get your business off the ground. Supplies aren’t going to buy themselves.

But don’t worry - there a plenty of ways for you to get the capital you need to get started.

Here are a few ways you can raise funds…

Use a Credit Card (or 2)

Just make sure you pay those cards off quickly to avoid interest rates.

Borrow Money from Others

Do you have family or friends who are willing to support your dreams?

Be sure to map out a plan to pay them back and show them that plan so they know you’re committed to it.

Find a Partner

If you’re going to partner up with someone who’s willing to work as hard as you are, make sure it’s someone you want to work with PROFESSIONALLY. When things get difficult (as they sometimes do in business), your PERSONAL relationship with that person could suffer.

Sign a legal agreement with them beforehand. Having a legal document that outlines the expectations of your roles will greatly protect both of you.

Find an Investor

They front the funds, you run the business, they get a cut of the business in return.

Much like having a partner, make sure you outline the nature of this relationship in a legal agreement so there aren’t any problems down the line.

Take Out a Small Business Loan

Shop your local banks and credit unions to find the institution that’ll give you the best rate and has a good reputation.

You’ll typically need a business plan to present to the bank, along with an expense sheet and financial projections for the next 5 years.

Explore Your Local Small Business Administration (

There are options such as SBA-guaranteed loans and SBA investment programs that you can explore.

PLUS, the SBA is a GREAT resource for business counseling. You can search by zip code here.

What You’ll Need Money For

Here are a few MUST HAVES to get your business started:

  • Business registration and licenses (check with your local Chamber of Commerce on which licenses you’ll need)
  • Insurance
  • A new bank account specifically for your business
  • Uniform (start with basic black pants and a black t-shirt with an apron)
  • Company logo (professionally designed)
  • Website (start by building your own on platforms like Wix or Squarespace)
  • CPA and Attorney - you may want to check with either (or both) to make sure you’re structuring your business correctly
  • Estimate and Invoice forms with your name, logo, and contact info on them (you can find templates in platforms like Service Autopilot)


  • Cleaners (disinfectant, glass, soap scum, toilet bowl, electronic-friendly, wood polish, etc…. Or make your own!)
  • Rags/Cloths (microfiber, dusting, glass)
  • Paper Towels
  • Brushes/Scrubbers/Toothbrushes
  • Bags
  • Vacuum
  • Mop and bucket
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Feather duster
  • Shoe covers
  • Cleaning gloves
  • Caddy for all of your supplies

And a few nice-to-haves if you find yourself with a few extra dollars to spend, or once you’ve built up your cash flow:

  • Business Cards with contact info (phone, email, website, FB page address)
  • Flyers/Leave Behinds/Door Hangers with new client offer(s) and your contact info
  • Uniform (nicer shirts with your logo on it)
  • Website (hire a professional to build a new site or enhance your existing one)

How to Get Your First Clients with Little or NO Cost

Ramping up your marketing efforts can be done with good old fashioned grassroots marketing… with a digital marketing twist.

And it doesn’t have to cost you a FORTUNE to do it.

Rapidly grow your client base using these and several other marketing tactics

Start with Word of Mouth

Family and friend referrals (with family and friends discounts!) are ALWAYS a good way to grow your business.

And tap into your speciality groups such as:

  • Your child’s PTA group
  • Church groups
  • Mommy and Play groups
  • Facebook Groups

Posts and Reviews on Local Apps and Forums

Build your reputation through posts and, especially, reviews through sites such as:

  • Craigslist
  • NextDoor
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Angie’s List

It's not as difficult as you may think to get 5-star online reviews. Positive reviews will help you attract new clients and continue to build your reputation.

Low-cost Advertising Options

Start a Lead Funnel with Facebook Ads

Begin with educational videos and posts that showcase how to solve a household problem.

Move on to a bio video that details:

  • Who you are
  • Why you started your business
  • What your business does
  • How you can solve your client’s problems

Finally, lead your viewers to videos that offer them new client offers or discounts on services.

Get this FREE “Step-by-Step” Guide to Building Successful Facebook Ads for Your Cleaning Business! Featuring a click-by-click Video Guide and 11 ready to use Ad Templates.

guide image cleaning business facebook ads

Door Hangers, Flyers, and “Leave Behinds”

Leave behinds add that “extra 10%.” They help you stand out and constantly remind your client of your work – long after the house gets dirty again. Check out 17 awesome leave behind ideas for your cleaning business!

Email Marketing

As you build your list, you can begin to send bulk emails advertising new services and timely offers.

Taking your business to the next level…

You’ll want to DIY your business for a while as you grow it.

Doing it all yourself - estimating, appointment scheduling, cleaning, invoicing - will allow you to not only learn every portion of the business but also save money on employees.

As you grow, you’ll need to explore hiring a team. Maybe even adding in some commercial work to your regular residential lineup.In the meantime, doing it all yourself can sometimes be a little daunting. Would it help to have software that could automate many of those processes for you? Take a look at Service Autopilot and see if it’s the miracle you’ve been looking for.

Related: 3 Profit-Building Goals for Cleaning Businesses in 2019

Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.


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