What's your 'how I began' story?

So I have been on and off of this forum for a few years now. In college I spent a couple summers as a full-time window cleaner with a couple employees and a solid customer base. I made a good amount of money for a [I]college student[/I], but not alot. I have since moved to a larger city where I got a job at a CPA firm. I loved my time as a window cleaner and have continued to wash windows part-time just a couple houses a month.

I am trying to take on more window cleaning, and would really love to leave my job completely. The problem is that I really don’t have enough time in the day to work a full-time job and get up enough clients to replace my income. How do I take that leap? (I didn’t really take a leap in college, I washed windows instead of playing video games with my classmates.)

I would like to hear some stories about how you started? Did any of you have a similar problem (left a good paying job to start a business)? How’d you do it? How’d you convince your spouse it was a good idea? And any other fun stories you have.

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Hey neighbor,

I am a retired police officer from CA. I was looking for a business to supplement my pension and to keep me busy. I found window cleaning as a fluke while doing searches on the net for service businesses. I wanted a business that was not too affected by the economy and that was inexpensive to start up. Window cleaning fit the bill. I have been doing pretty well and want to build to a point where I can a few employees so I can stay off the ladder and ultimately out of the field, managing, sales, etc. My pension pays all the bills so I have the luxury of building my business without worry that the phone doesn’t ring everyday. I can only imagine how hard it is without a financial cushion at least to start.

Window cleaning was my first Summer job after graduating high school. Been cleaning windows consistently since then. My 20 year high school reunion is this year in November. I didn’t start my own business until 1997ish, though.

Got laid off from a 22 1/2 year job with the newspaper in July 2006. Took a few months off and thought I could find something pretty quick. Not so as the recession was just starting to warm up. I landed a few odd jobs; things I wouldn’t have tried before because I needed steady income. With my severance package I could gamble for a bit - or so I thought. After a few - “well this is no fun’s” - I did an internet search for inexpensive start up businesses. I hit on window cleaning and thought it seemed like a cool gig, plus a lot of references to “about $50 per hour.” Okay, my kind of money, why not! After Googling everything I could about it (and landing on this site!) I made an appointment with the Small Business Admin. downtown and got a free seminar and free advice from a councilor about things that I needed to do to start up a small solo business. I perused my notes, got my permit from the City to do business and got my tax number from the State and started doing windows. Did my own, then my sisters for free. Did them again because I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard to get them right!! Planned on starting Sept. 1, 2008. Aug. 24th 2008 I had a spectacular mountain bike crash on a training ride and broke my back, my right shoulder blade in three places, and strained all the core muscles to my ribs and back. Spent 4 months in a back brace (removed Dec. 14th 2008) and 5 months of PT. Did my first window job on Dec. 26th 2008, got paid, went home and took some painkillers and didn’t leave the house for 3 days. hahah Knowing jobs were pretty much non existent in my area, and I need income, I pounded the streets the next week looking for work. Slowly I was gaining a few and very few quarterly which I had understood were the meat of the business. As my severance was quickly draining I was more determined to find more window work as I found that I did enjoy it. I landed a few P/T jobs to help out, but each year I found more window work and more importantly more repeat work. This year is the first year I am doing nothing but my window cleaning/gutter cleaning/screen repair business. Just had two full days of torrential rain and then the phone kept ringing. I stand to make $750 by tomorrow mid afternoon with 2 1/2 days of no work. I think I’m hooked. That was my start.

Hey Garry, great story.

I started cleaning windows for a friend who’d bought half a window cleaning business w/another friend of his from a well-established old guy who was ready to move out of town and sleep his days away. The guy I started working for, showed me how to clean a window on one of his storefronts, let me practice for about 20 minutes with repeated instruction and then took me off to our first residential job. We worked together 5 days a week, doing about 4-5 homes a day for one month. At the end of the month he told me “Shawn, you’re doing great, I think you could start your own window cleaning business”. To which I replied, “No way, I don’t want to own my own business”. He then proceeded to tell me how he’d booked all the clients that he had (6 months worth) in that one month we’d worked and he had no work for us to do. He paid off his credit card debt, and I went back into my home from his truck without a job. I was getting married in less than a week and was now unemployed. What would you do?
So, I thought of a name for a window cleaning business that I thought sounded good, looked in the phone book to make sure it wasn’t taken, and when I didn’t find it under window cleaning I started making up a flyer and a business card. I didn’t even know that there could’ve actually been a “Streakless Windows” in Tucson, who just wasn’t listed in the phonebook. :o My dad was a printer for 30 some years so I was good at the designing part, only took me about 15 minutes. I printed out one copy of each (business card and flyer) headed down to Office Depot and had them send off to get the business cards made, and I made 500 copies of my flier and headed out to distribute them the same day. I went door to door and got my first job, along with making one other spectacular contact, that I would later do thousands of dollars of work a year, until they moved out of town last year. After I got done with the first job, which took me like 3 times longer than it would now, I got paid and drove away with a big smile. The homeowner called me back about 2 hours later to bawl me out for leaving one of his screens off. I put it back on, apologized, and never looked back. I guess if you can handle rejection well on your first day of self-employment you’ll probably be alright. That’s been 9 years ago now. I like window cleaning, how 'bout you all?
And by the way, my wife-to-be was skeptical of me ever making much money at window cleaning for like the entire first year or more of my business. But after she saw that I could make more hourly than her, as a massage therapist and later as she’s moved on to dental hygiene, she eventually changed her tune. You just got to be persistent, and take in all the helpful advice from others. I wish I knew about WCR when I was starting up. I’ve only been on here for the last few months. Thanks for this post. It was nice thinking back to how far I’ve come. :smiley:

i slid into cleaning windows as a stopgap measure after winding up my car repair business of many years. i had got sick of doing it and sick of the whining customers and for that matter sick of a whining ex wife .
in my new life i now have 3 workers and i love the smiling faces i see after they have lovely clean windows . i rarely ever see a whiner and i get rid of any that i do come across.

I told this story in another thread one time. I worked for a window cleaning company in high school and then moved after school… started working at a Domino’s to pay my way through college. Domino’s wasn’t a real job though, and I was broke. So I started my business cuz I was broke and needed money.

I distinctly remember one of my first jobs… It was a $500 house (just went back for the 4th annual visit a few months ago) and it was in one of those gated communities that charges a $10 daily gate pass fee. I literally counted out my last dollar bills - 4 of them - and then scrounged change out of my house and truck for the other 6 bucks.

I got to the gate, held a cup of change out the window to the guard (who still works there) and said “there’s ten bucks in here.”

It was literally every dime in had.

And she said “I don’t have time to fool with all of that. Here, just take this pass and have a good day.”

I drove into the community with tears in my eyes, because I had enough money to buy myself lunch that day.

The $500 job took me 8 hours, and I went home with a check.

A few months ago it took my full-time guy and a helper 3.5 hours.

We now do the windows for two houses on each side, along with another 80 customers in this ultra private community of 240 homes (each valued over 3mil), AND the Golf House, River Clubhouse, and Sports Complex for the community.

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This story still gives me goosebumps every time I read it


Great story. You went from $10 to $500 in one day. Pretty sweet feeling I’m sure.

Lol. Well, I hope it’s inspiring. I try to remember those days often.

  1. to keep me humble, because without God’s help I’m there again

  2. to keep me hungry

  3. to keep me grateful


It was tough to live it, but a sweet feeling, definitely.

12 years ago, right after my whole rockstar DJ career dried up, i moved to Nantucket Island, MA, and my buddy owned All Clear Window Cleaning, so I got my feet wet there. Moved back to Jersey, started up Transparent Services, which was pretty much just a hobby (all storefront). Sold the route a year later. Worked menial restaurant management and bartender jobs, finally got ticked off at bounced payvhecks and all the crap I had to deal with. Left for lunch break one day, 1/30/2010 to be exact, went to Home Depot, bought some equip,. and never returned to work that day :slight_smile:

Had my first handful of clients the next day, and I’ll never look back :slight_smile:

Thats awesome! Great story.

My story is just starting, but this is another buried golden oldie. Anyone else have something they want to share?

I agree. This thread is so inspiring! I’ve already read it twice and would also love to hear more from others (maybe in a year I can share my own).

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Yes this is a good find. I will share my story when I have time.