I had to start supporting myself financially at the age 15. To avoid dropping out of high school in the process, I had to be both creative and resourceful. There are only so many hours in the day, after all, and earning a living quickly became more important than doing homework.
Like most people living paycheck to paycheck, though, I often ran out of money no matter how resourceful I was. I’ve been late on rent. I’ve had my car break down when I didn’t have the funds to fix it. I dropped out of college the first time around (and that was after working so hard to get accepted on my own, since no one was there to help me apply). By my early twenties, my credit was destroyed, and creditors were attempting to garnish my wages.
Put another way, I definitely didn’t qualify for a business loan when I decided to start my own company. That wasn’t going to deter me, though. Instead, I looked inward. I’ve always had a strong work ethic. Coupled with patience, determination, and a little strategic planning, I knew I could make it work.
Since day one, The Professionals has stood out from other cleaning companies because we’re consistent and reliable. Believe it or not, most of our competitors aren’t. And that’s why I attribute much of the company’s success to just showing up and working hard.
Don’t get me wrong: There were definitely times when I thought the business might fail. There were several long stretches when we didn’t see any growth, for example, but I never gave up, and I’m so glad I didn’t.
As the saying goes, “Your net worth is your net work.” I’ve lived by this since going out on my own, and I’ve never stopped showing up or trying to get better. To this day, I continue to educate myself by reading books and talking to other successful entrepreneurs. Many people are surprised to learn this because I’ve been in the industry for more than two decades.
I started cleaning 22 years ago, when I was still in high school. I found my clients by asking around at the church I attended. Every weekend, I cleaned four houses, which allowed me to earn money without spending my weekdays working. That gave me the flexibility to keep doing the extracurricular activities I loved.
After graduating high school, I began a career in supply chain at an aerospace engineering company. A few years later, I realized I wanted the freedom to travel, and I decided the best way to get it was by running my own business. I remembered the flexibility that cleaning houses back in high school had given me, and I missed it.
When the time was finally right, my partner Zach and I moved to Denver, where we started The Professionals. For the first few years, Zach and I did all the cleaning. The company grew organically, and today, we have the flexibility we always wanted. We’re especially grateful that we get to be present for our three children, and I never miss any of my kids’ school events or sports games.
Of course, that’s not to say it’s been an easy road. There was even a period of time when I essentially burned out. I had lost my passion because of the lack of respect that janitorial companies received. What’s more, the competition was fierce, and I was afraid it would be impossible to build a successful business that operated with integrity given the market. A lot of cleaning companies sacrifice core values and quality service by underpaying their employees and cutting corners. This allows them to undercut everyone else, which makes it hard to compete.
When I realized I was unsure how to attract new clients without stooping to the same level—which was something I was never going to do—I decided to pivot my career. I let the company run on auto-pilot while I went back to college. I completed a four-year program and got my Bachelor of Science in nursing. Then, I worked as a registered nurse for two years, which meant I spent about six years away from my business. The neglect stunted its growth, but being mistreated as a nurse during the pandemic motivated me to return to The Professionals and give it my full attention.
When I was a hospital employee, I had no resources, no staff, and no support. I was expected to work in unsafe staffing ratios without proper PPE, and I knew the quality of care we were providing was substandard. I simply wasn’t happy, and I realized I wasn’t going to thrive under those conditions. I decided to resign as an RN and get back to running my business, which is where I truly belonged.
Going back to my company after being an underappreciated and overworked employee only motivated me more to create a healthy work culture for my employees without cutting corners for my clients. I am proud to say it’s paid off because after leaving the hospital and giving The Professionals my full attention, I was able to triple our annual net sales in eight months! I can also say I am the first business owner, six-figure earner, and college graduate in my family. It’s been a long road, but I’m grateful for all the challenges life threw my way because overcoming them made me the person I am today.