I remember the first time I realized I didn’t want to work for someone else, it wouldn’t fit into the lifestyle I wanted and I had to find a way to make money. I was 24 years old, a single pregnant mommy and working a traditional 40 hour job was not cutting it for me. Exhausted and weary was an understatement. There was no way this was going to work for me. So I got creative, and decided I could make more money per hour by doing something else.
That’s the path most people initially take to make more money and increase their income- make more money per hour.
The questions buzz through our head over and over again, “How can I get a better job and make more money per hour?!” This question buzzed through my head and I came up with a few ideas. I later I decided I would clean houses. It was 1985 and at that time I could make $55 cleaning a big colonial house with 3-4 bedrooms. It would take me 4-5 hours to do a great job. If I pushed hard, I could do 2 in a day. One colonial in the early part of the day and a small house in the afternoon and make between $90-100 per DAY. The small homes I would charge a minimum fee of $35 to show up and clean. That translated out to be: $12.50-$15 per hour. There was NO WHERE I could go and make that kind of money at 24 years old with only a year of college under my belt. So I did it. Many times 3-4 days per week, making $300 or more per week. I quickly got my income over $1000 per month. But being pregnant, that kind of income stopped just as quickly as it came. I couldn’t keep up with the pace, and eventually, stopped working and lived with my parents.
But I got the ‘itch’ again when I knew I had to be on my own with my baby. By the time he was 5 months old, I was ready to move out! I wanted my own place, with my own rules and my OWN way of doing things. (That runs inside an entrepreneur- I want to lead, let me do things my way, I need my own space!) So I got creative again, but pay attention closely to what I did!
I knew that cleaning as I had done before wasn’t going to suit my new lifestyle, as I didn’t want someone else raising my child and it would be stupid to be gone 7-8 hours per day and pay someone else 1/2 of what I was earning. So my creativity and entrepreneurial mind took me to the library. That’s where we went before the internet was born.
I studied CLEANING JOBs, cleaning products, cleaning business and realized if I cleaned commercial property, I could charge 2-3 times more and make more money per hour. Remember, this was still my idea of a good business- increase my HOURLY rate. I hadn’t stumbled across the concept of multiplication, outsourcing and such yet. So I created some business cards at my local printing store, and at 25 years old I was the proud owner of “Smiley’s Cleaning Services”. I went to local hospitals and talked to them about their prompt care facilities. I was told that most of the time they didn’t have employees working at the emergency care clinics, they outsourced and contracted in cleaning companies. So I created my best ‘proposal’ that I formatted like I had read in a book at the library with my best ‘letterhead’ and created my services. It would be $125 per night for me to clean a Prompt Care Facility that would take me 3-4 hours to do. QUICKLY my hourly income went up to: $ 31.25 an hour. Mind you, I’m a train! I work hard and fast. I got done what two people would get done in less time and I did it excellently. There are somethings I still do that way. Working fast doesn’t make you more money, but doing what you do very well at the best pace you can, better than anyone else, will. There’s a tip:
Do excellently what you can do without much thought, better than anyone else, at a pace no one else can touch, and you’ll make more money per hour. People PAY for results. I’m blown away by how many small business owners are trying to make money at something they just learned, are still learning, don’t like, or aren’t wired for all in the name of money. That is called business stupidity, not wealth.
I was super happy that it was going to be a different kind of building with different items in it. No longer cleaning a bunch of kitchen floors, toilets, etc these buildings were mostly carpeted except for the exam rooms and I could vacuum 80% of it and with a good commercial mop, do the rest with a great cleaner. I studied what cleaners worked the best (I wanted to be the best at what I did!) , and then I stumbled across the BIGGEST BUSINESS IDEA OF MY LIFE.
It is this business idea that I want to pass onto you today.
Little did I know that this business idea would later impact my kitchenware business that I started when I was 31 years old and grew to over $4 million dollars in under 4 years, and it would impact the rest of my career as a copywriter, direct response marketer, social media marketer, influencer, thought leader and even as an angel investor!
Here it is. The biggest business idea I ever had, that sales people and advertising agencies have been using since the 1800’s and even earlier, but we don’t have very many books that talk about it.
The BIGGEST BUSINESS IDEA I ever had: The biggest problem people have is your doorway to making more money. Fix a problem and you’ll make more money.
Write it down. Read it out loud. Meditate on that!
Keep reading…… lots of wisdom for you here. I decided to interview the prompt care managers before I started my services. I was contracted in already, but if I was going to retain my clients, get referrals, have excellent feedback and create some ‘income security’ for myself (because I wasn’t working a job, didn’t want job security, I was now a business owner and needed INCOME security) I needed some feedback. My interview survey form consisted of a few basic questions.
Here they are:
- What is the number one complaint you have had with other companies who have cleaned your emergency clinic?
- What is the number one thing that you wish people would do without you asking for it?
- What do you notice first when you check to see if your cleaning company has done a good job?
- What is the biggest thing that we can do to retain your business?
Then I had it! Their problem and my solution for income security! If I could solve this problem over and over again, they would happily pay me, I would have a regular income and they would have a service they could depend on. The answers they gave me were somewhat surprising. Things like, “Be sure to get the corners of the bathrooms” or “Don’t leave anything ever in the exam room. Pick up all trash, little items, dirt, wipe fingerprints, make it look like no one has ever been there.” and the biggest one was really amazing to me, “Be sure to set the damn alarm!” I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that. You mean the other companies weren’t activating the alarm when they left? You’re kidding me. Really?! Unanimously I heard this complaint and believe it or not, after all these years, it’s still etched in my mind because they nearly ALWAYS swore about it. It made them so mad they really wanted me to get the message.
I made myself a checklist for each client. I printed out a copy for EVERY single night I was there. Not depending on my own memory and making sure I didn’t just ‘wing it and go by memorization or habit’ I made myself accountable. It was now my job to be my own boss and manager, so I made checklists to be sure I never forgot what was super important to the customer and even if I thought it was common sense or something I’d never forget, I wrote it down and put a RED MARKER CIRCLE around it.
It worked. I solved the problem, and made more money. My prosperity was directly related to how well I could solve someone else’s problem.
Long before I studied copy and how to write call to actions, and began building websites and getting more creative and learning how to write emails and create higher conversion, I WAS OCD-LIKE OBSESSIVE about solving problems. So much so that when I hired someone to do a job for me if they didn’t ask me what was my biggest complaint and how could they serve me the best, it would upset me. SO much so that if someone didn’t do the thing I said was super important to me, I would FIRE them. This became such a big red-hot firey money making thread in my career, that it not only helped me to go on and sell over $225 million dollars worth of products online, but it built several successful businesses along the way.
To this day it’s super important to me that we’re solving PROBLEMS, bringing RESULTS, and making sure that we do it in such a unique way that people stay with us. It’s business 101.
So many people get so esoteric and hookey spokey about business. They pursue passion before results. They chase dreams before PROBLEMS. I get it. I love God. I believe in faith at work. Heck, I write about spirituality at work for Entrepreneur Magazine! But the truth of the matter is, GOD is even interested in work being done excellently and the way we do that is to solve a problem. No passion or dream for business is worth a penny if it’s NOT fixing a problem and bringing a result. Every single job created in the workplace is someone doing something because there’s a problem. McDonald’s can’t serve billions of people if someone doesn’t fix the problem of flipping the burger, putting it on the bun, making sure it’s CONSISTENT and predictable every single time. There’s not one business on the planet, no matter how big or small, no matter what industry, no matter what it is that isn’t solving a problem.
Want to make more money in your small business FAST?!
WRITE THIS DOWN:
The biggest PROBLEM that people have is YOUR doorway to enormous prosperity. FIX a problem and you’ll make more money.
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