Belinda Earle - BE Clean
Tell us about yourself
I was born in Guyana, South America. At age 4 I was adopted and brought to Canada where I benefited from the education system here. After high school I became a medical office assistant. The work was good and honest but I wasn’t happy. After getting married I moved to Exeter where I worked in a laboratory in a factory for 13 years. After the factory closed I went back to school again to become a pharmacy technician. Working as a pharmacy technician, I realized I was going to be much happier as “master of my own domain” than as an employee. Drawing on the London Small Business Centre for their expertise and support, I started my own cleaning business - BE Clean - 4 years ago.
Tell us about your business
In those 4 years, my business has evolved from a barely-making-it operation
($200/month) to an increasingly successful operation servicing Air BnB’s, residential properties, condo complexes, real estate cleaning and cottages. I have engaged the services of up to 8 subcontractors to help me keep up with the demand for BE Clean services. I am proud of my reputation - reviews from my clients and their clients are stellar - and have just completed a second round of finding and adding new subcontractors to my team.
Has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
COVID affected the amount of work I had been scheduling. We were only doing empty properties, which excluded residential since everyone was on lockdown. I felt it financially. Things seem to be opening up so I'm looking forward to getting back up to full capacity hours.
What led you to start this business?
I was dissatisfied with my role as an employee and struggling to take control of my life. Not being totally in control of outcomes and customer satisfaction was frustrating. The only solution seemed to be to take a chance on me. I would be in control of the product, the result, and my own future. Being my own boss and following a true passion to see client satisfaction at a superb result - a Belinda Earle clean - seemed the best path to follow. I knew that if I was happy with the result my clients would be too - and that has come true.
What were some of the challenges you faced getting started and how did you overcome them?
Money was always the issue. Start-up costs and income stream as a start-up took a while to develop; learning to schedule and plan on the fly as client requests changed; dealing with quality control as it became necessary to involve sub-contractors were all challenges.
Most recently dealing with increasing requests for my services and the scheduling challenges as business volume increases are pressing. The RISE program offered by the London Small Business Centre was a key element in overcoming early financial challenges. The knowledge gained from courses and programs was invaluable as the “problems” caused by greater success were critical.
As a busy entrepreneur, what do you like to do when you take a break?
I treasure my time with my children. I recently returned to Guyana to visit siblings and meet family I didn’t know existed. But as an entrepreneur, my passion is my business and it is never far from my thoughts.
If you could sit down with any business leader or industry expert, who would you choose and why?
I’d enjoy sitting down and talking with a female CEO to listen to her experiences and the barriers she faced in pursuing her dreams.
What is the #1 small business book/blog/website you would recommend?
There is not a resource I have used, other than the SBC site, newsletters and resources
Is there anything currently happening in the London business community that excites you?
Other young entrepreneurs who are purchasing and developing properties, whether it be for rentals or Air BnB’s, and all of the connections they are developing that feed into my own business model of meeting the needs and demands of this field.
Can you tell us about an entrepreneur you admire and why?
Matt McKeever - a young local entrepreneur. He is on the forefront of connecting other investors both in Canada and the US with opportunities to invest and the services to make their investments successful. His drive, efficiency and presence on YouTube are inspiring and enabling to myself and many others. He helped me make the connections that have been so important to my success.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received and why?
Believe in myself and ask for help. A lot of times individuals give up because of insecurity. One thing I have learned is that there is a lot of resources to help you get started, and keep you going once you do!
What advice would you give to someone starting a small business today?
Find your passion, surround yourself in it and make it work for you. But, above it all, don’t give up. Get the help from businesses like the Small Business Centre. They are here to help! Push through the hard times. Remember - no risk, no reward.
What’s in the future for your business? Long or short term goals
I would like to expand and have small teams in several cities. I would like to see my passion become a bigger enterprise expanding into landscaping and exterior upkeep. When BE Clean is called my teams would cater a whole property cleans.
The future is bright!