Looking to start a cleaning business? If you’re unsure of the steps to take to launch your new business, this article is for you!

We’ll walk you through all the basics of business you’ll need to gain clients, handle customer payments and stay tax compliant while operating. 

Read on to find out more and how Countingup can help. 

Setting up as a sole trader with HMRC

As you’re setting up a new business, you’ll have to register with HMRC. There are a few different ways of doing this, but the easiest and fastest way is becoming a sole trader

Being a sole trader means you get to keep the profits you make, and offers you a lot of flexibility as you run your business. Registering as a sole trader will allow you to pay taxes from your new business’ profits and get access to business support, like a dedicated business bank account and small business loans. 

If you’d like more information on what other types of businesses you can register and create, find out more in our article How to set up your business: Sole trader or limited company.

Choosing a business name

As a sole trader, you don’t have to choose a business name. However, it can help grow your business by having adverts with a catchy title rather than your own name.

There are some rules to follow while choosing. Primarily, you’ll need to make sure the name you’d like to use isn’t already taken. Check for existing business names and trademarks using this online tool

Once you’ve found a name that you like and is available, make sure to use it consistently on any future adverts, business cards, paperwork and your application with HMRC. This can help your business appear more professional and trustworthy to customers, and to HMRC if you’re ever audited. If you want to protect your business’ name to make sure no one else uses it, you can register to protect it

Register as a sole trader by filing for self-assessment. If you want some more support and information on naming your business when registering, read our article How To Register As A Sole Trader.

Business records you’ll need to keep

Like any other business, you’ll need to keep records of your finances. Fortunately, being a sole trader means enjoying lighter paperwork. You’ll need to keep records of:

  • The income and expenses of your business
  • Records about your personal income
  • PAYE records for anyone you employ
  • VAT records (if registered for VAT)
  • Grant money you may have received in 2020-2021 if you claimed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You’ll be required to keep these records for at least five years after the tax year deadline. 

For example, tax returns submitted for the 2021-2022 tax year by 31 January 2023 must be kept until at least 31 January 2028.

Over the next few years, sole traders are expected to transition to digital bookkeeping. This means you’ll need to have accounting software for submitting tax returns each year. 

However, with some expenses and receipt records still provided on paper, finding the right digital accounting software is important. Discover how Countingup can help below.

Finding and managing customers

As a cleaning business, your potential clients can range from single households to entire office buildings. Therefore, using effective methods to advertise and grow your client base will be an important early step in your business venture.

Through word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family, you can find new customers in your local area. However, these connections only go so far. If you’re looking to expand your business, consider using different advertising channels.

As you’re looking to start, advertising single-session cleaning services (such as oven deep cleans, under-stairs cupboard organisation and grout degreasing) can be an easy way to show your value as a business. These sorts of tasks are often more difficult to complete and can quickly bring in interested customers.

Once you have a client base, you can begin to branch out to offer a broader range of cleaning services.

Advertising your new business

Cleaning businesses often start out locally, so you may find your advertising is most effective using in-person advertising methods.

Flyers can be a cheap and easy way to increase awareness of your business. As you’re looking to create flyers, online services like Canva, Instaprint and Vistaprint offer professional design quality. If you want something more unique, you can either make it yourself using software, like Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign, or work with a freelance graphic designer.

Flyers can be circulated via post boxes or local notice boards and in residential areas. As you’re looking to expand your business, you can circulate flyers more widely to grow your total number of clients. 

Nowadays, customers expect businesses of all sizes to have at least a website or social media account. Being online can help customers trust your business by letting them find important information like operating hours or how to book with you. Therefore, your new business may also benefit from advertising online. You can even do this in a way that still targets your local area. Find out more in our articles How to Create a Business Website and How to Use Social Media for Business.

Other things to consider as you set up

Because your business will involve home visits, customers are keen to find safe and trustworthy people. Therefore, as you’re advertising your business, find ways to communicate your expertise and reputation. You’ll also need to consider other growth opportunities and protective steps, both for yourself and your business. Consider the following: 

  • How can you add additional value to your business? 
  • Could you offer cleaning product consultations or pitch seasonal maintenance with clients?
  • Are you using products and disposing of cleaning waste in an environmentally responsible manner?
  • Do you need public liability or business car insurance?
  • Can you show customers a clean criminal record?
  • Do you have the necessary protective equipment and clothing for more intensive jobs?

Save time on bookkeeping with Countingup

Setting up and running a business takes time and effort. Unfortunately, too often, paperwork and admin can distract you from where you need to be directing your attention. Use Countingup to save on the time and stress of maintaining your finance records.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app.

The Countingup app provides you with automated invoicing features, so billing clients is easier. And with automatic expense categorisation and receipt capture tools, you can make sure your business always has accurate account records.

Find out more here and sign up for free today.