A dual citizen of the US and the UK, I grew up in the English countryside before coming to Washington, D.C. for university. I graduated from American University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Computer Science. Just to get this out of the way, I can’t code at all. Nor do I remember a single thing about Algorithms or Data Structures. It was during the break before my final semester of University that I made the decision to start a house cleaning business. I knew I wanted to be a business owner, and felt that most local services (whether cleaning, painting, or lawn care) were stuck in the 1980s. They had almost no online presence, and frankly, were subpar on the business side of things. It struck me that if I could master the marketing and operations, I could convince great local cleaners to come onboard with us.
Think Maids was born. We quickly grew from $0 to $20,000 per month in less than 90 days.
Since then, we have experienced significant growth using this same model of handling everything for the cleaners, leaving the expert cleaning to them. We have been featured as a million-dollar side hustle in a bestselling book by Chris Guillebeau called 100 Side Hustles, featured in TIME Magazine and The Penny Hoarder.
Here's a cool podcast on Think Maids from Side Hustle School - https://sidehustleschool.com/episode/87/
While Scaling up Think Maids, I reached a point where we were growing too quickly and at one point, it became overwhelming. I remember sitting at my desk with a dozen angry phone calls coming through…because I had been overworked and screwed up our teams’ schedules. On Halloween day. When everyone had planned their cleaning weeks in advance with us. It was at this point I realized something. There are two big shifts we must make as local business owners
(and business owners in general). The first, is when you transition out of doing the work yourself, in this case house cleaning. And the second is when we transition out of managing the day- to-day in our business and truly become a CEO by hiring a management team.
Or in my case, a virtual assistant.
The truth is, there is something called the ‘local business valley of despair’ where you are growing and get incredibly busy. Unfortunately, you aren’t yet earning enough to hire an office manager, so you begin to drown in the work. I knew I couldn’t keep doing everything myself, and I stumbled on the idea of training a virtual assistant to by my remote office manager. For a cleaning business this was unheard of and a first of its kind, but I knew I had something special here. Over the next few months I trained two great VAs to handle the daily operations for me – phones, scheduling, customers and teams. It worked so well I quickly went from working 10 hours a day to working 1 hour a day. It was this surreal experience and naturally, word quickly spread.
Cleaners, painters, pressure washers and handymen all started asking me to train a VA for them. So entirely by accident I found myself with my second business Inova Local (inovalocal.com). We provide virtual assistants for local business owners exclusively, trained and ready handle their daily operations. It has proven to be a huge hit and continues to serve local businesses all around North America.
If want to hear in more detail how we manage to do this here's an interview I did with Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation on how I run my cleaning business remotely - https://www.sidehustlenation.com/local-service-business/
Nowadays I spend most of my time here on our podcast and helping my students succeed in starting and growing their own local businesses. I'm always happy to chat over email or Facebook and give some friendly advice so don't be a stranger. 95% of what I produce is and will remain completely free, because when I started out I didn't have much money in my pocket and had to figure everything out without a coach. I know many are in the same position I was when starting out, so I do my best to help you get started completely for free. That said, when you are ready you can join the Local Business MBA Programme.