Start a Cleaning Business in Delaware

  1. Delaware is located by the Atlantic Coast in the mid-Atlantic region in the United States. The state is named after the Delaware River and Bay, which, in turn were named after Virginia's first colonial governor, Thomas West, Baron De la Warr. The state capital is Dover, and the largest city is Wilmington. Delaware's neighboring states are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. Its total land area is 2, 290 sq mi, and is the second smallest state in the nation. Delaware is also the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States in 1787.

    As of 2008, the estimated population of the state is 873, 092, with a population density of 442.6/sq mi, which is ranked 6th in the nation.

    Major industries in Delaware include chemical manufacturing, fruits & vegetables, and food canning. Generally, Delaware’s economy outperforms that of the United States’. The gross state product of Delaware in 2003 was around $49 billion. Among the state’s largest employers are the government, chemical and pharmaceutical companies, banks, automotive manufacturers, and the University of Delaware. Chicken farming, particular in Sussex County, also plays a valuable role regarding employment in the state.

  2. Starting a Business in Delaware

    Before starting a business, you must first consider what type of business you want to operate. In this case, you are trying to set up a cleaning service business. The following are steps in the process of starting a business in Delaware. It is greatly recommended that you carefully follow them when starting your cleaning business in the state.

    1. Plan Your Cleaning Business Properly. Careful planning and research is important when starting your cleaning business. Do as much research as possible before even beginning to invest in your planned business. Proper study lessens the chances that your cleaning business will be unsuccessful.

      Make business plans detailing your cleaning business’ mission and goals, and how you plan to achieve these. Writing a business plan is thinking ahead, and with it you should address all possible issues that confront new cleaning businesses. A good business plan addresses the basics: the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of your new endeavor. A good business plan will also most likely prove useful when looking for possible investors for your cleaning business.

      The Delaware Business Portal provides a detailed Frequently Asked Questions page discussing how to start a small business in the state. Business.gov also offers suggestions on how to properly draft good business plans.

    2. Seek Business Training and Expert Guidance. It will be smart to take advantage of free training and counseling services offered in your area, especially if you are relatively new to starting and handling your own business. Find out these local training services have available cleaning business training, and if they do, make sure to avail of these services. These companies usually offer services that include everything from preparing a business plan, to acquiring financing, to getting help with expanding and relocating your business.

      The following companies offer some funded business counseling and training services that can help you greatly in starting you cleaning business in Delaware:

      • Delaware Small Business Development Center (DSBDC): DBSDC offers free start-up business advice counseling sessions, and will readily answer any and all of your questions regarding starting and managing your own cleaning business in Delaware. Free classes and training about starting businesses are offered throughout the state.? Delaware Small Business Development Center (DSBDC): DBSDC offers free start-up business advice counseling sessions, and will readily answer any and all of your questions regarding starting and managing your own cleaning business in Delaware. Free classes and training about starting businesses are offered throughout the state.
      • Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE): This is a non-profit organization that is partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It offers free mentoring, business counseling and low-cost workshops. They have a branch in Wilmington, Delaware.
      • Delaware Center for Entrepreneurship YWCA Delaware: This non-profit group helps women with start-up advice and financial assistance.
      • SBA Wilmington District Office: Offers business development training programs.

    3. Choose a Location. Choosing the location of your cleaning business is a very important step. Some will even claim that where you locate your business is key to whether or not your cleaning business will succeed or fail. Before all else, you must consider how dependent your product, which, in this case is cleaning services, is on the location. Cleaning service businesses can actually be operated part-time or full-time your residence. There is also of course, the obvious option of setting up business in a commercial establishment. You also have to determine if the locations you are considering can provide the facilities needed to run your cleaning business. Other points to consider are the availability of the location to potential clients, and the competition around the area.

      Delaware's Economic Development Office (DEDO) has the Infrastructure and Inter-governmental Affairs Center which will readily help you in finding a good location for your cleaning business. The center offers a property locator on their website, and utilizes CoStar Group's database for property searches. DEDO also conducts confidential site and building tours for you and will assist you in getting the required building permits.

    4. Get Money Your Cleaning Business. You can’t magic money out of thin air, so you need to be ready to shell out some of your own money and/or be prepared to explain your goals and plans to possible investors and convince them that investing money in your startup cleaning business is a good and lucrative idea. Apart from how much money you will need, banks and loan companies will often want to know a rough breakdown of how the money will be used, your business time frame, and how you intend to repay the loan. They will also most likely ask how much of your own money you are going to put into the cleaning business. You can learn about government guaranteed loans, grants, and venture capitals to help you get started opening a cleaning business in Delaware.

      Other financing options available in Delaware are as follows:

      • Federal Grant Resources: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a number of financial assistance programs for small businesses including the Basic 7(a) Loan Program, which is mainly for starting, acquiring, and/or expanding small businesses. The SBA does not provide grants to assist you in starting a business, but their website contains information on organizations and websites that can help you find special purpose grants.
      • Delaware Access Program: Offers low collateral loan programs geared towards small business. The program is based on risk-pooling concept whose approach is essentially different from the usual loan program. It uses some amount of public resources to come up with a lot of private bank financing, in the process providing private bank access to a lot of small business in Delaware.
      • First State Community Loan Fund (FSCLF): FSCLF is a not-for-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides opportunities for small business in Delaware to gain access to capital. They offer loans ranging from $300 to $50,000.

  3. Getting a Business Name

    The business name you decide on is important as it is the initial introduction potential customers have of your cleaning business. It creates primary identification with the products and services you are offering; therefore the business name you choose must clearly reflect and spell out the cleaning services you are selling.

    • Select a Name for your Cleaning Business. The name you choose for your cleaning business is also very important – the right name can be a viable marketing tool leading to the success of your business, while the wrong name can just lead to failure. As it is important, there are a number of things you have to remember when selecting a name for your cleaning business.

      First of all, the name you choose for your cleaning business must be memorable, easily recognizable, and easy to spell. Names that are hard to pronounce might initially stand out, but in the long run, it is not really so beneficial. The name of your cleaning business must also easily stick in the heads of potential clients, and they must also very clearly associate it with cleaning.

      You also have to consider how the potential name will look (on business cards, promotional/advertising materials, etc.), and sound (i.e. how it will sound when said out loud).

      Also remember to be careful in choosing a name that is already taken, or sounds like a business name that is already taken and registered. The Trademark Law not only prohibits businesses from using names that are already taken, it also prevents businesses from using names that are likely to be mistaken for the name of an existing competitor. Violating this law may cause in legal issues and may end up with you paying monetary reparations and changing your business name.

      For more help in selecting a business name, business.gov offers a How to Name Your Business guide.

    • Register the Selected Business Name. Once you’re sure about your selected cleaning business name, you have to register it. Registering your business name ensures that nobody else can use the name you have chosen. Registering for trademark is not required but it usually provides further protection of your business name. Just as you cautiously did not infringe on other's trademark names, others must do the same with you and your business. Registration also provides public notice as to who owns or stands behind a business entity. If your business is not registered, you cannot file a lawsuit in court as a business.

      A fictitious name filing, also known as Doing Business As (DBAs), allows you to create name for your business that is different than your personal name. In Delaware, Fictitious Name Certificates for sole proprietorships and general partnerships (see the section on choosing a legal business structure for your cleaning business) are registered in the Superior Court Prothonotary's office in the county in which you are doing business.

      Other types of businesses such as corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships have to register their assumed business names with the Delaware Secretary of State.

    • Design a Logo For Your Cleaning Business. The logo, much like the business name, will create an initial identification f your business. The business logo you design will be the visual image that potential customers will associate with your cleaning business, and so should be designed based on the name of the company, its mission and goals, and the business product.

      Unique and well-designed logos will help greatly in promoting your cleaning business to your target market. A good business logo can be counted on to be a highly effective marketing tool in promoting your cleaning business. A stylish business logo also helps attract potential clients and gives a singular identity to your cleaning business.

      When designing your logo for your cleaning business, you have to remember to make it eye-catching, yet simple. It has to be easy on the eye, and not unnecessarily flashy and flamboyant. Make sure that the color palette and shapes you choose would draw out positive connotations in your cleaning business, and not the opposite. The logo should not appear cheap or showy, and should just be appropriately professional and elegant.

      You can also check out the logos that your competitions are sporting. You will want you business logo to stand out among them.

      Also, pro tip: business logos do not necessarily need to be a graphic or picture icon. A graphically customized business name can maybe even better serve the same purpose.

      You will also want your logo to look good on all sorts of marketing and promotional materials, including, but not limited to: business cards, fliers, stickers, letterheads.

      You can always pay for the services of good graphic artists to design a logo for you. Just make sure to provide them critical information about your cleaning business, its name and other important particulars that they can use as their foundation for coming up with the logo design.

      It will also be wise to get feedback (preferably by someone from your target market) on the logo, and then continue revising based on the response given.

  4. Acquiring an Online Identity for your Cleaning Business

    Having a domain and an online presence is highly recommended. Nowadays, an online presence is one of the prerequisites of running a modern business and during these times, people will more likely peruse the internet for whatever information they need instead of opening the phone directory, information on your cleaning business included.

    As much as possible, your website name should also be your domain name/address. If possible a form of your business name should be incorporated somehow into the domain name. The most important thing is that your domain name reflects your cleaning business.

    It is highly advisable if you are buying, for example, a .com domain (delawarecleaningbusiness.com), that you also buy the other main Top Level Domains or TLDs (e.g. delawarecleaningbusiness.net, delawarecleaningbusiness.org, etc.) to avoid confusion. If you do a domain name search and fine that only one of the TLDs is available, it is recommended (and it is especially beneficial if you consider the long run) that you choose another domain name instead. However, if you are really decided on getting it, one option is to offer to buy the domain name from its current owner. You can find out who the owner is by checking up the “whois” information available for the domain and get in touch with the person or company listed as the current owner. If they are willing to sell, be prepared to pay more than if you are getting a new domain name.

    Keeping your domain name short and simple is also suggested, so that clients can more easily remember it.

    As for web content, make sure that you cover all the basics: the name of your company, the type of cleaning services and rates you are offering, and most importantly the location of your business, and the different ways the potential customer can contact you.

  5. Deciding on a Legal Structure for your Cleaning Business

    When starting your cleaning business, it is important to immediately determine what form or structure is most appropriate for your business plans. The legal structure of your company can play an important role when you want to make loans, or borrow money, or attract more investors, not to mention it will also determine the kind of tax return form you will have to file. It will be wise to consult with an attorney or any form of legal counsel regarding this, but just the same, the most common forms of legal business structures are as follows:

    • Sole Proprietorship: This is the simplest, most basic business structure. As its name implies, the business is under the name of a single person. Advantages of this type include full control of all the business assets, and maximum profit for the owner as you receive all the earnings, not to mention the profits are taxed only once. However, the owner also has exclusive liability over all debts and singular responsibility over all business obligations.
    • Partnership: This is an association between two or more parties who share control of all business decisions. General partnership is about sharing management not only of all business earnings and assets, but of all business debts and obligations. There is such a thing as limited partnership though, where limited partners are just investors who cannot actively participate in the management of the business and have limited liability.
    • Corporation: Corporations are a separate legal entity from their owners, and are most common amongst big companies. Generally, shareholders are only accountable for their investments in the company. There are two types of corporations:
      • C Corporations or Regular Corporations must file a tax return each year in order to pay tax on the corporation's income. Profits are given to the shareholders after paying the tax, and then in turn, the shareholders must pay tax on the amounts they receive.
      • S Corporations or Subchapter Corporations are created through tax elections. This structure is not subjected to double taxation, and forming an S Corporation allows you to benefit from the limited liability of a corporate shareholder, but pay taxes like you have sole ownership of the business.
    • Limited Liability Company (LLC): This is a fairly new business structure allowed by state statute. Advantages of this structure include being able to have multiple owners, with said owners enjoying the limited liabilities similar to those of corporation shareholders.

    In Delaware, if your cleaning business is a corporation, an LLC, or a partnership, then you must register with the State of Delaware. Sole proprietorship businesses do not have to register with the state.

  6. Getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    An Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number. It will be used to identify your cleaning business as an entity. All businesses are required to have an EIN, and the business owner must obtain one from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. There are a number of ways you can apply for an EIN for your cleaning business:

    1. Apply Online. You can apply for an EIN at the Internal Revenue Service website. As soon as the application is completed and validated during the online session, an EIN is issued immediately. This is the recommended method of applying for EIN.
    2. Apply By Telephone. By calling the IRS Toll-Free Business and Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933, from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm local time, Monday through Friday. An assistor will take your information, assign you an EIN and then provide the number to an authorized individual over the phone.
    3. Apply By Fax. Taxpayers can send the accomplished Form S-4 to the IRS State FAX number. If you provide your FAX number, they will send your EIN to you within four business days, assuming there are no problems with your Form S-4.
    4. Apply By Mail. Processing time for this method usually takes around four weeks, so one must especially ensure that the Form S-4 contains all of the required information.

  7. Registering for State Taxes in Delaware.

    As a cleaning business operator, you will most probably be required to register for one or more tax-specific identification numbers, permits, and/or licenses, depending on the kind of business structure you chose to implement. There are five kinds of business taxes in Delaware: Income Taxes, Self-Employment Taxes, Employment Taxes, Gross Receipts and Excise Taxes.

    Delaware has the One Stop Business Registration and Licensing System, where, among other things, you can register for business taxes in the state of Delaware. The state’s official website also offers more about Tax Information and Forms.

  8. Getting Business Licenses and Permits in Delaware

    To legally start and operate your cleaning business in Delaware, it is a must that you acquire a business license. The license requires a few that will depend on the kind of legal business structure you have chosen for your cleaning business. If you are caught operating a business illegally in Delaware without the proper permits and licenses, you will be subject to penalties imposed by the State of Delaware's Divisions of Revenue.

    Some kinds of businesses might also need to follow federal licensing requirements.

    In Delaware, you can easily head over to the where you will be able, among other things, be able to register your cleaning business with the Division of Revenue, the Division of Unemployment Insurance, and the Office of Workers' Compensation. If your registration with the Division o Revenue includes getting a Delaware business license, a temporary one will be given right after the successful completion of the online registration.

    You can check out the following resources to learn more about your licensing requirements:

  9. Operating a Business in Delaware

    There are a few things you need to accomplish before you can start smoothly and legally operating your cleaning business in Delaware.

    1. Pay Your Taxes. Businesses operators in Delaware must pay their taxes to the Delaware Department of Revenue. You can visit the following resources to find out more about filing and paying business taxes in Delaware:

      Business employers in Delaware are also required to pay Workers' Compensation Insurance and Unemployment Insurance Tax.

    2. Keep Your Licenses and Permits in Good Standing. The Licenses and Permits page contains links to more information regarding applying, renewing, and maintaining your Delaware business licenses and permits.
    3. Hire and Manage Employees For Your Business. As a new employer, you can check out the Ten Steps to Hiring a New Employee page to find out more about following state and federal labor laws. If you are mulling over hiring independent contractors, you should also take the time to compare the difference between employees and independent contractors, to help you decide whether or not you should push through with hiring contractors, or just stick to regular employees.

      All Delaware employers must obey federal and state labor laws and follow equal employment opportunity laws that ban employment discrimination. You can visit the following websites to learn more about these requirements:


    4. Report All New Hires and Re-hires. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 require that employers report all newly hired and re-hired employees to the state within 20 days of hiring or re-hiring. You can visit the Delaware New Hire Reporting to find out more about how to do this.

      Delaware matches the New Hire reports against their child support records to find their parents, and establish an order. With this, State child support enforcement agencies gain the ability to issue wage withholding orders faster. State agencies might also conduct matches between their New Hire database and certain other State programs to prevent unlawful or erroneous transfer of benefit payments.

      After the matching is done, the will State submit their New Hire reports to a National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). The Federal Parent Locator Service (FLPS) receives the New Hire data from all States, and matches it against State locate requests. When a match is found, the FPLS provides the locate information to the State requesting it. The FPLS is a really useful tool for States in finding cases of parents who are not giving support to their children; it is especially helpful for interstate cases - the most difficult cases for States to handle.

      One of the focuses of the New Hire program is the development of safeguards for the security and privacy of the data. Federal law requires States to establish safeguards for confidential information handled by State agencies. All the data is transferred over secure to the National Directory of New Hires. Federal law also requires the establishment and implementation of safeguards to protect the integrity and security of information in the NDNH and to restrict access to and use of the information to authorized persons and purposes.

      You can report the hiring of your cleaning business employees electronically if you wish to do so. This is the easiest and recommended way of doing your hire reports.

    5. Display Required Notices in the Workplace. Employers are also required by federals and state laws to put up in the workplace specific posters that inform employees of their rights and the employer responsibilities under labor laws. These posters are available for free from federal and state labor agencies. More information about specific federal and state posters you'll need for your business is available at business.gov’s Workplace Posters page.
    6. Implement Safety Standards in the Workplace. Employers are answerable for the health and safety of their employees, and so, as an employer, you will also be responsible for following rules and standards set by the Occupational Safe and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA offers free on-site, consulting services that help employers identify and remove workplace hazards.
    7. Follow Environmental Regulations. If your business could release pollutants into air, land and/or water; or if you store, treat and/or dispose of hazardous or solid wastes, then you might be required to follow specific environmental regulations and acquire environmental permits. Not complying with these requirements can cost you hefty fines. The following sites offer more information about environmental regulations and permitting requirements in Delaware:
    8. Insure Your Business. Getting your business insured minimizes the financial risks you might encounter when certain unavoidable events happen that might affect your business negatively, such as an injured employee, a lawsuit, or a natural disaster. Majority of the states oblige business employers to pay for workers' compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and state disability insurance. Other types of insurance you might consider getting for your business are property insurance for buildings; general liability insurance for damage your cleaning business might do to someone else's property as a result of the insured entity's negligence; and life insurance in the event that something happens to the owner or other key person.

      The Delaware Department of Insurance offers more information on buying commercial insurance and other related matters.

    9. Make a Habit of Keeping Good Business Records. Maintaining good business records is not only good practice; some states may require even you to keep them, especially tax and employment records. The following websites contain more information about how to maintain tax records and other needed documents such as payroll, etc.:

  10. Starting Your Cleaning Business in Delaware

    People who set up and start a business more or less have the same single objective – to profit and earn money from said business. At the beginning starting a business might seem overwhelming and intimidating, and it may seem like not all people can succeed in operating their own business. And while it is certainly lucky that some people manage to set up businesses revolving around something they love and are passionate about, you don’t really have to feel like so about cleaning to set up a successful cleaning business. As long as you don't mind getting your hands dirty and as long as you just appreciate the sense of a job well done, then a cleaning service business is a pretty good business opportunity. As long as you do careful and thorough research, you can even start without any sort of initial knowledge about cleaning businesses.

    Also, as with any business, there will already certainly be existing competition. As so, you will have to think of ways in which you can go about making your cleaning business unique. You will have to make a concise and to the point business plan that you can easily implement without sacrificing quality.

    You can choose to start a very small cleaning business operated from your home, with just yourself as the primary boss and employee, or, depending on your starting capital, start out big, choosing to locate your business headquarters in a commercial area, and hiring more than a handful of qualified cleaning professionals and employees.

    The following are recommended steps when starting a cleaning business in Delaware:

    1. Determine the type(s) of cleaning service(s) you will offer. You need to decide which target market you want to focus on first. The cleaning business has two major target market groups: consumer and commercial. The consumer market group mostly hires more localized cleaning services such as residential maid services, carpet cleaners, window cleaners – generally cleaning services required on a less-frequent basis. The commercial market group is more big scale and mostly hires a wide range of janitorial services. This group is mostly comprised of major business establishments. Whether or not you choose to do home-cleaning services first, or already offer more large-scale cleaning services for bigger business establishments. You also have to specify what kind of cleaning services you intend to offer – such as vacuuming, making beds, window cleaning, etc.
    2. Price your cleaning service(s) appropriately. Your business plan should also indicate your estimated income, as you earn money by charging your customer a fee for your cleaning services. You have to decide on reasonable rates for your services. To do this, you have to find out what the competing rates are in your local area by scouting the competition. You can consult the local telephone directory and/or check out the local newspaper’s classified ads section. Because you are just starting your cleaning business, you can consider offering slightly lower prices to attract potential new customers.
    3. Compute your startup cost. Your cleaning business will surely have expenses and your business plan should estimate those expenses. You will need to buy cleaning equipment which might include a number of machines like ones for shampooing carpets polishers, and vacuums. Among your possible expenses will be the estimate payroll for your projected number of employees. List down all the materials, products, tools, etc. you think you will need to exhaust when starting out your cleaning business. This includes advertising, transportation, employee wages, and insurance. Estimate the amount these items will cost you, preferably at the cheapest rates, but with also the least blow to the quality of service you will be offering. Once the list is done, just add everything up to get your startup cost.
    4. Pick a name your cleaning business. Like already explained above, the name you choose for your cleaning business is fundamental to your marketing strategy. Carefully pick a good name that spells out the cleaning services you are offering, an appealing one that hopefully one that stands out among the competition. Remember to make certain that no one else is using the name so as to avoid legal problems.
    5. Learn the zoning regulations and other cleaning business regulations of the local area where you are going to set up your cleaning business. Make sure that all the local zoning regulations are clear to you. Some areas have do not allow home-based businesses, so if you set up headquarters in your residential home you might have legal problems. Research also about your local area’s cleaning service requirements and cleaning business laws. There might be rules and regulations that can affect your cleaning business operations in both the short and long run.
    6. Offer some initial cleaning jobs for free. You will of course first need to gain credibility and dependability. A way to do this is by offering free cleaning services during the first few weeks of initial operation, in other words offer a test run of your services to potential clients. This will not really be free, because as long as you do your job properly and adequately, this will earn you positive opinion and a credible reputation, leading to potential paying (and returning) customers. You might want to consider doing this first on non-profit groups (i.e. churches, shelters, etc.) in your area.
    7. Advertise your cleaning business through various media in the local area. You can start by advertising in local bulletins, or even creating tie-ups with other local business establishments such as groceries and/or restaurants. You can also considering handing out fliers and putting up ads in the local newspapers. Remember to buy all the equipments you will need before advertising. Advertising services you cannot fulfill will only earn you a negative reputation and might lose you clients instead of gaining you some.
    8. Start getting your first paying client. Once you're all set, you can expect to just wait for your first paying client to come along and avail your cleaning services. Hopefully that client will eventually become a regular one, and before you know it, your business will have grown considerably.

  11. Conclusion

    Cleaning businesses are starting to become very lucrative as the target market is steadily increasing. Busy office workers have no more time for cleaning their houses and putting their household in order. While some might choose to utilize their weekends for these purposes, a lot of people still prefer to just relax during the weekend, or spend quality time with their families. For these people, hiring outside cleaning services is a good alternative.

    The job might seem like unglamorous, but nowadays, cleaners and housekeepers have ceased to be regarded as simple hired help and have actually reached a well-deserved level of respectability. Their services are now very much appreciated.

    A cleaning business requires a relatively very small start up cost, and so is something most people can do. The earnings are more than substantial, and as it is your own business, you get to establish your own work hours and choose the people you work with. So long as you have the determination, setting up a cleaning business in Delaware should be very worth the while. Who knows, eventually you might enjoy your work environment more than you ever expected.

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