Author Q&A: Cleaning Up in a Dirty Business by Cora Schupp
In Cleaning Up in a Dirty Business, bookkeeper and entrepreneur Cora Schupp offers a straightforward solution for you to gain control of your career and increase your earnings. Cleaning companies can be very stable and profitable, and they require minimal start-up costs.
About the Book: Leaving no corner undusted, Schupp guides you through everything you need to know about starting your own cleaning company—from how to land your first big client to hiring the right staff and marketing. Sparkling with wit and encouragement, Cleaning Up combines practical advice with fun cartoons and Schupp’s personal stories, including common problems you might face and how to over- come them.
An easy-to-follow action plan helps you break the barrier between dreaming and action—and tidy up when you’re done. As a bonus, you will receive free downloads of all the tem- plates you need to start your small business, from budgets to cleaning checklists.
WITHIN YEARS OF building both a janitorial service and janitorial supply company from scratch, Cora Schupp quickly found herself among the top five percent of female wage earners in Canada, holding competitive contracts with dozens of department and grocery store chains as well as managing a staff of more than 100 people. After selling both successful businesses in 2005, Schupp settled in New Westminster, BC, where she currently performs professional accounting and bookkeeping services for a variety of clients, including Learning Curve Series founders Curve Communications Group Ltd.
About the Author: Besides having raised a family, run two janitorial companies, and being currently self-employed doing bookkeeping and accounting, Cora Schupp is a published woman author. The book was written for people who want to start their own business, and give them the information and focus they need, from someone who had already successfully achieved that goal. It is part of Curve Communication’s “Learning Curve” Series.
Deborah Bailey: Glad you could stop by and share some details from your new book. First of all, is this book a guide for starting a janitorial business?
Cora Schupp: Thanks for hosting me today, Deborah. Yes, it is written to help people who want to start their own business, and show how a janitorial company is a very good option. It advises
the reader how to conceptualize and start from the ground up, helping each step of the way. I am especially proud of the business templates I created on coraschupp.com, where the customer can download spreadsheets and documents free.
Deborah: That's great. What gave you the idea to create a book to help others start this type of business?
Cora: I always wanted to write, and so many things happened to me during the 20 years I ran a janitorial business, that no one would believe me – truth is stranger than fiction Too often women are told that they can’t do something, or that it is too hard. Let them find their strengths out for themselves, and if I can be a mentor, even better.
Deborah: Any challenges in writing this book?
Cora: Looking back, the actual writing was easy. It was the re-writing and responding to edits that took more time than I realized. My advice is to not give up along the way because it really does get more exciting. Also don’t worry about your spelling or grammar; that’s what the copy editors do. It is more important to keep your own voice alive in your book. As Nike says, “Just do it!”
Deborah: Any tips to share with someone who wants to be published?
Cora: Curve Communications Group Ltd. (one of Vancouver’s leading Sales and Marketing firms)
already had the staff in place to help with my venture. Copyediting, design and social media were already their strong points. For those who still want to be published, make sure they partner with a strong company who can help with all the details from start to finish. I had no idea of how many technical details there are (setting up the ISBN number, the microsite, the US Tax number, etc. etc.)
Now that I have actually published a book, and saw what else is out there, it is a shame to put all your hard work into writing a book, and then have an unprofessional or inexperienced company do the rest
and come up with a shoddy finished product.
Deborah: Being a writer myself, I'm always interested in finding out how other writers like to work. What's your writing routine?
Cora: I’m still old school and like to keep a notebook and pen in my purse. If I am commuting or waiting for an appointment, I write little anecdotes or notes down as I think of them. Sometimes weeks will go by, but then I will find time to write a few pages or paragraphs. I don’t wait too long, or the thoughts aren’t fresh anymore, or aren’t relevant. I am self-employed doing accounting and
bookkeeping, and may write another book in the Learning Curve Series in that field.
Deborah: Can you share an excerpt so readers can get an idea of what's included?
Cora: Yes, here it is:
WHY OWNING A JANITORIAL COMPANY IS A GREAT IDEA! After years of running a janitorial service company, I found myself among the top 5% of female wage earners in Canada, earning $90,000 per year in 2004 (and my husband pulling an equal share) with no postsecondary education. I had contracts with a chain of department stores and 13 grocery superstores. I had over 100 employees working for me and was my own boss. I built my company from scratch – and so can you.
How did I get my start? Newly married in a small northern town named Kitimat, BC, in the late 1970s, my husband and I scraped together a down payment on a house by doing janitorial work in the evening.
The contractor who built our house also had a janitorial service, so we both worked full-time during the day and rushed to our evening jobs after a quick dinner. We dreamt of moving to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where there were better educational opportunities for our children, more social and cultural advantages, and better weather.
After a couple of years, we decided that the only way we could leave Kitimat was to gain some experience owning a small company. We started cleaning apartments that had been vacated, then we moved on to construction cleanup, before finally picking up a couple of small contracts. I was nine months pregnant when I dropped off our first signed contract! It was for cleaning the offices of a natural gas company. I did all the bookkeeping for our small business, which included payroll, taxes, Workers’ Compensation, etc. ad infinitum. Eventually we sold our company for a healthy profit and took the plunge to the Lower Mainland.
We moved to Surrey, BC, in 1986, right before the World Exposition, or EXPO, started. We bought a small existing janitorial company that included an old truck, a buffing machine, some odds and sods of mops and buckets, and two little contracts. Buying this company turned out to be a good investment because we did such a great job that the clients were happy to be our references. Within three months we were grossing $10,000 a month.
From these small beginnings, we took on contracts with the chain stores. We were able to save for our retirement, educate our children, own a lovely home with property, and we still had time to travel.
I decided to write this book in an effort to help those of you who have always dreamed of owning
your own business but didn’t know where to start. If you use my model for success, you will be well on your way to becoming a business owner. The type of person who had “to do everything the hard way,” I can save you not only money but also a lot of stress and heartache by sharing my own experiences.
Deborah: What inspires you to do the work you do?
Cora: Like everyone else on this planet, I have had my shares of challenges and disappointments. I have really learned to rely on my strengths, and myself, but sincerely want to help other people to get
on that same road of success. Mentoring others is my philosophy in life.
Deborah: Where can people find your book?
Cora: My book is available on the major retail sites.
Deborah: Thanks again for sharing your book with us. Please share your website and social media URLs.
Cora: It was a pleasure! I invite you to look at my microsite: corashupp.com.