In his first year of business, Caleb is already cleaning up.
Though the future did not always appear so clear for the owner of Focus Window Cleaning, a small local business in Calgary.
“Starting the company, I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off. It was a long shot. It was my last shot,” says Caleb in a soft but steady voice, talking about the struggles he and his wife faced while living on income assistance and low paying or part-time labour jobs. “I didn’t know how we were going to make it through the winter on only $3,000 in savings.”
Caleb spent over 12 years working in the IT industry before being laid off from his full-time job during Calgary’s most recent economic downturn. Being mostly self-taught and missing the certifications needed for higher positions in the industry, his options were limited. He had no idea what steps were next – he just knew he wanted more time outdoors and less office air conditioning. “I was ready for a change, but I didn’t know what else to do.”
While on Employment Insurance after his layoff, Caleb found out about our Self Employment programs. “I could’ve started the business without Momentum,” he says. “But I wouldn’t be half as far ahead as I am now. I wouldn’t have known basic things like forecasting and marketing.” Originally assuming the Information Session would be dull and useless, Caleb says he was initially skeptical, but pleasantly surprised. “The information session ended up being far better than expected. It seems like an organization that genuinely cares.”
Caleb has been cleaning windows to make extra money since he was in his teens and worked on office towers in downtown Calgary. He also loves reading business books and watching YouTube videos on marketing and business basics. “But having classes and people to sound ideas off of doesn’t compare to a book,” he says.
“Everyone has great ideas on how to make money,” says Caleb. “But they don’t always realize the ‘gotcha’s’ (or catches) of running a business – setting up revenue streams, analyzing the associated risks.” Caleb says that the program helped him better understand the risks of business ownership, among other benefits.
Since window cleaning is highly seasonal work, Caleb is currently enjoying a very busy spring and summer and saving whatever he can to enjoy a quieter winter, when work is naturally slower. He also hopes to expand the business by hiring more employees, including his wife, to accommodate more and larger orders.
Caleb has also found a way to apply his understanding of computers and technology systems to the ways he does business. He is currently working on systematizing his operations and exploring innovative IT solutions that would give customers instant project estimations directly from his website. He has also put a lot of work into the marketing of Focus Window Cleaning, and with the assistance of a Micro Business Loan, purchased equipment for larger scale jobs.
In scaling up his business, Caleb is constantly focused on providing exceptional customer service – especially since much of his work requires him to go into peoples’ homes and lives. “I wanted to run my business from a place of integrity – making people feel safe and comfortable,” he says. “It’s all about building trust.”
Combining integrity with careful planning and a constant drive to learn more, the future for Caleb and his company is becoming clear and bright.
A professional (artist?!) in action:
Caleb shows off his awesome skills in an Instagram video that is strangely satisfying to watch!
View this post on Instagram