‘£20, a mop and a desire’ woman recalls how she started her £4million business at 18

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Ms Flanagan began: “I came out of school with a failed business A-Level, £20, a mop and a desire to make something for myself, by myself. “But, as so many of us will relate to, I didn’t have that many people who believed in me. Teachers told me I’d never be a business owner, friends laughed at the idea of me becoming a CEO.

“However, through all this adversity, a little fire did continue to burn inside me that was desperate to prove them all wrong.”

And she most certainly did, despite coming from humble of beginnings, Ms Flanagan’s business now boasts a turnover of over £4million.

She continued: “I began my business journey at the young age of 18 in 2005.

“It all started when my mother’s house cleaner started failing to turn up to shifts, and I saw how much strain this put on the household.

“To help, and to earn a little pocket money on the side, I took over the job of the cleaner and helped where I could for a few hours a week.

“Not only did I find that I absolutely loved cleaning, but it was clear there was appetite in my hometown from others who needed a reliable cleaning service. Within a year, I was working 60 – 70 hours a week and that was when I decided to take on a few employees to help me manage the workload.

“Suddenly, I had the makings of a business,” she added.  

Some 15 years later, and Ms Flanagan is still at the helm and driving change as well as growth in her company.

Explaining the changes, she continued: “Mrs Buckét started out as a domestic-only cleaning firm for the first few years of its life. Then, as consumer demand shifted and changed, we began taking on commercial clients too.

“Not long after the commercial market became a part of the Mrs Buckét portfolio did we realise this was the way forward. From here, the growth was rapid. My team almost doubled in size and revenues began to significantly grow year on year.”

Despite being created as a labour of love, Ms Flanagan proceeded to sell the domestic arm of the business in 2018 in order to focus on the more profitable commercial side.

She said: “This was a scary leap; domestic cleaning was my bread and butter – the origins of the company – but we were 100 percent better off for making that choice.

And although the journey has not been easy, she would not want it any other way: “Without all the peaks and troughs the business has been through over the past 15 years, we wouldn’t be where we are today, nor would I hold all the incredibly valuable learnings that I have under my belt today.”

Ms Flanagan said that the key to her success was having brilliant mentors by her side: “No matter how much drive and motivation you have, having in-depth knowledge of how to run a business and five-star business acumen simply isn’t possible and I felt incredibly lucky to be taught and guided by some wonderful people over the past 15 years.”

Ms Flanagan also provided some golden tips and tricks for budding entrepreneurs looking for the same successes she has achieved.

She stated: “Listen to feedback. Whether it’s client expectations not being met or an internal issue, it’s crucial to listen carefully to the feedback received and truly learn from it.

“Whether it’s client expectations not being met or an internal issue, it’s crucial to listen carefully to the feedback received and truly learn from it.

“So many business owners are quick to flippantly ignore comments in the hope it won’t happen again but being pushed out of your comfort zone is where real change happens – if you allow it to.  

“The more you take on and learn from negative feedback or challenges, the less often they happen.”

Alongside the business, Ms Flanagan also works to give others the support she needed at the start by working with young, hopeful entrepreneurs  

I want to give other teenagers and young adults, who have the motivation to build their own empire, the support I struggled to receive during my school years.

“Hopefully, someday soon, this passion for mentoring and guidance will form another arm of my working portfolio and I can build it into a fully functioning business. 

Ms Flanagan spoke about her future goals for the thriving business, and said: “We’re aiming for a £4million turnover for the end of 2021, and in a few years’ time, I’d like this number to more than double.

“I want to ensure cleaning businesses, new and old, turn to us as examples of the importance of education in cleaning, especially when it comes to qualifications.  

“I want Mrs Buckét to trailblaze regarding innovation. Many companies are still worried about reaching outside of their comfort zone and taking part in much-needed change to strengthen our industry.

“From autonomous cleaning to using state-of-the-art machinery to make our work more efficient, but also more sustainable, moving with the modern times is crucial and Mrs Buckét are ready to lead the way.

“Lastly, I want Mrs Buckét to become the driver for change for the workers within the industry.

“Throughout the pandemic, cleaners put their lives on the line for essential workers, such as our NHS, manufacturers, and engineers, to continue keeping our country ticking over, and yet they still haven’t received key worker status,” she added.
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