How to Start a Cleaning Business in Ontario: Types + Best Funding Options

Starting a cleaning business in Ontario can be a lucrative and rewarding venture for entrepreneurs looking to break into the service industry.

With a growing demand for cleaning services in both residential and commercial spaces, starting a cleaning business can provide a stable source of income and a chance to make a positive impact in the community.

In this article, we will outline the key steps involved in starting a cleaning business in Ontario.

Types of Cleaning Businesses in Ontario

There are many types of cleaning businesses in Ontario. Consider focusing on one type of cleaning business, or possibly combine one or more types.

Here are the main types of cleaning businesses in Ontario:

  • Residential cleaning services: These businesses offer cleaning services for homes, apartments, and other residential properties.
  • Commercial cleaning services: These businesses offer cleaning services for offices, retail stores, warehouses, and other commercial properties.
  • Janitorial services: These businesses provide cleaning and maintenance services for buildings and facilities such as schools, hospitals, and government buildings.
  • Carpet and upholstery cleaning services: These businesses specialize in cleaning carpets, area rugs, and upholstered furniture.
  • Window cleaning services: These businesses offer cleaning services for windows and other glass surfaces.
  • Pressure washing services: These businesses specialize in using high-pressure water to clean surfaces such as decks, driveways, and sidewalks.

Specialty Cleaning Services:

These businesses offer specialized cleaning services such as:

  • Crime scene cleanup
  • Biohazard cleanup
  • Hoarding cleanup

Steps to Start a Cleaning Business in Ontario

Step 1: Develop a Business Plan for Your Ontario Cleaning Business

The first step in starting any business is to develop a comprehensive business plan. A business plan will help you identify your target market, define your services, and determine your pricing strategy.

It will also help you create a roadmap for your business, outlining your goals, timelines, and financial projections.

When developing your business plan, consider the following:

  • Target Market: Determine the types of customers you want to serve, such as homeowners, apartment complexes, or commercial buildings. Consider the demographics of your target market, including their age, income, and lifestyle.
  • Services: Decide on the types of cleaning services you want to offer, such as basic cleaning, deep cleaning, or specialized services like carpet cleaning or window cleaning.
  • Pricing: Research your competition and determine a pricing strategy that is competitive but also profitable for your business.
  • Marketing: Develop a marketing plan to reach your target market. Consider advertising through social media, flyers, or local newspapers.

Step 2: Choose the Business Structure for Your Cleaning Business

Choosing the legal structure for your business is an important decision that will impact your taxes, liability, and management structure. The most common business structures in Canada are sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation.

  • Sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common legal structure for small businesses. It is easy to set up and requires no formal registration. However, the owner is personally liable for any debts or legal issues.
  • Partnership is a legal structure where two or more people own and manage a business together. Partnerships can be general partnerships or limited partnerships. In a general partnership, all partners are personally liable for the business’s debts and obligations. In a limited partnership, there are general partners who are personally liable and limited partners who are not.
  • Corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, offering limited liability protection to its shareholders. Corporations require more paperwork and formalities, but they offer more flexibility in terms of management and taxation.

Step 3: Register Your Cleaning Business

Once you have chosen your business structure, you will need to register your business with the government of Ontario.

This can be done through the ServiceOntario website or by visiting a ServiceOntario centre in person. You will need to provide your business name, address, and other information. You will also need to obtain a Business Identification Number (BIN) from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Step 4: Obtain Business Permits and Licenses for Your Cleaning Business

In the province of Ontario, starting a cleaning business requires obtaining certain licenses and permits to comply with the regulations set by the government.

Here are the license and permit requirements for starting a cleaning business in Ontario:

  • Municipal Licenses and Permits: Depending on the city or municipality where your cleaning business is located, you will need to obtain licenses and permits. For example, if you operate a commercial cleaning business, you may need a commercial business license or permit. Some municipalities also require permits for signage or outdoor advertising.
  • HST Registration: If your cleaning business earns over $30,000 in a year, you are required to register for the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). HST is a combined tax that includes both the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Ontario Provincial Sales Tax (PST). HST registration is free, and you can do it online through the CRA website.
  • WSIB Coverage: The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is a government agency that provides workers’ compensation insurance to employees in case of an injury or illness at work. If you have employees, you are required to register with the WSIB and obtain workers’ compensation coverage. The cost of WSIB coverage depends on the type of industry and the size of the business.
  • Health and Safety Regulations: Cleaning businesses must comply with the health and safety regulations set by the Ministry of Labour. This includes providing a safe working environment for employees, training them on safe work practices, and using safe and approved cleaning products and equipment.

Step 5: Get Insurance for Your Cleaning Business

Purchasing liability insurance is crucial for any business, especially a cleaning business. Liability insurance will protect your business in case of accidents or damages that occur during cleaning services.

Consider purchasing general liability insurance, which covers bodily injury and property damage, as well as professional liability insurance, which covers errors and omissions.


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    Step 6: Get Financing for Your Cleaning Business

    Starting a cleaning business in Canada requires some initial investment in equipment, supplies, marketing, and other startup costs. There are a number of financing options available to entrepreneurs looking to start a cleaning business.

    Here are some common sources of financing:

    • Personal Savings: The most common source of financing for starting a business is personal savings. Using personal savings can help you avoid debt and maintain full control of your business.
    • Small Business Loans: Small Business Loans are loans offered by banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions to help entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses. The loans may be secured or unsecured and may have different interest rates and terms.
    • Government Grants: The Canadian government offers various grants and programs to support small businesses. For example, the Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) provides loans to small businesses to purchase or improve equipment, property, or other assets.
    • Microloans: Microloans are small loans offered by non-profit organizations or government agencies to entrepreneurs who may not qualify for traditional loans. Microloans typically have lower interest rates and are designed to help entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses.
    • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is a popular way for entrepreneurs to raise money for their businesses. Crowdfunding involves raising money from a large group of people through a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe.
    • Angel Investors: Angel investors are individuals or groups of investors who provide funding to start-up businesses in exchange for equity in the company. Angel investors may also provide mentoring and advice to help the business grow.
    • Friends and Family: Asking friends and family for a loan or investment is a common way for entrepreneurs to raise money to start a business. It is important to have a clear agreement and repayment plan in place to avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts.

    Step 7: Purchase the Required Equipment for Your Cleaning Business

    Starting a cleaning business requires some basic equipment and supplies to get the job done effectively. The specific equipment you need will depend on the type of cleaning services you offer and the size of the spaces you clean.

    Here is a list of some essential equipment and supplies for a cleaning business:

    • Cleaning Supplies – Some basic cleaning supplies that you’ll need are:
    • Multi-surface cleaners
    • Glass cleaners
    • All-purpose cleaner
    • Disinfectant cleaner
    • Floor cleaner
    • Bleach
    • Toilet cleaner
    • Baking soda
    • Vinegar
    • Microfiber cloths
    • Paper towels
    • Trash bags
    • Gloves
    • Mops and buckets
    • Sponges
    • Scrub brushes
    • Vacuum cleaner
    • Brooms and dustpans
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Personal Protective Equipment is essential for protecting yourself and your employees while cleaning.

    Some basic PPE items you’ll need are:

    • Face masks
    • Gloves
    • Safety glasses
    • Respirator
    • Transportation – A reliable mode of transportation is essential for getting to and from cleaning locations. Depending on the size of your business, you may need a company vehicle to transport cleaning equipment and supplies.
    • Uniforms – Uniforms are essential for creating a professional image and branding your cleaning business. You can choose to invest in branded t-shirts or polos, or you can choose to provide your employees with branded aprons.
    • Business Software – Using business software can help streamline your operations and improve your customer service.

    Some essential software tools for a cleaning business are:

    • Scheduling software
    • Billing software
    • Accounting software
    • Customer relationship management (CRM) software
    • Project management software
    • Safety Signs – Posting safety signs is essential for informing your employees and customers about potential hazards.

    Some basic safety signs you’ll need are:

    • Wet floor signs
    • Caution signs
    • No smoking signs
    • No entry signs
    • Specialized Equipment – Depending on the type of cleaning services you offer, you may need specialized equipment. Some specialized equipment you may need are:
    • Floor buffer
    • Window cleaning equipment

    Overall, investing in high-quality equipment and supplies can help you provide top-notch cleaning services and set your business apart from the competition.

    Step 8: Hire Employees for Your Cleaning Business

    If you plan on hiring employees for your cleaning business, ensure that they are legally allowed to work in Canada. You will also need to comply with employment laws and regulations, such as minimum wage laws, overtime laws, and workplace safety laws.

    When hiring employees for a cleaning business, it’s important to look for certain qualities to ensure that your business runs smoothly and your clients are satisfied.

    Here are some qualities to look for in employees for a cleaning business:

    • Attention to Detail: A good cleaner should have a keen eye for detail and be able to spot even the smallest dirt or dust particles that may be hidden in hard-to-reach places. This attention to detail ensures that the space is thoroughly cleaned and no area is left untouched.
    • Reliability: A reliable cleaner is essential for running a successful cleaning business. They should show up on time and consistently perform their duties to meet client expectations.
    • Trustworthiness: Cleaning staff will have access to clients’ homes and offices, so it is essential to hire employees who are trustworthy, honest, and have a clean criminal record.
    • Physical Stamina: Cleaning can be a physically demanding job, so it is important to hire employees who are physically fit and able to handle the demands of the job. They should be able to lift and move heavy objects, stand for long periods, and perform repetitive tasks without getting tired.
    • Positive Attitude: Cleaning can be a challenging job, but a positive attitude can make a big difference in the employee’s performance and attitude towards the work. Employees who have a positive attitude are more likely to provide good customer service and go the extra mile to ensure client satisfaction.
    • Good Communication Skills: Clear communication is important in any job, and cleaning is no exception. Employees who can communicate effectively with clients, managers, and other staff members will help ensure that the job is done efficiently and to the client’s satisfaction.
    • Flexibility: A good cleaner should be flexible and able to adapt to changes in the job or schedule. They should be able to work different shifts and be willing to take on additional responsibilities when necessary.

    Step 9: Advertise Your Cleaning Business

    Here are some proven ways to advertise a cleaning business:

    • Online Presence: A strong online presence is essential for any business in today’s digital age. Creating a professional website that showcases your services, pricing, and contact information can help attract potential customers. It is also important to create social media accounts and engage with your audience to build a community and increase your reach.
    • Referrals: Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most effective ways to attract new customers. Encourage satisfied customers to refer their friends, family, and colleagues to your cleaning business. Consider offering a referral discount or bonus to incentivize referrals.
    • Flyers and Brochures: Distributing flyers and brochures in local neighborhoods or commercial areas can help raise awareness of your cleaning business. Make sure to include your services, pricing, and contact information on the flyers and brochures.
    • Local Newspaper Ads: Placing ads in local newspapers can be an effective way to reach a wider audience. Consider running ads in local newspapers or community publications to advertise your cleaning business.
    • Vehicle Advertising: Using your company vehicle to advertise your cleaning business can be an effective way to increase brand awareness. Consider wrapping your vehicle with your company logo and contact information to make it easily recognizable.
    • Promotional Items: Giving away promotional items such as pens, magnets, or notepads with your company logo and contact information can help increase brand awareness and serve as a reminder for potential customers.
    • Partnership with Local Businesses: Building partnerships with local businesses can help attract new customers. Consider partnering with real estate agents, property managers, or office building managers to offer cleaning services to their clients.

    Step 10: Follow Health and Safety Regulations

    As a cleaning business in Ontario, it’s important to follow health and safety regulations to ensure the safety of employees and clients.

    Here are some of the key health and safety regulations that a cleaning business in Ontario must follow:

    • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB): Employers in Ontario are required to register with the WSIB, which provides compensation to employees who are injured on the job. Employers must also maintain records of workplace injuries and illnesses.
    • Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA): The OHSA sets out the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Employers must provide training and equipment to employees to ensure their safety and comply with safety regulations.
    • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS): The WHMIS is a system that provides information on hazardous materials used in the workplace. Employers must provide training to employees on how to handle hazardous materials safely.
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers must provide appropriate PPE to employees to protect them from workplace hazards. This may include gloves, safety glasses, respirators, and other equipment.
    • COVID-19 Safety: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, employers in Ontario must follow specific safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. This may include wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures.
    • Workplace Violence and Harassment: Employers in Ontario must have policies and procedures in place to prevent workplace violence and harassment. This includes training employees on how to recognize and report workplace violence and harassment.

    Resources for Cleaning Businesses in Ontario

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