A local entrepreneur is aspiring to make his professional cleaning business a household name.
Jonathan Williams launched the Chestnut Hill Cleaning Company when he was junior at Central High School. He foray into entrepreneurship began at the age of 16 when he and some friends did residential snow removal in their neighborhood.
After he landed commercial contracts for snow removal, Williams’ business morphed into offering commercial and residential cleaning services.
“I didn’t set out to start a cleaning business,” said the 21-year-old native of Philadelphia. “I just intended to start some type of business to make some money.”
His business specializes in cleaning churches, businesses and schools.
Williams began by utilizing grassroots marketing. He and his friends would stand out on Germantown Avenue and hand out business cards. Their efforts paid off and he started receiving calls from potential customers.
After submitting a successful proposal, Williams received his first commercial contract from the Chestnut Hill Business Association to clean their offices.
“They launched us into commercial work and gave us a whole lot of leads. We gained a lot contracts that way,” said Williams, who currently serves on the board of the organization.
Kate O’ Neill, director of operations, Chestnut Hill Business Association, is impressed with his business acumen.
“He’s thoughtful. He’s prepared. He’s got all the qualities of a good businessman and entrepreneur,” she said.
Williams graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia on May 5 with an associate degree in business. He took a year off from school to devote full-time energy to his cleaning company.
He’s using the skills he learned from his course work and through tapping into “Power Up Your Business” — the college’s neighborhood-based training program for small businesses. The free program, designed to strengthen the city’s commercial corridors, offers a 10-week, 30-hour peer-learning experience where small-business owners are taught basic business management, planning and marketing and receive support from business coaches.
The program was instrumental in helping Williams understand the fundamentals of branding.
“It helped me build on a lot of things — especially my marketing and understand a little bit more about how to keep a proper accounting system,” he said in reference to the initiative.
Williams is working to make his business stand out in Philadelphia.
“I don’t really see too many other cleaning companies that really advertise and push as hard as I think that they could. I feel like there is a whole lot of cleaning companies — the cleaning market is very segmented — but I want to be that one name that really stands out,” Williams said.
He has set ambitious goals for the future.
“I don’t plan on just running the cleaning company as just one business,” he said. “I plan on building a conglomerate and eventually do international business.”
He juggles running his business with mentoring middle schoolers in business through a nonprofit he started: the Sky is the Limit Entrepreneurial Program. Plans are in the works to expand the program to a local high school.
Williams said people who are considering entrepreneurship should not be afraid of the possibility of failure before experiencing success.
“For anybody who is thinking about getting into business, take the leap and don’t be afraid,” he added.