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Exclusive Interview: Helen Williams, Clean Sweep

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Clean Sweep was formed as a domestic cleaning company in 2006 with £20 and 1000 flyers after a gap in the market for a good, honest and reliable cleaning company was spotted. Now the company employs 20 staff offering domestic, commercial, industrial and carpet cleaning services. Here, founder and managing director Helen Williams gives us an insight into the business and her plans for the future.

1.    Tell us about your business?
I formed Clean Sweep as a domestic cleaning company in 2006 after finding a gap in the market. My brother-in-law Ben Timlin and I went around Swansea handing out leaflets.

I only received one phone call in the first couple of weeks and after much perseverance the phone started to ring. We now employ over 20 staff and we have expanded rapidly into new sectors. As well as domestic cleaning we now cover commercial cleaning, industrial cleaning and carpet cleaning.

2.    What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?
During the past three and a half years, our business has consistently grown each year by over 100%. The plan is to continue in this way and as always, Ian and I will still remain as hands on as ever, we are not the type of people to take a back seat. We had a baby in September, Florence who made her first site visit at two days old!

We have a few other things up our sleeves too, but divulging that will have to wait.

3.    What do you wish you had known when you started out in business?Business News Wales Exclusive Interview: Helen Williams
I wish I had known that there really is no need to worry about things that really don’t matter.

4.    Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently?
I think the first few years of starting the business, I was in my comfort zone plodding along. I was just happy for things to be ticking over nicely, without pushing too hard and taking any risks.

I think the turning point for this and other things in my life was losing my mum in 2012. It really did make me realise that I can’t take anything or anyone for granted and I need to create and take all the opportunities that I can.

5.    What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
I really believe in being approachable and available! Ian and I are both very hands on people and like to manage all of our projects ourselves.

Having a good relationship with staff is essential – after all – without them where would we be! I’m now confident enough to take risks, although after 10 years in the business, they are more educated risks! Most of all, I really believe in being trustworthy and honest with clients and staff – it goes a long way and it’s nice to be nice!

6.    What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business?
Establish what sector you want to go into and have a plan of where you want to take the business. Keep focused on your goal at all times because it is hard out there, but remember to always keep in mind that you will need to stay confident at all times and take the good with the bad.

7. What are your top three tips for success?
Believe in what you are doing
Lead by example
Never take your eye of the ball

8.    What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?
I think as a nation we are passionate, hardworking, intelligent and honest people. What holds us back sometimes is being a smaller country, but I think this should push us even more to achieve our goals!

9. What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?
Wales is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our roaming countryside and breath-taking coastline would make anyone want to come here. I think we need to work with what we are so lucky to have and we need to advertise and celebrate our country more for all the world to see.