While she was growing up, Sharon Green balanced the books every Saturday for the beauty shop her grandmother and mother ran for 30 years in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia.
"I didn't realize it then, but it was good training," Green says.
Though she came from a family of entrepreneurs, Green spent nearly 20 years in finance jobs from auditing to collections before she launched her cleaning business in 2018. In retrospect, she says, it all makes perfect sense.
"I knew I wasn't feeling fulfilled, but I just didn't know what I wanted to do," she says. "Entrepreneurship has its challenges and its ups and downs, but it's so rewarding. I wouldn't change my journey."
Green opened her business, The Professional Cleaning Solution, three years ago, but just this past June took the plunge and left her full-time role with Chattanooga-based mall operator CBL in accounts receivable and collections.
As her business grew, she had been juggling entrepreneurship and her job — not to mention graduate school — with the help of her husband, Orlando. But the pandemic brought heightened demand for the work of The Professional Cleaning Solution, and it was time to go all in, Green says.
"We got really, really busy," she says.
The cleaning business is about 70% commercial and 30% residential, and has 26 property management companies as clients. Green has 15 full-time employees and a rotating crew of part-time contract workers. Before the pandemic, she had 30 full-time employees, but hiring has been tough in the tight labor market, she says.
Finding the Solution: Sharon Green trades bookkeeping for cleaning up in latest endeavor
Her biggest challenges are turnover and juggling nearly every role — from hiring and bookkeeping to ordering supplies.
"Sometimes I just have to jump in and clean," Green says. "I don't mind. It's our name on there."
She never imagined when she took a job cleaning dorm rooms to earn a little extra vacation money that she had launched her new career, Green says.
"This business just really kind of fell in my lap," she says.
A friend had asked Green if she knew of a company that could help clean and flip local dorm rooms for arriving students. Green figured she could handle the job, and met with the CEO of the property management group.
"I left after taking the meeting and called Orlando and said, 'Baby, I think we have a business,'" Green says, laughing.
She had about a week to clean 90 units. Green asked a friend who owned two small businesses for advice, and did research online to figure out how to price her services and pay her team. Her husband, who has a marketing degree, took on promoting the business.
* Business: The Professional Cleaning Solution
* Hometown: Columbus, Georgia; moved to Chattanooga in 2003.
* Personal: Husband Orlando, and sons 19, 17 and 7.
"It just felt right, and if you hesitate, you'll never do it," she says.
They didn't have any working capital, and property management clients pay every 30, 60 or 90 days, Green says, so they used savings and credit cards to get going. Orlando, a military veteran who works for the U.S. Postal Service, plays a critical role with balancing both the business and their family, she says.
"I have an amazing support system," Green says. "If I have to go clean, he gets things done."
Leaving a legacy for their sons and showing them how to make their own way is one of the biggest pleasures of owning a business, along with creating jobs and supporting her employees, Green says.
"I love that I am able to employ people and help them make a living," she says. "I love helping give them a better life."