A man quit his high-ranking job to clean people’s homes – taking home less than £10 a week.
But today Darren Clark runs a business empire called The Spotless Group – employing hundreds of people across its branches.
The father-of-one, who grew up in Withywood, quit his senior position with a supermarket giant to start his own cleaning company as part of his first venture, Spotless Spaces.
The business has since created a total of five firms in just six years, which support businesses with advertising, social media and mentoring.
Darren, who has worked in the commercial sector for over 20 years, said: “It may seem crazy to quit a good, steady job to go cleaning - but money wasn’t the motivator for me.
“I couldn’t go any further in my career unless I took on a more office-based role. I’ve always been more hands-on, with the drive to push myself and try something new. Setting up my own business seemed like a natural progression.”
Darren, who left school at the age of 16 without any formal qualifications, started out as a trolley boy and worked his way up to area manager.
He decided to go it alone and picked up several business magazines to carry out research. He set his sights on a subscription business and a cleaning firm came to mind.
He knew he would literally have to get his hands dirty - but soon realised he knew little about cleaning itself.
His early jobs took twice as long as planned and by the time he had paid for cleaning products and marketing, he made just £10 a week.
Darren said: “When you first start out in business you have to do every job yourself - from marketing, to accounting and, of course, the cleaning.
“The first job took four hours instead of two, so I went home and practised a system where I could do it in half the time.
"We believe everyone has their strengths and a potential which can be developed. We want to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs."
“I was a one-man band to begin with and my clients were impressed the company director, who was also the salesman, was cleaning their homes.”
Darren donned a branded T-shirt and went out delivering leaflets in his area before picking up his first client.
But it was not an overnight success and he was met by some resistance along the way.
The former Withyschool pupil (now Merchants Academy) said: “I was out dropping off leaflets door to door on a miserable, rainy day when one man ripped up my leaflet and threw it into a puddle.
“It was the first kick in the teeth and I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But I then picked it up and went on my way.
“I later glued it back together and framed it to remind me of my beginnings and that it’s not all plain sailing in business.”
Spotless Spaces cleaning started as a simple cleaning business and eventually became Spotless Domestic Cleaning.
It is now part of an umbrella group, with an office in Chipping Sodbury, which also includes: Spotless Commercial Cleaning, Spotless Social Media and Spotless Leafleting.
Kelly Brown became Darren’s business partner in September 2011.
Darren, who missed out on a formal education as a youngster, has said one of the goals of the Spotless Group is to provide personal development to all their team.
He said: “We believe everyone has their strengths and a potential which can be developed. We want to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
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