Can I start my own business as an IC on the side? What is the role of an independent contractor in house cleaning?
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Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
Can You Start Your Own Business as an IC?
Can you start your own business as an IC? That stands for an independent contractor. And that’s a great question. Now there was a house cleaner that called into the show and she asked this question.
“If I was an independent contractor for a cleaning company, am I able to open a cleaning business in the same state?”
Usually, an Independent Contractor is Their Own Business
Now, I’m a little confused about the way the question was asked. It gives me pause. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m reading something into it, or if it’s the way the question was asked, but let me share this with you.
If you are an independent contractor already, it is assumed that you already have a house cleaning business. Otherwise, you would not be an independent contractor. Being an independent contractor means you already have a business, you already have existing clients, you have your own uniforms, you have your own company car, you have your own cleaning supplies.
You’ve already paid for your own training and certification. You already have an existing cleaning business. So, you are not covered at all by the company that’s hiring you, okay?
Companies Outsource to Independent Contractors
They’re outsourcing a job to you. And so, you’re not covered by their insurance or their workman’s comp. You’re not on their payroll. You’re not wearing their uniforms. And you’re not using their cleaning supplies.
They don’t pay for your training, they don’t pay for your company car. They should not be giving you car rides to work. You’re not on their time clock. If you’re late, they don’t write you up or any of those things.
So, you have to be very clear, are you an employee right now or are you an independent contractor? Because the rules are very, very different.
Independent Contractors May Work for Multiple Companies
Now, there are a lot of house cleaning companies that hire independent contractors when they go into a growth mode, and for example, they have more business than they can actually do. So, they might have a couple of customers and they have like two jobs too many or five jobs too many.
And it doesn’t really warrant hiring a whole new person because it might be one or two days a week that you need that extra independent contractor. And so instead of hiring somebody new, they hire an independent contractor.
Then the owner of the cleaning company makes a little bit of the money 10%, 15%, 20%, from the independent contractor, okay? So, it’s not like they’re hiring a new person, they’re just outsourcing a job. So, it’s a very different set of rules.
Independent Contractors Invoice the Customers
Okay, then the interesting thing is as the independent contractor, you are the one that invoices the customer. And so, your customer is not the homeowner. Your customer is a cleaning company.
So, the cleaning company comes to you and they say, “Hey, I have a couple of extra jobs for you. Do you want them? This client is expecting you Tuesday at eight o’clock in the morning and then I have another customer that needs you Thursday at one o’clock in the afternoon. Can you do those two jobs?”
And you say, “Yes, I can.” Now, theoretically, you have the right to change the time and call the customer and say, “Hey, I can’t do it at one o’clock. Can you do it at noon instead?” And if you change the time around, that’s entirely up to you because you are the independent contractor.
Independent Contractors Have Their Own Schedule
I don’t recommend it because if a company like a cleaning company has already booked a job and they’ve already cleared that with the customer, if you’re able to accommodate the time, sure, accommodate the time, but you do not report back to the company that hired you as far as that getting written up or whatever, right?
You’re on your own schedule. They gave you the job and said, “Take care of it.” And then at the end, you send them an invoice and you say, “Okay, I did the job,” and then they pay you for it. You don’t collect money from the customer because that is not your customer, that is their customer, okay?
Some Companies Don’t Like Independent Contractors
Now a lot of house cleaning companies get a little bit leery and they’re like, “Well if I hire an independent contractor, they’re going to steal my business.” Well, no, not necessarily. This is a whole lot like a parent hiring a babysitter to come in and “be the parent” while they go out on a date or they go run errands or they go to a doctor’s appointment or whatever, okay?
So, they’re hiring someone to come to replace them for a period of time. And the rules are all very strict and in place, everybody knows who the real parent is. And then when the babysitter leaves, they get paid for the job that they do. The parents go back to following rules and orders by the regular parent.
But during the time they were in the babysitter’s care, they have to follow the babysitter’s rules because the babysitter is acting as the interim parent, right?
An Independent Contractor is Like a Babysitter
So, the babysitter does not move in. They do not start living in the house or any of those things. It’s simply they came, and they took over a series of behaviors for a period of time while the parent was out. That’s all they were being paid to do. The childcare was outsourced for a period of time. The same rules apply to house cleaning.
So, when a cleaning company hires you as an independent contractor, they’re outsourcing the responsibilities of that client for a period of time. The business does not belong to you.
My suggestion would be, don’t try to take that business, okay? Because right now, if a company is willing to give you jobs and you are willing to help them with those jobs, you can have regular money coming in on a regular basis for their overflow jobs.
The Company’s Customers are Not Your Customers
If you try to steal those customers and you try to undercut the existing bid that they have, or you try to sly talk to the customer or whatever, even if the customer likes you better, it doesn’t matter. But that is not your customer. It’s like the baby or the children telling the babysitter, “Oh, we like you better than our parents.”
That doesn’t mean the babysitter comes in and then starts raising the children. It just doesn’t work that way, right? So even if the customer likes you better, you say, “Hey, listen, thank you so much. I’m honored, but this would be unethical for me to take you on as a client when you belong to this other company right now and they’re hiring you or you are hiring them for their service.”
I would not break those boundaries whatsoever because this could be a good source of revenue for you if you’re starting your business and your business is kind of growing right now.
Get on the Same Page With the Company
But if you are an independent contractor right now, it is assumed that you already have an existing cleaning business in the same state in which you are working for the other company. So, I hope that makes a little bit of sense. It is a gray area.
And if you and your cleaning company that you’re working with are not on the same page, please get on the same page immediately so that there are no surprises and that neither of you gets in trouble.
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