I’ve run my own business for 11 years so far and it’s been a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions.
When the cost of living crisis loomed, I wondered if it was time to hang up my entrepreneurial hat and become employed. After about a week of considering this prospect, I realised I am now unemployable. The desire to work for anyone else is permanently in the past.
Running a business must be like raising a child or being in a long term romantic relationship. There are good days and challenging days. But for so much of the time the rewards of seeing people’s lives transformed through interacting with my businesses spurs me on to continue.
Just Helpers: The ethical cleaning agency
I started Just Helpers accidentally. In 2013 I left my job as a secondary school teacher, because I wanted to focus on campaigning against the exploitation of migrant workers. I needed to support myself while I did this, and as I’ve always enjoyed cleaning, it was a natural choice.
Then, I realised there was an opportunity here to combine the two. By creating a cleaning business with fair pay and decent working conditions at its heart, I could help migrant and other low-paid workers. So Just Helpers was born.
Now, we work across London, matching clients with Helpers (they are more than cleaners!) and we are proud to be affiliated to the Living Wage Foundation.
Justly: The tech solution
A few years in to running Just Helpers, I realised that the tech available for the cleaning industry was not adequate. It wasn’t solving the problems we were encountering as a business. And this is still a common lament in the cleaning industry.
So we set out to create our own solution. Right now, we are in the middle of birthing Justly working to create a system that works for cleaning businesses. We are at the scary stage of looking for investors, but we are excited about the future.
EntrePLANeurs: The support tribe for female business owners
My latest passion project is EntrePLANeurs which I have set up with my great friend Lynsey Harrison. We wanted to create a safe space for women in business, following the emotional strain of juggling a business and family responsibilities during COVID. We have a Facebook Group and we offer regular retreat days for female business owners to meet together, support one another and focus on growing their business.
I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching as I look forward to turning 50 in 2024. I’m asking existential questions like why am I here on the planet?
The common thread in my life is a drive to empower people to find their joy. I want to enable them to work from a place of strength, and to positively impact the world around them. The freedom to call the shots, set the culture, and work with the people that share your vision and passion is an amazing thing to be able to do. And I get all of this running my own business.
Through a combination of the businesses, we have impacted thousands of lives. We have spread the message about the need to treat people with dignity, and to pay them a wage that enables them to thrive. We have shown people in low paid work that they have the right to thrive in their work and their lives – through fair pay and decent conditions.
I am conscious that I have less birthdays ahead than I have behind me. I no longer have a desire to save the entire world. But I am very clear that I am a a changemaker, through the way I run my business, spend my money, interact with strangers and impact a few individuals. This is how we change the world – one person at a time – and this has meaning and worth.
I’m Antoinette and the CEO of Just Helpers Cleaning Agency. I’m passionate about social justice and empowering people to find their joy, work from a place of strength and positively impact the world around them. When not trying to save the world 😉 I love cooking up a storm in my kitchen and eating and chatting around a table with friends. Find me at antoinettedaniel.com.Visit my website