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Why I love running my own business

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.

The rewards

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.

My Why

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.

What the Venus Award Means to Just Helpers – from our Founder Antoinette Daniel

“Just Doing the Right Thing” is at the heart of what Just Helpers is all about.

So when I was recognised as Employer of the Year in London, in the Venus Awards, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

What are the Venus Awards?

The Venus Awards have been called “The working women’s Oscars”. They recognise the achievements of hard-working women, and female-friendly businesses, across the country. I was lucky enough to be nominated for the award by a Just Helpers customer. From 45 nominations, I made it down to the shortlist of 4. Then, at a glamour-filled ceremony at the Waldorf Hotel in London, I was announced as the winner! For me, the award is a recognition of the achievements of the whole team at Just Helpers.


I founded Just Helpers out of a passion for justice, fair pay and decent working conditions. Inspired by my charity work with an anti human-trafficking organisation, I placed these values at the heart of the business.

In our cities, vulnerable migrant workers, and particularly women, are often exploited by unscrupulous employers with poor pay and working conditions.  I saw this injustice first hand, and so I decided to begin my own business to provide an alternative – providing domestic and commercial cleaning services.

The Just Helpers Approach

Being an ethical, professional business which nurtures and supports women is central to the Just Helpers Approach.

  • Paying the London Living Wage – a good day’s work for a good day’s pay
  • Developing People – mentoring our Helpers to improve their confidence and communication
  • Professionalism –through our process of vetting, hands on interview and shared standards, we ensure your Helper is right for you
  • Pride – Our Helper of the Month Award, nominated by our clients, rewards a job well done
  • Recognising Potential – where we can, we grow our Helpers into Managers


Campaigning is a big part of who I am. The award has been a great opportunity to encourage people to follow the Just Helper’s approach. In my acceptance speech I said: “Please make sure you know how much you pay your cleaner and if you are going to use an agency, make sure they are ethical. A good day’s work for a good day’s pay – everyone deserves that.

A good day’s work for a good day’s pay – everyone deserves that.

Just Helpers is affiliated to the Living Wage Foundation. This organisation campaigns for workers to be paid fair wages which reflects actual living costs in the capital, and across the nation.


In further recognition of what we have achieved at Just Helpers, I am excited to have been asked to be a Champion for the London Mayor’s “Good Work Standard”. This initiative aims to bring together the best employment practices in London. It will work to raise standards for workers across the city, through educating employers and informing government policy. I’m looking forward to sharing my expertise and working alongside them to ensure a robust and fair policy for all sizes of businesses.

The Future

The Venus Award has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and to reflect on all that we have achieved so far at Just Helpers. The positive validation from someone outside the agency has encouraged us to punch bigger and higher. Our greater passion has now become to end exploitation within the UK cleaning agency. Watch this space!

Over the coming months, Just Helpers will continue to grow, with a new Just Helpers App, an exciting new rebrand and new services such as Lifestyle Support for people in retirement.

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