Cristina Uribe always had the dream of starting her own business.
Back when she lived in Peru, she decided it was time to get down to business and stop daydreaming: she was ready to become an entrepreneur.
So, she opened a school. And while it was difficult, especially because it was her first business, it brought her a lot of pride and happy moments. Unfortunately, in 2016 her school started having some problems. She did everything in her power to help it survive, but nothing could be done.
Her school closed in 2017.
But that didn’t stop Cristina’s entrepreneurial spirit. Quite the opposite, it inspired her even further to try to become a successful businesswoman.
“Go big or go home” became her mantra.
A hard-working immigrant
Cristina realized Peru was too small for her big dreams, so she decided to pack her things and go live in the United States.
The American Dream awaited her.
She arrived in Maryland, Baltimore, where her uncle and aunt lived. They welcomed her with open arms and reassured her that, waiting for her, were a plethora of opportunities for success.
A recommendation from her aunt helped her get her first job in the US in a cleaning company. To her surprise, the job was more satisfying than she expected. Very quickly, she realized she rather enjoyed it.
“I would see the happy faces of the clients when we did a good job. So I said: I like this, I want to keep doing this.”
Cristina’s curiosity and a drive to keep learning were her best friends while she was cleaning. So, she started learning tons of things: what products to use, how to do the job properly, how to deal with customers… But she didn’t stop there; she learned how the cleaning industry worked in the United States.
In May of 2019, a new adventure awaited. She quit her job and decided to start her own business.
Clean and pristine
Starting a business can be really scary, but Cristina had already walked that road before, and she knew there was nothing to fear. Also, she didn’t think of failure as an obstacle: her hunger for success had always been stronger than that.
She started Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services, her own residential cleaning business. Because she already had the experience of running a business and the knowledge of the cleaning industry, she knew this time she could take on the world.
“It sounds like a lie, but you can learn a lot from your mistakes.”
Little by little, she started to take a piece of the cleaning market and strengthened her brand. She did such a good job, and her clients were so delighted that they started recommending her to their friends. And even though she was having a rough time reaching a wider audience, she continued to do her best.
Her hard work didn’t go unnoticed, and Cristina received an amazing surprise from a customer. One of her clients was so delighted that she decided to give her business a boost: not only did she create the Yelp page for Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services, but she left a huge review with 5 big, shining stars.
Thus, began Cristina’s journey with social networks: she quickly realized that they were a gold mine.
And little by little, her business began to grow even more.
The extra push she needed
Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services was a total success, but Cristina was aware that she needed help to continue growing her business.
One day, while browsing Facebook, she came across an ad that seemed to read her mind:
She couldn’t help herself; after all, it was everything she was hoping for. Cristina didn’t hesitate to click on it.
She learned that Camino Financial was an online lender with bilingual customer support. Better yet, they specialized in helping Latino business owners.
The thing was… Cristina didn’t know much about online loans, which made her feel nervous and unsure. The ad sounded too good to be true: a quick and easy process that would get her the $5,000 she needed.
She decided to do her own research and speak with a Camino Financial Account Manager to truly understand the lending process.
And while she still was a bit nervous, Cristina decided to ger a loan with Camino Financial.
“Honestly, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. Until I saw the money in my bank account, I didn’t believe it.”
Cristina loved that the process was incredibly simple, and she did not have to go to an office to request or be granted her loan: she applied and received the money without ever having to leave her house.
Once she had the $5,000 she needed, Cristina got to work: she paid an outstanding debt and hired a marketing agency that would help her with her Facebook page and make stationery and shirts with the Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services’ branding.
“As a person that only has ITIN, Camino Financial was the first door (of many) that’d help my business. They care a lot about helping you. With the articles they publish, I’ve learned a lot.”
But that’s not everything Cristina accomplished thanks to Camino Financial. Because she always made sure to make timely payments, her credit score began to rise.
“I’ve always been very aware of my credit score, and I’ve tried to improve it: but now it is quite high. Thanks to my loan with Camino Financial, I was approved one credit card and then another…”
Cristina had achieved something more than just the American Dream. She had reached the Hispanic Dream.
Not even a pandemic can stop her
At the beginning of the year, Cristina’s business had grown so much that she had 5 people working at Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services.
Then the COVID pandemic hit.
In late March, early April, the phone stopped ringing: no clients wanted to make any appointments. The fear of COVID-19 was stronger than the need for a clean house. Overnight, Cristina had no work.
“The clients would tell me: I’m afraid that you may have COVID. They’d tell me: let’s hope this all goes away, and, in about three or two weeks, you can come back. But that didn’t happen… months passed.”
Then, when the worst was behind her, Cristina made sure she understood the most relevant information about COVID-19: she wanted to find ways to protect herself and her clients. In June, she sent out an email describing the actions she would take: the most effective products she’d use and the practices she’d follow.
Fortunately, in July people the phone started ringing again. During that time, and despite the risk she was running, she decided to go herself to customers’ houses.
“I was like an astronaut, covered from head to toe. I’d put on a mask and a hat, I’d put on gloves…”
Little by little, clients started feeling safe again and hiring her. Soon, she was able to rehire some of her employees back. Of the 5 people working for her before the pandemic, she was able to call back 2 full-time employees, sometimes 3.
Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services is still recovering, but Cristina knows that her hard work has been worth it.
Building a brighter future
Not even a pandemic could stop Cristina. Today, more than ever, she is dreaming of incredible plans for Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services’ future.
She is more than ready to grow her business and take it to new heights. How does she want to achieve it? By offering more services:
“I would like to get into the commercial cleaning business and obtain the necessary licenses for that.”
Cristina also hopes to grow her business by taking it to more cities and states. She even has the dream of turning Fresh & Shine Cleaning Services into a franchise.
With so many years of experience, difficulties only feel like tiny challenges that Cristina is willing to face head-on.
What is her secret to being so successful?
“I think you should spend at least one hour a day working and reviewing everything that has to do with money going in and out. Planning everything you have to buy and the appointments you have to make. And that’s very little time; you should work a half-day during the weekend to finish everything. You have to sacrifice something.”
Did Cristina’s story inspire you? Are you ready to start your own business, too? Keep reading: