In this interview, we hear from Tara Oaks, a single mother of five who has built a successful cleaning business So Fresh and So Clean from the ground up. Tara shares her inspiring story of resilience in the face of tragedy and the unique challenges she has faced as a single mother running a business. She also offers valuable insights on marketing, time management, and maintaining a positive attitude during difficult times.
Her commitment to honesty, trust, and hard work shines through in both her personal and professional life, making her a role model for single mothers everywhere who are looking to build a better future for themselves and their families.
What inspired you to start your cleaning business, and how did you get started?
We lost our home to a fire last year and the realization of how your whole world can change in a split second motivated me to chase financial freedom. This change in perspective inspired me to persevere and turn our tragedy into something meaningful. All the support I received from my community was a huge factor as well. It reminded me of the good that was still out there in the world and encouraged me to want to be a part of something bigger.
How do you balance the demands of running a business with the responsibilities of being a single mother of five?
It’s definitely a balancing act! Everything is planned weekly down to a T, but I’m always prepared to be flexible at any given moment. I also have a lot of help from my family and friends. It really does take a village and my village is invaluable! In addition, having raised three very capable teenagers that are leaders themselves has also been an immense contribution to our family dynamic.
What are some of the unique challenges you’ve faced as a single mother running a business, and how have you overcome them?
The most challenging aspect is the stereotypes I’ve faced. To be honest, I thrive knowing I’m the underdog, so it’s also been my biggest motivation. I’ve been underestimated my whole life and while I use to let it effect me, I know now how to use it to my advantage. Perception and mindset are key! I think sometimes we can be our own worst enemy in that aspect.
How do you ensure that your business provides high-quality cleaning services while maintaining affordable prices?
In the cleaning industry it’s more about labor than it is the cleaning products. While we accommodate our clients with the products that they like and/or use to, it’s our attention to detail and the last touch of perfection we leave at each home or business that I believe puts us over the top.
How have you marketed your business, and what has been your most successful marketing strategy?
Networking! This has made me more money than my college degree ever could have. The support from the community is priceless! I set out on this adventure knowing word of mouth would be everything and that I would never leave a client the opportunity to be dissatisfied.
What advice would you give to other single mothers who are considering starting their own businesses?
A good start would be to take that first step and don’t overthink it! Don’t let the what-ifs continue to weigh you down everyday. There is power in small steps! Mistakes are going to be made, but take every one as a lesson and an opportunity to do better the next time.
How have your children been involved in your business, and what have they learned from the experience?
I honestly could not be more proud of the young women I’ve raised. They have shown me through this challenging time that they will be able to persevere through anything with grace and determination. They had the rug pulled out from underneath them and still handled all their responsibilities without missing a beat. They are all honor students that held up their prior engagements, from holding down jobs, extra curricular and community involvement while helping with their little brothers on the weekend. They will always be my greatest accomplishment!
What are some of the values and principles that guide you in running your business and raising your family?
I believe your word is everything. Trust and communication has always been a priority in my home, so that extends to my business as well. I always try to have the best intentions in everything I do and remain consistent and reliable for all my clients.
How do you prioritize your time and responsibilities as a single mother and business owner?
This one I hold close to my heart, because time is so valuable to me. My oldest will be twenty-one shortly and it really has shined a light on how fast time flies by. So while my main priority is to enjoy the time I have with the people I love, it’s equally important that I fill my cup first. It doesn’t take much for me to become drained with all that’s going on in my life, so I have to maintain a balanced lifestyle: mentally, physically, and spiritually! Everything else is just ripples in the water.
How do you maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated during difficult times?
Gratitude! While I’m not always positive, I try to focus on all the good in my life and how blessed I am to come as far as I have. I’ve been through more hardships than I care to count (some by my own hand), but God willing, I’ve got through them all. I’m always looking ahead, and although I do look back for motivation time to time, I don’t let it define me.
What advice would you give to other single mothers who are going through challenging times or considering starting their own businesses?
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. There’s always going to be challenges and/or mistakes made, don’t be so hard on yourself and allow those mistakes to be a learning tool for you and your children. Don’t forget to allow yourself grace and understanding. Your children don’t need perfection, they need you to be happy and content with who you are! Not to mention they are great imitators! Let them imitate!