I came to the UK with just £500 – now I own a £1m business

ARRIVING in the UK with just £500 and unable to speak EnglishAntoaneta Tsocheva may seem an unlikely business guru.

But not only is the 47-year-old Bulgarian now a successful entrepreneur with a £1m cleaning business, she’s also a lifestyle influencer and author of hit book “Not Just a Cleaner”.

Antoaneta arrived in the UK with just £500, but now is a successful business ownerCredit: FastKlean

Antoaneta, now living in Enfield, Middlesex, made her fortune from eco cleaning firm FastKlean.co.uk.

She explains: “I arrived in the UK in 2000 from Bulgaria. I needed a fresh start in life but I didn’t speak the language and only had £500 to my name.

“Life was really tough. I started working as a bartender, a babysitter and a cleaner, just to make ends meet.”

After cleaning for time-pressed families in London, Antoaneta swiftly realised there was a huge demand for high quality domestic cleaning services. 

She says: “I had no experience of management or running a company, but I decided to be brave and set up my own company.

“Starting up was incredibly hard. With no money or backers, I also had to handle everything on my own – marketing, phone calls, client meetings, interviews and training for the cleaners.  

Antoaneta's business is now a £1 million company

Antoaneta’s business is now a £1 million companyCredit: FastKlean

Antoaneta had to work long hours to get her business off the ground

Antoaneta had to work long hours to get her business off the groundCredit: FastKlean

“I didn’t have a team or anyone to help me – it was all me.

“Overcoming the language barrier and getting the hang of business leadership was difficult too.

“I worked exhaustingly long hours and made a lot of mistakes but I stuck with it.”

However, from working as a cleaner herself, Antoaneta knew just what to do to make the business succeed.

She said: “I had first-hand experience of cleaning so had an insider’s insight. I also had the freedom to do what’s right for my cleaners and clients.”

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As word spread, FastKlean grew rapidly, with clients soon asking Antoaneta to clean officers and work premises.

But as the business expanded, Antoaneta faced challenges.

She continued: “Other companies started getting into the market so we had to deal with some big competition. 

“We also faced the problem of people trying to hire our cleaners privately rather than go through the appropriate channels.

“But we survived and grew by providing an excellent service.”

The cleaning guru says she is "incredibly proud" of her team

The cleaning guru says she is “incredibly proud” of her teamCredit: FastKlean

The company now turns over more than a million a year with expected earnings of £3m in the near future.

But Antoaneta hasn’t stopped there.

She also runs popular female empowerment website and has seen her first book “Not Just a Cleaner”  published this month.

Antoaneta puts her success down to a strong work ethic and passion for her business.

She continues: “I am a self-made businesswoman. Everything I have achieved is self-funded and down to me.

“But you have to have passion. Without passion, you won’t succeed. I was dreaming about a better life and I have more than I dreamed about thanks to hard work.”

But the cleaning guru also stressed the importance of her staff.

She said: “I’m also incredibly proud of my team.

“As the pandemic has shown, cleaners are essential and should be appreciated.

“We’re rare in the industry as I have cleaners and supervisors who joined me right at the start and are still with me after 18 years.

“Now when I see what I have built, I am very grateful.

“I have created so many jobs for people to support their families and that gives me huge satisfaction and a big kick to continue.”

Fearless Antoaneta is also urging other women with no business experience to apply for The Sun’s small business grant.

She adds: “This is a brilliant campaign from The Sun to support small business owners.

“Five thousand might not seem like much to some of the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, but in the digital age, you can get things going with much less than that.

“If you are thinking of entering the competition – go for it. 

“I always say the best time to start was yesterday. The second best would be right now. So, start now and get perfect later. 

“If I could do it starting from the bottom, then so can all of the entrepreneurs reading this.

“All you have to do is put in the effort and keep working on your dream.

“Don’t be afraid to dream. And dream big. I did it and so can you.”

Meet the entrepreneurs who’ve set up their own businesses after coronavirus left them jobless.

Here’s a list of tips on how to start a small business during lockdown.

If you’re struggling to manage your workload as a small business owner, then we’ve explained how to juggle your priorities.

Grants of up to £18,000 to help shops, pubs and restaurants reopen in £5billion boost for the high street


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