The SME Business Awards have returned to Wales to celebrate the success of small but mighty businesses over the last year – and £multimillion commercial cleaning firm Mrs. Buckét is celebrating being highly commended as Businesswoman of the Year.
Finalists were shortlisted after receiving hundreds of nominations and were invited to take part in award ceremony last night at the Exchange Hotel in Cardiff.
The Awards honour the contributions made by SME entrepreneurs and businesses across Wales. Last night gave thanks to SME businesses for serving their communities, implementing creative approaches to product design and service and for staying true to their roots.
Rachael Flanagan, Founder of Mrs. Buckét Cleaning Services, based in Swansea, was ‘highly commended’ in the Businesswoman of the Year category.
The successful enterprise was started by Rachael when she was just 18. The entrepreneurial Welsh mum of two couldn’t even afford a Hoover when she started the business, which is now worth over £3 million and employs 280 staff.
Rachael, who had her second child in March, said: “I got average grades in media, art and IT at college, but I got a U in business. People told me I couldn’t start a business with a U and told me I was only ever going to be a cleaner – never be a businesswoman’.
“Those comments continued for a couple of years, but that was the grit inside me which got me up every morning at 5am and gave me the determination to succeed.”
To begin with Rachael was physically cleaning for 50 hours a week herself, doing bookkeeping on Saturdays, visiting customers to price up jobs in the evenings and handing out flyers on Sundays.
She had been running the business for about a year in when she hired a couple of members of staff, but by the time she was 21 the company had 20 members of staff.
“Then I won a UK Young Entrepreneur Award, that was a really inspiring moment because it was out of 1,400 people. I made a promise with myself to stop cleaning, so I could really grow the business,” said Rachael.
By 2018, Mrs Buckét Cleaning Services had 140 daily commercial clients on the books – working across Wales and Bristol.
The company’s clients now include warehouses, schools, offices and community facilities the domestic arm of the business was sold last year.
Rachael said she was I “incredibly honoured” recognised by The Welsh SME Business Awards. I aim to not only be a successful woman in business, but also just a great business person. This award will hopefully mean a huge amount to everyone involved in the business. It’s because of them our business is so successful.”
Collecting the award on Rachael’s behalf, Senior Sales Manager Sarah Pruett, said: “It was a glittering night in Cardiff, recognising some truly inspirational businesses. We got to hear some phenomenal stories and chat to some outstanding business people.
“Rachael’s aim is to change and challenge the perception of the cleaning sector and to reward and recognise everyone in the company. “
Creative Oceanic has delivered award ceremonies for nearly a decade in cities around the world, including Belfast, Dublin, Toronto, London, Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester Leicester, Birmingham and is soon launching in New York. Creative Oceanic campaigns have awarded people in the hospitality, food, hair & beauty, SME business, independent retail and women’s sectors.
Irfan Younis CEO of Creative Oceanic said: “We are delighted to bring the SME Business Awards back to Wales for the second year. These awards will give thanks to small business owners and provide them with a platform to be recognised for all the great work they do. Best of luck to all finalists, we look forward to celebrating with you on the night.”