In less than three years, Brasilian immigrant Morôni Salvador learned English, learned a trade, started his own business, and made $75,000 in five months in the middle of the pandemic. Read on for this remarkable story and tips from Moroôni about how he grew his company,
, so quickly.
Four years ago, Morôni found out his wife Julia was expecting. They were both three years into a five-year biomedical program in Brazil and they had a plan. They were going to graduate (in 2019) and then look for jobs in the biomedical field in the U.S. Her pregnancy only served to cement that plan further.
“We had a good life there,” Morôni explained in a phone interview, “but Brazil had been facing a lot of political problems. The crime had been getting worse every single day. So we definitely didn’t want to have a child there.”
That summer, they took a vacation with Morôni’s brother to get to know what they hoped would be their new home. They went everywhere: California, Florida, Arizona, Vegas. They stopped by Disneyland. But then, tragedy struck. Morôni’s brother passed away while they were still on vacation.
Morôni’s parents came to help, but due to bureaucratic issues, they couldn’t send the body back home. Julia was nearing her third trimester making it harder to travel. And what was meant to be a vacation turned into something else completely.
“And we ended up staying here, and here we are today,” Morôni said.
The couple had their first child and, stuck in a foreign country and knowing zero English, Morôni was forced to find work to support his growing family.
Initially, he found work washing cars for $9 an hour. Every two weeks, he’d bring home about $700. Not nearly enough to support a family of three.
Next, he found work as a file clerk for a dental office where a couple of employees spoke Portuguese. “They kept promising me that if I could communicate in English, I would get a raise.”
And so, Morôni learned English as quickly as he could, and in just over a year, he moved his way up to a managerial position in the office.
Things were looking up for a few months. Morôni could support his family and his English was rapidly improving. But just before his two-year mark with the business, the owner of the dental office showed up to Morôni’s house one day before work and told him they could no longer afford to pay him.
Desperate once again, Morôni began searching for work. His physician had a brother with a carpet cleaning business that could use the extra help. Morôni called and started work the next day. But he quickly discovered the situation wasn’t ideal.
“I started there as a technician, and then I noticed that the business is failing,” Morôni explained. He noticed patterns between the dental office and the carpet cleaning business. The pay was irregular and the carpet cleaning company had cut their marketing budget so fewer jobs were coming in.
In November of 2019, exactly one year after Morôni lost his job with the dental office, his new boss told him the same thing. They had to let him go because they could no longer afford to pay him.
By then, the couple had had a second child and Julia was busy taking care of two young children.
“I was desperate. I didn't have big savings, and I did not want to work for anyone else again, that’s for sure.”
This time around, things were a little different, because he knew a trade. So he decided to strike out on his own.
Morôni took all of his credit cards, went to a carpet cleaning supplier, and bought a portable carpet cleaning machine and an old minivan. He began to knock on doors and handi out business cards to everyone he met.
For the first four months, he didn’t even bring home $1000 a month. They couldn’t make the rent or pay for essentials.
“I was overwhelmed by all those responsibilities and thinking at the same time that I had to make it happen because my family was depending on me. I was under a lot of pressure. But one day I realized that if someone else can do it, then I just had to figure out how.”
Without jobs coming in, Morôni had a lot of time on his hands, so he started researching. He read books on business, looked at marketing courses. Around April, things were slowly starting to improve, and then in May of this year, when he least expected it, he received an unexpected opportunity.
Morôni found a van for sale with a 30-year-old truck-mounted carpet cleaning machine inside. Although it was old, it would be much more effective than the portable machine he was using. And best of all, it was only $7,000.
“I ran to the bank — I remember the day — sweating to see if the manager was going to approve me or not. And he approved me,” Morôni said.
That same month, the business brought in over $10,000. And since then, the company hasn’t seen a month with less than $11K in revenue. In September, he doubled the company’s monthly revenue for a grand total of $75,000 in five months.
Morôni’s Tips on Growing a Business
Morôni believes that he’s doing so well because he learned what
to do from the two companies he’d worked for in the past. What follows is what he did differently.
1. Separate Business and Personal Finances
According to Morôni, the two businesses he worked for in the past didn’t keep track of their business’s expenses in a detailed way. They didn’t know if their overhead or their margin. And they didn’t separate out their business and personal finances.
While Morôni worked for him, the owner of the carpet cleaning company bought an $800,000 house. This is when he started getting behind on bills for the business and stopped being able to afford to advertise.
“I learned that business money was not my money,” Morôni said.
Even when Morôni was only making a thousand dollars a month, he paid the business expenses first. And he pays himself a fixed salary that doesn’t change, regardless of how much more the business is bringing in.
2. Invest in the Right Tools Early On
Before the business was profitable, Morôni understood that the $7,000 investment in better equipment was going to make a difference. In less than a month, as he saw things improving, he made a second investment in Housecall Pro:
“I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know we made 30% more in June than we made in May and 30% more in July than we were making in June. And I believe that one of the reasons is because we had a system. Housecall Pro helped us organize everything and know what's going on.”
(A small plug here: Housecall Pro helps business owners organize and automate the entire job process from booking to payments.
to see for yourself what Housecall Pro can do for your business.)
3. Apply What You Learn
The carpet cleaning company Morôni worked for had been around for over 15 years and they expected people should know by then that they existed. They relied heavily on referrals and repeat customers. But as soon as they stopped marketing, the calls dried up. Morôni learned that it’s important to not get complacent about marketing.
But he also understood that there are other ways that business owners become passive:
“I see a lot of people that know what they have to do. They have all this theory and knowledge, but when it comes to implementing and making the systems work for your business, they fail. They don't want to do it because it takes a lot of work. I think one of the reasons I'm being successful is because I'm really implementing everything that I learned.”
Morôni’s advice is to do whatever you can to keep learning new things and keep implementing them to improve your business. Maybe it’s easy for a young business owner to say. But he’s also dedicated to continuing these habits because he’s seen what happens to established businesses when they don’t.
As Morôni said, “I procrastinate as well a lot, but I really try to face myself in the mirror every day and say, ‘What do I have to do to make this better?’ And then I just try to make it happen.”
Read more inspirational stories about home service business owners :
And more resources on starting and growing a carpet cleaning company: