Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in maintenance services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Hamza Toofani, managing director of Great Lakes Maintenance Services, located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Great Lakes Maintenance is a premium provider of home maintenance services in the Region of Waterloo & surrounding areas. We specialize in weekly lawn & garden maintenance along with detailed home cleaning for busy households and families. We're constantly improving our process, tools & technologies and are committed to delivering the best service experience possible!

Our clients have structured lives that keep them busy, and often, they need experienced help to be able to sustain a work-life balance and enjoy the fruits of their hard labor. By creating seamless monthly maintenance plans that are right for their needs, we help to give them back years of their life that they can spend freely with their friends and family without experiencing the guilt of having undone home management chores.

Tell us about yourself

At 27, I found myself at the bottom; it was one of the lowest points in my life. Having just come out of a failed venture that nearly bankrupted me financially and emotionally, I took some time to reflect on my trajectory and realized that I had come to a critical moment in life, a crossroad -

  1. I could start a new career from zero, competing with others who were years younger than me with more recent credentials. Eventually, I would climb the corporate ladder and find solace in the stability of a full-time job. Or,
  2. I could take all I had left - $800 and a fighting spirit – take the ultimate risk and try my hand once again at the game of entrepreneurship.
    Taking risks has always been part of my DNA, and so naturally, I chose Option 2.

Luckily, I had a great teacher and partner who taught me the ways of landscape/home maintenance, and with that footing, I took the plunge to start this business. It was incredibly tough in the beginning, but with a deep focus on client satisfaction through continuous process improvement, things started clicking in place.

Serving our clients is the ultimate privilege. Knowing that what we do allows them to live fuller lives and being an integral part of their support system is an amazing feeling. At the same time, watching as my team grew from one part-time helper to many full-time crew members earning above-average wages and being able to live their lives in an increasingly competitive economy is, I think, all the motivation that I need to keep going and keep growing.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

They say the first three years in business are the hardest. Indeed, 60% of all service businesses fail within that timeframe. Having statistically beaten the odds, especially during a raging pandemic, seems to be quite the achievement!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

In all honesty, I prefer to think that the business owns me. By virtue of being an “owner,” but especially being the operator, is that for better or for worse, I am ultimately responsible for everything that goes wrong, whether I had a direct influence on the outcome or not. That’s a super hard lesson to internalize.

The reality is that it’s a solitary journey filled with steep learning curves and jagged reality checks along the way. As Elon Musk once put it – it’s like eating glass and staring into the abyss. The business will take everything you have, and then some. It will strain and stretch the limits of your sanity. And because of that, it’s all worth it. It will transform you into becoming more patient, decisive, and effective as a leader and as a person.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Sharing the ups and downs with like-minded individuals and other business operators is a cheat code. Use it as much as possible.
  2. Find mentors early on and learn from them. Their experience makes for great stories and can challenge you to rethink your routine patterns.
  3. Eliminate negative influences from your life and then immediately expand your social circle. Rinse/repeat.

Bonus tip: For your product/service – Solve by iteration, monetize by repetition.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

This goes against most entrepreneurs’ personalities, but if you’re going to work hard, then play hard as well. Take a vacation or two! It’s proven to increase productivity.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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