The Juan Chaparro Story: How a 27 year-old maid makes $150,000 a year

juan chaparro

Last month I ran into a Quick Sprout reader at the Entrepreneur Magazine conference in Miami. Every time I meet a Quick Sprout reader, the first thing I ask is:

What do you do?

Within seconds, Juan got into his life story and told me he was a maid, who makes $150,000 a year. Once I heard $150,000, I instantly thought how does a maid make that much money?

Naturally, I started to dig deeper and realized that he had an amazing life story that I have to share with all of you. So, here it goes…

Coming to America

Juan was born in Colombia, and when he was young, he dreamed of being an automotive engineer. He couldn’t find many colleges in Colombia that specialized in automotive engineering, so he decided to look for colleges in other countries.

He found a lot of good schools in the U.S., so he applied to them. Within months, he got accepted to a school in Texas and relocated.

During his first year, he learned everything about cars. And by the second year, he was able to take a car apart and put it back together. According to one of his professors, he was on track to being a great engineer.

But he ran into one big problem…

During his second year at the university, he found out from the school that they lost his immigration paper work. They searched hard to find it, and they tried to resolve the issue with the government, but they were unable to do so.

Because Juan wanted to stay in the U.S., this meant that he had to stay as an illegal immigrant.

A tough life

Although Juan had a girlfriend who was a citizen and they were already planning on getting married, he didn’t want to rush things. He couldn’t get a normal job due to his illegal status, so he had to take side jobs to make a living.

He quickly saw how many immigrants were standing outside of local hardware stores. He noticed how competitive it was and felt that he could do better because he had a special skill: he was good with cars.

At that point, it hit him that he should help people fix their cars. So, instead of standing outside of Home Depot, he stood outside of AutoZone.

When people walked out with car parts, he offered to fix their cars for them right then and there, in the parking lot. He did it for $10 to $20. For example, if you walked out of AutoZone with a pair of brake pads, he would offer to replace them for you for $10.

The fight for survival

Juan wasn’t making a ton of money, but he was able to pull in anywhere from $20 to $100 a day. He wasn’t making stable income, so it was impossible for him to provide for his girlfriend if they ever decided to get married. So, he started to look for new ideas to make steady money.

One of his friends recommended that he start cleaning houses. That way, he could earn up to $100 a day, being a maid. Juan instantly latched onto the idea and started his own maid service.

He started out by cleaning his friends’ homes, and because he was doing a good job, they naturally referred him to more people. He got so busy that his girlfriend decided to join him, and together they started to clean homes for a living.

Within months, they got up to $3,000 in monthly income. Because now Juan felt financially stable, he and his girlfriend decided to get married.

The thirst for knowledge

Making $3,000 a month isn’t bad, but it wasn’t enough for Juan. He wanted to continue learning and further his education so that he could do better in life. But there was one issue. He didn’t have enough money to go back to college.

Instead of giving up on his quest for more knowledge, he started to buy audio books about entrepreneurship, marketing, and website design. He also started to read blogs like Quick Sprout and Mixergy.

From his readings, he learned that the best income is passive income. That means that ideally, you want to figure out a way to make money even when you are sleeping. This way your income isn’t directly tied to how many hours you are working each day.

The road to entrepreneurship

The business concept that Juan came up with was to start a cleaning service that connected people with maids in their areas, kind of like Molly Maid. He would focus on the Dallas, Texas, region.

In the first 30 days of launching it, he didn’t make a dime because no one came to his website. He actually lost money because he had to pay for hosting and wasn’t cleaning as many homes as he used to due to the amount of time it took him to create a website.

He quickly realized that he wasn’t going to be successful unless he figured out how to separate himself from the competition.

He surveyed his customer base and saw that there was a demand for an eco-friendly maid company. People were actually willing to pay a bit more if he used products that were better for the environment.

He decided to change the name of his maid business to Gmaids (Green Maids). Gmaids would connect people with eco-friendly maids in the Dallas, Texas, region.

Within a week of the site launch, the Daily Candy picked it up, and Juan was bombarded with new customers. If you fast-forward to a year after its launch, the company hit six figures in yearly income by getting people to subscribe to a monthly maid-cleaning program.

Growing the business

Now that Juan started to make a healthy amount of passive income from his business, he focused on growing it. He did everything from traffic acquisition strategies like search engine optimization to optimizing Gmaids for conversions by fine-tuning the copy, adding video testimonials and modifying design elements.

These days Juan is looking to grow Gmaids into a million dollar company by expanding into more cities. He doesn’t know if he’ll get there, but he’ll never stop trying.

Conclusion

If you don’t have money and things aren’t going your way, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful entrepreneur. Juan had a lot of things going against him, and he did well anyway. He had to learn English; he didn’t have much cash; and, worst of all, he was an illegal immigrant.

Keep pushing forward like Juan did and never let anything stand in your way. Yes, things won’t always go the way you want, but if you keep on trying, eventually something will have to work out to your benefit.

What do you think of Juan’s story? Do you know of any other people who went from having nothing to becoming successful?

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Comments

  1. Even with everything going on in the news, the reality is that the US provides some great opportunities, and a fair amount of protection to run a business. Opportunities abound in any economy, and knowing how to structure a business for success via passive income is powerful. My take is that you just need to surround yourself with people better at something than you are, and if they’re willing to be employees instead of the boss, half of your work is done.

    • It certainly can if you are willing to put in the effort to work and make it happen. Yep, having help can definitely take you much further. Thanks for your input, some valid points for sure.

    • Wow… The story of Juan tell us to never give up in everything we are doing. Juan really worked hard to make it, with one mind and one spirit.

    • This is such a great story specially me being Colombian, it makes me proud of our people. Just goes to show how foreigners can bring opportunity and growth to our market. It also puts a good reputation to the Colombian community. Not everyone in Colombia is in the drug business! I’m a amateur online marketer and this is really one of my favorite stories thanks for writing about Neil I think I’m going to have to share this story on my blog too.

  2. Hey Neil you again shared a Motivational Post never give up Juan you really worked hard man but the good thing is you surf your time in right direction you will get more success i know :) so best of luck ;)

  3. WOW! Talk about inspiring. This guy has everything stacked against him but fought his way to financial freedom. Inspiring story, big time!

    • Yes, indeed. He didn’t let the obstacles he encountered keep him from succeeding.

    • Yea he really beat the odds! I think something special about Juan also is the fact he was willing to do whatever to make his dreams come true. There are too many people out there that refuse to do something because they think it’s “below them”, a real entrepreneur gets dirty.

      • He is certainly a “go getter” and refused to let anything hold him back from getting ahead. I agree if you want something, you will have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

    • This guy was persistent and this is what it takes in order to succeed. If one door closes try the other one and so on. If you quit you will never make it. You have to fight all your life in order to provide for yourself and your family.

  4. This is a completely inspiring story. It inspires me myself to be honest, considering that i am a migrant in the UK at the moment.

    Thanks very much for putting this up and i must say that i personally respect Juan for his attitude to pressing forward despite all odds.

    @Neil, is it ok if I share this story on my forum please? I’ll definitely give credit back. Thanks

  5. What a truly inspirational story, and it shows the differnce between the US and the UK. Here he would probably have been arrested for loitering outside the Auto shop.

  6. Hey Neil, nice post. One detail: it’s Colombia, not Columbia.

  7. Inspiring story! Sad how a school could lose his papers and then force him out. This is inspiring because even though he had everything going against him he still worked hard and succeeded.

    What a great idea to offer to fix cars outside of AutoZone. That just shows you.. to be successful you need to “think outside the box” and not do the norm.. like waiting outside of Home Depot like everyone else.

    • Even when everything falls apart you have to remember to pick yourself up and carry on. Doing something different to make yourself stand out a little bit more, will give you a higher chance at success. You have to like you said, “think outside the box” sometimes.

  8. Hmmm, lost paperwork? There would have been other ways to verify his status. Sounds like a great story but kinda fishy. It is inspiring nonetheless.

  9. Thanks for sharing Neil. It’s sometimes amazing how being picked up by one or two publications can drive a business into the success column. Maybe you should write a post about “how to be found” by these publications?

  10. That is quiet a motivation story, and just goes on to show that if one has the drive and intellect to translate that in to a unique/different business opportunity, it is possible to succeeded, even in these tough times.

  11. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for sharing Juan’s life with us. Its inspirational and is a personification of the popular quote – “Ships are safest in harbors, but that is not what they were meant to be”
    I am going through a transition in my life and I swear it is tough to deal with change. Change is tough, stressful and numbing. But its the reward at end of the change, that is driving me.
    Best of luck to Juan and his wife for their future

  12. Very inspiring story. Anyone can become an entrepreneur and make money, they just need to believe in themselves (and have a decent idea). Thanks for shearing this Neil and I wish Juan all the success in the future.

  13. I was also at the Miami “Winning Strategies” convention when Neil spoke, and it was the first time I found out about Quicksprout (hooked now). I think what Juan did that was smart was to listen to what people wanted. There are too many failing entrepreneurs out there that try and force feed what they are selling down people’s throats instead of just listening and observing what people want. Great story.

    • Cool, it is great to have a new reader. Listening is certainly key. If you don’t know what others want you can’t succeed and in order to know what they want you must listen and reason.

  14. This story is actually one of the most inspiring stories I have read recently around the web. This really is a story of someone working from the bottom of their situation and finding one of the most important elements in life, knowledge. A great big congrats to Juan and his wife for making it and striving for the best in their life. Thanks Neil for being humble enough to take the time to talk with people like this. Awesome, just awesome!

  15. Neil, you really ran with it! :) Awesome!

    I gotta be honest, it was easy to overlook, but you really dove deep into his story Neil. I was there. Very inspirational for everyone and anyone who think they “can’t do it.”

    Well done Juan! (BTW, Juan has the most beautifully designed business cards)

  16. I wants to be successful too and I hope I’m on my way. Truly I was inspired and I am also hopeful that I won’t have run out of ideas like Juan. I’ll keep trying and trying then someday I have my catch.

  17. Alex @ Easy ways to make money :

    This story is very applicable for most of us entrepreneurs, especially those that are not really born in the US. Going to a new country with the hopes of earning big is really a challenging endeavor, I’ve seen a few business people who also succeeded in the US just like Juan did, and they all have one thing in common – they all have guts and resilience. They just don’t give up on a few setbacks, rather they keep moving forward on reaching their goal. I salute people like Juan and also you Neil, you’re an inspiration to those who plan or already have an online business.

  18. Great Story about somebody who wouldn’t quit trying. I know everybody says greed is bad, but it seems to me that settling for what life hands you and not wanting more would be worse.

  19. It is those situations which push great entrepreneurs to go fight for the future.

    • Everyone needs something to push them in life. You won’t get anywhere doing nothing. Like Newton’s 1st law says a body at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

  20. Mind my language — this is fucking great.

    I dare you to come up with a excuse to what you are not where you want to be.

    Bravo Juan.

  21. Nice one Neil,

    After read this blog post we can say that thing with very confidently “”how we can make our fortune with own hands”” no doubt in that if we want to get something then we will need to do much struggle in our life and somebody will do this and somebody don’t that.

    So in the end i want to say only that thing i appreciate to Juan because he wasn’t has anything with him except his Girl Friend and his self confidence which both of things was worked lot for him.

    • Nothing worth having is easy to get. In life there will always be struggles. It is not about what happens to you but how you react to it. Your attitude will determine your success and your failure.

  22. This is the kind of motivation I look for. I believe in real live scenario that boosts confidence. I admire the storyline, well-constructed and thanks for that..

  23. Very impressive story! I wish all the best to Juan for his future life.

  24. Timely inspirational story. I am sure that there are many people out there who try hard and never make it. But it’s really nice to see and hear of the ones who do.

    As always as mentioned in the article, the ingredients for success are:
    – dedication & resilience (to keep going)
    – discipline (to stick to plan)
    – most importantly, courage (to risk and start)
    – education (to limit risk, and plan well)

    Thank you for sharing Neil.

  25. That’s a great story, and I’m hoping for continued success for Juan! The flip side is that I most often get to see the web failures. I have students come to me with their “fail safe” business idea. They are all possibilities, but will they all go from poor to rich? And, if they fail, are they willing to go through the time and expense to change their model?

    And, everyone wants to make that next directory that’s going to make them a million in the first month! I worked on one site where one of the board members asked me how sales were going within the first month of the site being launched. Of course they were “behind” in their promised timeline when I came into the project; so, they didn’t give me any testing time on the site, and they didn’t even let me finish all the functionality, and they assumed that a certain market would be their main client, which didn’t happen.

    So, it’s the parts in the middle, that I’m curious about. Start poor; end rich. Hmmm, maybe he made some good decisions in the middle? What are they? One was finding a different niche market. Maybe he worked with some great developers? Maybe he listened when the developers made recommendations? Just wondering!

    • Nora, I think the our core focus has been delivering an awesome cleaning service first of all, delivering real value and solving the problem of booking online. So I think you can start poor, middle or rich, the point to is to really solve a valid problem and executing better than competitors.

      For the website, my wife did the first one in MS publisher, 7 yrs ago, then I took over it and taught myself the basics. From there I worked with tons of different designers, developers until I started to find the right people at the right price. My brother Luis Chaparro (www.dribbble.com/rebelsdefy) has become a top photoshop graphic designer which lead us to open a small graphic design and UI/UX design firm (www.rebelsdefy.com). He helped us with lots of designs, while I would do things for his website, bartering like crazy.

  26. Carlin Stanton :

    Sometimes it takes seeing the story of a person like this to make me realize, “What’s my excuse?!”

    Great post, Neil.

    Carlin Stanton

  27. Joshua-Derek Bossman :

    One thing I have come to realize is that to succeed is mostly about attitude. It should not matter if life throws you lemons. Instead of complaining about it, you making the effort to turn it around, is usually the deciding factor between being successful and remaining at square zero. Props to Juan for being able to overcome his challenges and get to where he is today. :)

  28. angelinvestor8 :

    Wow, what a fantastic story. Juan’s story serves to show that if you have the drive, the desire to be an entrepreneur, no obstacles can bar you from your dreams. He had so many things against him, his illegal status, lack of cash flow, but kept pounding the pavement, leading to a $150K-yielding enterprise.

  29. Thanks Neil for writing about our story, a story that couldn’t be complete with my other half, my partner in “crime” and love Karen La Spina (@bloomtale), she’s been the toughest women I’ve ever met, ready to take any challenge and work hard. She’s the financial genius behind keeping the cashflow and managing the finances, she taught her self accounting after going through 4 different “CPA’s” which had all the pedigree.

  30. Very inspiring story. Why not Juan open a blog and talk about his success story in deep? it would be amazing idea. Neil,thanks for the great post always. Good luck!

  31. Great story! Guy leaves a socialist country for th US. Embraces capitalism. Works his butt off through tough challenges.
    Makes an honest living. The sequal: gov taxes him since he made more than 250k and gives it to people not willing to work as hard as Juan.

  32. Bwambale Patrick :

    Neil,
    What a hard working and charismatic young couple! In many instance, these fellows could have separated. Kudos Neil for this insipirational writing. Keep doing that for us since many of us keep on losing hope quite often.

  33. I am so touched about this story it make me think that if you go out there you will make it and you will beat the porvety and hunger.If we use our brain nonthing can stop us to make money

  34. Truely inspiring, is it ok if also share it in my profile on FB?

  35. It was really inspiring! Mostly we fail to understand the point that successful people had to go through a lot of hardships. Your narration about Juan was a lighter. But in reality the pain should have been huge. Also men like Juan have a very strong determination to overcome these situations. Thanks for spotting and letting us know about the new guy. All the best for Juan!

    • Everyone has hardships in their lives at one point or another. It isn’t about what happened to you but how you deal with it. If you want to succeed you have to be able to move forward especially through the difficult times and not let the pain or troubles you faced hold you back.

  36. Great story, indeed, Neil! It’s great to see someone set their sights on a goal and achieve it, when the odds are against them.

    Juan, nice job on identifying a specialty niche and dominating it! I’m glad your immigration issues are behind you. My first thought when reading this was, “Oh, great! DHS will be on the hunt, now!”

    I hope you hit that million dollar mark soon!

  37. This is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve read! It just goes to show that whatever niche you’re good at, if you have to drive, and the smarts, you can take it to the top. And, on a side note, I think the idea of an eco-friendly maid service is cool! I’m glad you’ve mentioned that on your blog — that’ll definitely raise awareness.

  38. Neil – u already replied too many of them — for this no reply is required ;

    i wonder is it really possible ?!!

    Neil – keep writing !! :)

  39. Wow! very inspirational story. Juan’s dedication, out-of-the-box thinking, etc helped him…so did his girlfriend (now wife) who supported him!

    Playing a bit of “devil’s advocate” here…we see/read only people who have succeeded like Juan. Never we see/read people who many have much more resources/luck than Juan…but still fail. IMHO its not that we learn from only successful people! Something to ponder on :-)

  40. One thing i learn from your story is that we people always try to earn smart and easy money and in search of these we miss the golden opportunities. Nothing is small or nothing is BIG . it’s up to us who can make every thing small of or big. Juan is the classical example of this.

  41. What an awesome story and Mixergy is one of my other favorite sites. Andrew should have him on there, if he hasn’t already. Would be cool if you did a new interview with Andrew as well.

    Oh also, I think you have a typo – You have “eco-riendly”

  42. Hey this was a great post, very inspiring and motivating. If you take action – you will make achievements! I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Juan to stand out in front of Auto Zone, but now – it was all worth it.

  43. I am new to blogging, your story is very motivational and it will at-least keep me engage with my blog. thanks neil for posting this wonderful story.

  44. Juan has find the right way of doing business i wish him all the best for the future

  45. Fantastic post and i must admit it has given me some positive vibes.These kind of articles should be read when anyone is low in spirit and low in life. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational story.

  46. That’s an awesome story. If you care about your goal enough, you can achieve it. It may be difficult at times, but if it was easy then it wouldn’t be worth it. Great story and congrats Juan Chaparro!

  47. He has got the way because “he figured out how to separate himself from the competition”, I thought out of the box.

  48. Gmaids is a clever, clever name.

  49. I love that Juan has been financially successful! But what about his dream of engineering automobiles?? Is that not what he WANTED to do? Is it really success when you give up your dream to follow the $$??

  50. Sandeep Narang :

    Inspiring story neil.. Thanks for sharing..

  51. Hey Neil,
    You are an inspiration to guys like me. Keep up the good work.

  52. This is some great story and highly relieving! It means there is hope for all of us. I was thinking of starting my wife in the line of cleaning homes. With this, its a new dimension. keep it up Neil and one day we see how to bring you to Africa if you dont mind. lol

  53. Neil,

    Thanks for sharing this story. It’s interesting to hear that the school “somehow” lost his immigration papers and that there was nothing the govt. can do about it. Wow!

    Fortunately for Juan it worked out in his favor as he took that as a challenge to still “make it” and accomplish his dream. Obviously, it wasn’t in Automotive Engineering, but he found a need, polled his target market and provided what they wanted.

    This story gives us all inspiration and a recipe for success as we reach for our dreams and goals.

    Keep the good articles coming.

    Patrick

  54. Great story, it’s really inspiring to read this kind of things when you are just starting a business, sometimes I feel that is very difficult to make a new company grow when you start without a lot of money, but this experiences remember me that it’s really possible, this inspire me to keep working! hehe

    By the way I think Gmaids is a great name, it sounds a lot like Gmail hehe.

    Saludos desde México!

  55. Nice share!
    This is a very motivating story …
    how one can never give up in life, and he tried always to be better than ever ..

  56. The story is inspiring to do hard work and also it explain that smartness is necessary for get success in business

  57. It’s always good to hear stories like this. It helps to 1. Inspire you to continue on your journey and 2. To remind you that with a little persistence your goals can become real…

    Thanks for sharing!

  58. An inspiring story. I’ve read a lot of those who have dozens of hindrances on life but their will is what they hold onto. But even though there are a lot people out there who experience that… it never fails to amuse me. Their stories, their determination. It always wakes me up that I still could be a better person than what I am today. That there are people who are struggling more than I’ve gone through. Thanks for sharing his story.

    • Every day is a chance to improve and get head. It just takes determination and innovation. Everyone has their problems, so it is up to everyone to make sure they do not let their difficulties hold them back.

  59. Hey Neil, thanks for sharing this great story. It’s inspiring to see someone making a success out of a so-called “detour”.

    L

  60. ElectroGeek Computer Support :

    Great post Neil. It’s good to hear about young entrepreneurs that have made it. Anyone in this country can start a business and succeed if they just try. Most people fail because they never start. Keep in mind that if you do nothing, nothing happens. I started my company ElectroGeek Computer Support in Chicago 6 years ago and never looked back. There is nothing like the feeling you get from being your own boss!

  61. inspiring stuff. Just proves that it is not necessary to have a fat bank balance to be successful.

  62. Impressed with the story and impressed that you’ve followed up with each response.

  63. I like this story, hell, I like any story about entrepreneurship but the common theme running through all of them isn’t having a new idea, it isn’t about a mind blowing invention but it is nearly always about hard work.
    The bit about waiting outside for people coming out with brake pads and offering to fit them is a great example. I always use the mantra…I may not be the smartest guy in town but I will work twice as hard as anyone else to make up for my shortcomings.

  64. That’s truly an inspiring story. With constant hard/smart work, one will surely benefit at some point in their life.

  65. Hard Money Lenders :

    Great article…

    Just wanted to mention there’s a typo: AutoZone with a pair of break pads. Break = brake

    Thanks!

  66. It’s fantastic to hear stories like this and be remembered that the American Dream is alive and well for those who will work for it…just like it’s always been.

  67. 2 thumbs up for this very inspiring, moving story. A must read story which is not made up or I would say there are no added up to make it more stirring. Whenever I hear friends telling their stories and how they pass their trials and which makes them a better person it makes me happy and gives me more determination. And I love to read real life stories.

  68. Story like this is what motivate me to be successful in life. Work hard now and play later!

  69. Very inspiring indeed! If everyone starts working with dedication, like Juan, in your post US will become a better place with great srvice providers. Atta boy Juan

  70. Ahhh …. Its greatest business story i read ever. I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot.

  71. I was (relunctantly) willing to overlook typos and grammatical mistakes for the sake of the story, but the fact that this story includes the fact that Juan stayed in the US illegally is not inspirational (for me), it’s criminal. So, I have a hard time being “inspired” by this account.

  72. Thank you for the reply, Neil. I just feel that if I am supposed to be able to glean best business practices from your posts and rhe stories you share, then that would include honesty all the way around. Because, it may be true that the business person who will cheat, lie, steal to stay in this country (not saying Juan did these things) will do this in their business, or to a customer.

    But, thank you for taking the time to reply!

    Sincerely, Shelli

  73. This man is an example of perseverance!
    http://hostcarioca.com.br

  74. now that sure is something to really aspire to. focus and driving myself harder seems to be my biggest challenge personally

  75. When somebody firmly decides to be successful there is nothing that can prevent him to be on the top.

  76. hey neil,
    very interesting and motivational story. Hats of to Juan, he is such a determined person. Thank you neil for sharing his story.

    Thanks again.

    Matt

  77. Hey,
    This guy has everything stacked against him but fought his way to financial freedom. Inspiring story, big time!

  78. Hi,,,,,,~!That’s a great story, and I’m hoping for continued success for Juan! Thanks for sharing,,,!

  79. What an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing this.

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