He was just 17 when he launched his window cleaning company which today boasts more than 700 clients, and now Church Crookham entrepreneur Marc Whitbread has been nominated for an Inspire Business award .

Marc employs two full-time staff at his firm, Whitbread’s Window Cleaning, operating across Aldershot, Camberley, Farnham, Farnborough, Fleet, Hook, Sandhurst, Yateley and other areas on the Hampshire-Surrey border.

The ambitious 23-year-had originally wanted to become a chef and had started training in kitchens.

“I was fed up with the low pay and working with people, so looked into businesses I could set up,” he recalled. “When I was 12 I saw a guy with a water-fed pole system, which lets you clean windows from the ground, and it just stuck with me.

“I started looking into start-up costs and did some market research, and thought it had good potential.”

The company now has 720 regular clients, and Mr Whitbread hopes to take on more staff every year – the next intake in the spring.

He has just bought a third van which will be ready to use in November.

Marc says the secret is the combination of having the right attitude and filling a gap in the market.

“There’s been a demand but I have always been very determined and put in the hours,” he added.

“A lot of people are just comfortable standing still, but for what?

“I want to grow a business not just be a window cleaner.”

When asked what he makes of being nominated for Young Business Person of the Year, he said: “I’m really pleased. I didn’t know how popular the awards were, but I was really pleased to find out that I had been shortlisted.”