What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before I Started My Organizing Business
I’m frequently asked about whether I’m hiring or how I became a professional organizer. The short answer is no, I’m not hiring now. I’ll be sure to let you know via my newsletter, so make sure you are signed up if you do want to join Demessify someday!
If you were interested in starting your own organizing business, here is what I would tell you over coffee. I’m sure my perspective and advice isn’t identical to others’ advice, but I hope at least some of these suggestions resonate with you!
Even if you’re google searching everything at the beginning and you know it’s not your best work. There’s no growth unless you actually start.
Know your WHY.
Don't start a business just for the sake of starting a business and because it seems trendy. Have a clear why. Your clients can tell really quickly whether your heart is in the right place, or if you have your own business just to feed your ego, make extra money, and be your own boss who can have more flexible hours. Your number one motivation to have an organizing business should be because you LOVE this work. Extra Inspiration - Start With Why, by Simon Sinek.
Invest in yourself and your business.
Invest as much as you can back into your business, especially at the start. Get a coach, mentor, certificate, program, class, etc. Take it seriously. This is your livelihood, not a hobby. Understand that this will likely not be the fast track to financial freedom and a hefty paycheck for you at the start.
Focus on serving your clients, not your business’ growth.
Make sure you are offering your clients the absolute best service possible, even if that means going back to school, getting more certificates, paying for more conferences, or simply buying them a coffee before your first session together. Remember that your job is to serve the people, who are already right in front of you, as well as possible. When you serve people well, your business will naturally grow.
It’s okay to keep your day job.
Don't think that just because you have a passion for something - that you need to turn it into a full time business. It's a lot of pressure, and you should take time to think about whether it would really be worth it. I worked with clients just on the weekends and during my vacations for two years, before I took Demessify full time.
Take care of yourself and put up boundaries.
When you really LOVE what you do, it’s easy to completely pack your schedule and say yes to every client, every collaboration, and every idea. It’s okay to say no. Make sure to keep boundaries in place so that your business doesn’t end up owning you. This could look like not checking email on your phone, not working certain days/hours of the week, scheduling weekly, non-negotiable walks with friends or date nights. Check out this presentation about Emotional Health from Hilary Rushford for even more inspiration.
Ask for advice and show gratitude!
Don’t be afraid to reach out to pro organizers, asking to grab coffee or talk with them over the phone. At the same time, remember to THANK anyone who has taken the time out of their schedule to talk with you. A thank you card or email - explaining in detail how much you appreciated that they took time at of their day to support you, - is crucial (and also makes you memorable for any future collaborations or job opportunities ;) ). AND feel free to give them updates about where you ended up! Around the holidays, I like to reach back out to the folks who met with me years ago, and thank them, because without their guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Read these books
Essentialism by Greg Mckeown; The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert will all completely change the way you think about your passion, your business, and your life in general.
Pro Organizer Accreditation: I would really encourage you to join your local NAPO chapter (The National Association of Professional Organizers and Productivity Specialists), at least in your first year of your business. They offer an accreditation program and basic online coursework that was really beneficial when I first started. They also offer monthly mentoring events and educational events with guest speakers.
Business Classes: Marie Forleo's B-School happens each spring from March-May. It's $2K, which yes, can be a lot when you’re starting a new business, but I still reference the coursework I learned there almost weekly when trying to improve my marketing strategy and build the right business for me. It’s also a great way to connect with other like-minded small business owners both in your community, and across the globe!
Human Interaction Degree: I often jokingly tell people that I never used my BSW (Bachelors in Social Work) as much as I have in my current job as a pro organizer. It’s true! In social work, you learn to “meet the client where they are.” I heard this hundreds of times throughout my classes. Any other social workers out there heard this? I still use this philosophy with my current organizing clients. The counseling and reflective listening skills have of course come in handy. I’m not telling you to go out and get a BSW if you don’t have one, of course. Just remember that your past jobs and degrees will end up contributing to your current business in surprising ways! Sometimes the straight and narrow path isn’t the best path.