How to Become a
Many people ask us what kind of steps we took in starting our professional organizing business. This page was created to provide help and guidance for those thinking about becoming professional organizers. Below is our list of recommendations on how to start based on what we did. This guide is not comprehensive but is intended to be informative.
First Things First
Are you naturally organized? Do you have the ability to teach others how to be organized? Are you comfortable with public speaking? Are you great at multi-tasking? Are you business minded? These are some of the questions we asked ourselves and they are skills you will need to start an organizing business. If you answered "no" to the last three questions, then maybe you're better off working for a Professional Organizer rather than running your own company.
Believe it or not, Professional Organizing is not the same as it is depicted on television. In reality, it is not your job to rush or force your client to purge items they want to keep or to impose your pre-defined systems on them. On the contrary, your job is to include your client in the process of developing organized systems that will work for them and make recommendations for maximizing their space and efficiency.
Things that seem to work on television that may not work in real sessions are:
- a need for a large organizing team.
- the effectiveness of a garage or yard sale.
- a model client that agrees with everything you suggest.
- a client who has a budget to buy and add things to their space without reservation.
If we haven't busted your bubble about Professional Organizing in this section, then please move on to our suggested readings.
Before starting out as a professional organizer, we suggest that you read several organizing books. The following are books we started off with. They helped us get a feel for the industry and gave essential techniques on how to work with clients.
- Born to Organize: Everything You Need to Know About a Career as a Professional Organizer by Sara Pedersen
- FabJob Guide to Become a Professional Organizer by FabJob
- Newbie Pitfalls: 50 Obstacles on the Road to Success as a Professional Organizer and How to Avoid Them!
by Debbie Stanley
- Organized to Last by Porter Knight (includes an organizing session on DVD)
- What Every Professional Organizer Needs to Know About Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
- The Organized Student by Donna Goldberg (great for organizing with children)
After reading these books, you'll know if you really want to become an organizer or not. If so, you should start working on a solid business plan.
Business Plan for Organizers
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of bypassing their business plan. Developing a business plan can help you determine the best structure for your company; give you opportunities to work through your marketing and sales strategies; and create financial plans and budget forecasts. We developed our business plan with the help of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE.
Currently, home organizing is the largest market closely followed by office organizing. Homeowners usually need help with more than one area of their home. Hot spots are garages, home offices, bedrooms and closets. Office organizing usually includes paper file management and workspace efficiency.
People usually seek help when they feel disorganized and want to regain control of their space, when they lack the motivation to organize by themselves, when they are relocating, or when their boss or family member puts pressure on them to get organized.
Since organization is personal for many clients, organizers usually work alone. Occasionally there is a need for assistance on big projects with short time frames. You can hire an assistant or sub-contract another Professional Organizer. Some organizers charge by the project and some charge by the hour. Hourly rates can range from $35-$200. You should also factor in consultation, deposit, cancellation and travel fees.
Most people don't know where to start and will be seeking some sort of consultation. Your consultation should include an overall game plan and an estimate of how long the project will take.
After creating your business plan, you should get some hands on experience before you actually start charging for your services.
Training & Experience
The best form of training is to volunteer your time and services to friends and family members in exchange for photos, testimonials and references.
Working with an established organizing company is another good way to get some hands on experience. Although you'll be playing a support role, you can learn techniques from a seasoned professional and watch how they interact with their clients. We'd like to thank Laurie Bryant of Bryant Organizing Solutions for providing this experience for us. Look for someone in your area to shadow or assist.
If the first two options aren't working out, seek out a company or association that specializes in training Professional Organizers. Training classes are a great way to stay current on the latest and best organizing techniques.
Marketing Strategies for Professional Organizers
Once you've taken that giant leap of starting your business, you have to let people know about your services. We've tried many strategies and found the internet, word of mouth and business cards to be very effective. Of course you have to try your own strategies to see what works best in your area. It is, however, essential that you have some sort of online presence. Create your own website, start a blog or build an online profile with Emplayce. Many prospect clients will be looking for organizing services online, so don't miss out or disappoint them.
Make sure to network within your own community. Get your name out by going to business networking meetings, hosting community workshops, and synergizing with other professional organizers. A well planned marketing strategy can make the difference between you staying in or going out of business. Other factors include public demand, time of year and the economy.
Here are some other great resources for Professional Organizers:
- The National Association of Professional Organizers
- National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization
- Professional Organizers in Canada
- Emplayce Professional Organizer Network on LinkedIn
Becoming the Professional Organizer Everyone Knows and Loves
If you follow a similar pattern like we did, you will start on the path of becoming the Professional Organizer of your dreams. This is an exciting industry to be in! You get to be a part of people taking control of their lives and their spaces. In our opinion, you can't find a better job than that! We love what we do and you'll love it too!
If you need additional help, send us an email and we'll try to point you in the right direction.