Over the past 5 years, not a month goes by that I don't hear from a handful of people who are interested in starting an organizing business similar to what I've created.
Here are 5 things to consider for those of you interested in the same. Within these 5 considerations, I'll share parts of my story of entrepreneurship (check out this post for 10 things I've learned in 10 years of being an entrepreneur).
1) Do you want to make money to pay for your life or do you want to start a company?
These are two completely different approaches, and a necessity to consider. The first step of my Vision Cycle for any organizing project is helping a client determine their vision. So I ask you: What is your vision for being an organizer? Is it to have an outlet, make some side money from your hobby, help people in need, and/or create a career that can support you for years to come?
All of them are possible, and you need to decide early on whether you want your organizing gigs to be a hobby, charity, or business. Mine is a mixture of all 3 - however, in the last 3 years I've had to become unapologetic about creating a profitable business, knowing that the hobby-like enjoyment with which I began in 2008 may fade at moments and be resurrected at others, in pursuit of creating a company that can function without me one day.
2) Do you want to own your own business or work for another organizer?
The two options here are the most common options for someone looking into being an organizer. For many of my teammates, they are good at organizing and either want an outlet or extra money for the family piggy bank. For me, I am an entrepreneur from birth and cannot escape the mindset of business growth and endless possibilities for the future. I thrive on challenge, uncertainty, and even failure.
You may or may not know that before I was a full time organizer beginning in 2015, I cycled through many types of jobs and a nursing career that did not work out. I went to undergrad at Texas A&M, then took post-grad seminary classes, then went back to nursing school. The short of it is that I took the NCLEX 6 or 7 times (I lost count) without passing. You better believe this sent me into a tailspin of failure and doubt and depression at times centered on the question of what I'm doing with my life. However, looking back, it's the failure that catapulted me forward.
In fall 2012 after losing a nursing job, I asked myself the question, "What would I do if money was no object?" and the dream in my heart was traveling the U.S. for 40 days, organizing for people - mostly pastors of church plants, cooking crepes for them, and easing their load. When I graduated college I felt a call to ministry, which has never really left me, and I believe this business is my ministry.... and so I have a soft spot for ministry families and serving them.
Because of this deeper passion behind my work, I knew that working for another organizer was not going to work for me. The question for you to consider as you think of becoming an organizer is the question of how you want your life to look. Do you want/need the freedom to call the shots and simultaneously agree to the liabilities that come with business ownership? OR do you simply love organizing and want someone else to manage the back end of never ending admin, taxes, insurance and scheduling? Both are possible.
3. Do you want to be a solopreneur or have a team?
So you have convinced yourself that you are going to be a fab organizer - way to go! Do you envision yourself charging $40-$50/hr, 15-25 hours per week, and capping out at that income (keeping in mind you often only take home 40-50% after expenses and taxes)?
Or do you envision yourself creating a team of organizers who can see your clients, implement parts or all of the process, and create revenue from their work as well?
My journey started by charging $15/hr to anyone who would let me help them in their homes. I have a real passion for coming alongside people - I'd honestly do it for free, if all my life expenses were covered. The economy doesn't run that way though.... so over time, I had to grow leaps and bounds and more leaps and bounds to overcome mindset issues in charging clients what are now significant package rates to produce even more significant results in their homes.
I have always operated with the mindset that I want my clients to feel like the bigger winner - where they experience the results we provide and literally feel that they would have paid anything to gain that feeling. This is made possible for me by having a team. Within the first year of full time business, I realized that there are areas where I am strong and there are other areas where I need some serious support.
Over time I have been able to grow the budget to pay regular people to be technicians and admins. Truth: I have never felt ready to hire. Another truth: Every time I hire, my revenue increases because it frees me up to do what only I can do.
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber supports the notion that a successful business has three main roles: entrepreneur, technician and admin. In the case of home organizing, this means that I am the entrepreneur, my organizers are my technicians, and my scheduler and financial assistant are my admins.
Now, granted, I still do a ton of hands-on organizing as well as a large chunk of admin. I dream of the day I outsource everything tax-related... as Marie Kondo would say, "This does not spark joy."
Until then, I work hard to stay in my zone of genius, which is vision and strategy, and delegate other areas to teammates where they are strong, and doing what is necessary to stay legal. haha. My Waco and Ann Arbor teams are amazing individuals with gifts different than my own, for which I thank the good Lord. There is no way I could have built this 6-figure business without teammates picking up where I am needing support and carrying the projects in ways that only they truly can. For example, I have osteoarthritis in my back. My physical ability is limited and this limits the hours and days I am able to work. I would no longer be able to survive as a solopreneur... it is essential that I have teammates who are strong.
How about you? Do you envision having people come alongside you or do you envision being a one-woman operation? Both are completely possible.
4. Do you know what marketing means?
Many organizers get into this work because they love organizing. Many organizers quickly find that marketing is an animal of its own, and attracting the kinds of clients who will pay your rates is not as easy as walking around with a sign that says "Hire me." My advice here is that all of your efforts add up, so keep making all the different kinds of efforts at visibility and networking.
However in my experience there is one VITAL marketing piece and that is being able to be found when people are looking for you. I call that inbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is more like creating ads, issuing invitations, email marketing, hosting events, posting in social media groups and sites, and making effort to be seen. Inbound marketing has accounted for 80% of my clients which is simply: being Google-able.
I won't divulge all my secrets but I will say, find out how to be found on Google and you are well on your way to attracting new clients. This also means your website needs to be set up correctly to capture new traffic and leads, but that is another strategy lesson for another day. Learn what inbound marketing means and how to master it.
5. Can you be emotionally invested in the success of your organizing business?
Here's a big one. Are you in this for a little fun and cash or are you in this with your blood sweat and tears and the occasional sleepless night? Both are fine. You do you. In order to build a substantial business in 3-5 years that will last you for years to come, you must be emotionally invested in this business, in seeing your clients succeed, in learning new approaches to problems for different types of people, and in living an "all-in" lifestyle as an entrepreneur. I can't even count how many gig-economy type jobs I've done in the last 10 years to make ends meet. Only in the last year has this business become consistently enough to expect it to meet all my needs and then some every month.
All I'm sayin' is it is work. A heckuva lot of work.
Are you willing to put in the work? Are you willing to wake up early and stay up late and set aside other hobbies and pursuits for a time in order to be completely invested? This is an industry that requires your mind and heart both to be present. Consider whether your heart is truly in this. If you don't feel like it is, I vote to consider another path.
I hope these 5 concepts help you as you decide whether to be an organizer. For those interested in learning more in a 1:1 consultation, this is a service I offer to support other organizers. The package is $150 for a 45 minute recorded Zoom call. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request to schedule a call. This is not a coaching package; this is a one or two time call to support you with insights and experience from someone who does this line of work and is happy to share successes and failures.