My special guest today is Michelle O’Sullivan, owner of Saving Spaces, in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. When I met Michelle last year, I was interested to learn that she had run a successful cleaning business for ten years before becoming a professional organizer, and I invited her to share her story with my readers.
Michelle, why did you become a professional organizer?
Having had the cleaning business, I found that I was doing a lot of organizing for my clients – they loved it and were getting it as part of my cleaning service.
They had referred me to their friends, and after a few jobs I realized that I enjoyed it more than the cleaning. It was less methodical and more rewarding on a personal level, and my clients were more appreciative of the organizing service than the cleaning service.
How did you make the transition from cleaning to organizing?
There really was no transition as I still have the cleaning business. I decided to change the name of the cleaning business from Emerald Household Services to Saving Spaces and added organizing and decluttering as another service.
I told my clients, and they were all very supportive. I have a small cleaning clientele of 30, and I have had half of them for over eight years, so we know each other well. Their main concern was that they were going to lose me.
I never had to advertise for my cleaning service – all were referrals – so I knew I had to market and promote myself to be recognized as a professional organizer.
I did my research and checked out all the other organizers in the area, and what services they offered, I joined POC and started taking courses with them, I read lots of books, I got business cards and a website, I joined network groups, and started to market myself to a different target.
How did your experience in the cleaning industry benefit you as you launched your organizing business?
It was of great benefit to me as I was already doing the job for lots of my clients but not getting the recognition for it. It also helped as I wasn’t nervous as some are when they go to their first client. Over the years I have learned to read people by their homes and the way they live so I have a good idea what is going to work for them.
Are there differences in the way you run your business now?
I have had to hire help for the cleaning business, which gives me time to focus on marketing myself as a professional organizer.
I am more money conscious and invest more in my business. The cleaning business was just a job to earn money. Now I have found my passion and it is my career.
What do you like most about your business?
I love what I do! I get to meet great people and the knowledge that I am able to help them with their organizing and cleaning needs, and their gratitude to me for my service, is the greatest reward.
I have also got to meet great people in the industry of Organizing, Marketing and Networking, and I get to meet new people all the time that can help me and I them.
What is your greatest challenge?
It has to be online marketing: first building my website, getting to know and navigate my way around Facebook and Twitter, and now I am starting to blog – there is so much to learn. It has taken me a year to become familiar with it all. Of course my typing was not the best either so that was another challenge!
My personal motto is
Stay focused and take one day at a time.