10 tips for a successful organizing business

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10 tips for a successful organizing business

To be a successful organizing coach or consultant, you need knowledge, a passion for imparting that knowledge to others, and basic business skills. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve talked about a number of resources for professional development and networking to help you attain those skills. Today I’m happy to share my top tips to help you start and grow a successful organizing business.

1. Get your own website

Getting listed on online directories and/or creating social media profiles is better than having no online presence at all, but it’s far more effective to have your own website. While third-party sites can help to connect you with potential clients, your website is your home base, and you have total control over how you design and use it.

2. Charge what you’re worth

Take a look at your goals, evaluate your niche, and consider the type of clients you want to work with. Then you can begin to set the rates for your services. To position your business as an exclusive provider, charge more than the going rate in your area. If you don’t feel confident charging that much, sharpen your skills until you do.

3. Consider certification

You don’t need any special certification to be a professional organizer, but it can help to lend you credibility, and may be the deciding factor in a client choosing you over someone else. The Certified Professional Organizer credential requires that you have a minimum of 1500 paid hours of organizing work in the past three years to be eligible to write the exam, so it is definitely not for newbies. Until you qualify, investigate other credentials that may be beneficial.

4. Be confident in your strengths

Offering services for which you lack skills is unethical and unfair to the client. Capitalizing on your strengths will help you to boost your self-confidence and provide a much better experience for your client. When you’re ready to take on a new challenge, take a course and/or look for an opportunity to work with a colleague who has the appropriate experience before assuming responsibility for a project yourself.

5. Build your network

To grow your business, you need to be constantly meeting new people and making a point of staying in touch with them. Begin building a network as soon as possible and work on building strong relationships with your contacts. You never know who might offer you valuable business advice or connect you with an opportunity.

6. Develop a client questionnaire

Whether you conduct your initial consultation over the phone or in person, having a set of standard questions about your client’s current situation will make it easier to identify ways you can help them and develop an appropriate organizing plan.

7. Be organized

Don’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk! You have to be an organized, disciplined self-starter in order to operate your own business. You need to be able to manage time, stick to a schedule and plan your day well. The entire consultation process from answering inquiries from potential clients to sending follow-up reports should run as smoothly as possible.

8. Reward loyalty

It costs more to get a new client than to keep an existing one, so offering discounts or bonuses to your regular clients is a worthwhile investment. You should also reward those who recommend you to others, because word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful and least expensive way to attract new clients to your business.

9. Volunteer

Volunteering is a fabulous way to grow your network while giving back to your local community or professional association. Choose an activity that suits your interests and availability, and allows you to demonstrate and further develop your expertise.

10. Never stop marketing

Never make the mistake of thinking you don’t have time for marketing. If you stop promoting your business during busy periods, once things settle down, you may find yourself with no clients lined up, and back at square one again!

Are you a successful organizer (or other professional)? What would you add to this list?

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on February 3, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I don’t know which is more impressive: this helpful list; or the fact each tip is linked to a previous post containing even more helpful tips…?? 🙂

    • Avatar Autumn Leopold on February 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Genius right Hazel!? Just such great advice even long time organizer should keep considering and reviewing. Great post Janet!

      • Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on February 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm

        Funny, Autumn, I told Janet earlier today (in another context) that she was a genius. And I don’t use that word lightly!

  2. Avatar Jill Robson on February 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Great list Janet, I agree with charging what you are worth, and never stop marketing.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 4, 2015 at 10:22 am

      That’s one that a lot of people struggle with, Jill. They’re not getting clients, so they lower their rates. It’s okay to offer specials from time to time to drum up business, but clients need to know it’s a special. If you typically charge half of your competitor’s rates, there will be people who choose you on that basis alone, but others will automatically assume that you’re just not as good.

  3. Avatar Laurel Bern on February 5, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Great advice Janet and not just for organizers but for all businesses! It’s funny about charging. For the first 18 years, I figured that the first meeting would be a freebie. But then, like I discovered that you go faster with a round wheel, lol, I decided to start charging. $350 for two hours. I call it a “home botox.”

    Since then, I’ve done about 20 of them in the last year. That’s $7,000 that I wouldn’t have normally made. Most of them wanted to do more, but only a few of the jobs were right for my business. Bottom-line. I found I got more offers for jobs and more respect when I was charging for my time!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 6, 2015 at 9:06 am

      I went through a similar process when I was an organizer. I offered a free 30-minute consultation because it seemed like that’s what “everyone else” was doing, but it usually ran over, and by the time I factored in my travel time and the number of people who didn’t book paid services, it just wasn’t worth my time. So I switched to a paid more in-depth consultation, and it worked much better for me. I booked more of them, maybe because people knew they’d be receiving value and not just a sales pitch, and whether they booked follow-up sessions or not, at least I was bringing in money!

  4. Avatar Kim on February 6, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Hi Janet,
    That is such a great list and one I need to go over so that I can have focus on what I want for myself and my goals. Is there a need for a web site and a blog site or are they the same thing?

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 6, 2015 at 9:10 am

      All blogs are websites, but not all websites are blogs. So if you have a blog, and you’ve included information about the services you offer and how potential clients can reach you, you’re in good shape. I’m currently creating a report to help you make sure your site has everything it needs to attract clients and I think you’ll find it very helpful.

  5. Avatar Andrea Sharb on February 6, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Great reminders for us all Janet. I’m nine years into this business and continue to be amazed by all there is to learn, how much I learn every day and how much there is share with the new organizers I mentor. One area I would like to add to your list is to get the support you need. None of us can do this business thing alone. Your network needs to extend beyond marketing. You need a support network in place. Example One: This morning I woke up with a legal question in my head. Because I have an awesome small business attorney I’ve developed a great relationship with I was able to dash off a quick email to her when the question was fresh in my mind and by 7:30AM she had already responded she would have an associate look into it today. Example Two: Having mentors and coaches over the years has helped my business grow. Some of these have been paid relationships, some not, but all of them have helped me grow as a person and as a business owner. Example Three: In the short time Janet and I have worked together, her support has made a big difference in what I’ve been able to accomplish. I could do many of the things Janet does for me and in the past I have, but it took me a lot longer and resulted in a lot of frustration. Enlisting her support has resulted in more hours in my day I can devote to other things and a lot less stress when it comes to trying to figure out the backside of my website. A great support network is key to business success!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

      Those are great points, Andrea. I belong to a local group for women entrepreneurs and the mandate is quite clear that it’s not about selling to other members, but about supporting one another. And I’m quite sure that if you didn’t have an attorney in your network, you probably wouldn’t have gone to the trouble and expense of finding one to answer your question!

      THANK YOU for the wonderful testimonial as well! It is much appreciated.

  6. Avatar Audrey Cupo on February 7, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Great checklist! Happy that I can check off 9 out of 10. All but #3 apply to me! Never found it necessary for my credibility. Potential clients never ask about it – most aren’t aware of such a thing. Been in business almost 11 years without it and doing well.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 7, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Audrey. I think certification often means more within a particular industry than it does to the general public. It rarely comes up that I’m certified as a Master Virtual Assistant.

  7. Natalie Gallagher Natalie Gallagher on February 7, 2015 at 11:24 am


    What a great recipe for a thriving business. This year, I plan to focus more on building my network and rewarding loyal customers!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Are you planning to join any networking groups, participate more in those you already belong to, or grow your network some other way?

  8. Avatar Margarita Ibbott on February 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Never think being on social media is a waste of time. It puts your name out there and help people find you. Speaks to Jane’s point about having a website, network and keep marketing.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 7, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      I’m not sure I agree that social media is *never* a waste of time. There have been a few times I’ve caught myself scrolling mindlessly through the newsfeed and finding nothing that catches my interest. But it is definitely a valuable way not only to connect with new people but to stay in touch with those you’ve already met. I would definitely not be where I am now without it!

  9. Avatar Anna E. Lee - Interior Design on February 7, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    This is such a great list Janet! I really appreciate #2 – I’m in the process of figuring out the pricing of my services for my business. I’ve been doing my research and have spoken with a couple of locals in the design/building industry, who were kind enough to give me a ball park of what designers charge around here. Even though I have a degree in design and am working hard to learn all I can about organizing, I find myself wanting to undercharge! I’m going to push myself and charge what I think I’m worth though, like you suggested!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Pricing is such a tough decision! The good news is that your rates aren’t carved in stone, so if you do find you’ve gone too high or too low, it’s easy to change them. I wish you much success in your new business!

  10. Avatar Erica on February 7, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    These are really great tips! I’m just starting out, so I’m reading up on it as much as I can! Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 7, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      You’re very welcome! I’m sure you’re going to do amazing things.

  11. Avatar Stacey Agin Murray on February 7, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Wow–what a comprehensive list! It serves as a good reminder for us to be mindful of our clients and of our business and personal needs. I’ll be working on #10 a bit more in 2015.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 8, 2015 at 7:08 am

      I’ll be working on #6 myself. I created a questionnaire a number of years back but it felt to scripted to me and I ended up abandoning it. I think now I’m confident enough to comfortably use it as the foundation for a conversation.

  12. Avatar Troy Hale on February 23, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Organizational abilities are the main keys to success in any kind of business. The main target would be to use recognition for your organizational skills and get career oriented students to trust your services. This way, all your efforts will get their due feedback and not go unnoticed. Career counselling for example, has a few certifications and companies which hold the certificates, do much better than those which do not.

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