Are You in it for the Long Haul?

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It’s no secret that the majority of small businesses close within the first year, and very few make it to three years. Since launching my business in 2002, I’ve seen many people come and go from the field of professional organizing.

Does this mean that all of these businesses failed? Not necessarily! After all, not everyone opens a business with the intention of making it a full-time career. When I started mine, I saw it as a way of picking up some extra money in my spare time by doing something that I enjoyed. Over time I realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life, but it wouldn’t be uncommon for others in that situation to “drop out” if lifestyle changes meant they no longer had time to run a side business, or if they just lost interest.

Then we have people who start businesses because they’re between jobs and are strapped for cash – they will often abandon the business once the right employment opportunity comes along. A similar situation arises when parents choose to stay home with young children, but need a way to generate some income for the family. Once the children are older, they may return to the regular workforce.

What about you? Do you see your business as a temporary source of income, or is it your career? The answer to this question will have an impact on nearly everything you do!

If you want your business to survive and provide you with a steady income in the years to come, you need to work hard to make it happen. Here are a few things you need to do on an ongoing basis to ensure your ongoing success:

  1. Invest money in your business, whether it be for your website, continuing education, or memberships in networking groups and professional associations. If you need help deciding the best ways to use your funds, consider working with a business coach – another great investment!
  2. Read books, blogs and articles related to your industry and to business in general.
  3. Spend time networking every week, with people in your own field, with people in your target market, and anyone else – you never know who they might know! Online networking is great, because you can do it at whatever time suits your schedule, you don’t have to dress up or spend time and gas money driving to various locations, and you can connect with people all over the world. But make sure you attend in-person networking events too, because there’s nothing like personal contact to build relationships.
  4. Position yourself as a professional, and don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth.
  5. Treat your customers with respect and always remember that without them, you wouldn’t have a business at all.

Are you in it for the long haul?

Photo by alekseevanatoliy / Depositphotos

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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. Avatar Alex Fayle on May 25, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I’d consider my organizing business one of those businesses that didn’t make it to the 5 year mark, but that was because by nearly 5 years I realized that hands-on organizing wasn’t what I wanted to do and the education model I was putting together wasn’t viable given my contact base.

    Now I’m onto my second business and I have no idea if it’ll make it to the 5 year mark because I honestly don’t know what’s coming up next. I’d like it to, but I’m willing to entertain the idea that something else might change my mind along the way.

  2. Avatar Diane on May 25, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Good post, Janet…

    I started with one Company in September 2004 and the one I am currently running as a side business in January 2005. The first business just didn’t work out but I am now in my 5th year with ALTERNATIVE OFFICE ASSISTANCE.

    Your points above are extremely important. If you discover that you truly want to own and operate your own business, never look back and be prepared to work very hard and invest in it’s growth.

    At times, I doubted whether all my hard work would bring success but perseverence does show results. When I think back, I did have times where I doubted my choice to pursue my own business and thought about returning to the workforce but, in the end, I wasn’t about to waste all my efforts and everything I have learned. I love what I do and how I have grown along with the business. Giving it up for an offer to go back to the general workforce again isn’t even an option anymore.

  3. Avatar Janet Barclay on May 25, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Diane, congratulations on approaching the five-year mark! I think you’re now what I heard someone call “psychologically unemployable” which is pretty cool in my books!

    Alex, deciding not to continue something you don’t enjoy is a different kind of success, don’t you think?

  4. Avatar Seana Turner on August 3, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Networking has really been one of the main things that has kept me growing, both personally and professionally. It is motivating to see what others are doing, and to be challenged to stretch and try new things. Groups like Blogging Organizers keep me invigorated!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 4, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      I agree. Networking is important for growing any business, but it’s especially important for solo professionals to have people to learn from, bounce ideas off, and just feel a part of something.

  5. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on August 3, 2020 at 10:45 am

    In answer to your question, I’m in it for the long haul. It’s been 27 years and 8 months since I launched Oh, So Organized! It’s hard for me to believe, and especially since this isn’t my first business or career. I love the checklist (if you will) of the things you should do to ensure your business success. As I read each one, I realized that yes, I’ve done and/or continue to do that. Of course these days, “attending in-person networking” isn’t as viable. But I continue to maintain contact with colleagues, clients, and others through all means that ARE possible- social media, Zoom, email, snail mail, and the phone. I also have always prioritized continuing education and professional development. I recently completed a six-week training course and became a Certified Virtual Professional Organizer (CVPO.) I love that just as we help our clients grow and change, we do too.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 4, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      Congratulations, Linda – I didn’t realize you’ve been at it so long – wow! You are obviously doing something, probably LOTS of things, right. To your continuing success!

      • Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on June 17, 2024 at 10:05 am

        I’m still in business. It’s been over 31 years since I launched Oh, So Organized! The pandemic forced me to rethink and experiment with my business model. During the last four years, I shifted to only offering virtual services: 1:1 virtual organizing sessions with clients, live Zoom workshops, and articles and tips on my website.

        Part of staying in business this long has been adapting and being willing to change.

        • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 17, 2024 at 12:43 pm

          That’s an excellent point, Linda. Hopefully we won’t have another pandemic, but one never knows what other obstacles might arise. Figuring out ways to carry on despite them is vital!

  6. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on August 3, 2020 at 11:58 am

    I am in it for the long haul. After 25+ years, I did find that it evolved over the years to more support for small businesses than personal home organizing. My education is in business, and I had parents who were self-employed as well, so I guess it is in the genes. =)

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 4, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      That’s the beauty of owning a business – it can evolve as we do! My business today has zero resemblance to what I first envisioned in 1999 (and didn’t make happen until 2002).

  7. Avatar Melanie on August 3, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    I hope to be in this business for the long haul! It combines so many of my own interests. I finally started taking the networking aspect seriously and it has made such a difference. I love meeting other professionals and learning from what they’ve done. Being a solo entrepreneur can be lonely when you first start because you do everything yourself. I don’t regret the decision to start my own business but I’m grateful for online networking and all the amazing people I’ve met!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 4, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      I can totally relate to doing everything yourself. I think my business might have taken very different turns if I’d been more open to collaborating with others in the beginning. I touched on this in my post Learning from others’ experience.

      To your success!

  8. Avatar Angie Hyche on August 3, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    So timely to repost this one now! I launched my business in 2016, and having read the statistics on how few businesses last for 5 years or more, I decided that I would make it to 5 years no matter what! After four years, I’m still going strong, and I hope to stay in business for many years!

    Thanks for your excellent post!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 4, 2020 at 12:31 pm

      That’s fantastic, Angie! I’m sure you’re going to make it. 🙂

  9. Avatar Ronni on August 3, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    I guess I can say I’m in this for the longest of the mighty long hauls. But it doesn’t feel that long. 40 years give or take a couple of years.
    The best part has been all the fabulous people that I’ve met. Clients, colleagues and clients and colleagues that turned into friends and are no longer my clients.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 4, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      Ah yes, the people! My dad had his own business for 35+ years, from which he retired in 1997. He passed away two years ago but is still fondly remembered by many of his customers and their families.

  10. Lucy Kelly Lucy Kelly on August 4, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, I’m in it for the long haul. This pandemic time will pass, people will let us back in their homes in fact, I see a pent-up need for organizing which means staying educated and involved right now means we’ll be all set to jump back in. I’m sure that how my business works will change as I get older but my plan is to keep doing what I love.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 5, 2020 at 4:06 pm

      I love your attitude – it will take you far, I’m sure!

  11. Avatar Janet Schiesl on June 17, 2024 at 12:11 pm

    Great post. I have also met many people who start a business and then disappear after a while (for many reasons). In my opinion, a lot of people start an organizing business because they love the work, but struggle with the “business” end of the business. I would add social media to your list of things you need to be doing on an on-going basis.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 17, 2024 at 3:18 pm

      That’s a good suggestion! Although it’s getting harder to be seen on social media, you won’t be seen at all if you don’t participate.

  12. Julie Bestry Julie Bestry on June 17, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve just started my 23rd year in business as a professional organizing and productivity specialist, so I think this counts as the long hall. (Previously, I worked in television for 12 years after getting an undergraduate degree and MA in the field; sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been running my business almost twice as long as I was in that first career.

    You could not be more right, though I admit always chose to invest time rather than money whenever possible. Because I started before social media, and online branding was so nascent, I was able to use my professional and social skills for marketing, spending minimal money on anything but NAPO. Nowadays, I’d definite need to invest right away in a better online presence (my initial website was a one-pager!), and likely coaching.

    Reading is my jam, and I think it’s been the center point of everything I’ve accomplished, whether it relates to business practice or organizing/productivity theory. Networking, professional pricing, and even more important, professional behavior (whether with clients, colleagues, or vendors) is key to building brands and relationships. It has been a long haul, but the effort has been worth it. Had I not stuck with it, I’m not sure where I’d be now, as I have nightmares occasionally that I’m back working in television. No. Just no.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 20, 2024 at 9:33 am

      Congratulations, Julie! It just goes to show that time flies when you’re having fun. I’m in the same boat. I’ve never stayed in a job anywhere near as long as I’ve been on my own, and it’s not that I was a job hopper.

      I appreciate your comment and am sure many readers will too!

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