What I’ve Learned in my First 10 Years of Business
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I’m thrilled to announce that it’s been a full ten years since I hung out my shingle! Organized Assistant® as you know it today bears little to no resemblance to the business I launched on June 25, 2002, but it’s been an exciting journey, and along the way I’ve learned a lot about growing and running a business, and about myself as well.
If my claim to learn something new every day is true, that means I’ve learned 3,650 new things in my first 10 years as a business owner. However, much of what I’ve learned is only important to me personally, or to others in my present line of work, so today I’ve selected five important tips that I hope will be helpful to you in your organizing business.
Shortly after starting my business, I met with Margaret Miller, who was at that time President of Professional Organizers in Canada (POC). I was torn between joining POC and registering for their upcoming conference; I was hesitant to spend money on both until I started bringing in some income. Margaret wisely asked, “How do you expect clients to have confidence in your business if you don’t have confidence in yourself? I took her advice and invested in both – a decision I have never regretted.
Once the word got out about my business, I was invited to speak about Personality Type and Time Management at a local bookstore. I was terrified, but it was just too good an opportunity to turn down. Since then, I’ve spoken to dozens of different groups on a wide range of topics. Although I’m still nervous, it’s not the ordeal that it was, and I’ve found it a great way to demonstrate my expertise, gain exposure for my business, and even generate some extra income along the way.
One of the reasons that many of us started our own business is that we like to work independently. However, being independent doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of other people’s experience. Whether I needed the answer to a simple question, a partner for a particular project, or an expert to take on a task that was beyond my expertise and/or level of interest, I’ve been most successful when I’ve reached out and asked for help.
If you’re not excited about what you’re doing, maybe you should be doing it differently, or doing something different altogether. When an organizing colleague asked me to handle the distribution of her electronic newsletter, I realized how much I loved that type of work and decided to add it to my service offerings. By that time I’d also realized that I preferred business organizing over residential, so I decided to focus on supporting small businesses, and Barclay Career & Organizing Solutions became Organized Assistant®. As the business grew, I eventually had to choose between organizing and virtual assistance, and I went with the service I was most passionate about.
No matter how good you are at what you do, there is always room for improvement. Fortunately, there are lots of formal learning opportunities available, including national conferences, regional conferences, local workshops and seminars, webinars, and teleclasses – not to mention the informal learning that takes place when you network with other business people locally or online, and when you read books, magazines, and blogs such as this one.
If you’re an experienced business owner, what is your number one tip for someone who is building an organizing business?
If you’re just getting started, what information do you need to help you move forward?