How to start a professional organizing business

Are you interested in becoming a professional organizer? Maybe you were born to organize and are looking for a way to make money doing what you love. Maybe you’ve read about professional organizers in a magazine or seen them featured on a TV show and thought, “Hey, I could do that!”

However you learned about this relatively new but fast-growing profession, there are a few things you need to know before you hang out your shingle.

How to Start a Professional Organizing Business

First of all, anyone can call herself or himself a professional organizer. You don’t have to have specific training or join a professional association – although both are recommended, and I’ll get into that in more detail in a moment. But please keep this in mind:

You also need skills in:

  • Interviewing clients to assess their needs and determine whether you’re a good fit
  • Customizing organizing strategies to meet the needs, personalities and budgets of each client
  • Sales and marketing to keep your schedule as full as you need it to be to achieve your desired income
  • Business management to make decisions that will lead you towards success
  • Administrative functions to keep your business running efficiently

Although you can pay others to handle certain aspects of your organizing business, you’ll have to ensure that you can cover that investment and still remain profitable, so until you have sufficient income to justify it, you’ll need at least a basic knowledge of each area.

Getting involved with a professional association is an excellent way to acquire that knowledge, both through formal education and by networking with other organizers. There are several associations for professional organizers around the world, but since most of my readers are located in North America, today I will focus on Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) and the US-based National Association for Professional Organizers (NAPO).

If you’re Canadian, your best starting point is POC’s Should I Become an Organizer? teleclass. This is a one-hour session where you can ask questions and get information from a veteran organizer. Check the POC Education & Events Calendar to find out when it’s being offered and sign up.

I suggest you also attend a chapter meeting, where you’ll have an opportunity to meet with members who have already established an organizing business, as well as others who are considering it, and get a good feel for what it is all about.

Other educational opportunities available through POC include:

  • POC Trained Professional Organizer Program (via teleclass)
  • Launch Your Business Comprehensive Training Program (two-day in-person live seminar)
  • Continuing Education through teleclasses and pre-recorded webinars
  • Annual Conference held in the fall

All of the above are open to non-members, but if you’re a Canadian professional organizer, I highly recommend that you join so you can take advantage of the other member benefits.

NAPO also has a strong educational program for professional organizers. Their curriculum consists of live online classes for beginning, intermediate, and advanced organizers, as well as some that are suitable for organizers at any experience level. Some classes are available as pre-recorded webinars.

NAPO holds an Annual Conference & Organizing Expo every spring. Recordings of some conference sessions are also available, but I encourage you to attend if you can, because there’s nothing like the full conference experience.

If you’ve never attended a professional organizer conference and are wondering what to expect, read about April Miller’s first POC Conference and Randi Hutton’s first NAPO Conference.

Conference attendance may be cost-prohibitive if you’re not yet earning an income from your organizing business, but I’ve met many people whose attendance at a POC Conference was their first experience with the industry, and they decided to join before they even got home.

Please note that you don’t need to be a member to attend either POC or NAPO Conferences, but members pay a lower registration fee.

Although NAPO is based in the US and POC is based in Canada, both associations welcome members from anywhere in the world. Whatever association you join, make sure you get involved at the Chapter level as well as locally, as the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. If there’s no chapter in your area, you can participate in the NAPO Virtual Chapter or POC Cyber Chapter, but you’ll also benefit from joining or forming a networking group for local colleagues.

NAPO and POC are both excellent organizations for professional development and networking, but they’re not your only options. Come back next week to learn about international and specialty associations, as well as other sources of professional organizer training.

Image © cla1978 / depositphotos

A former professional organizer, I’m now a Web Designer and Care Plan Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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Comments

  1. Awesome! So glad you brought it back! 😉 I really appreciate the addition of more info for Canadians as even though I am not in Canada I do get many questions from Canadians about this. Now I will have a wonderful reference to point them to by an actual Canadian! 🙂 Wow I said Canada a lot there… 🙂

    • Autumn, I’m so glad you raised that question! The original version of this post was written in 2007, and I really enjoyed bringing it up to date and enhancing it with links to some of the guest posts supplied by my readers. I hope many prospective organizers will find it helpful.

  2. I’ve had a few inquiries from colleagues on how to start their own organizing business and as an Interior Designer myself- I had no idea! This is a post I will share with them! Great info!
    Joanne Palumbo, Allied ASID

  3. Thanks for resharing this one on your recap post. I missed it. I have many people come to me over the years and say they want to start an organizing business. Well, I tell them, they need to start now. Wishing will not make it happen. They need a plan and determine what they will offer their clients. I started when there wasn’t anything out there to reference but now a days, there is so much information to get, you can start right away. =) I also loved that you included administrative functions. =) It’s so important to take care of tasks behind the scenes. I just wanted to say, you have taught me so much this year through your blog posts and Facebook group. Thank you so much and I am looking forward to your 2016 blog posts. =) Happy New Year!

    • I know what you mean, Sabrina! I started around the same time as you, and there were only a few websites about organizing, and only a couple that were geared towards professional organizers.

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my work… it means a lot to me. Happy new year!

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