MASTER TO-DO LIST FOR STARTING A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZING BUSINESS
Below I’ve created a comprehensive list for new professional organizers starting a productivity consulting or professional organizing business. While reading the list, please keep in mind that there are no right or wrong ways to tackle all the to-dos. This is your business. You are the boss and the decision maker. Take your time and enjoy this process. I suggest selecting just one or two sections to focus on at a time. Read the entire list before deciding where you want to start and whatever you do, don’t let the number of to-dos on this list intimidate or overwhelm you.
1. Research the Professional Organizing Industry
- Read organizing books and organizing blogs.
- Read blogs posts from homeowners or business owners to learn what kind of organizing challenges people are experiencing.
- Research business advice websites. For some, membership is required.
- Join an organization for networking (like your local Chamber of Commerce), accreditations, coaching, etc. Organizations to start with include, NAPO (www.napo.net), your local NAPO chapter, and ICD (www.challengingdisorganization.org).
- Find a mentor, coach, or business consultant (www.score.org).
- Market research—pinpoint the type of client you’d like to work with.
- Consider developing a niche or area of expertise.
2. Name your Business
- Create a name for your business and maybe a tagline, too.
- Check that the domain is available (GoDaddy.com, Google search, WhoIs.net, NetworkSolutions.com).
- Check your Secretary of State website to see if your business name is available and how to proceed regarding filing for a DBA (Doing Business As).
3. Financial, Legal, Logistical
- Write a business plan.
- Decide your business structure, also known as an entity (corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc.). Educate yourself at your Secretary of State’s website and Registrar of Deeds website.
- Register your business name at any required agencies (city/county for licenses or zoning permits), or use a service like www.bizfilings.com.
- Research tax requirements for your state and apply for tax exempt status (if needed) with your state’s Department of Revenue.
- Purchase business insurance (general liability, home & business equipment, errors & omissions).
- Once your registration paperwork has been approved and returned to you, complete the federal SS-4 form and obtain an EIN number before setting up a bank account in your business name.
- With your new bank account, purchase business checks.
- Get a business debit card and/or credit card.
- Set up a merchant account to accept credit cards or a service like PayPal or Square.
- Set up your desk and office space.
- Set up a phone number and appropriate voicemail message.
- Purchase a computer, supplies, and business equipment (scanner, printer, headset).
- Create a signature line for your email, include your area code and phone number.
- Purchase a backup system for your computer (Backblaze, Carbonite, Mozy, SugarSync, etc.).
4. Develop Your Services & Pricing
- Create a list of services you’ll offer.
- Estimate your business costs.
- Define how you price your services and what your rates will be (hourly rate, tiered pricing, package pricing, project pricing, retainer fees, cancellation, shopping and research fees).
- Establish billing policies and a Services Agreement and/or Independent Contractor Agreement (check www.LegalZoom.com).
- Purchase and set up accounting software; create an invoice and bookkeeping system.
- Decide if you want to hire a bookkeeper or accountant.
- Purchase a domain name or a few domain names, including your own name.
- Set up website hosting and email.
- Create a logo, symbol, word mark for your business (or hire a graphic designer)
- Get at least one professional headshot.
- Write a professional bio.
- Create business cards.
- Create stationery (letterhead, notecards, envelopes, address labels).
- Create a website or hire a web designer. Either way, you’ll need a website template (templatemonster.com or wix.com), website content management system (like WordPress, Weebly, Joomla, and Drupal), and content (pages on your site might include: about you, contact info, services, pricing, testimonials from clients, etc.).
- Create social media profiles on Instagram, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn.
- Get the word out that you are open for business with a press release (www.articlesender.com), social media posts, and forum posts. Call friends/family/clients and ask for referrals, create a brochure or mass mailing, etc.
6. Define the Client Experience and Create:
- New organizing client questionnaire known as intake forms or assessment forms.
- Consultation process—set expectations of what’s expected and what’s NOT included in your services; explain your billing process.
- A welcome letter and booking confirmation.
- Feedback form, testimonial, and online reviews (Google, Yelp).
Congratulations! You are on your way to starting your own professional organizing business. With my master to-do list you are bound to feel more confident in your ability to plan your time and your budget. My goal is to have you grow your new organizing business in a sensible, sustainable manner. Next, we’ll work on booking clients who want and need help getting and staying organized. Good luck!
Download your free PDF file of the checklist here.