Aspiring professional organizers often come to me requesting Professional Organizer Training sessions. The most common question I hear is, “Where do I start?” Here are my tips on becoming a professional organizer?
As of this writing, anyone, anywhere, can hang out a shingle as a Professional Organizer, Organizing Consultant, Disorganization Expert, or Productivity Professional. There are no compulsory tests, industry licenses, or required credentials. However, the lack of an officially sanctioned rite of passage for professional organizers doesn’t mean that there aren’t best practices for transforming yourself into a confident, legitimate organizing professional.
The Company You Keep
Professional organizers show a serious commitment to the profession by obtaining continuing education in the practice of organizing and the skills of running an organizing business. To accomplish this, most professionals choose to become members of a professional organizing association.
Many new organizers join one or more of the following or similar associations, depending on their location and preferred areas of specialty. Besides formal educational opportunities, these associations provide supportive networks, connecting new organizers with their colleagues.
- National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)
- National Association of Black Professional Organizers (NABPO)
- Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD)
- Professional Organizers in Canada (POC)
- Institute of Professional Organisers (IOPO)
- Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO-UK)
- Japan Association of Life Organizers (JALO)
- Nederlandse Beroepsvereniging van Professional Organizers (NBPO)
- Büroorganisation Büroordnung Netzwerk Deutschland (BOOND)
Making the Big Decisions
Along with joining professional associations and obtaining expertise, novice professional organizers must make important business decisions. Start by determining your business model. For example, will you start your own solo business or partner with someone who has a similar or compatible specialty? Might you consider hiring employees or independent contractors to work for you? Or would you rather work for another, more established organizer as an employee or freelance for several other professional organizers?
When starting your own organizing business, your immediate focus will be deciding on legal issues, marketing strategies and administrative policies.
Financial + Legal
- Structure your business: Will you be a sole proprietor, or will you form a partnership? Your decision will impact your legal obligations, tax planning and retirement options.
- Selecting a name for your business: It should be unique and easy to remember.
- Secure protections: Will you trademark your company name and/or promotional tagline to protect against others piggybacking on your efforts?
- Obtain licensing: Does your local government require you to secure a business license or name registration?
- Branding: Define your business identity by selecting colors, logo designs, typefaces, and content.
- Promotional materials: Create headshots, bios, logos, testimonials, and other content to develop print and electronic marketing materials.
- Publicity: Promote your company’s launch and growth via blogs, social media, public speaking, media interviews and advertising.
- Strategic partnerships: Plan to collaborate with vendors, non-profit organizations, therapists, and others to strengthen and grow your company.
Develop customized forms to smooth your operations and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Start with:
- Intake Forms: There’s nothing worse than having a prospective client on the phone and not knowing what to ask or forgetting to ask important questions.
- In-person Assessment Forms: Once at the client site, you will want a dependable method for taking detailed notes, capturing thoughts, and identifying goals.
- Letters of Agreement: Managing client expectations is critical. Clearly identify what services and products are included in your fee and what items are excluded. Specify compensation amounts and methods, your approach to client confidentiality, and any other policies or procedures.
- Invoices: Create a clear, concise invoice form to ensure accurate, speedy payment. Even if you get paid on the service date, some clients may require statements or “paid in full” invoices.
Whether you are an experienced Professional Organizer or just starting and looking for information on becoming a Professional Organizer, I encourage you to go to our New Professional Organizer‘s section, where you’ll find resources, products and all the information you need to become a successful Professional Organizer. Visit the shop for the New Organizers’ Essentials starter kit for your business. The kit contains the Intake, Assessment, Agreement and Invoice forms.