Archive for Business of Organizing

What does a professional organizer do?

POC Gold Leaf Member

Perhaps you are familiar with the Professional Organizer industry.  It is an unregulated industry.  Anyone can call themselves a Professional Organizer.  Professional Organizers in Canada  (POC) was established about 17 years ago and the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) the American organization is about 30 years old. Look for organizers listed on these directories.  Most Professional Organizers have their own business and specialize in areas of organizing. As you read their websites you will be able to see their years of experience,  type of training and continuing education.

What happens when I call an organizer?

Usually there is some type of conversation over the phone, Skype or email to discover what type of problem you want solved.  It might be to have a spaced organized, help with moving, develop systems to make things function more smoothly, downsizing, coaching or virtual organizing etc. Then there is a description of how the job will be completed. This is about the only common business practice.  Since we all own our own businesses we have varying ways of continuing.

When you contact Mind over  Clutter:

Can I get an estimate on the cost for the work to be completed?

Most times it is hard to estimate how long a job will take during the conversation.  I offer a free one hour assessment to see what the job entails and give you an idea of how long I think it might take and what we will do.   One of the biggest factors on how long a job will take is how easily and quickly you can make decisions on if items stay or go.  The second factor is, sometimes the job expands to include unforeseen work: filing papers, assembling shelving or bookcases, corners and areas not discussed during the assessment. I work on an hourly rate and offer a package of 10 hours at a reduced rate.

How does it work?

80% of my clients work with me to go through items and decide what will stay and what will be donated or recycled.  Then we discuss the best place and way to store the items so they can be easily found and used. Most clients like to learn  the skill of organizing and so working together helps them to learn where start, how to sort, how to decide what stays and what goes, how to store things in containers and where is the best location to store different types of items.

What if I don’t want to help or can’t help?

If you don’t want to help, I can work alone sorting items based on our conversation on what you want to keep and what you want to donate.  Then I create a donate pile  and a garbage pile and recycle pile.  Nothing leaves the house until you have looked through each pile.  If you can’t help you can sit with me and I can bring you things to do and you can answer my questions.

What if I need some guidance but can do all the work myself?

We can work together virtually.  You show me the space to organize over Skype and I send you a plan and you complete the work.  Here is more information about virtual organizing.  Or I can coach you through the process in a conversation in-person or virtually discussing what you want to accomplish and how you can accomplish it.

What happens with donations and recycling?

At the end of each work session I take the donations.  I will drop them at centers that will take your things.  I can take them to the donation center of your choice too.  I take non-curbside recycling at the end of each session. Usually that includes, batteries, paint cans, small electronics , small appliances, textile recycling, medications, and plastic bags.

Why wouldn’t I just do it myself after the one hour free assessment?

Some people do.  They have enough information and can continue with the job.  Most people feel overwhelmed and stressed by doing it on their own.  They find it easier to work with a professional who can guide them through the problem, help solve it and reduce the stress they feel about the situation. Working with someone makes you block time out for the appointment and helps you to stop putting it off.  It is always more fun working with someone than working alone.

Will you give me homework to do?

Only if you want it.  Some people like to keep going with the work and get it done quickly.  Some people don’t want to work alone or would feel bad if they didn’t get the homework done so I don’t that person anything to do.  There are some tasks that are very time consuming and if you can do it on your own it makes it more cost effective for you, sorting paper, going through books, CDs, VHS tapes, clothing.  However those tasks can be difficult to figure out what to keep and what to donate that you might it better for you to do it with me present.

Please post your questions in the comments.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 Twitter – @julieorganizer Facebook – http://facebook.com/mindoverclutter/  

Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space https://www.facebook.com/groups/1881280812154271/

Virtual Organizing – who, why, where, what

Who would use virtual organizing services?

For clients who:

  • wish to do the “hands on “organizing themselves
  • are uncertain about someone coming into their home,
  • want a cost effective way to get organized
  • need to manage their organizing appointments to fit a complex schedule
  • need a body double to stay focused

Why would you expand your business to included this service?

Virtual organizing allows organizers to:

  • spend less time driving, the organizer is in their office working with the client online or providing support to the client through prearranged online meetings
  • have clients all around the world
  • keep working with clients that move away
  • move to a new location and  keep working with clients from their previous location
  • transition to less physical organizing while still coaching, teaching, supporting and mentoring clients

What would a virtual organizing session look like

There are probably as many ways to do virtual organizing as there are organizers.  Here are 2 formats.

Format 1 for the DIYers = 3 conversations, a plan, follow up support

To keep the process simple, only one room will be discussed at a time.

The process consists of:

  1. After the client contacts you, book an intake conversation over the phone, Skype or e-mail to describe the process to the client.   Have the client send you photos or a video so you understand their situation clearly and to use them as reference
  2. Book a Virtual Appointment using Skype, Face Time, Google Hangouts or Facebook to see the room and discuss the client’s organizing goals.
  3. Develop a step by step plan and send them their customized organizing plan
  4. After they have had time to read the plan, book a virtual  question and answer session to allow the client to clarify the plan and establish a timeline for the project.

Once a timeline has been established for the project one of two follow up options may be selected.

Support Option A – This works well for people who manage their time well and are motivated to get the job done. 

The client will work on the project and e-mails pictures or sets up a Skype call as needed to help:

  • solve problems,
  • clarify the next step,
  • receive storage suggestions.
  • receive donation and recycling information.

 Support Option B – This works well for people who are easily distracted or procrastinate in getting the space organized.

  • The client will e-mail the day and time they will be working on the job.
  • You will e-mail, Skype, text or call each hour to see what assistance they need in order to successfully complete the work scheduled for that day.

In Format 1 most of your time is spent on the process of building the customized plan.  Set limits on how long the Intake Conversation, Virtual Appointment and Virtual Q & A will last. The billing  for the plan will include the time spent on the 3 conversation and the time to write the plan.  You will also be billing for support options.  You may want the client to pay a retainer that covers a specific number of minutes or hours.  If they need a lot of support they can purchase additional retainers.  If they don’t use all the minutes they purchased, reimburse them.

Format 2 for the Body Double Clients = This process is very similar to working with the client in person. 

  1. After the client contacts you, book an intake conversation over the phone, Skype or e-mail to describe the process to the client.   Have the client send you photos or a video so you understand their situation clearly and to use them as reference.
  2. Book a Virtual Appointment using Skype, Face Time, Google Hangouts or Facebook to see the room and discuss the client’s organizing goals and begin organizing. You will be on your computer for the entire length of the appointment.  You will be their body double teaching them skills, keeping them focused and supporting them. Coach them through the process of sorting, reducing, establishing a space to store things, containers to use and evaluating if they met their goals for the session.  The sessions may include: where to donate items, how to sell items, where to recycle items and any services you would like to include in the package.
  3. Book the next appointment and continue working with the client until the job is completed.

Billing for Format 2 is simple.  Determine what your virtual organizing hourly rate is and bill them for the number of hours you worked together.

You don’t need to limit your virtual organizing to rooms.  I have done a virtual time management session with a client.

If you want to discuss these formats, contact me and let’s learn from each other.  

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

How do you store your batteries?

Here is a great video on how to store batteries safely to prevent a fire in your home.

Batteries can be recycled in many locations.  Share in the comments where you recycle your batteries. 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Coopetition

Do You Play Well with Others? A look at cooperative competition

Professional organizer Julie Stobbe sharing tips with other local businesswomen

Coopetition occurs when companies work together for parts of their business where they do not believe they have competitive advantage and where they believe they can share common costs. (Source: Wikipedia)

In my experience, most professional organizers are very happy to share resources and expertise with their colleagues and reap many rewards from doing so. I asked my client, Julie Stobbe, about her thoughts on the subject, and was so impressed that I invited her to share them here today as my guest blogger.

Cooperating with someone in your line of business is a great way to get to know people, brainstorm and  learn ideas and help each other with areas that you are weak in.

When I decided to try coopetition, I did it on a project basis. I used it to help me to market better, because marketing is not my strength.

I would think about something I would like to have (product development) or something I would like to do (offer a new service) and think about someone who had mentioned that they had an interest in the same thing.  I would approach them with an idea and see if they were interested in working together to develop and implement the plan.  It was nice to have a partner to walk the path with and hold my hand.

The payoff is having to do half the work while increasing business for both parties with the understanding that if they get busy and need help, they would approach me first, and I would do the same for them.  If you develop a service with a partner, if someone gets sick, you have the other person as backup.   I always selected someone who lived east of my main marketing area.  This made it easy to get materials delivered over a larger area – half the work, twice the area covered.  This gave us both exposure to a larger market.

Here are some examples of projects I’ve worked on with people in my field and with complementary businesses:

  • Developing organizing tip booklets; we have 4 different topics.
  • Developing courses to offer to colleges, school boards and groups; we have 3 different 3 hour courses prepared.
  • Advertising someone else’s electronic resources (because I don’t want to develop them at this time) in exchange for services.
  • Advertising together so the cost of printing is shared by both companies.
  • Recommending specialty services to clients, such as clutter removal service, rug cleaning, and website design.
  • Inviting someone to attend new meetings and events with me. That way I don’t have to walk in alone, and perhaps they can make introductions too.

Although I have been fortunate and careful with whom I partner, there are always things to consider.

  • The person you partner with now represents your company as well as their own.  Make sure you have similar business ethics or your company’s reputation maybe adversely affected.
  • If you are producing a product and the quality of what they produce is not up to your standards, you may be disappointed.  However, you have both contributed time and money to the project so they may use it the way they want to.
  • One of the companies may work much harder at marketing the product or service than the other company.  Make sure that you can live with it if you realize that you are marketing them but they are not marketing you.

Overall, I have gained a lot from coopetition with others.  I have grown as a business person, I have learned new skills, I have made good friends I can depend on, and I have learned to be flexible.  I hope my coopetition partners have found me to be reasonable, supportive and hard working.  Taking a chance to work with good people is really making a sure bet.

Thanks to Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant for interviewing me.  Join her Maximize Marketing Club.

Julie Stobbe is a POC Trained Professional Organizer and the owner of Mind over Clutter in Beamsville, Ontario, Canada. You can also like Mind over Clutter on Facebook.

How do you Organize a Successful Transition to a New Work Situation?

Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant

Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant

Today I am happy to introduce you to Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant.

Here is her  story of following her passion and successfully transitioning her business focus.  I hope it will motivate you to take a step towards making changes in your life, work or business.

  1. When I first met you, you were a Professional Organizer.  What did you do before becoming an organizer and how did you choose to become a professional organizer?

Before starting my business, I worked as a customer service rep, office supervisor, administrative assistant, computer instructor, and employment counsellor. When I was an employment counsellor, I decided to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Qualifying Program. Because the MBTI is a widely used career assessment tool, I thought it would be a good thing to have on my resume.

In the course, I learned that our personality type influences not only our career choices, but many other aspects of our lives, and I was particularly fascinated with the way that personality type affects the way we deal with time and space. I was so excited by the possibilities that I wasn’t satisfied to simply have the MBTI listed on my resume – I wanted to actually use it! Since there was no opportunity to do so in the position I held at the time, I decided to start a side business where I would use my new knowledge to help others choose a career or become more effective by using organizing strategies that respect their natural preferences.

  1. contact www.organizedassistant.com

    contact www.organizedassistant.com

    How long was it before you transitioned from being a professional organizer to becoming a virtual assistant?  How did you make that business transition?

A year or so after becoming a professional organizer, one of my organizing colleagues hired me to automate her monthly newsletter. At that moment, I realized that you can organize someone’s workspace, and you can teach them good time management skills, but sometimes the best way to help them is to free up some of their time.

This was a real turning point for me, and I began adding virtual assistance and website design (which I’d also been doing on the side for several years) to my professional organizing service offerings. I enjoyed this type of work so much that I resigned from my job to work in my business full time. As my client base grew, organizing became less important and eventually I gave it up altogether.

  1. When transitioning your business services, what do you feel is one mistake you made or something you could have done better to make the transition easier?

When I decided to become a virtual assistant, I had to change my business name from Barclay Career & Organizing Solutions to something more in line with my new service offerings. I chose Organized Assistant, because it was something I could stick with in the event I decided to discontinue either organizing or virtual assistance down the road.

The transition itself went pretty smoothly, because it was gradual and my business seemed to evolve naturally. However, over the past few years, I’ve become less of a virtual assistant and more of a marketing consultant and web designer, and my business name no longer feels like a good fit. Had I anticipated further changes, I would have simply branded myself as Janet Barclay.

  1. Although you are still a virtual assistant the focus of your business is changing again.  Tell us about your new focus?

I’ve always enjoyed working with solopreneur women, and they seem to enjoy working with me too. However, solopreneurs tend to look after their own marketing, either for financial reasons or simply out of personal preference. In order to cater to their needs, earlier this year I founded Maximize Marketing Club. In this supportive online community, members learn and develop important marketing strategies for less than the cost of a virtual assistant, and much less than a one-on-one marketing coach.

  1. How important is it, in making a successful business transition, to start a networking group and/or an online group?

Building a network is essential no matter what stage you’re at in your business. When you’re making a transition, a well-established network of supporters can help you test your ideas and spread the word about your new products or services.

  1. Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I’d like to invite any of your readers who’d like a free taste of Maximize Marketing Club to sign up for my free Maximize Your Content Marketing eCourse at http://maximizemarketing.club/.

If you need assistance with your website or marketing please contact Janet Barclay.

___________________________________________________________________

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at Julie@mindoverclutter.ca 

Why Should I Go to A Conference?

In October 2015 Professional Organizers in Canada celebrated their 15th National Conference in Toronto #pocconf2015. Often times people look at the cost of a conference and decide it is not worth going. There are 6 reasons to go to a conference.

1. Grow Your Business

You will learn new information and other peoples’ perspectives on the  information.  We had great speakers that taught us about marketing our business with speaking for success by Sarah Hilton, Marketing for Success by  Sarah Buckwalter and networking and volunteering to grow your business by Mary Dystra

2. Learn new Online Skills

Social  media changes quickly.  Whether through a session or while networking you can gain tips to help you better understand social media. We had the opportunity to learn about blogging from Janet Barclay,  and apps and online tools from  Samantha Kristoferson

Social media can be a challenge

Social media can be a challenge

3. Become  Better at Your Profession

Go to learn new skills and niches in your profession. We learned about the specialized skills we need to do Digital Photo Organizing by Lisa Kurtz, to work with Special Needs’ Clients and Their Families by Leslie Josel and Dr, Regina Lark and to know how to help Clients with Traumatic Illness & Injury by Lisa Mark and Maureen DeGarmo

Leslie Josel also works with students

Leslie Josel also works with students

4. Become Passionate about What you Do

Having a passion for your profession helps to make you the best you can be at what you do.  Sometimes you lose that passion.  Spending time with liked minded people at a conference can spark that passion again.   Lisa Layden helped us to discover our Big Visions and Big Dreams and Elaine Quinn focused on Secrets to Loving our Business.  Val Low helped us to move from being Unfocused to Unstoppable

Lisa has courses on her website to help grow your business

Lisa has courses on her website to help grow your business

5. Become Involved in Your Association

When you attend a conference you get a glimpse into what is needed to run a professional association.  You can see how becoming involved in growing your profession helps you to grow as a person and develop skills.   Carolyn Caldwell and Elinor Warkentin helped  to develop a model on how to make ethical decisions.

Next POC conference is in Vancouver BC Nov 3 -5 2016

Next POC conference is in Vancouver BC Nov 3 -5 2016

6. Have Fun

Getting outside your comfort zone and meeting new people, visiting a new city and trying new things can be fun.  We had the opportunity to get a  massage from the students at Trillium College Toronto, see the Blue Jays at the Rogers Center or Nathan Phillips Square, enjoy shopping and restaurants. Conference is about people and building relationships in the way that works best for you.

Let me know why you attend conferences.

 

 

 

 

Making Networking Work for You

There are many networking groups available to business people to make connections with potential clients and Meet with others to build relationshipsbusinesses.  Groups meet for breakfast, lunch or supper.  Some groups have an educational component.  Most networking groups are based on building relationships with the members in the group so to be successful choose a group that you can attend regularly for two years.  If you are looking for a networking group go to the Meetup.com site to find a group in your area.

Networking can happening at breakfast lunch or supper meetings

Some people do find that they don’t have enough time in their day to exercise.  Here are 2 ways to combine networking and exercise.

1. Netwalking – Instead of meeting for a coffee , meet while walking.  During the good weather walk outside during cooler weather walk inside on tracks, malls hallways.  Most malls open early and have mall walking programs.

Netwalking

2. Sweatworking – Fitness clubs are starting networking groups.  In this environment you naturally have a common interest, health exercise. This is a  more relaxed atmosphere to build relationships with other networkers.  Here is a great article describing  sweatworking. http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2015/06/01/sweatworking-the-new-way-to-advance-your-career/2/

Networking while exercising

 

Ultimate Blogging Challenge – Success or Failure

Is daily blogging for you?

It starts again on July 1, 2015

You may remember that in April I had joined the Ultimate Blogging Challenge where you blog everyday for a month.  I started out great for the first 10 days feeling like I had some fun content.  The suggestions they sent as part of the resources where somewhat helpful.  I had forgot about blogging about books.  They suggested blogging about fun days and so I talked about the world figure skating chapionships.  However as time went on my business got very busy and I felt like I didn’t have interesting content so I blogged less.  I am glad I tried this experiment because:

1. It is not for me, once a week is a good time frame for me.  I can keep up with the schedule and I have content I am proud to share

2. I discovered that my new blog had not been set up the way  I thought and articles were not being shared with my social media sites.  Since I was blogging regularly I notice the change and got it corrected.

3.I received 30 different ideas for blogging.  Most were personal rather than business topics but they are excellent for brainstorming new ideas and new approaches to blogging.

So overall  I think the experiment was valuable.  Give it a try, it starts again on July 1, 2015 and let me know how it went for you.

Need Help Virtually all the Time?

Virtual Assistants are a profession that supply businesses with help in areas where the owner can’t or doesn’t want to do certain tasks.  This allows the owner to do the work that they are good at and hire a Virtual Assistant for as many hours as they need or can afford.

Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant  www.organizedassistant.com is a fantastic Virtual Assistant.  She specializes in website design and social media.  She designed my first website 7 years ago and redesign my new responsive wordpress website last year.  She takes care of hosting the site and letting me know what directories I might want my site on in addition to the directories she  has already used.  She is a wealth of information and  will answer my questions quickly and clearly.

An Organized Assistant can help you virtually all the time

An Organized Assistant can help you virtually all the time

She also is a blogger.  She runs Blogging Organizers for, yes, Professional Organizers who blog and Professional Organizers Blog Carnival. This blog has a different topic each month and contains lots of information for the public, submitted by Professional Organizers.  Her current topic is Organizing Basements and Attics  http://organizedassistant.com/organizing-basements-and-attics-professional-organizers-blog-carnival/  She helps the industry and Professionals Organizer become better known to the public.  If you are in a specific industry, look at her blogs and how she is helping the industry to grow, increasing her visibility  and helping other people in the industry.  It is a great model to explore if you want to become a leader  in your industry and love blogging.

Janet is an expert in social media.  She will do newletters, post on sites or teach you how to do it.  If you want to increase your visibility and need help with any platform use a Virtual Assistant to help you.

There are many Virtual Assistants who each specialize in different areas,

  • bookkeeping,
  • social media,
  • web cast videos,
  • specific software programs. etc.

Janet facilitates the Golden Horseshoe Virtual Assistants Association www.GHVA.ca .  Check out this site if you need help virtually all the time.

 

 

Twitter – To Thank or not To Thank

How do you respond when someone retweets you?  Replying with a thank-you is indeed polite but isn’t very interesting to read.  Most people on twitter like to scan interesting comments.  So I asked a  Virtual Assistant, Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant how to respond.  She sent me a very helpful article.  By the way the short answer is to say thank-you. Here is a link to the blog post http://organizedassistant.com/2011/04/05/what-do-you-do-when-someone-retweets-you/

twitte3r

On-line Lifestyle Organizing Coaching leading professionals From Clutter to Freedom
Residential Organizing Services for the Region of Niagara, Hamilton, Halton-Peel and Surrounding Area