I advise Americans across the country on how to start, build, and scale side hustles into full-time businesses. One idea that is particularly exciting in the second half of 2023 is professional organizing.
It can be lucrative and, for the right person, a really good way to help others make progress in their home or office.
Here are eight things you'll want to consider if you're considering starting a professional organizing side hustle or business.
What is professional organizing?
Professional organizing is a service-based side hustles where individuals or businesses visit residential homes or commercial offices for the purpose of organizing, decluttering, and otherwise improving the condition of a home or place of work.
Professional organizers may take a hands-on role, performing the work on behalf of their clients, or a consulting/coaching type role, where they'll instruct/teach the strategies required to make and maintain the progress made.
What do professional organizers do?
Professional organizers oftentimes offer a variety of services, such as:
Planning out a space
1. Storage optimization
One of professional organizers' top responsibilities is to optimize and introduce new storage solutions when a situation may call for it. In this role, you may need to implement both storage and organization strategies that leverages whatever shelving, cabinetry, closet space, and other features that a space has to offer.
Optimizing, or introducing new organization solutions, in a client space is a significant value-add since it is the best thing that you can do maximize space and function simultaneously.
I used to struggle to stay organized, in large part because I would get overwhelmed over time as I continued to gather and accumulate new things. The chances are, you'll have clients that battle the same struggles.
This is where you'll come in handy. Good decluttering may require you to do things like recycle, donate, or discard possessions that your client has not used in some time, though he/she will ultimately have the last say.
It can be frustrating if they resist and don't want to part with anything, but I'll address strategies to cope with this shortly.
3. Professional staging
Sometimes, professional organizers are tasked with professionally staging areas, like homes that are for sale.
When you stage a home for a seller, you may spruce up their existing organization, furniture, and decor, or you may bring in some other inventory that you have purchased for use by your staging business.
You also may spruce up other parts of a client home, by rearranging furniture, putting clutter away, or something else altogether.
4. Planning out a space
Other times, professional organizers are brought into a new home or project to assess layouts and flows before spaces are furnished or finished. In projects like this, you'd be responsible to do things like arrange furniture, provide storage recommendations, and ensure spaces maximize their functionality.
How to start an organizing business
The path to becoming a professional organizer varies from person to person. Some may take trainings, pursue licensing/certification, and try to gain experience before starting their own ventures.
But none of this is really required in my experience.
Instead, I recommend that you keep it simple and think through just five things:
The services you'll offer
Your target audience
Legal and financial considerations
Marketing your services
Pricing your services
1. What organization services will you offer?
There is no shortage of services that an organizing business can offer, like:
Focusing on a particular part of a home, such as a kitchen, closet, bedroom, or bathroom
Dealing with a particular aspect of workspace organization, like supplies, inventory, filing, digital files, or something else
Specialized niche offerings like dealing with home downsizing, hoarding, estate liquidation, or garage work
Generally, I recommend filling a niche, rather than trying to be everything to everybody, but you'll also want to make sure there is enough of a demand in your area for those services you do offer.
In addition to deciding upon services, you'll also want to decide whether or not your business will haul away any agreed upon trash disposal, or whether that may be your client's responsibility.
If feasible, consider hauling away any trash with you, since there very well could be items of value that you may be able to resell, providing you an ancillary source of revenue. You may, however, also encounter disposal costs for what you cannot resell.
2. Your target audience
Who are you planning to market your services to? Your target audience is an important question that you should answer based on those services that you do offer.
If you live in a city with significant volumes of small apartments, like Boston or New York, marketing to those looking to downsize probably isn't a message that will resonate, since they're already living in a small space.
On the flip side, offering these services in an area with a large aging population will likely yield better results.
Knowing the relation between your target audience and your services will make it much easier to find clients needing their spaces to be organized.
3. Legal and financial considerations
The third question to think through is legal in nature. As your side hustle grows into a business, you may want to legally establish a business to adequately protect both your personal and business interests.
Most entrepreneurs opt to establish one of these four business types:
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
S or C Corporations
Ultimately, the best option for you depends on so many different variables, but I like LLCs for a couple of reasons.
First, they protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit or business failure. This means that, in many cases, your personal assets are a separate entity and cannot be touched.
I also like LLCs due to their ease of formation. I was able to get started for just a couple hundred dollars. I used Northwest Registered Agent to establish my business, but companies like LegalZoom can also help you get started.
Next on your list should be pricing and marketing your services. Since you probably have interest in taking your professional organizing business full-time at some point, I recommend starting a website.
You can either hire a web designer, which will be costly, or you can use a content management system, like Wix or WordPress.
These sites allow you to build your own website using largely drag and drop templates, and both also support blogging. To grow your web traffic, particularly locally, you'll want to practice good search engine optimization (SEO) practices and begin blogging.
Other best practices as you begin marketing include:
Building a sales page PDF that outlines your services, work style, and before/after pictures for potential customers
Gathering social proof of your work in the form of Google or Yelp reviews and customer testimonials
Creating social media accounts for your business on sites
It is also important to work on pricing your services. To develop your pricing model, you'll want to take a few variables into account:
Your monthly expenses
How long a job will take
How far a job site is from you
Ultimately, there are multiple different pricing strategies for you to consider, including an hourly rate, project-based rates, or various packages.
6 things to consider as a professional organizer
While working as a professional organizer can be a very lucrative side hustle, there are a number of things you should consider before jumping into the work. In no particular order, you'll want to consider your:
Empathy and passion
Time management skills
Problem solving abilities
1. Empathy and passion
You will likely deal with home and business owners that feel helpless and don't truly know where to start or how to seize the opportunity in front of them. This is where your empathy and passion kick in.
In stressful situations, some clients may resist change or have a knack to snap back or scoff at change. It will be your job to influence change, to keep the train on the tracks, and to get the job done well.
You'll also need to be adaptable. Sometimes, when you face resistance, your clients may think of another way to organize things in a way that works for them. In instances like this, you'll want to be adaptable if possible. Listen to your clients and provide feedback on their ideas.
If they are good ones, allow them to implement pieces or the entire strategy, as it makes them more likely to stay organized into the future.
3. Overarching strategy
It is also important to have a scalable and repeatable process that you use with most or all of your clients. Your overarching strategy will help you get jobs done as well and quickly as possible.
Consider closets, for example. Do you believe in organizing clothes by color, season, or some other strategy altogether. Do you believe in subdividing sections and using containers where possible?
Having strategies before you see a cluttered space will help you visualize the final product and articulate your vision to your customers.
If you're going to organize as a side hustle, with the intention of growing it into a full-time business, you're going to spend a period of time initially putting your own labor into jobs. As such, remember to consider your stamina and strength.
Will you be able to lift boxes or move furniture if a job calls for it?
If not, you'll definitely want to take more of a coaching or consultative approach.
5. Time management skills
Of course, you want your clients to be satisfied and make substantial progress in your time working together. But at the same time, you've started a side hustle to make money.
This means that you'll need to be able to balance your time so that your customers are happy, while at the same time assuring that you're able to maintain your profitability.
6. Problem solving abilities
Finally, problem solving skills will be an important part of your professional organizing business. You will approach jobs with best practices and an idea of what you want to do with a space, but sometimes, logistics that are out of your control will surface.
For example, a home may not have as much closet space as you're looking to utilize, or a business may have rules that prevent you from organizing files in whatever manner you'd like.
In times like these, it will be up to you to find that next best alternative, to figure out what is next.
Working as a professional organizer can be an excellent opportunity to use your decluttering skills to make a difference in your clients' lives. Plus, getting your business off the ground will be pretty easy if you're able to follow the steps outlined above and contemplate the eight considerations before you begin.
What do you think? Does making money as a professional organizer sound right for you? Or is it a side hustle you plan to steer clear from?
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