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Is your house or apartment a lesson in organized chaos? Are your files and old newspapers papers piled to the ceiling? Clothing spilling out from your bedroom drawers, blocking your path? Can you never, ever find what you’re looking for without an extensive search? Then you may need a professional organizer. This entrepreneurial category is so new it doesn’t even have an entry on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. But organizers’ clients swear by them, engaging them to note only restore order to their homes but also to help ensure a move goes smoothly: Organizers can help their clients pinpoint which unnecessary or redundant possessions should be sold, discarded or hauled off to Goodwill. Another reason to call a professional organizer? Home staging in preparation for a sale. In terms of income, organizers usually work by the hour. Cost factors include the company itself and where the client lives. But, according to CostHelper.com, per project rates for a single room can range from $200 to $375. And Angie’s List clients report paying $1,500 to $5,000 for a major home organization project.
ASK THE PROS
What kind of money can you expect to make?
“Income varies according to experience, hourly rate and number of hours worked. We are prohibited from discussing fees in our professional organization” — Anna Lieber, President/CEO, Organized Space Works (A division of Lieber Brewster Design, Inc.), New York, NY
What are the startup costs?
“To start a professional organizing business, one needs at least a DBA (“Doing Business As”), business license, available at a minimal cost. Many organizers have an LLC or have incorporated their companies, requiring an attorney. Business insurance, which includes liability, is important, as well as accurate financial record keeping. I have a bookkeeper who tracks my business and personal finances in computer programs, as well as an accountant who files my taxes. In addition, there are fees when you join professional organizations such as NAPO, the National Association of Organizing and Productivity Professionals for training and networking” — Anna Lieber
What kind of experience do you need to have?
“One needs basic business knowledge, resilience and people skills. Many organizers are well versed, if this is a second career. For special training, I attend weekly seminars given by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, for certifications. These have helped me to work with special populations like those with ADHD, chronic disorganization and hoarding disorder.” — Anna Lieber
What’s the most important thing to know about this business?
“This is a business where you’re working intimately with clients in their private domains, their homes and offices. We can be in their finances or their underwear drawers. Trust and ethics are paramount. In these close relationships, emotions can run high. The things we own, and work challenges, often engender difficult feelings, where sensitivity and a non-judging attitude is required of the professional organizer” — Anna Lieber
Your clients can be homeowners and apartment dwellers who are tired of living with clutter and losing time looking for things that should be under their noses. Your best bets for attracting clients are placing ads in your local paper and writing articles for local publications. Give talks to women’s groups, place ads offering discounts in coupon mailers, and donate a free makeover to a local charity in exchange for publicity.
All you really need to get started is that creatively organized brain and a planning book, although as you grow you’ll want to invest in a computer, a printer, a fax machine and all the usual software.