How to Start a Professional Organizing Business

Turn Your Skills for Tidying Up Into Income

Businessman with stacks of papers at desk
Jacobs Stock Photography / Getty Images

A professional organizer turns clutter and chaos into an efficient space for households and businesses. Jobs can range from organizing a small shoe closet to designing a storage space for a marketing firm.

Because throwing things out can be difficult for clients, organizers often need to also act as coaches, helping clients process their feelings around objects. Further, organizers need to learn about their clients to design systems they can be successful at using. 

Organizers may be involved in some of the handiwork, but they often give large tasks, such as painting or shelving construction jobs, to subcontractors. There is no widely accepted licensing for professional organizers, but anyone who enters the business can contact the National Association for Professional Organizers, which offers courses and other perks to organizers.

  • Startup overhead is low.

  • No official training is necessary.

  • It's an extension of what the organizationally inclined have been doing most of their life.

  • It's easy to start a portfolio by doing small jobs for family and friends.

  • Classes and websites devoted to organizing are easy to find.

  • You can expand services easily or offer retainer services.

  • You can add other income streams, such as speaking and training, e-courses and books for those who are DIYers.

  • It can be a challenge to differentiate yourself from other organizers.

  • You need to be comfortable entering other people's messy and disorganized homes or offices.

  • You need patience, particularly with clients who want to hold on to items or have difficulty adapting to organizational systems.

  • Unglamorous tasks, such as cleaning up for people with hoarding disorders, are part of the job.

  • Time management in a paid-by-the-hour arrangement can be tricky, given the unpredictable aspects of the job.

  • Subtracting for large projects can cut into profit, and it's potentially time-consuming to find the right subcontractors.

What You Need to Get Started

If you enjoy cutting through the clutter and helping others get their lives and spaces organized, starting a home-based professional organizing business can be relatively easy if you follow these steps:

  1. Decide if you'll specialize or generalize your organization service. For example, will you help everyone or focus just on homes or business? Or, you can specialize in a specific area, such as garages or paper management. 
  2. Obtain a business licenseand liability insurance.
  3. Create a detailed business plan outlining your service, pricing, and financial situation and goals.
  4. Develop your marketing planand promotional materials.
  5. Create a system for getting testimonials and referrals, which is the best way to get new clients for little marketing investment.
  6. Consider doing organization seminars or training either in-person or through online webinars or e-courses. It can be a way to show off your expertise and generate extra income, as well as garner new clients.
  7. Do sample projects for those you know, and showcase them with before-and-after photos to be used in physical and online portfolios.
  8. Develop good networking skills to lure customers and subcontractors you can trust.
  9. Use low-cost or free advertising such as newspapers, flyers, and signage on your car to promote yourself.
  10. Incorporate internet marketing, such as a blog or website, and social media.
  11. Gather a few basic tools, including a notepad, camera, tape measure, rubber gloves, face mask, tape, and a kit with screwdrivers and power tools (if you're going to be doing some of the dirty work yourself).
  12. Provide quality service, and always ask for a testimonial and referral from your satisfied clients.