This month’s interview is with Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® from Oh, So Organized. Linda is a Certified Professional Organizer and lives and works 30 miles north of New York City. She has been in the business for 26+ years and is a veteran organizer in several associations, like Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) and the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO), just to name a few. Let’s read on to find out what words of wisdom Linda has for you.
Take it away, Linda!
Tell us about your business, and when and why you started?
Organizing was something that came naturally to me. Early on, people noticed my abilities and would ask if I was “born organized.” I was one of those kids that couldn’t wait to purchase new school supplies so that I could set up my three-ring binder and organize my locker. After returning from trick-or-treating, I loved trading with my sister and then sorting Halloween candy by type into small bags. I never really thought much about my joy of order or how it helped me be more productive and creative. It was just how I functioned, and it brought me enormous satisfaction.
As an adult, I recognized that the very skill I took for granted, others struggled with on a regular basis. In many instances, their disorganization created great stress in their lives and relationships. In 1993, when I connected together how deeply disorganization affected people, recognized that becoming organized was a teachable skill and that I had the potential to affect positive change in people’s lives by sharing my skills, I launched Oh, So Organized! My goal was to help people who struggled with getting organized feel less overwhelmed so they could focus on what was most important to them.
Since those early beginnings 26 years ago when I was solely providing “hands-on” organizing, my business has expanded to include virtual organizing, coaching, blogging, speaking, writing, and mentoring other organizers. I manage two websites. Oh, So Organized! features the professional organizing side of my business. The Other Side of Organized features my book and blog with writings and conversations on organizing, life balance, mindfulness, motivation, clutter, and other related topics. My specialty is working one-on-one with chronically disorganized individuals in their homes and offices.
What do you feel is an area you struggle with your business?
I love learning. I’m curious by nature. While that’s not a bad thing, there is an endless, ever-growing supply of things to learn about organizing, marketing, mindfulness, and psychology. My challenge is that while the learning is limitless, my time is not.
What did you do to combat or overcome this struggle?
Setting boundaries have been vital. The parameters help me choose what I will and won’t pursue or the amount of time devoted to professional development. Some limitations are budget-driven and based on the financial resources available. So while I might want to attend every conference and workshop, I’m not willing to devote unlimited resources to do that. It’s about being deliberate, yet flexible with my choices in addition to being clear about what is most fascinating and beneficial to pursue.
Please share some tips on how you made your business a success.
Success is a result of doing not one, but many things. Here are some of the things that contributed to my business success:
- Foundation – When I first launched Oh, So Organized!, I took an 8-week course for women entrepreneurs that were in business for less than five years. Each week we learned from a different successful professional on a specific topic like marketing, public speaking, or financing. The course helped me expand my thinking and implement strategies that I still use today.
- Engagement – Early on I joined industry associations. Over time, I became involved locally, nationally and internationally. I’ve volunteered for individual projects and held leadership and Board positions with NAPO (National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals) and ICD (Institute for Challenging Disorganization.) Aside from developing wonderful connections with colleagues from all over the world, being engaged has resulted in many opportunities including speaking internationally, receiving referrals for new clients, having PR exposure, and keeping up-to-date with organizing industry trends.
- Education – Continual improvement with an intense desire to learn has been an integral part of my business success. Reading, attending conferences, classes, workshops, and professional development courses encompass my continuing education. I am a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Program Mentor, Master Trainer through ICD, and a graduate of the Organizer Coach Foundation Training Program.
- Relationships – Valuing, developing, and nurturing close relationships with clients and colleagues have been the core of this people-oriented, service-based business.
- Creativity – When I entered the organizing industry, I brought a visual arts background in painting, graphic design, and computer graphics. I applied those creative skills not just to my marketing efforts, but also in the organizing work with clients. Organizing is extremely visual. I continued to find ways to satisfy my creativity while growing my business through writing, blogging, photographing, and making videos.
- Flexibility – Learning what works is great. If it continues to work, even better. However, things change. So being flexible and willing to experiment in different ways is essential. Trying something new can be scary. Yet, I’ve learned that pushing past my fears has always resulted in incredible growth and learning opportunities. If I hadn’t been willing to move past fear and embrace being flexible, I never would have started Oh, So Organized!, created my first website, written a book, started blogging or become ICD President. Flexibility has been a business success essential.
- Passion –While passion isn’t the only ingredient, it certainly has been a factor in my success. Without my love of and desire to help others or my love of organizing and problem-solving, this business would not have succeeded. I continue to be in awe of my clients that have the courage and strength to face their challenges in pursuit of change. It’s an honor and incredibly inspiring to walk that path with them.
Thank you, Linda, for your words of advice. Linda is offering an “Organizing Tip 101” series as a thank you for signing up to her FREE Monthly E-Newsletter, click here to sign up.
I agree with Linda that different facets make for a successful business. While we all have areas we struggle with, we also have areas we thrive in, so knowing more about what we can bring to the business and what we should get help with is the key to helping your business thrive.
Let’s continue the conversation, what area do you struggle with each day? Please leave a comment below. And, don’t forget to visit our other interviews here.