This month’s interview is with Kathy Vines from Clever Girl Organizing. She is based out of Melrose, Mass., USA and offers organizing and coaching services. She is also a public speaker. Read on and learn about how Kathy developed her business and what she learned in the process.
Tell us about your business and how you started.
I started Clever Girl Organizing in May 2013. I had been in Corporate Human Resources for 20 years, and a few months earlier had learned that my job was going to be eliminated in a layoff. It gave me a few months to consider what I really wanted to do next, not just assume that I’m going to go continue in my HR career. Professional Organizing had always been my “someday, maybe” career idea, and I thought that it sounded like “someday” was knocking!
Why did you start your business?
It was a combination of a few things. The first is that I knew I had both a passion and an eye for looking at systems and spaces and identifying ways it might be more efficient, and I’d been helping people with that for years. The second was that I found that I really enjoyed the process of getting to understand the brain and preferences behind the space and systems, and loving that there is no “one size fits all” solution to what might help someone else live a happier life in their home. And everyone I told that I was thinking about it all said it would be an amazing idea for me! But veering away from a 20 year career in a field I enjoyed and was good at (with a predictable and rewarding paycheck to go with it) was a big risk! I knew our numbers for what our finances were, and knew we could afford an experimental year where I tried to see if this could be a thing. But in my heart of hearts, I knew that if I didn’t start it THEN, I may never start it, so it was time to take a leap!
What do you feel is an area you struggle with your business?
Even after 6 years, I still struggle with the fact that every day my schedule is different, and I find it hard to establish a daily routine, or to manage the “off” time when I am not at a client appointment with real structure. When I look at a day on my calendar with no time-bound obligations, I’m always a little wary about how to spend it the most wisely!
What did you do to combat or overcome this struggle?
It’s still a work in progress! I try to keep a “must do today” list of my highest priorities always up to date, and “shop” for things to do when I have a block of time I dedicate to “work stuff” or “home stuff” or “life stuff”. Why after almost 50 years on this earth have I found few things more pleasurable and motivating than crossing something off a to-do list (or deleting something off a digital one)??
Please share some tips on how you made your business a success.
I experiment with new things, like advertising or marketing or systems, but go in with 3 steps: 1) set my goals for what I want out of it 2) look for data to evaluate its success and 3) set a time in which I’ll determine if it’s met my goals.
I have a goal of being “the go-to resource in my town on organizing or responsible disposable of items” even if people aren’t hiring me to help. There are about 15 other NAPO members in a 5 mile radius of me, so there is some competition for that title. I approach it by giving a lot of free advice on our local Facebook community page, and being present as a volunteer for a number of nonprofit organizations in the area. I want to be known as someone who contributes to the community, and that takes time and money and energy investments.
Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your experience and tips! Feel free to visit her website for more details about her services.
Kathy is not alone when feeling unfocused when not working directly with clients. Here are some tips to keep you focused on those non-client days.
- Creating a business task list the night before a light day. Visualize what the steps are that need completing. Then, set the list aside for the next day.
- With a flexible schedule, schedule one day a week for your business tasks. Deposit checks, pay bills, etc… will help get everything done before the week is over. Fridays are a good day to do these tasks.
- If you have an hour or two each day, assign one business task for each day. Add the tasks to your weekly planner each week as a reminder.
The structure for a small business owner is flexible and because of that, it may be hard to focus and stay organized. This is one of the reasons why I started my business. I am here to support business owners stay on top of administrative tasks so as to help them take the “busy” out of their day.
Visit our last two years of successful small business owners’ interviews by clicking here.