As a former process improvement engineer in the technology world, Catharine has extensive experience in defining and improving processes. She believes that time management, task management, and good systems are the keys to having a productive business and an organized life.
Catharine applies her passion for systems to organizing residential clients, as well, and sets up closets, pantries, garages, and other residential systems. Catharine has always had a passion for planning and organizing and delights in creating order from chaos.
Read on how to see how Catharine is able to make money as a professional organizer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
I have a BBA with a Major in Data Processing and a Master of Science in Computer Science. When I graduated, I went to work as a computer programmer/software engineer and continued in that field for over 25 years. I was a corporate-type in the high-tech world. My husband and I relocated due to a professional opportunity for my husband, so I decided I needed a break from the corporate world and became a ceramic artist. I had a fabulous time playing with my hands in the mud, learning how to mix glazes and create masterpieces.
After several years in the mud, I decided to go back to corporate America. That went well until my company laid-off my entire division, and once again, I was on the hunt for a job. While I loved my work, I felt like I needed a different schedule, so I could care for elderly parents and continue to compete on my horse.
My resume was strongly software-oriented, but I had no idea what other types of job to look for. One day, I was surfing on the internet and came across the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). I thought it was a joke! Was there really such a thing as an organizer and did people really pay to get organized? I discovered there was a local NAPO chapter, and called several local organizers to find out what the job entailed. I joined the local chapter, took courses, read books, and started my business.
I started out with residential organizing, but soon realized that my corporate experience prepared me to work with business clients, too. I help clients with process improvements and defining and improving their systems.
Do you have any special training?
I have a BBA with a Major in Data Processing and a Master of Science in Computer Science. I have attended numerous corporate classes on process improvement, metrics, time management, technical writing, productivity, and the like. I have taken several NAPO classes to refine my organizing skills. I earned my Certified Professional Organizer designation after training, paid work, and taking an extensive test.
What types of services and products do you offer?
My process improvement background has prepared me well for the organizing field. Whether for a business or residential client, I reduce clutter and set up systems to keep clients organized. I do a lot of space organizing and clutter reduction – closets, garages, kitchens, etc. I also document and streamline processes, set up file systems, design storage solutions, improve time and task management. The benefits to my clients include a peaceful environment, stress reduction, improved productivity, cost savings, and getting the important things done. I sell organizing books on Amazon.
Give us an example of how you landed one of your first clients.
Relationships! I am an engineer and not a marketing expert, so I started attending networking events, joined a Chamber of Commerce, and just made myself very visible. I shook a lot of hands and got to know people who were potential clients or strategic partners. My first clients were from networking events. I shared a lot of free advice to build credibility, and then I started getting jobs.
What do you believe has contributed to your success?
Persistence and consistency! Make a plan and execute it. Give, give, give! Do everything you can to help others. Do an excellent job for your clients and you will get referrals. Team up with strategic partners and support each other. Write books for credibility.
How are you currently growing your business?
I am expanding my services. I’m looking for more business process improvement clients and I also implement an inventory management system for stagers.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own Professional Organizing Business?
- Join NAPO and attend chapter meetings – national and local
- Take NAPO classes
- Read books on organizing
- Practice with friends and family
- Get your certification
- Be professional in everything you do
- Create and execute a marketing plan
- Focus on your ideal client
- Search out strategic partners
- Be persistent and consistent
What’s your best organizational tip for work-at-home women?
- Create a structure for your week
- Prioritize tasks and delete busywork
- Eliminate physical and mental clutter from your life
Thanks, Catharine Murphy for sharing your story!