Professional organizers love to talk about what is in their organizing toolkit: the best items to take to client appointments, the hot new organizing products, new apps to show clients. But what about our business toolkit? What do we have in that?
The first tool in my business toolkit is NAPO; it was essential in starting my business and learning about the organizing industry. Another important tool is the support of my friends and family.
A crucial tool many professional organizers may not know about are Small Business Development Centers or SBDCs. I wouldn’t have gotten my business off the ground without my local SBDCs. They are a great connection to the business world; my SBDCs gave me an introduction to owning a business, helped me with my business plan, and provided one-on-one counseling sessions and various business classes.
SBDCs offer a number of different categories of tools:
Category “S” – Start-Up Resources
Starting a business can be very overwhelming, but my SBDCs helped calm my nerves by getting me off on the right path. I used the SBDCs to find information on registering my business with the federal, state, and local governments. Once my business was set up, I used a free counseling session to make sure I hadn’t missed an important step. The SBDC websites are also filled with start-up information and other resources.
Category “B” – Build Your Network
NAPO and NAPO-WDC provide a great network within the organizing industry, but professional organizers also need to build a network within the business world. Your SBDC can help connect you with the small business network in your area. I used my SBDCs as a starting point when looking for a graphic designer, website developer, and insurance agent. It is also a great way to make contacts to add to your referral list.
Category “D” – Develop Your Business
Interested in growing your business? Counselors and classes at SBDCs can give you an outside perspective. As my business grows and changes, I will use the counselors to get a reality check on my plans.
Category “C” – Classes!
Many SBDCs offer inexpensive or free classes and seminars, both at their offices and on-line. Classes cover a variety of topics such as marketing, social media, accounting, legal requirements, government contracting, and sales. SBDCs offer an easy way to keep developing both business skills and knowledge.
No matter how long you’ve been in business, your local SBDC should be in your toolkit!
Links for finding your local Small Business Development Center:
U.S. Small Business Administration
Virginia Small Business Development Centers
Maryland Small Business Development Center Network
Washington, D.C. Small Business Development Center
Tiffany Mensing is a Professional Organizer and owner of Space and Serenity, an organizing company specializing in creating sustainable organizing solutions for families adjusting to life with kids. When switching careers from chemical engineering to professional organizing, Tiffany relied on the Community Business Partnership in Springfield, VA, the Alexandria Small Business Development Center, and BizLaunch in Arlington, VA. She was the winner of the Community Business Partnership’s 2012 Business Plan Contest.