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SamIAm's avatar

So I'm looking to start a business, what suggestions do you have for me?

Asked by SamIAm (8703points) August 18th, 2010

I’m starting small… helping friends, networking, and hoping for it to grow. It’s a personal organization business. A Personal Organizer is someone who helps you get your home or office/job physically organized.

I get that there is a ton of research to do, and lots to learn before I can seriously venture out on this endeavor but I want to know what types of things you guys recommend that I look out for, know, research, and should be aware of.

The start-up cost and overhead are very low. I am aware that I need to figure out logistics such as how/what to charge people (I am thinking a free 45 minute phone or in person consultation and then charging by the hour). I am also going to join NAPO (National Association for Professional Organizers) and have been in contact with other PO’s in my area. I plan to take some business classes in the near future as well.

Luckily, I have a good amount of contacts that are very willing to help me (for example, I have someone to design business cards & fliers, I have another friend to create a website, and I have multiple friends who are willing to be guinea pigs and write testimonials).

My major concerns right now are (1) how do I get insurance to be able to work in other people’s homes; (2) how do I register a business in California; and (3) where can I look to find out if my business’s name has already been taken? Are there any other MAJOR issues I am unaware of?

Sorry for this being so long but I am very eager and motivated to start my own business (it’s been on my mind for years and now is the time) and I know you guys can help me. Please feel free to share your knowledge and experiences with me. Thank you!!

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9 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

While I can’t answer your first 2 questions because I don’t have that experitse, I can take a stab at question 3. Try finding it on Google. Simply type in the business name you want and see what comes up. You can do the same thing on web sites that sell domain names like

Good luck and have fun!

zophu's avatar

Here’s a free ebook that I’ve read a bit of. The author seems like a genuine guy, but I wouldn’t really know since I’m completely ignorant concerning this stuff. You can scroll down to the “Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business” chapter to skip past his more philosophical advice.

edit: I think it asks for your email to get the book. If it does, I did it, and I haven’t got spammed. But, no promises.

gorillapaws's avatar

I would strongly suggest doing this after-hours while keeping your main job, until you’re certain that you can earn enough to make it work full-time. The industry you’re looking to break into sounds difficult. In general, the kinds of people that are willing to pay a hundred dollars+ per hour to a personal organizer would already have an employee fulfilling that role. If you’re going to target people who can’t afford secretaries then your rates are probably going to be so low that it’s difficult to sustain a business.

The formula I’ve heard is to calculate how much money you need to live per month, divide it by 160 to get your hourly rate and then double or triple it to get the hourly rate you need to charge to earn that minimum after business expenses, insurance, taxes etc. Best of luck to you!

MissA's avatar

The timing may be off, even if you’re in a metropolitan area. Personally, I see the value of it, so as to unclutter one’s mind. But, many folks just don’t have the money for it. They give that task to their children, if the kids know there will be some remuneration. Yes, the talent will be lacking, but the money stays in the household.

Two of those firms…GOOD, INTELLIGENT women, closed shop here recently. It’s a shame because they were excellent at many things beyond organizational skills. Good luck.

augustlan's avatar

This site looks promising for your California-specific questions.

SamIAm's avatar

@MissA : that’s a great point but I do know that personal organizers have been very successful in this area, in this economy, and stores like The Container Store have also seen an increase in profit in the past year while many other industries & stores have suffered.

I think this is a good time to offer relatively inexpensive help (just while I get started, this will be a part time thing and I will have a job in the meanwhile) because people can’t afford to move or redecorate but may be willing to get some professional help to declutter & reorganize. Also, it has become clear to me that many people just don’t get it… they cannot do it themselves, which is mind boggling to me but creates a need for this industry. I am young enough, this is worth a shot for now!! :) I am also hoping to incorporate other aspects into this business (think: personal assistant, helping people food shop while they are on vacation so that they can have a stocked fridge when they get home, etc…) thank you for your advice!!

MissA's avatar

Sounds as if you have a plan! My best to you, but I would re-think the part about manufactured testimonials from your friends. Get them the old-fashioned honest way…they’ll mean more to everyone concerned.

bobloblaw's avatar

(1) ”How do I get insurance to be able to work in other people’s homes?” Find an insurance broker that deals in commercial insurance that is near you. You’ll probably get a policy generally catered towards independent contractors.

(2) ”How do I register a business in California?” The above links to the business portal are a great start, but I’d also look at your local city/county level. See if they require you to get a business license for what you’re thinking. The State level typically deals w/corporations, partnerships, etc.

(3) ”Where can I look to find out if my business’s name has already been taken?” Again, the previous links already are pretty helpful. You’ll also want to look into Fictitious Business Name (FBN) databases, aka the whole DBA thing. There are some companies that can do the look up for you.

(4) Are there any other MAJOR issues I am unaware of? Be prepared to fail. Be prepared to fail hard. Be ready to make the hard decisions. Expect haters. Expect people to take things personally. Expect stupid people.

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