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getting Started as an Organizing/ Productivity Professional

Are you curious about how to get started as an Organizing or Productivity Professional?

NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) professional association which focuses on providing members with education, professional development, networking opportunities, and a community of collaborative colleagues. We understand that sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Here’s everything you need to know to help you determine whether this profession is the right fit for you!

I've always been an organized person and people constantly comment on my organizing abilities. Does this mean I will be a good professional organizer?

That’s a start! But the bigger questions are…

          • Do you enjoy helping people, especially people you don’t already know?
          • Are you able to stay focused for three to four hours at a time?
          • Can you be calm, kind and non-judgmental even in the face of serious disorganization and chaos?
          • Are you willing to learn to facilitate conversations that help people self-reflect and make healthy decisions even if you may not agree with those decisions?
          • Are you open to learning from others and sharing what you know?
          • Do you hold yourself to a high ethical standard and can you commit to confidentiality for your clients?

While being organized is definitely an asset, it’s not the only, or even the most important factor. The critical skill that a professional organizer must have is the ability to create customized organizing solutions that work for the client. These solutions will be based on a number of factors, such as the client’s lifestyle, habits, routines, primary and preferred thinking and processing modalities, and other variables. An organizer’s job is not to tell the client the best solution as they see it, but to offer the client options to solve their organizing problems in a way that makes the most sense for the client and will be reasonable for the client to sustain on their own.

Do all organizing and productivity professionals do the same thing?

Not at all. We have a wide variety of specialties in our profession. Many members are generalists, while many others choose to specialize in just a few areas of expertise. Here are some of the many and varied niches available in this profession:

Chronic Disorganization SupportLiving Spaces Organizing
Closet designMoving and Relocation
Closet organizationOffice / Corporate Organizing
CoachingOrganizing for and with Seniors
Collections and InventoriesPaper Management and Filing Systems
Electronic Documents and Filing
People with Disabilities Support
Event and Meeting PlanningPhotos / Memorabilia Organizing
Financial Organizing / Bill Paying / BookkeepingProfessional Office Organizing (Legal, Medical, etc.)
Garage and Estate SalesSpace Planing
Hoarding Tendencies SupportStorage Space Organizing 
Home Office OrganizingTime Management
Kitchen OrganizingVirtual Organizing (working with clients via computer)
What is the difference between a Professional Organizer and a Productivity Consultant?

NAPO defines Professional Organizer and productivity consultant as follows:

A professional organizer supports evaluation, decision-making, and action around objects, space, and data; helping clients achieve desired outcomes regarding function, order, and clarity.

A productivity consultant supports evaluation, decision-making, and action around time, energy, and resources; helping clients achieve desired outcomes regarding goals, effectiveness, and priorities.

Can I be both a Professional Organizer and a Productivity Consultant?

Yes. Many of our members have strong skill sets and expertise in both organizing and productivity and are easily able to serve clients well in both capacities.

Should I contact area organizers/productivity professionals, before I decide if this is for me?

While this is a generally collegial profession, please keep in mind that we are all business owners or employees focused on delivering results for our clients. We enjoy talking about what we do, but we’re also balancing busy careers and our personal commitments. Most of your colleagues will happily answer one or two insightful questions, but before making a call or sending an email to a NAPO member to ask questions about how they got into their profession or how you can launch your business, research your questions online (or complete a NAPO Education course).

If you need more answers, you should feel welcome to ask any NAPO member if they will engage with you as a consultant as you explore the possibilities of your new profession. Some productivity and organizing professionals offer new business support services, business coaching, and one-on-one training for those who are just getting started. Working with a supportive expert at the beginning of your journey in conjunction with NAPO University courses can provide you with a springboard to success. We encourage you to visit an upcoming NAPO Georgia Chapter meeting as a guest and meet organizing professionals who are already active members.

Do I need to be a member of NAPO in order to start my organizing business?

No, however joining NAPO is the one thing our members tell us that has enabled them to kick start their business, get established in the profession and start making money. NAPO offers extensive training and education, networking and camaraderie with other successful professional organizers. NAPO membership also increases your credibility with prospective clients, and it offers opportunities for discounts from our Business Partners. NAPO is the premier professional association for organizing and productivity professionals!

We encourage everyone in the state of Georgia who joins NAPO to also join NAPO Georgia, as your local chapter is an incredible resource for learning, sharing and receiving business referrals and connecting with your organizing colleagues.

Can I make a living being a professional organizer/productivity consultant?

Yes. Public awareness of the organizing and productivity industry is increasing and stimulating the demand for organizing and productivity professionals. Many of our members are the primary breadwinners in their households. However, there are no guarantees and there are many variables involved that contribute to your business success. Variable factors include your marketing efforts, your skill level, your willingness to continuously educate yourself, the amount of time and energy you devote to your business, and perhaps even your geographical area. Here is what some of our members have said about making money in this field:

“Yes, you can absolutely, positively make a very respectable living as a professional organizer. The beauty of this profession is that we have the flexibility to create our own path and there are so many ways to "make it." We can choose to operate our own business or work for someone else. Obviously, a person who chooses to work part-time as a solo practitioner won't earn as much as someone who works full-time and plans to build a multi-person company serving a variety of client needs. How much you actually earn is largely dependent on whether you are ready and able to commit the time and resources to realize your goals.” ~ Barry Izsak, CPO®, former NAPO President and founder of Arranging It All

“The short answer is absolutely! Eight years ago, I started my business helping local clients organize their homes and offices. Now I'm transitioning to making my living online with my blog and selling information products. You can earn an income doing almost anything if you are willing to learn as much as you can, you know your audience, your product/service is valuable to them and you provide good customer support. Jump in with both feet and rock it!” ~ Nealey Stapleton of The-Organizing-Boutique.com

Yes, you can make a living being a professional organizer, but you must be patient and have a strong plan in place. Do your market research, figure out your audience, and be prepared to live frugally for a few years as you build your business, technique, and brand. Entrepreneurship is a challenging road, but with perseverance, education, and a true understanding of why you are traveling this road, you can succeed and make a very comfortable living.” ~ Judson Crowder, CPO®, of Restorganize

“I have been in business for 13 years as a full-time professional organizer and yes, you can make a living in this profession. Everyone’s definition of “making a living” is different, so you decide what that means to you and if you follow your passion, you will always have all you need.” ~ Beth Fuchs, CPO®, of Organized To Perfection

Can I get hands-on experience before I start taking paid clients?

Yes! Try your skills on your own home or office. Contact relatives, friends, and colleagues and offer your services in projects such as closets, home offices, time management, or any area needing help. Request an honest assessment of your work. You might also ask a seasoned organizing and productivity professional if you can accompany them on a large project to observe and assist.

How much money does it cost to start a professional organizing or productivity consulting business?

As with all businesses, start-up costs vary. Whatever these costs, you should consider them investments in yourself, your business and your future. They may include registering your business entity, licenses in your state, tools you will bring when working with clients, marketing costs, and of course, your NAPO membership. Keep a record of all these expenses for your taxes. Investing time, money, and effort in your business is an important consideration of business ownership and shows your commitment to your business and career.

I’ve never been self-employed before. Do I have to start my own business?

No. Although most NAPO members are self-employed, there are opportunities to work as an employee within an organizing firm, and to work as an independent contractor for other organizers. NAPO membership makes finding these opportunities very easy. If you prefer to be an employee or an independent contractor for an established organizing company, your NAPO membership will offer you many avenues for creating those relationships and earning income.

Do I need to be a CPO® (Certified Professional Organizer®) before I become an organizing or productivity professional?

No. The CPO®  designation is for our most experienced professionals. In our industry, the first step to work toward is achieving NAPO Professional Member status. Meanwhile, you can get started as a professional organizer or productivity consultant with clients by opening your business. You can work to earn your CPO® after you have worked extensively with clients. You are eligible to sit for the CPO exam after accruing 1,500 hours of paid work with clients within the most recent three-year period.

Are there rules or guidelines for organizing and productivity professionals?

Many organizing and productivity consultants are independent business owners, and as with any business, there are governmental regulations around declaring your income, paying taxes, and other legal and ethical business considerations. However, currently there are no specific regulations, rules or governmental oversight in the organizing profession that are specific to our areas of expertise.

However, there is a vital difference between organizers who are not NAPO members and those who are. NAPO and NAPO Georgia members agree to abide by and uphold NAPO's Code of Ethics, which establishes guidelines for professional conduct with our clients and with colleagues. This is a very important distinction that NAPO membership offers, because it shows colleagues and your clients that you take your business seriously, that you operate and are bound by a written Code of Ethics, and you have their best interests at heart.

What classes can I take to learn how to be a professional organizer/productivity consultant?

NAPO offers the following two introductory classes to help you decide whether this profession is a great fit for you. You don’t have to be a NAPO member to take these classes:

Introduction to Professional Organizing 

Starting an Organizing or Productivity Business  

These classes will give you an idea of what it takes to be a professional organizer. If you feel that pursuing a career as an organizing or productivity professional is a good fit for you, the next step is to join NAPO and the NAPO Georgia Chapter. You can follow up with the other classes offered by NAPO University to learn more.

The NAPO Podcast Series 

Podcasts afford an opportunity to learn from NAPO members and experts as they share their successes, challenges, best practices, proven strategies, industry developments and more.

Why should I join NAPO Georgia?
Membership in your local chapter allows you to connect with like-minded professionals whom you can exchange ideas, learn from, share client referrals, and create personal and professional relationships. Local chapter membership also offers monthly meetings where you will see informative, educational speakers and have the opportunity to take advantage of programs designed to help you build and grow your business.
Can I just join NAPO Georgia or do I have to also join NAPO National?

To join NAPO Georgia, you must first be a member of NAPO national.

What Happens When I Join NAPO and NAPO Georgia?

When you first join NAPO, you will be a Provisional Member, which means you may use the NAPO logo, however, as a Provisional Member, you will not have all the benefits that NAPO Professional Membership brings.

Even as a Provisional Member, you will have access to NAPO Point, an online community comprised of both new, intermediate and veteran NAPO members. You will be able to ask questions and get answers in real time. In addition, NAPO offers New Member Orientation Webinars to help you to get the most out of your NAPO membership.

Many potential organizers attend the NAPO Annual National Conference . It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to immerse yourself in the field, learn how to market, network within our industry, and grow your business.

How Do I Switch My NAPO Membership Status from Provisional Member to Professional Member?

You can stay a Provisional Member if you choose to, but your true benefits begin when you achieve Professional Member status, which you can do within just a month or two of joining. NAPO Professional Member status grants you full membership benefits such as being able to vote in elections, getting listed in the online directory to get client referrals, earning NAPO Specialist Certificates, serving on NAPO committees, joining NAPO’s Special Interest Groups and much more.

To achieve Professional Member status, simply complete the Professional Practices Coursework (PPC)  through NAPO University. These classes are designed to establish a foundation of knowledge of professional practices for organizing and productivity professionals.

The three classes required to achieve Professional Member status are as follows:

You may take the classes on-demand via pre-recorded format, or complete the courses in a live webinar format, which allows you to interact with the course presenter in real time.

Once you have completed the PPC, you will be automatically upgraded to Professional Member status without further action and with no additional fees.

After I join NAPO, are there more classes I can take?

Yes. NAPO offers extensive education to help you. Once you become a member of NAPO, one of your membership benefits is access to NAPO University, which offers excellent online educational opportunities to help NAPO members deliver quality service and succeed in business. Taught by experts in the industry, NAPO University’s courses cover the fundamentals of the profession as well as advanced training in many topics, enabling you to deliver the highest-quality service to your clients and to run your business successfully.

(Institute for Challenging Disorganization) also offers tele-classes designed to enhance knowledge and effectiveness in working with the chronically disorganized population. Presenters include ICD subscribers as well as Ph.D. experts in various fields.

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