Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in maintenance and organizing services, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julie Bestry, the owner of Best Results Organizing based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA.
Tell us all about your business...
As a Certified Professional Organizer and 20-year veteran in organizing and productivity, I help overwhelmed individuals save time and money, reduce stress, and increase their productivity by creating new organizing skills and systems. I support anyone burdened by "too much," whether that's excess tangible clutter or too many obligations and tasks. My clients get to trade chaos for some serenity and a sense of mastery over their lives. The residential I serve may be new parents struggling to balance careers with supporting a brand-new tiny human or seniors downsizing to prepare for their next life adventure. My business clients tend to be solopreneurs and small business owners overwhelmed by adding the "boss hat" 's administrative obligations to pursue their career passions. Some are professionals seeking to streamline their operations and offices to focus on what matters most instead of what shouts the loudest or yields the most emails.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a business owner?
In my first career, I was a television program director. Working in the fast-paced, detail-oriented, and wacky world of television broadcasting, I developed a passion for inspiring others and developing good organizing skills and systems with patience and humor. (Lack of organizing systems often comes from fear — of making the wrong decision, letting go of something and needing it later, or betraying a relationship or connection to one's past by not keeping an item that represents it. Humor, backed by a bit of investigation into the facts of a situation, is a powerful antidote to those fears.) Not long after 9/11, I retired from television to find a way to help individuals improve their lives by relieving them of stressors and helping them focus on their goals. With my organizing skills, patience, and humor coupled with empathy and a deeper understanding of human psychology, I found that I could not only help clients reduce clutter in their spaces and schedules, but I could also teach them how confidently make lasting, positive changes in their homes, careers, and lives.
As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you
Professionally, I think we all tend to try to balance the ego and the soul. Colleagues, friends, and family all get excited for me when I'm quoted in national magazines like Real Simple or interviewed on television, or one of my blog posts receives national attention. As a businesswoman, I know that excellent publicity serves a private good (growing my clientele). Public interest (helping more people realize that they are not alone in having difficulty achieving their organizing and productivity goals, trained expert help). But at its most basic, professional success feeds the ego. What feeds my soul, and I realize this sounds sappy, is knowing that I've made a difference in someone's life. One client's little girl used to greet me at the door, practically vibrating with glee, and told me, "Miss Julie, I love it when you come because Mommy has time to play with me!" So many clients write to me at tax time to thank me, telling me that it's the first year that they haven't had to file an extension, haven't fought with their spouses over missing receipts or documents, and get to keep more of their hard-earned money. Most often, though, clients tell me that they feel better — more relaxed, more in control, and less afraid of letting things fall through the cracks. Making money is essential; getting a little famous is a nice bonus, but knowing you've helped someone feel less stress from the weight of the world and more mastery over their lives? That's a legacy!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being an entrepreneur?
The most challenging part of running a business is keeping all the balls in the air for most people. But as a professional organizer, creating systems, implementing strategies, and maintaining boundaries is second nature. And because my undergraduate degree and Master's are in communications-related fields and because I worked in TV, marketing isn't that much of a stretch (even though most popular outlets, like social media, didn't exist when I was coming up). For me, the most challenging thing about running a business is recognizing (and then reminding myself) that I can't help everyone and that there's no "done" in this profession, no equivalent of inbox-zero where everyone has been satisfied. I could add staff and grow my business as though it were a law firm or a franchise, but in the end, you have to recognize: not everyone is ready to make the challenging decisions and perform the life-changing behaviors to yield the results they want. And, of course, not everyone can afford to work with a professional. For those who are ready, I can help them achieve their dreams and make new ones. For those looking for a magic wand, I can guide them to set more realistic expectations. And for those for whom a professional service is a luxury they can't afford, I point them to the abundance of writing on my website to help them change their thoughts, approaches, and actions on their own.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
- Be crystal clear about what you want to provide and for whom before you start spending money and time promoting your business. Money spent may not yield success, but every minute you invest in learning the best practices in your profession and how to deliver the right products or services most appealingly will have an ROI of infinity. Every business grows and changes over time, but expending the effort to educate yourself on the intricacies of your business first will save you so much energy, money, and reputation down the road.
- Be curious. When you network, don't meet people with the expectation of how they can help you and your company grow; instead, ask them questions to get to know what they do, how they think, and what they think about. Ask them what they think you might have missed. Someone may not be a potential client, but they could be an ideal source of referrals, or they could be just the person to spark your inspiration for everything from the services you offer to the way you talk about your work. Every person you meet, every podcast you listen to, every book or article you read may not be directly related to your business. Still, curiosity keeps you enthusiastic, and enthusiasm makes people flock to you.
- Get support. Unless you are a lawyer, don't assume you can understand a contract, intellectual property, or hiring practices. Unless you're an accountant, don't assume you know everything about taxes or payroll. Unless you are a programmer, let someone else oversee building your secure website. Learn about all the elements of running your profession, but then make sure you focus on what only YOU can do and accept (and pay for) the support that will let you sleep at night.
What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and keep it all together?
Deliver with integrity. Almost nobody sets out to deceive a client, but it is better to under-promise and over-deliver. If you say you will do something for a client, have a follow-up system, so nothing falls through the cracks. If you expand your line of offerings, make sure your quality control is pristine. Some people talk about the excellent service they receive, but EVERYONE complains about poor service. Aim high, deliver your best, take responsibility, and correct the problem quickly and without excuses if you make a mistake.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as an entrepreneur or business coach that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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