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How to Transition with Your Business Over Time Even When You Are Afraid

10/07/21 | Dana LaRieal Morales

You guys are so used to me sharing my guest episodes on Got Clutter? Get Organized! but this week I'm sharing with you Janet M. Taylor's episode on Organized Holistically!  

Now, many of you didn't know that Janet started her business back in 1994 before small businesses were all the rage as they are today.  She took her natural ability and started Totally Organized, LLC.  Her celebrity clients have included Les Brown and Dyana Williams to name a few.  In April 2018, Janet appeared on the Rachael Ray Show where she was crowned the Clutter Free Queen and she has also appeared on HGTV's Mission Organization!

In this episode, she joined me and shared all kinds of details about her exciting journey.  I mean in my opinion, she is a bit of a celebrity herself, don't you think?  Well, I can't wait for you to hear this episode!

During our lessons learned conversation with Janet we talked about:

  • How she started her solopreneurial journey;
  • How she landed celebrity clients and her tv spots; and
  • What her business looks like now

Episode Summary

Note: for clarity, I have made a few adaptions to the words, but the context of the conversation is below.  I encourage you to listen in or watch the conversation to hear the entire exchange.

Please tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and how you got started in your business. 

I have a degree in fashion merchandising, but I transitioned into customer service where I worked for a senior citizen transportation firm.  That firm lost their contract and one day I saw an article where a woman was going into businesses teaching them how to be more organized.  I thought (hummm) that's what people are always saying about me, so after the layoff, I started the business part-time.  

A year in, I decided I wanted to do it full time so that's really how I got started...with a layoff and an article and I had no clue that what we do really existed as a profession.  Then I found out about the National Association of Professional Organizers and found a local group getting started. I was like wow there's more than one of me out here!?!?!  It was exciting I mean because that was back in the early 90s.

When you first started your business what did it look like?

It was a fax machine and a phone line and that was it. I didn't have a computer.  I don't know why I thought I needed a fax machine but I definitely had my own phone line and I was still living at home. My goal was to really move out but once I got laid-off, I had a conversation with my mother.  We turned an extra bedroom into my office, got an extra phone line, and installed the fax machine. I didn't even start with a computer.

Then I got my EIN number, the business registration, the business banking account and all that other business stuff.  It was just a slow progression into what people see today.

What did your customer base look like and how did you go about getting your first customers, since you didn't have a computer?

It was a lot of word of mouth and a lot of passing out flyers. People were just learning about me.  Then, I found community groups and organizations that would have workshops on Saturdays.  I figured okay they're targeting the people who need to be my clients so, therefore, I started speaking just to let people know this is who I am and this is what I do. That would give them at least an introduction and a better sense of who I am before they allowed me into their home.  So that's really kind of how I launched the business, but it also launched me going out and speaking as well.

Did you become a member of the community groups or did you just see that they were meeting and just reached out to ask if you could speak? 

Well, this one particular group had a catalog and that catalog at the time was mailed to over 200,000 homes. I knew the demographics of those homes, like the income and education level so that was more in line with my target market.  I basically just filled out a form about what I do, the topic I wanted to talk on and how much time it would take and they scheduled me in.  People then began to either come to the workshop and hire me or they actually got to see me in the catalog and say okay can you come into my home because this is what kind of help I need. That's really how it all got started and then of course that led to other people who learned I did a workshop for one organization asking me to do one for them.  It just kind of gradually grew from there.

Oh I love that because it's about taking those small steps and allowing those small steps to continue to grow and grow and grow and so I love the idea that you just filled out a form and said hey I would like to speak and then now you're on this huge platform as you said 200,000 people. 

Yes, it was distributed to 200,000 people so I said okay that's a lot of people who will see me, but also what I tell people is don't despise small beginnings because being in that catalog led to me being on HGTV.

Yes, I wanted to talk about that because you've been on some pretty big and well-known tv shows.  I want to talk about your celebrity client(s) and how that came about in your journey.

So HGTV already had the celebrity they wanted to work with who happened to be um Denise Saunders at the time, but they didn't have an organizer tied to the project and they were looking for organizers for Mission Organization.  So, they contacted me and I did two segments for them. 

Another celebrity client opportunity came about from a charity function. They're always looking for people to donate things I just thought about it as another opportunity for me to get in front of some more people. It was a hospitality industry organization so one of their clients, who was a huge celebrity radio personality and celebrity coach, won.  We were so excited.  Then she contacted me and was like Janet I can't find the certificate.  I said we are still on she was shocked and that relationship has grown. She at the time had a radio show so she would have me on at the beginning of the year just to give a few tips.  She would also have me come to her home. So that's how that relationship started.  That's also why I try to tell some of the younger people who are starting business sometimes it's just those little things that you can do that will launch you into another area or different clientele.

The other celebrity client was Les Brown and it's interesting how that came about because at the time I was listening to his tapes religiously and I'll never forget it was a late-night call on my personal line and I said, "Hello?" and he said, "Hello?" and I recognized his voice because I had been listening to it.  I said, "I know who this is!" He said, "you know who this is?" I said, "yes, because i'm listening to you all the time!" 

So apparently a friend was in his office and he [Les] was shuffling from this to that and she said you need to call Jan and so she gave him my personal number.  He hired me to help him to organize some things and for some specific projects. So sometimes your friends and family can be your best PR and Marketing people.

This is a lesson learned that it's all about the word of mouth. You never know who you're gonna meet that knows somebody else, that knows somebody else. Just think how those little relationships helped to get you in the right place for the various things you achieved. 

Yes, because I got one of my first big clients because of a friend, because she knew of this organization, she knew the person who founded the organization and that they needed some organizing.  I went and organized him and the next thing I knew he was happy so he sent me to another department within the organization.  Then it got to the point that even after he left they would still continue to call me.  What I did at that time was I was offering a special.  For every client that I received that booked at least five hours, I would give them one free hour.  That particular friend got five hours she was just referring people. They were all good-paying clients so she receive at least five hours of organizing for free.

At what point did you shift from doing the speaking and the in-space organizing to the podcast?

so it's interesting how that came about. I was in church on a Sunday and one of the women who just recently turned 90 years old wrote her first book at the age of 78. She was hosting a podcast and she came up to me and said you need a podcast because everybody needs to know what you have to say.  So since I valued her input, I stepped out there and did it afraid. I didn't even realize where that was going to take me. I can see myself continuing to do that I really love it. 

I think we all have value to give, you just have to figure out what your value is and how you want to provide it with your listeners. I give my own little spin on stuff and I like giving crazy statistics and stuff just to let them know in general how the world is. I like to bring on interesting guests, like yourself, because i don't feel like I know all the answers.  That's why I love talking to all the guests because I learn something every time. 

You can hear the full episode on the podcast or by watching the Youtube video above. Connect with Janet by using the various methods provided below:

Connect with Janet:

The Organized Holistically podcast strives to teach side-hustling solopreneurs how to manage a successful business and life using holistic systems. I help you develop, implement and streamline unique and organic processes and organizing systems.  I do this by helping you identify the right systems and processes so you aren't spending money or time on unnecessary things and instead can spend that time and money focusing on the things that are most important to you, your family.