Getting fired from a job could be the start of something great.
In January 2001, Betsy Fein of Maryland was laid off from her job as a human resources director. Instead of going back to the rat race, she decided to drop out of the corporate world for good and pursue her dream of becoming her own boss. Betsy said: “I wanted to have the flexibility and freedom of owning my own business, having more time for my kids, and the excitement of starting something new.”
Her decision paid off. Today, she is the President of Clutterbusters http://www.clutterbusters.net , one of the leading and fast-growing professional organizing companies in the country.
Making the Leap to Entrepreneurship
Betsy always had an eye for home organizing, a skill that has been in-demand among her friends. Hence, it was no surprise that she decided to explore the viability of a home organizing business when she decided to become an entrepreneur. She said: “I originally became interested in this profession because I saw a desperate need for this type of service in both my own personal life as well as with friends and family.“
One of her first steps was to check out the demand and size of the professional organizing market in Maryland. “I did some basic research, but mostly it was a gut instinct that told me that this business was going to explode. Even today, there is very little research available on this industry,” Betsy said.
“I researched the profession and saw that there were relatively few organizers in my area, and I felt that the business was sure to grow rapidly given the fact that people have less and less time nowadays to do anything, and most people want to spend their leisure time with family, not clearing clutter,” according to Betsy.
Assured of the need for the service and number of competitors, Betsy opened Clutterbusters in March 2002 and started offering her home organizing services.
Challenges of Starting a Business
Betsy proved that a highly successful business could start on a shoestring budget. Using her personal funds, Betsy said: “I started with $5,000, and told myself, when it’s gone, there goes the business. I came close to throwing in the towel a few times. My husband urged me to keep going.”
Betsy faced a number of challenges during her startup face, the most critical of which was finding affordable, dependable, quality vendors and suppliers. “Of course, you are creating a business from scratch,” Betsy said, “so there are marketing challenges, accounting issues, computer/software issues, management and hiring, personnel, human resources, payroll, etc.”
She had problems in setting a price and doing cost estimates. For one of her first clients, she gave a cost estimate assuming that the project would be done in 2 hours only to complete the project in 10 hours.
In order to better compete when she was starting out, Betsy charged a lower price compared to her competitors. When the business reached a steady footing, she raised her prices to the level charged by other professional organizing companies. However, she found it hard to tell her clients her new higher fees, forcing her to drop her prices again.
To get clients for her new business, she advertised in the local papers and magazines such as Washington Women, Washington Families and Washington Parent. That first ad campaign was successful! In her first week alone, she got about 10 calls as a result of the ads.
Today, the Web has become an important marketing tool for her business. “I would invest in anything Internet related, including pay per click, designing the best quality website money can buy, website optimization (SEO), etc.,” Betsy shared.
From a one-person business, Betsy now employs other professional organizers – a strategy that helped her increase her volume and improve her services. Her husband Rick has also joined the business and is now the CEO of Clutterbusters.
However, the quality of her company’s service is her most important marketing tool. Her high standards for quality and focus on customer satisfaction make Clutterbusters stand out from its competition.
As Betsy explained: “We train our organizers, we offer team jobs, we can handle hoarders and extreme clutter, we are insured and bonded, we have been around for 5+ years, we can guarantee next day appointments, we have a satisfaction guarantee, you can book online, we offer total home makeovers, we have a 100% rating from the BBB, we are the only company in our field to franchise, we are the recognized industry leader.”