Jonda founded her business Time Space Organization in June 2006. Retiring after 30 years in the field of education, the last three as a Lead Teacher of Special Education, she wanted to use her skills developed as a special education teacher to help adults reclaim their time and space.
The beginning: I was very fortunate to end up in a networking group that helped me understand what I needed in order to run a business. I chose to make the change to work from home full-time because I felt my health was affected by the stress of the job I was doing. My biggest obstacle was complete lack of business training. I had no clue as to how to write a business plan or plan a budget. I saw myself going into homes and small offices and teaching clients how to organize their time and space so that they could flourish. I did not know what was necessary to make my business successful. After a few years, I did develop a business plan which I now update every year.
Starting out: One of the biggest benefits was the pure joy of doing what I loved. I flourished in the positive affirmations I received from my clients. I began to feel a more complete person and more in control of my life. I tried to keep a balance. However, there were times when I allowed myself to become overextended. I gave too much of myself and became depleted. I usually became aware of this soon enough to step back and evaluate what was going on. The first couple of years were a financial disaster as I was still finding my way. I am fortunate that I have a teacher retirement plan that kept the wolf from the door. Currently I am comfortable financially and am still seeing my business grow. I also became more social in my business than I had as a teacher. I am very conscious of the importance of taking time for my family and friends. I have made many new friends as a result of my business.
Finding motivation: I joined a networking group that eventually became my “village” or “team.” From that group I got an accountant, a marketing coach, a person to help me with my brand, a graphics designer, a printer, and a web master. Later I met a book coach that helped my write and publish my workbook From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home. I also formed a Goals Group that met once a month and gave each other support.
An average day in the life of a professional organizer: It seems each day is different. At the beginning of the week I first plug in my client hours. Then I fill in the day with client contacts, phone calls, networking, project work, financials, etc. I do work a full day five days a week most weeks. I will often do office work in the evenings. Sometimes I work with clients in the evenings, sometimes I work with clients on weekends but I try to keep my client work between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. I have tried to have an office day with no clients but that rarely happens on a scheduled basis. I would like to say my work hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but I have to remain flexible to meet client needs while still taking care of my needs.
The good and the not so good: My biggest challenges now are trying to bring in more income with fewer hours and finding more time in my week for a relationship. As a sole entrepreneur you get to set your own hours. The advantage is that you have no clock to punch. The disadvantage is that you have no regular schedule. You alone are responsible for the success of your business. This takes a lot of self-discipline and keeping your eye on your goals. But I enjoy the ability to close down my office for a few days or a week in order to be with my family or the ability to take a half day off to do something special with a friend is always worthy of celebration. I love the idea of being able to meet someone for lunch. I feel much more in control of my life and happiness than I did when I was in my previous line of work. I love the part of working side by side with my clients. I do not enjoy the paperwork alone in my office.
Along the journey: I have a vision board and as part of that board I have a word that I put forth into the universe each year. I believe in the power of attraction. I also try to take care of my body. I do some exercise (not enough) and attend weight watchers to maintain my weight. I do positive affirmations. I am in a comfortable financial position right now. I am actually not trying to grow my business now so much as trying to maintain it and serve more people with fewer hours. I am very active socially. I am in a serious relationship. I have friends that I see on a regular basis. I go out to many events. I take time to enjoy pursuits besides my business. I like to go to theater, concerts, and festivals. I enjoy dancing and travel and hosting parties. I try to have fun away from work on the weekends and occasionally on a weekday evening. I feel very strong emotionally. I am happy with my life.
Networking, marketing and social media: Face-to-face networking is important. I am a solo entrepreneur but I am a member of NAPO-GA and use other members of that group if I need to put together a team. I network at Atlanta Independent Women’s Group, Dunwoody Business Forum, and the Decatur Business Association. I also network when I am giving presentations or in groups. I am never without a business card. I have several support networks. My Goals Group is very personal and supportive. My networking group that I joined when I was still wet behind the ears still continues to support me. Social media is one way I market my profession but feel the value of it is still uncalculated. At a minimum I am on Twitter once a day, Facebook three times a day, and LinkedIn once a day. I set a timer, usually 15 minutes, to keep from getting sucked into it for too much of my time. All of this is done from my office computer unless I am traveling – then I use my iPad. I have a newsletter, send out email blasts about organizational events, have a blog I attach to my website. A couple times a year I do print advertising at Decatur events. I track where all my clients find me. In the past, the avenues have been very varied with no one way being outstanding. In the past year or so, I have had more and more clients tell me that they have found my on a web search. Conversely, paid advertising rarely pays off.
Highlights and lowlights: My best achievement was completing my workbook From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home. The concept started as worksheets for my clients and then with encouragement from my Goals Group became a workbook. It was a lot of hard work to layer on top of working full time. But I have had a couple of clients that I felt I was not able to give the support they needed at that time to make a difference in their lives. This is a big disappointment to me but I just couldn't make the connection.
Jonda plans to continue working from home. I enjoy the independence. I look forward to having more paid presentations. In the past, I have done many pro bono but recently that has been changing. I am going to give myself permission to say “no” to some of the non-paying presentations. I am trying to avoid hoarding situations. I like being able to touch more people and love the interaction and synergy that comes with working with groups. I also plan to incorporate a virtual organizing component into my business. I am currently working on updating my website to facilitate those new directions.
Her advice to others currently considering 100% work from home? Be very careful of your time management. Have a scheduled time that you work in your office area and honor that time. It is very easy to take a break to work in your home and not spend your full day working toward your business goals.
Thank you Jonda for your valuable inputs and list of books below!
Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing From the Inside Out
Marilyn Paul’s It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys
Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadwau’s ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life