Hot! Linda Clevenger, Organization Direct

Organization Direct of Fredericksburg, Va., launched in 2007, helps business owners and entrepreneurs organize and manage their time and schedules to make more money and balance life and work.

‘Ah ha’ moment that led you to launching this business: I Loved my J.O.B. I had stepped totally out of my comfort zone and developed the “true me.” However, there was one thing that was bothering me. I didn’t feel as if I was being treated the same as the other employee. (There were only three of us). So one day I asked my boss, “Why do you think it is fair that I work longer hours and work weekends for the same pay as your other employee?” His answer: “Get over it.” I knew right then that I needed to step away and stop helping him build his business and stop being a slave to corporate America. It gave me the confidence to say, enough is enough and develop a business using my natural talents.

Ideal customer/target market: Small business owners and entrepreneurs who struggle with their ability to balance work and family and want to make the most of every day.

First customer or client: An ad in the local Yellow Pages!

Measuring success:
When I can see and hear my clients reaching their goals. I can hear the positive can-do attitude and their excitement about what they have reached and achieved every day. My earliest success is a client and friend who is featured in my video on my website. She was my first home organizing client and extremely negative, reluctant and insistent that she could not eliminate items or stop some of her habits (which were hindering her schedule and time management abilities). She now prides herself with the ability to make smart decisions about what and how she spends her time and money. It is an amazing transformation.

Biggest struggle: It came at the end of my first year in business. It was a personal struggle. My husband had a major accident. He fell off of the roof of our home and crushed his heel. He almost died. We thank God every day that he allows us to spend every day together. The doctors estimated his recovery to be six to nine months and one surgery. It took him two years and eight surgeries to recover. During this whole time, I was continuing to work my business, take over every part of the running and managing the household and transporting him to every doctor’s appointment – and his doctor’s were all over a one-hour drive each way. Every appointment took a minimum of four hours from beginning to end – and some week’s he would have two appointments with two different specialists.

In the middle of this, my daughter found herself pregnant. She was in the Army and due to be sent to Iraq for a nine-month tour. So, I became mommy again too. We were there in the delivery room with our granddaughter when she was born and she has just turned four. She has only been away from us for six weeks of her life. We now have custody and her mother has court-ordered visitation. As we constantly work toward her building a relationship with her mother, I am building my business. I never thought I would be a mommy again at 46.

Surprise!:
The amount of chutzpah it takes to run a business. I didn’t realize that so many people and businesses struggle with time, schedule and paper management.

Promoting business:
I developed a methodical social media system that has allowed me to attribute 80% of my sales to the internet.

Two things you wish you would’ve known: I wish that I had developed my target market sooner and that I had known how to identify good networking venues earlier.

What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: The excitement around another blog subject when it pops into my head. I want to write about it right then.

Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: Tempted, yes. In 2008 when I had just figured out what I didn’t want my business to be based around, we had my husband’s accident and our granddaughter. But I wasn’t willing to go back to the 9-5 grind. I didn’t want to be a slave to anyone any more. I wasn’t willing to ask permission or be made to feel guilty because I wanted to take some time for me.

Biggest business goal over the next year: To re-launch my business and my new website. I will continue to build my connections and develop a program that clients can easily identify with to meet their specific needs.

Pricing/advice on getting it right:
My pricing has increased more than four times since I started my business. I value my services so I haven’t really struggled with charging what I believe I am worth.

A few tips specific to your industry: Every professional organizer needs to offer a specific packet of information for their clients. They must offer the same systems and procedures for all clients.

The absolute best part of owning my business is: every client is different and I get to help people change their lives and build their business to reach their goals. It is all about them. I just get to be a small part of their success.

If I had to start over again, I would have: found an assistant who could take some of the small items off of my hands such as posting, administration and follow-ups. I have had to learn that I need to release some of my control.

I never imagined: finding the time to do it all would be so difficult.

If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout, “Have faith in yourself. No one deserves it more than you.”

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