Helping others get clutter under control is, it would appear, an opportunity whose time has come. The motivations for leading a less cluttered life are varied. Some people hope that more order will lead to increased serenity and efficiency; the environmentally conscious are motivated by reducing human wastefulness; for others, a life transition means a change of priorities and reassessment of their material wants and needs.
Whatever the reason, living a less clutter life may require the services of others to bring about the order and balance that we crave.
If organizing is a strong point of yours, or you share concerns about a crowded planet, creating a business that helps make a dent in the problem may be a natural for you. A good starting point for uncovering ideas is the rallying cry of Planetkeepers everywhere: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce. Forty years ago, efficiency experts were all the rage. The new version of that occupation is the professional organizer. Although most organizers develop a specialty, their aims are similar: to bring order out of chaos, to help their clients work and live more efficiently, and to reduce clutter once and for all.
How does one get started as a professional organizer? Michele Hockersmith says she began offering this service because it came naturally to her and it also fit in with the other services her business offered to homebased startups. Eventually, she developed a very intentional science to help clients systemize both the tangible and intangible aspects of their business.
Whether it’s a business or a home that’s being organized, being a professional organizer involves a twofold approach. Initially, the organizer’s work may be hands on—sorting, purging, filing. Then the client needs to be involved in the process and educated about keeping order once the consultant has gone.
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Reuse. Reselling unwanted or unused items is an increasingly popular enterprise. Clothing, books and antiques have long been the staples of consignment sellers. As we become a Reuse It culture, the idea of reselling items has taken on a wider scope. Toys, computers, records and compacts discs, as well as sporting good and a wide array of household items are showing up in stores devoted to selling previously owned goods. Of course, many sellers are using services like eBay and Craigslist to sell directly.
Another variation of this type of business are those which specialize in organizing and holding estate and/or household sales. The key to success in this kind of business seems to be having a tight focus, both in merchandise and market. Although eclectic antique and junk stores are still popular, reselling merchandise with a newer history seems to work best when the product line is narrow and clearly defined—such as baby goods or exercise equipment.
Recycle. While most of us think of recycling as being environmentally responsible, businesses devoted to recycling the throwaway clutter of our lives are also enjoying renewed popularity.
I recall a story on the evening news that feature two college-aged brothers who started a business recycling newspapers after their community program was abolished. Using rental trucks to pick up the papers and hiring college friends to staff the business, the brothers were earning thousands of dollars weekly. At the same time, their business filled a necessary void in community service.
The new interest in environmentally conscious businesses just keeps growing. A poll found that a third of all Americans said they would buy recycled products if they had the option. As more people rethink their buying habits and experiment with simpler ways of living, the market for used and recycled goods continues to expand.
There’s also a growing opportunity for inventors and entrepreneurs to apply principles of sound environmental management and saner technologies to their work. This, too, opens the door to numerous new business possibilities.
Whether you’re a committed environmentalist or a person who wants to relieve the stress caused by clutter, finding your business niche should be easy—and keep you busy until we have the entire planet cleaned up and running smoothly.
There’s more where this came from.
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