Name: Shannon Rudd
Name of Business: An Ordered Home, home organization solutions
Length of time in business: 2 years
Location: Rye, NY
Number of kids and ages: Jamie & Eoin, 7 year old twins
Pets: occasionally dabble with fish
Before starting this business, what was your career? Prior to having my twin boys, I was an elementary special education teacher in New York City. My husband, Jon, and I actually met when we were assigned to co-teach in the same classroom for a year, he as the general education teacher and I as the special education teacher. We both moved on from that school years ago, though it makes for a fun story! Once my sons were born I primarily stayed at home with them and hoped and planned to get my business off the ground as soon as they entered kindergarten.
Why did you start your business? I love to organize! I’ve always loved to design spaces and organize, even as a young girl. Some people doodle flowers in class, I drew home plans. Growing up my friends would actually call me to help organize their rooms and even their kitchens. Planning my wedding was a dream come true. Weeks before I became pregnant with my boys I discovered we lived next door to the NY Chapter President of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) and realized people actually made a living organizing spaces. I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do. Newborn twins only meant that I delayed those plans for a while. In fact, I knew that if I still had the same dream after five years, I had to go for it. The unexpected bonus is that now as a parent, I can flex my time to work for me and my family as much as possible.
What do you love most about what you do now? There is so much to love about my work! The impact on families is immediate and palpable. It is extremely rewarding to witness a sense of relief from the stress of clutter and disorganization, whether it’s the knowledge that they have a partner with whom to tackle a situation, that someone will devote time to problem solve a pain point or that they have reclaimed their space. What’s more, every space is its own unique jigsaw puzzle with constant problem solving involved and a fun challenge to finesse. It’s so gratifying to transform a client’s greatest challenge into a space and solution of joy.
What did you have to do to start this enterprise?
Keep taking baby steps forward, continually chipping away to build and grow. Specifically I started an Instagram page, developed a website (thank goodness for Squarespace), took legal steps to establish a business, consulted accountants, joined NAPO and made an effort to do at least one thing for my business each day. No matter the size of the task or decision, that promise meant that I kept chipping away and pushed myself to work through the scary bits. As I say to clients, something is better than nothing. It’s not a zero sum game and baby steps can take you there.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Truly, the most monumental challenge was starting. Organizing, decluttering, project management, I could handle that. But insurance and taxes and the like? Those aspects were intimidating. Shocking to no one, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and am most comfortable when I have my ducks in a row and a firm handle on what I’m doing. There’s no clear road map forward to becoming a solo-preneur. It’s a giant leap into the unknown. So often you don’t know what you don’t know, and I had to seek out answers without anyone holding my hand, but the greatest benefit of that challenge is that I created connections in the process of seeking answers. Another continual obstacle is time - for social media, managing emails, tweaking my website, client shopping, project planning, etc. I’ve yet to figure out a way to fit it all in every week in addition to actual project work and family obligations. Every week requires a structuring of priorities to keep me on track. I’m truly in awe of friends and colleagues who are able to make an Instagram post every single day!
How did you overcome that challenge?
A lot of self talk, podcasts for entrepreneurs, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and seeking out best practices for running a business. It has been a huge help to hear other successful entrepreneurs share how their businesses have evolved over time as well as their high points and struggles. The shared perspectives have been invaluable in terms of problem solving and motivation.
What is the thing that has surprised you most about this venture?
The best surprise about owning a home based business is the degree of trust and faith my clients place in me. It can be a daunting, vulnerable experience for clients to open up their homes and walk someone through what they feel are major challenges, imperfections, and even chronic issues. The things they might hide when anyone else comes over to visit. It is an honor and privilege to be trusted with someone’s home and belongings. There are a lot of complex emotions wrapped up in it all and I love the relief that I can see from clients after even our initial walkthrough. The perspective that I have gained has been invaluable and has helped in giving myself a lot of grace. I can say with confidence, that we’re all doing the best we can with what we have - and paper is a struggle for nearly everyone!
What is your best tip for fellow entrepreneurs? Podcasts! There are amazing podcasts out there chalk full of free information for entrepreneurs, whether you’re looking for advise on taxes, productivity hacks or motivation. Some provide a helpful kernel or two of wisdom and others provide me with direction for further insight. My current favorites include Raising the Bar with Alli and Michael and WSJ Secrets of Wealthy Women. I love to hear a how we built this type story...everyone has to start somewhere!
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