My latest High Powered Professional is Founder of Organizing with You, Pooja Gugnani. As a Professional Organizer, Ms. Gugnani provides residential and business organizing services to clients throughout the United States. She founded her business in 2009 and has experienced significant achievements in an extremely short period of time. She has already been featured in Chicago Crain’s Business, Home Improvement Magazine and recently completed a special on NBC’s Tips Of The Trade!
Ms. Gugnani holds a Bachelor’s in Economics and a Master’s in Public Policy Administration. She worked in marketing and communications for six years before deciding to follow her passion and utilize her gift for organizing. It was a pleasure speaking with Ms. Gugnani about her career and business philosophies!
Q: Tell me about your firm.
I offer home and office organizing services to help simplify people’s lives so that they can practice better self management and enhance performance in their professional and personal lives. I help my clients maximize their space. I assist in organizing play areas, kitchens, closets or any other area in the home. In terms of office solutions, it could be an office setup, creation of filing systems, recommendation of products and shopping for personal organizing products. I also help with garage sales, estate sales, donations, and contributions. Additionally, I offer relocation assistance to clients moving cross country in the form of packing or unpacking and real estate staging consultation to help homes sell faster.
I work with individual families, executives, entrepreneurs, busy moms and seniors. My goal is to help people de-clutter, downsize when necessary and get organized. My goal is not just to help people get organized, but to ensure that the systems that they create, helps them to stay organized. What sets me apart from any other organizer is that it’s not just a business or project for me. I’m so passionate about this, that when people tell me that they want to get organized, I truly get excited!
Q: What is the most exciting project that you’ve worked on?
The most exciting and rewarding project that I’ve worked on was organizing a kindergarten nursery! I love helping children get organized from the start. It’s great knowing that I have a part in ensuring that these children grow up being organized individuals because the things that we learn as a child stay with us and are so much easier to grasp. It was so rewarding to see their reaction! Children see the value in having a space that is organized and they can appreciate the beauty in it.
Q: This is a career change for you. How did you get started?
Before starting my business, I worked in marketing and communications for a non-profit. From the start, I knew that I liked making a difference in people’s lives. I was always very organized. My office was very organized. I was always informally organizing for professors, coworkers and friends. I realized that I had an innate ability to do this, but I never realized that it could be a profession. When I got married, I moved to Chicago and moved into my husband’s space. I turned his bachelor pad into a place for the both of us. When people saw the finished product, they said, “Wow, you remodeled.” When, that wasn’t the case. We just organized it. Organizing is a great way to give your place a makeover. People think that it’s an expensive luxury. But, I’m all about using what you have and recycling what you have to be creative, to the point where you can make your space look brand new.
I realized how much I enjoyed organizing, so I started researching and found the National Association of Professional Organizers. I really believe that it’s some sort of calling for this profession. You somehow end up on this path. There’s no degree for Professional Organizing. There’s just an innate ability and you have a passion for it. I started attending workshops, took some classes and started evaluating products. And, when I felt comfortable, I launched my business.
Q: You’ve experienced some significant achievements within a relatively short time frame. What has contributed to your success?
Marketing is big. I taught myself and learned it. I learned how to partner with complimentary vendors such as interior decorators and real estate agents – wherever there was overlap to create a circle of influence. When you hire an organizer, it’s a very intimate relationship. It’s a lot of trust involved because it’s letting someone into your space and handle your personal belongings. It’s almost like I become a part of my client’s circle of trust. They’ll come to me with other questions. So, it’s not just helping my clients get organized, I’m also helping them with other areas of their life.
I also realized that as companies move towards the wellness aspect of benefits, that it would be great to offer organizing services as a wellness benefit to employees. I’m in the process of negotiating contracts with companies who are interested in offering Professional Organizing services as a part of their employee benefit program. I started getting calls from health care providers, psychologists and therapists asking me to work with their clients who were struggling with ADHD, multiple sclerosis, depression and transition issues (divorce or job), because those are the people who have the most difficult time coping in their physical space. I find it so rewarding to watch them function better in their space!
Q: Do you have any parting advice for entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up. There’s definitely a slump that you go through. If you have a passion or dream, you have a responsibility to show people why this is your passion and how you can really help them. A lot of my family and friends didn’t know what organizing was. To them, it sounded like a hobby or fad. The hardest part is that people hear about your business, but they can’t see the potential. But, after time, a lot of my personal contacts became my clients.
I think that it’s important to uphold the quality of what you do and the principles of your profession and industry. My core business principles include sensitivity, empathy and confidentiality. And, I uphold these principles daily.