Do what you love and love what you do; Debbie Cohen defines this motto. She left the world of graphic design and embraced her love of organization when she opened Well & Orderly. She now spends her days helping others find reprieve from chaos by transforming their spaces into well organized spaces.
While starting her business she learned a lot about marketing, perfectionism and creating boundaries. Today she is sharing the lessons she learned on her way to success with us!
Tell us about yourself.
I live in my hometown of Portland, OR with my five year old daughter. I love living in the Pacific Northwest and wouldn’t have it any other way. I have my B.A. in Graphic Design. I’m a complete minimalist at heart. Reading, yoga, and bullet journaling are a few things I enjoy in my spare time.
How did you get into your business?
After graduating college, I worked in the graphic design industry for several years. It was an exciting career with a high level of burnout. Once my child was born, I took some time off to be with her and to figure out what my next path would be. The long hours of working at a design studio wasn’t something I wanted once I was a mother. I wanted something where I could be of service, while also having flexibility in my schedule.
I have loved organizing and cleaning, since I was a child. Organizing was definitely a way to deal with stress. I didn’t know professional organizing was a thing until, by happenstance, I met an organizer in a craft store. She kindly offered to meet me for coffee and once I spoke with her, I knew right away it was the path for me. Within a week, I had registered my LLC, purchased my domain name and was working on the branding of my business. Let’s say, I had found my calling!
What has been your biggest challenge?
Setting up boundaries and having good self care. I love to help people and it’s hard to say no sometimes. When you run your own business, there are no off-hours so I am working on creating those boundaries. For example, I no longer check my phone between the hours of 10 pm – 7 pm, so I can be well-rested for my clients the next day.
What do you wish you’d known when you started?
I wish I would have known that networking is super important. It’s great to have a website up, but people won’t find your business if you don’t tell them about it!
If you could narrow your success down to one thing, what would it be?
Having a growth mindset has been important to the success of my business. I look at each failure or success as a learning experience. After each project, I think of what went well, what I learned and what I could do better next time.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
It’s hard to say exactly where I’ll be in a year, but I plan on continuing to learn about all aspects of my business. I hope to have refined my niche, as currently I am more of a generalist. I plan on getting more certificates through NAPO (the National Association of Productivity and Organizing), of which I am a member. I would also like to start giving workshops about organizing.
What are your top 3 tips for starting a business?
- Set up your business before you get busy. Create your website, branding, social media, LLC, business license and insurance. Make sure you get your ducks in a row before you get too busy.
- Find a mentor or join an association related to your business. The more people you can talk with about your business, get ideas from and commiserate with, the better!
- Always be learning – read, read, read all the books, listen to podcasts, watch videos and go to seminars. Whatever you can do to learn about your market and business in general, it will help you grow as a business owner.
What is a typical day like for you?
Most days, I wake up before my daughter so I can do my morning routine. I write my morning pages, meditate and do some yoga. Next, it’s time to make breakfast (and coffee!) and take my daughter to preschool by 9. After she’s at school, I come home and work on admin/marketing or go off to work with a client. I am trying to be better at remembering to eat lunch. When it’s time to pick my daughter up from preschool at 4 pm, my workday is over. I try hard to turn my focus away from business and towards my kid.
What is your business motto or quote you live by?
I have this (corny) t-shirt that says “Wake up. Be awesome. Repeat.” I like to wear it on days when I need a little motivation. We can all choose to “be awesome” – be yourself, do your best and put yourself out there.
If you were starting your business over again, what would you do differently?
I would have started marketing myself sooner. It’s important to get out there as soon as possible and start trying to make connections. Even while you are getting your ducks in a row. I definitely had a bit (or a lot) of perfectionism procrastination. If I could go back in time, I would jump right in. You learn as you go and you can’t learn if you don’t try.