Many people just know, from an early age, that someday they will start a business. They have a plan. They are determined. And they know exactly how it will unfold.
This wasn’t the case for Katie and me.
In fact, neither of us ever envisioned starting our own business, let alone start a business doing something we enjoyed doing for fun—with one of our closest friends.
Katie and I are often asked about the start of Blue Pencil Home and what we wish we knew before beginning. For today’s post, we share just this.
Today is the first of a three-part series about Blue Pencil Home’s business beginnings. We’ll share how and when we knew we had a real business idea and all about our first steps in forming Blue Pencil Home. Next month we’ll share more behind the scenes details such as what we wished we’d known before starting and the amazing people who’ve been integral in our work. We can’t stress enough how much we’ve been supported by many people. In June, we’ll wrap up our series with our biggest successes and the major obstacles we’ve overcome in starting our organization and decluttering business.
Why We Fell in Love with Organization
If you’ve been following us, you know our story. One day we were talking poolside and the topic of organization and moving came up in conversation. Katie was preparing to move homes and I chimed in that I’d love to help her declutter and prepare for the move. She told me then about how much she loved purging—she’s a pro at this by the way—and had just finished a ton of it in preparation for her move. Little did either of us know then that that discussion would launch just what it did.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our inclination toward organization and maintaining a home started in our youth. For Katie, she was raised here in Memphis, in a home that prioritized organization. Both of her parents were great at keeping an organized home and that trickled down to her later when she had her own home. Whether it is maintaining schedules, closets or general organizational tasks, Katie feels most comfortable when her space is put together.
I’m the same as Katie in this regard, but it wasn’t because I was raised like this. My mom was not the most organized person and I vividly remember organizing my own room at an early age. I lined up my books by size and I loved straight lines. Still do. Having my possessions just so brought me comfort.
Coincidentally, just the other day, I was watching old videos of my kids when they were very young and prone to things like tearing apart the pantry. Even back then, before it became popular, all of my bins were labeled, organized and...just so.
Will You Go Back to Work After Your Kids Are in School?
For Katie and me, it wasn’t long after we had our children before numerous people asked us the same question, “Will you go back to work after your kids get older?” And similarly, the two of us, who had had careers outside the home before we had children, weren’t feeling the strong pull back to the 8-5 routine. Somehow we knew there was something a bit different waiting for the both of us.
Before we began Blue Pencil Home, Katie had never even considered starting her own business and I remember feeling that just the thought of starting a business produced a great deal of anxiety. For a bit, I considered assisting another person with her organization business, but quickly realized that my path was to start my own business. For Katie, she knew that I was the only one she wanted to join for this ride.
And thus, the memorable conversation by the pool occurred. Katie still jokes that “maybe it was the wine talking” that day.
If so, we owe a debt of gratitude to that bottle!
The Secret to Determining if Your Passion Should Become Your Business
All jokes aside, we knew we had something unique when we began to organize for our friends around their homes. It wasn’t long after this that we had people who were not our friends, contacting us to book our services.
We couldn’t believe then, and still can’t at times, that people were willing to pay us to do something that we simply loved to do. That was huge for us. Because we didn’t know the first thing about starting a business and because I’m intimidated by putting myself out there and potentially failing, it took Katie speaking up and telling people that yes, we were in business and yes, we would love organize and declutter their homes.
In fact, this is still the case. Katie is excellent at client management. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes-putting-the-systems-together kind of girl.
Tip: Find a business partner whose skill set balances well with yours. You want to be good working partners, but it also helps when your strengths exist in separate areas.
Katie and I are both competitive, extremely hard workers and we love our line of work. These in combination make for an excellent partnership.
About a month after we started completing projects, we knew we had something real on our hands. It was around October 2017 when our friends let us practice on their homes and by December 2017, we were booking paid work regularly.
Oftentimes, when you’ve found the right thing, it all happens very quickly.
Katie and I use regular check ins to ensure our decisions, goals, and projects are where we want them to be. After leaving the workplace to raise our children, making money again has given us both a refreshed sense of self. However, these feelings hold an even more unique power than before because Blue Pencil Home is something we started from scratch.
It became real because we made it real.
The Six Steps to Starting Your Own Business
People are curious about the specific, step-by-step parts we experienced in becoming a legal, bonded business. Below is our process in starting Blue Pencil Home, which launched officially on April 1, 2018:
Choose a name and a logo.
This was a lot harder than it sounds and it took a good deal of time to make finals decisions. The options were endless and that made it more difficult. Katie and I separately came to “blue pencil” because it’s a legal-related synonym of edit. We knew it must be the right one, however, because we both chose the term without the other knowing.
Set up a website and an Instagram account.
Hire a professional photographer to get images for these locations and for marketing and advertising purposes.
Create an LLC, sign a partnership agreement, and an operating agreement.
Funny side note: When we signed the partnership agreement, we both looked at one another and agreed we didn’t understand anything that was in the agreement, but that since we were both signing the same document, it was okay.
Get state certification, governmental licenses and bonding finalized and completed.
Continue asking those around us about business logistics and their preferred methods. Decide if those work for us, as well.
This has been key to our success and we’ll talk more about these people in the next part to this series.
Have we found our groove after this whirlwind time? No.
And here’s why.
We recognize that Blue Pencil Home is very much a work in progress and we like it that way. We are consistently adjusting to make our work and business better as we change with each project. Whether it’s adjusting our systems to be more efficient (we just started with Honeybook—let us know if you are curious about this one!) or practicing varied techniques in dealing with new personalities, we continue to determine how best to use our tools.
Perhaps the best part of our partnership is that we are both incredibly stubborn. We are too stubborn to give up and too stubborn not to continually do our best work, day in and day out. Fortunately, new changes and adjustments have also meant new opportunities and experiences we never imagined when we were talking by that pool years ago. We can’t wait to share those with you as they unfold in the coming months.
Admittedly, our work ethics are our consistent driving forces behind our tenacity and our eagerness to improve; we also acknowledge that a giant amount of luck has played into the Blue Pencil Home story, as well. We’ve been so fortunate as to have help from so many others in our network. We believe in paying it forward for others we may be able to help, too.
Next week, we will share more about those very people who have walked alongside us on this wild adventure and what we wished we would have known before starting a business. You never know how much goes into a business until you really dive in and start the investment.
Until next week!