marla dee headshot
Marla Dee, owner and president of Clear & Simple Organizing, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based professional organizing business. — Marla Dee

In our Growth Studio Spotlight series, CO— aims to connect budding entrepreneurs with business owners who have been there, providing advice that can help bridge the gap between a business idea and successful execution. In this edition, we consult with Marla Dee, owner and president of Clear & Simple Organizing, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based professional organizing business, to share her entrepreneurial experiences — from scaling her business and avoiding burnout. Clear & Simple Organizing has been in business for 20 years and currently has 3 employees.

Here's how Dee describes her company: Clear & Simple Organizing has two parts to the business:

  1. Clear & Simple Organizing (in business since 1999): We help people get free of clutter and get organized using the Clear & Simple Way, so they know where start, what to do and how to keep it up.
  2. Clear & Simple Professional Organizer Training Program (in business since 2003): We give new organizers the systems, tools and training they need to launch a successful organizing business.

If you had additional capital, how would you invest it in your business?

I want to create my educational products as online courses. This would allow me to reach more people and add a fabulous new revenue stream. I would include my Professional Organizer Training Course that helps people launch their own organizing business. I have sold the physical course to students in 9 countries and want to reach many more.

What is your biggest business challenge?

I am transitioning from 20 years of helping people in the field organize their homes and offices to now teaching them how. Making this transition has been challenging. I have put my organizing services part of the business on the market to sell.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in the past year?

I waited too long to get myself out of the hands-on work and only doing speaking/teaching. This led to burnout.

Clear & Simple's Marla Dee interviewed at our CO— Salt Lake City event.

I have worked hard to create a business with value that isn’t dependent on me.

Marla Dee, owner and president, Clear & Simple Organizing

Word of mouth

Clear & Simple Organizing founder Marla Dee credits much of her customer base to word-of-mouth marketing, through her public speaking and teaching. Read on for more successful startup methods.

What was your biggest win?

Simplifying my business so I can focus on speaking and teaching. This has included getting my digital products ready to sell.

How do you find great employees?

I have advertised in local sources and also have found great employees through referrals from local business owners.

What’s the one thing your business is known for doing better than the competition?

We do more than help get them organized. We teach the SKILL so they can organize on their own in the future. Our simple steps work for all projects, all ages and all personalities. Once they learn the Clear & Simple Way, they are empowered and free!

What is your best source of new customers?

My speaking has been the best source for the last 20 years. I have spoken and taught nationwide since my first year in business. This leads to new clients and great word of mouth referrals. Note: We also offer a training and credential so other can teach the systems and sell products.

How do you market your business?

Speaking and teaching the Clear & Simple Way, social media, weekly blog and Ezine to my email list.

How do you hope to grow your business in the next five years?

I want to get my teaching products online so that I can sell (and retire) in 5 years. I have worked hard to create a business with value that isn’t dependent on me. The C&S Systems are trademarked and stand alone as a highly valuable offering.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.