19 Feb 2024

Conference, community and being your best boss

4 minute read

It still gives me a tingly sensation when I remember the moment I decided to set up my business. That moment was a cocktail of clarity, inspiration, excitement, fear and hope. It felt like all previous paths had led here and something told me it was what I had to do. But how? I’d never created a business before! What would people think? How would I even get started? Could I actually do this? I didn’t know if organising for a living was even ‘a thing’.

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So, I Googled “Professional Organisers in Bristol” and found the APDO website. Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers…not only was it an actual job but there was a whole community! Within the hour I’d booked a place on the next ‘Starting a Professional Organising Business’ course.

Running my own business has been a steep learning experience and I’m aware that I’m still at the beginning of the journey. I wanted to work for myself to have autonomy over my choices, the challenge and flexibility of being my own boss. What I didn’t anticipate was how hard, lonely and overwhelming it can be at times. It takes a lot of focused effort for a business to gain traction, and it can be tempting to give up. 

In my first year of business, I decided to attend the APDO Conference.  The theme in 2023 was ‘Moving Forward To Flourish’ and I was excited about the range of topics. There were workshops for people at all stages of their business and I scribbled so many notes, wanting to absorb everything I was learning. 

Attending the conference was a big step out of my comfort zone. I’ve ‘endured’ many conferences in my previous corporate life and I usually want to run away as soon as someone mentions networking. It conjures up images in my mind of a room full of pushy salespeople and makes me shudder!

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In contrast, what struck me was how friendly and approachable everyone was. APDO is a warm, welcoming community where its members support each other as colleagues, not competitors. Everyone I met was there for their own personal and professional development. They were curious, helpful and open about their experiences. I learned so much. There were thoughtful touches by the events team like a quiet room to step away from the bustle, a buddy programme to connect with a friendly face before arriving, and the option to join a meditation session. It was a pleasure to be surrounded by so many people with a shared passion for decluttering, compassionate people who love to help others. I realised that I had no need to feel anxious because I’d found my community.

What really stood out to me was the variety of opportunities available to Professional Organisers, the range of specialisms, different business models and the number of directions that my business could take. There’s nothing more inspiring than meeting real people who have achieved great accomplishments, because it shows me what is possible. Not only meeting them but learning how they got there! 

I really enjoyed connecting with people who were just starting out too, many of whom I’ve stayed in touch with. It’s been a pleasure not only to observe their growth, but also to reflect on and appreciate my own development and wins along the way.

Attending the APDO Conference replaced my fear of being in this unknown territory of creating a business, with a feeling of empowerment and possibility. I left the event with the reassurance that there is a supportive community available. Meeting so many people in person really deepened my sense of connection.

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Being my own boss has its perks but it also comes with responsibilities. Responsibility to make time to think, dream and plan as the visionary in charge of my business. Responsibility to see my business as a separate entity from myself, and to make decisions that sustain us both. I need time to work ‘on’ my business as well as ‘in’ my business. So, I schedule this for myself because, to me, it’s essential. Attending the APDO Conference is my opportunity to step away from the day-to-day and focus on what’s working well both for my business and for me personally. The change of scenery, the workshops, the time to focus and the relationships are priceless. I leave the conference with clarity on the action needed to achieve my dreams. Because a dream without action is just a dream. 

Might this be your dream too?

Tickets are available until 23rd February for APDO’s 2024 conference, ‘Inspiring a Sustainable Future’ being held on 7-8th March, at DoubleTree by Hilton in Docklands, London, UK. To find out more and to book your ticket, visit our Conference page. Everyone is welcome!

Becky Purchas founded  White Space, which provides Professional Organising and Decluttering services, in 2022. Following a career of 15 years within the property industry, and then 5 years leading projects and culture change, Becky had her lightbulb moment to combine her skills and experience to serve others after volunteering with a charity that supports people with hoarding tendencies. Becky is an APDO Member and Volunteer. She lives with her family in Bristol and can usually be found in her shed up-cycling furniture.

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