Come join me in Pittsburgh on April 27th from 8:30-10 am for the Spotlight Consulting Interactive: Business Consulting in Action session of the 2017 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference.

How would you like to be a fly on the wall during a business consulting session? This interactive learning opportunity will feature role plays of a business consultant and client in action. Learn the process of business consulting, including gathering information, active listening skills, asking probing questions, reframing, evaluating, problem solving, and offering customized solutions. Discover your peer’s business challenges while also gaining business consulting process skills to use with your clients in the future.

Objectives:

  1. Learn about business challenges that other attendees are facing that are selected for role plays during the session.
  2. Watch several role plays of a business consulting spotlight session and learn about the various stages, skills, and steps involved.
  3. Have the opportunity to ask questions of the business consultant about the underlying subject matter of the challenges presented, as well as the business consulting process.
  4. Be given the opportunity to practice business consulting skills with a partner or with the presenter.
  5. Gain confidence in your business based on the challenges presented and solutions offered, as well as confidence in business consulting skills to use with clients in the future.

Looking forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh! 

Learn more about the NAPO 2017 Conference and register to attend here.

So, you are searching for a new job?  Perhaps you are making a voluntary career transition.  Maybe you have been laid off, or worse, fired.  Regardless of the reason for your job search, one fact remains true: if you are conducting a job search, it is vital that you take an organized approach.  Managing your job search is just like managing any other major project.  You must create an infrastructure that allows you to operate in an efficient and productive manner.  A successful job search requires forethought and action.  Here are some tips for conducting an organized job search.

1. Declutter and Pre-Purge – If you are embarking on a job search, it will be difficult to do so if your physical space is covered in clutter with piles of papers everywhere.  Take some time to declutter.  Purge any unnecessary items, file papers that you need to keep, recycle junk mail, and get some order back into that space!  It will be easier for you to concentrate on your job search without all of that chaos and clutter around you.  Just be careful that you don’t spend too much time decluttering that you start using it as an excuse to procrastinate with regard to your job search.  A few days should suffice.  

2. Create a Job Search Schedule– Let’s face it – searching for a job is hard work!  If you are still employed while you are conducting your new job search, be prepared to have an extremely busy schedule.  If you are currently unemployed, realize that you do, indeed, have a job – conducting a job search!  Create a job search schedule that gives you ample time for all of the activities you need to focus on in order to succeed: resume and cover letter preparation, surfing the web for jobs, networking, interviewing, follow-up, etc.  Block out time in your calendar for job search activities and treat that time as you would any traditional work commitment.  Be consistent in the amount of time you spend each day and week on job search activities so that you keep your momentum going, and don’t lose focus and miss valuable opportunities.

3. Get Your Gear in Order– Update your resume, cover letter, references, and writing sample (if applicable).  Ask for letters of recommendation and testimonials from previous or current supervisors, co-workers, and professional colleagues.  Get some nice new stationery, and stock up on print cartridges for your printer.  If you want to use an outside source for printing, some local printing shops will copy resumes for free during an economic downturn, so ask around!  Be sure to have a computer with high-speed Internet access.  An all-in-one machine for printing, copying, faxing and scanning will also come in handy during a job search.

4. Create Job Search Central– Set aside space at home (or wherever you will be conducting your job search activities) and make it job search central.  Keep all of your job-search related supplies in that location, which will make it easy for you to find them when you need them.  This will also help you to get into job search mode when you are in that space.

5. Create a Job Search Paper Management System– You may be acquiring a lot of paper in your job search: resources, articles, sample resumes and cover letters, business cards of networking contacts, contact-us-later or rejection letters, etc.  To the extent that you can maintain these items in a paperless fashion, go for it.  But if you have to maintain hard copy paper, be sure to create a job search paper management or filing system, to be stored in your job search center.  Keep it simple and use whatever system makes the most sense to you for ease of use (binder, portable filing bin, traditional filing cabinet, etc).

6. Plan Job Search Activities– Plan out job search activities on a daily basis, such as phone calls to make, resumes to send, online applications to fill out, informational interviews to conduct, etc.  Write down your job search activities as calendar items, to-do’s, or tasks so that you take them seriously and treat them as measurable goals.  Be realistic with regard to what you can reasonably accomplish in one day, but also challenge yourself!

7. Track Job Search Activities – Organizing your job search involves keeping track of all information and communications.  Keep a record of where you sent your resume and when, whom you have spoken to, when interviews took place, etc.  This information will prove vital when deciding when to follow-up with leads.  You can track all of this information using a calendar such as Outlook or Google, or an online tool such as JobFiler.com.  Whatever tools you use, it is important that you be able to track the status of your job search.

8. Manage Job Search Email – In today’s world, much of your job search will likely be conducted by email.  Therefore, before you even start your search, whittle down the amount of email in your inbox so that you can hyper-focus on your job search emails, which will add up quickly.  Create folders within your email system using categories that make sense to you, such as Companies Applied To, Contacts Submitted Resumes To, etc.

9. Polish Your Online Profiles – If you are conducting a job search in today’s market, you would be remiss not to develop an online presence on social media sites, especially LinkedIn, which is the most “professional” of the social media sites and can essentially serve as your online resume.  But also consider other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  The opportunities are endless for employers and contacts to find you online.  You may even have your own website, e-zine, or blog.  Maybe you post articles on various article-marketing sites, or serve as a guest blogger on other blogs.  If you maintain profiles on any of social media sites, or have any type of online presence, be sure to polish your profiles so that they promote the image you want potential employers and contacts to see.

10.  Change Your Greetings – Change the message that greets callers for any phone number that you plan to use for your job search so that it sounds professional, and conveys the information you want callers to hear.  Be prepared, not embarrassed!

11.  Stay Positive – The longer a job search takes, the more chance you have of becoming negative about it.  Try to maintain a positive attitude to the extent you can by monitoring your progress and staying active in your search.  When the going gets rough during a job search, many people take a back seat and give up, which is counter-productive.  Try to stay focused and make valuable contacts that are likely to lead to a job.  However, don’t be all consumed by your search for a job!  Maintaining some balance in your life at this time will serve you well.  Get adequate sleep, eat well, see family and friends for pleasure, and make time for exercise.

Organization is one of the single most important things you can do to keep your job search manageable.  Just like being organized helps you improve any other area of your life, home, or work, it will also help move along your job search in quick and efficient fashion and with less stress.  It may even wind up being the key to finding that dream job you always wanted.

unhappy_at-workAre you unhappy with your current job? Do you feel that the grass may be greener at another organization or in a different position? Well, that may be the case. But until you actually trek over to greener pastures, you need to find ways to be happy in the position you are currently in. If you are unhappy with your job, it will spread like wildfire and negatively affect all aspects of your life. Learn to love the job you’re in as much as you can by trying these simple, but effective tips. They will help you be more satisfied with your work by removing some of the unhappiness from your current job.

Take Pride in Your Work

Regardless of what you do for a living, chances are you can find something about it to take pride in. It could be the organization or company’s overall mission. It could be the productivity of your particular department or division. Perhaps it is the actual work that you produce. Maybe it is as simple as knowing that you are giving it your all. Take a look at your skills, talents and interests and the way they are used at work and find something you love about the job everyday, no matter how small. Taking pride in your work can lead to greater job satisfaction and overall happiness in the workplace.

Visit the Water Cooler and Be Socialwater_cooler

One of the ways to be happier at work is by developing connections with co-workers. Even if you don’t love your actual job, developing relationships with those you work with will help you enjoy the time you spend at work. I am not advocating that you spend hours on end at the water cooler, but visiting it once in awhile for a quick break and a chat with a co-worker can boost productivity and make you both enjoy your job more. So go ahead — get out there and be social!

Seek Out Assignments and Projects That Are Meaningful To You

Another way to be happier at work is to seek out assignments and projects that are meaningful to you. This could be in the core areas of your job, or in peripheral areas that your company or organization work in. If you want more responsibility, let that be known. If you want to incorporate certain talents and skills into your work, figure out ways to do so. Looking for more meaning in your work, but unable to find it directly? Think broadly. For example, maybe you are a corporate lawyer and feel that you want to use your legal talents in a way that “gives back.” You could seek out pro bono assignments and projects once in awhile that will serve to fulfill this need, thus making you enjoy your overall work and job more.

Participate in a Task Force or Committee to Make a Difference

Many companies and organizations have committees, but not all committees and task forces truly make a difference. You can change that. Find a committee or task force that is doing meaningful work and jump on board. Or better yet, create a task force or committee that studies and solves a problem. Employees that are involved in creating solutions are generally the ones that are happiest at work, as they are taking an active part in effectuating change. So don’t be a hermit – get out there and participate.

Change Your Attitude

great-attitudeA large part of job satisfaction and happiness in the workplace is affected by attitude. The good news about that is you can change your attitude! When your attitude changes, often times your behavior changes too. Yes, maybe your job is boring, or your boss is annoying, or the company is not creative in its approach, but your attitude towards your job is controlled by you. Dwell on the aspects of your job that are positive. Try your best to maintain some enthusiasm for your job. You are in control of your thoughts and attitude, so try to make it your mission to stay as positive as possible.

Coaching Challenge: Try to find ways to be happier at work by picking one of the above categories weekly and focusing on it. Let me know how you do, and how much it raises your happiness quotient!

When you put in so much time and effort to get organized, the last thing you want is to backslide and wind up back where you started. The good news is that you can stay organized once you reach an organized state of bliss (or even a semi-organized, “it’s better than it was and I can live with it state”!). All that is required is active maintenance. Oh no, you think – more work! Yes, but remember, it is a lot easier to stay organized than it is to get organized.

Maintenance Should Become Second Nature

Organizing is a way of life that requires maintenance and ongoing effort until it becomes second nature. Think about something you do everyday, like brushing your teeth, for example. You just do it, right? It is a habit, something that comes naturally to you. You don’t need reminders, checklists, alarms and prompts. But imagine you just started brushing your teeth today. It is an entirely new grooming activity that you are now required to do. You may need a prompt to remind you to do this new activity. But after a reasonable amount of time, you would naturally incorporate this new activity into your routine and would no longer need reminders. You would just do the activity automatically. In order to stay organized, you need to slowly incorporate maintenance of organizing systems into your daily routines. After awhile, you don’t even think about it anymore, you just naturally maintain your systems.

Develop Simple Maintenance Routines

Integrate a daily and periodic maintenance program into your routine, but keep it simple. You’ve heard the old adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Well, it goes a long way if your goal is to maintain organizing systems. Put things away at the end of each day at home, and at the office. If you start something, complete it if possible. If not, put the project items off to the side so that they do not become clutter in your way. If you use up the last of an item in the house, replenish it (at work, give notice to whoever stocks the supply cabinet). If you open something, close it. If you take something out to use it, put it away when you are done. Make this “finish it” policy a rule that all users of the organizing systems follow.

15 Minutes a Day Keeps Clutter at Bay

Want to maintain an organizing system? 15 minutes a day keeps clutter at bay! Once you’ve created an organizing system that works, take 15 minutes a day to keep it that way. If it needs much longer than that, chances are it is too complex of a system, or you are still in backlog mode with too much clutter. If so, then you need to focus on continuing to declutter and setting up simple, user-friendly organizing systems.

It is entirely possible that some areas of your life will be in maintenance mode while others will still be in the process of getting organized. That is expected. While you are getting organized, you will naturally finish some areas before others. For the areas that are already organized, use your maintenance routines. For the rest, keep plugging away! You will get to maintenance mode if you hang in there, I promise.

Don’t get caught up in the actual amount of time. 15 minutes at work, and 15 minutes at home, is an average. Some people need much more time to maintain their organizing systems, some need much less. It depends how many organizing systems need to be maintained, how complex they are, how many users are involved, whether someone is sabotaging the system by not cooperating in maintenance efforts, etc. Use 15 minutes as a benchmark to measure your maintenance efforts against.

Some people do their maintenance in the morning (washing dishes from last night’s dinner, choosing outfits for day, planning their schedule on their calendar, putting away files no longer working with, etc.), while others do it at the end of the day before they leave work and before they retire for the evening at home. The right time to maintain organizing systems is when it is easiest for you and you will actually do it. If you decide to maintain systems at the end of the day, be sure to finish activities at home and at work 15 minutes before you close shop, in order to leave enough time for maintenance.

Exercise: Schedule 15 Minutes a Day

Schedule in a recurring appointment on your calendar that prompts you to do 15 minutes per day of maintenance of organizing systems at home and at work. Remember, maintaining an organizing system should become second nature, like brushing your teeth everyday. But it may take time for it to become a habit, so be patient. Meanwhile, 15 minutes a day will help keep clutter at bay, and maintain your orderly new life!

Copyright © 2010 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2010. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at .

So psyched to be the featured speaker at the July 23rd event hosted by the American Marketing Association chapter in Sacramento, CA. I’ll be presenting “Boost Your Productivity to Be More Successful!” If you are local, come join us. Should be a great event — here are more details:

productivity-July23rdWould you like to achieve new heights through greater organization and productivity?

Come learn tips and tools of the trade as productivity expert, Lisa Montanaro, provides solutions to real-life productivity problems. This fast-paced and entertaining presentation provides practical techniques for managing time, paper, information, projects, and yourself. Enhance your organizational and time management skills to become more productive, achieve your priorities, and make your business more successful.

Grab & Go Strategies:

  • Take control of your day by effective planning & scheduling.
  • Focus on your priorities and work more productively.
  • Handle interruptions and time wasters that drain productivity.
  • Overcome procrastination and minimize reactively running your business and life.
  • Delegate and use others more effectively.
  • Manage information overload.
  • Develop a personal action plan to enhance organizing & time management skills.

Schedule:

5:30-6:30 Registration and Networking/Cocktails/Appetizers

6:30-7:45 Presentation + 15 minutes for questions

Location:

Seasons 52
1689 Arden Way Suite 1065, Sacramento, California 95815

See the details here, and register here

I have found that among its other benefits,
giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
~ Maya Angelou

Many of these products and services are part of official affiliate programs which pay a referral commission to me based on any purchases you make through these links. However, that is not the reason I recommend them. I only recommend products and services that I believe are of high quality, value, and will benefit you in a tangible way as you improve your home, office, and life.
The Help Kenya Project

This is a Westchester County, NY based charity that focuses on helping the children of Kenya. They collect donations of used computers, books, clothing, sports equipment, and other supplies and ship them to Kenyan schools and libraries. In return, they ask that the recipients plant trees to combat deforestation and provide children with a place to rest and play out of the sun.

It’s incredible how valuable the book or computer you might be throwing out is to a Kenyan child. By providing Kenya’s students with science, English, and computer skills, they give them a much better chance of finding good jobs later in life. It breaks the cycle of poverty by helping Kenyans to help themselves. This is a charity that truly leaves a lasting impact.



National Cristina Foundation

Linking Life to its Promise.

The National Cristina Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the support of training through donated technology. For more than two decades, it has encouraged companies and individuals to donate computers and other technology, which is then matched to charities, schools and public agencies in all 50 states, Canada, and in many countries around the world.


Vietnam Veterans of America
VVA accepts donations of household goods and clothing in 30 states in the continental United States. To make a donation, please refer to the state map. Identify your area and call the phone number referenced.


Tangible Karma is a donation tracking service that gives you a chance to see the difference your donated goods can make in the world.  At Tangible Karma their mission is to inspire and motivate you, to transform items that are hindering your life into valuable gifts that could make a meaningful difference in the life of another.


Overseas Coupon Program Did you know that expired coupons can be sent to troops stationed overseas and they can use them for 6 months after the expiration date?  If you find this idea redeeming, go to OCPNet.org and get the details. It’s 100% legal and each overseas base has a USA address so it is a local mailing. Save your coupons, even if they are expired to help out our troops!


DisposeMyMeds.org is an online resource to help you to find medication disposal programs at the local independent community pharmacy near you.

Your local community pharmacist has knowledge to ensure the safe and proper handling of your medications, from dispensing to disposal.


Recycle These Items That You Never Thought Of…

Vintage Doorknobs, Radiators, Windows and Mantels
Donate or sell classic architectural elements to salvage firms or restoration projects. SalvageWeb is an online ad space that links buyers and sellers all over the world; here you can buy an Art Deco church chandelier, or unload a clawfoot tub after renovating your bathroom. Baltimore-based Second Chance Inc. accepts salvage donations and trains low-income people in the art of “deconstructing” buildings.

Toothbrushes
The Radius Original Toothbrush has a handle made of cellulose, an organic fiber. (Radius also recycles the handles of its battery-operated model once the battery runs out.)

Foam Packaging
Lightweight “peanuts” made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) contain 25 to 100 percent recycled material.
The Plastic Loose Fill Council has a “Peanut Hotline” (800-828-2214) you can call to find local recycling centers, including chain-store shippers such as Pak Mail and The UPS Store. To recycle large, molded chunks of EPS used to cushion televisions, air conditioners and such, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.

Sneakers/Tennis Shoes
Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program turns used athletic footwear (no cleats) into a material called Nike Grind, used to surface playgrounds, running tracks and outdoor courts. Or send your still-wearable athletic shoes to Shoe4Africa, which forwards them to athletes in developing countries.

Toys
Ask your local shelter for homeless families or battered women if they accept gently used toys. The Salvation Army and Vietnam Veterans of America also take used toys. Adult-appropriate items such as board games can be sent to troops overseas through www.AnySoldier.com

Wine Corks
Yemm & Hart, which produces recycled building materials, turns used corks into floor and wall tiles.

Motor Oil
Recycled motor oil can find new life as a lubricant or fuel. The American Petroleum Institute estimates the electricity created with just 2 gallons of reused motor oil would power the average home for nearly a day. Preserve used oil in a clean container with a secure, leakproof lid. You can recycle the used oil filter, too. Earth 911 has a list of motor oil recycling centers that’s searchable by ZIP code.

Prom, Bridesmaid and Formal Dresses
Charities like the Glass Slipper Project accepts donated gowns, shoes and purses to provide free prom wear to low-income teens. Another great resource is Donate My Dress, which is the first national network to bring together local dress drive organizations across the U.S. Books such as “Always a Bridesmaid: 89 Ways to Recycle That Bridesmaid Dress” offer tongue-in-cheek recycling advice to every woman who has a hideous gown buried at the back of her closet.

Eyeglasses, Frames and Cases
The Lions Club and Give the Gift of Sight Foundation collect used eyeglasses for needy people around the world. Donate your glasses at one of 17 Lions Clubs recycling centers, or at chains such as Pearle Vision Center, LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut.

Computers, Cell-Phones and Other E-Waste
The EPA maintains a list of charities that accept used electronic equipment. Staples, Office Depot and Best Buy offer in-store e-waste recycling — Best Buy also recycles used appliances. Dell, Toshiba and Sony lead the way in recycling computer products. Donate cell phones to organizations like The Wireless Foundation. Ship old videotapes and DVDs to Ecodisk or Greendisk.

Radio Shack Electronics Trade-In Program

Have electronics to trade-in? Use Radio Shack’s Trade-In Program!

You go online to http://www.radioshack.com/tradeandsave and indicate what items you wish to trade. Items must be in working condition. The site will determine the trade-in value of your items and create a pre-paid shipping label for you. You print off the shipping label, affix it to a box, pack your items and mail it to Radio Shack free of charge. When they receive it, they will mail you a Radio Shack gift card.

Electronics
Electronics improve the way we live, work and play. But, there’s one place where electronics should have no impact — the environment. Through responsible use, reuse and recycling of electronics, the consumer electronics industry and consumers can protect and preserve the environment — together. Many organizations offer free recycling of used electronics, so it’s easy to be green. Check out the following sites, which offer ways to sell or recycle your used electronics.

http://www.Gazelle.com
http://www.MyBoneyard.com

Last week, I sent an email with details about my awesome new 12-week group business coaching program, Successfully Self Employed Semester. Some of you took quick action and registered. Welcome!

Many of you emailed, called or connected with me on Facebook to ask questions and let me know that you are seriously considering joining us. Thanks for your interest!

A lot of people are asking for more time to consider the program, but still benefit from the Early Bird Rate. I know a lot of you are on vacation these last few weeks of summer, or dealing with kids going back to school and off to college.

early_bird_extendedWell, I have a nice surprise for you!

I’m extending the early bird rate for a week until Monday, August 26th. As this program is geared towards newer entrepreneurs, I want keep the program affordable so that you can get access to the help you need and crave. The early bird investment is just $697 for the entire 12-week program. (And there’s even a 2-payment option to spread things out a bit if that helps).

Who Is the Perfect Candidate for this Group Coaching Program?

  • Those that learn well in a group environment. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with each other, and share challenges and solutions with the group. All calls will be open line and you will be able to ask questions and get coaching on the spot!
  • Those that are on a budget and cannot afford one-on-one coaching services. Many of you have expressed interest in accessing my private coaching, but couldn’t invest at that level. This is the perfect answer for you! You get me for 12 weeks in a small intimate group setting!
  • Those that crave structure in order to reach their business goals. There is a robust curriculum that we will follow which is great content. But we will also have a lot of fun, and go off syllabus when we need to!
  • Those that benefit from an accountability aspect. You have the opportunity to report your progress each week, as well as have access to me and other participants on our private Facebook group.

Join us. It’s going to be a great “semester!”

logo-meetupOn July 23, I will be presenting via www.meetup.com for the Nevada County Online, “The Productive Entrepreneur: Boost Your Productivity to Be a More Successful Business Owner” from 11 am – 12:30 pm, in Grass Valley, CA.

Do you have organizing and productivity challenges that you deal with on a daily basis in business and life? If so, you are not alone! In fact, many highly functioning people (and business owners!) have organizing challenges.

Come learn tips and tools of the trade as I provides solutions to real-life productivity problems. Before you become an Internet marketing success, you need to be as productive as possible to free up the time for SEO, social media and other Internet marketing. See the details here.

If you are local to Sacramento area, join me on Tuesday, July 9th from 6:30-9:30 at the eWomen Network dinner & meeting while I present “The Productive Entrepreneur: Boost Your Productivity to Be a More Successful Business Owner.”

ewomen_network

Do you have organizing and productivity challenges that you deal with on a daily basis in business and life? If so, you are not alone! In fact, many highly functioning people (and business owners!) have organizing challenges.

Come learn tips and tools of the trade as I provide solutions to real-life productivity problems. This fast-paced and entertaining presentation provides practical techniques for managing time, paper, information, projects, and yourself.

You can enhance your organizational and time management skills to become more productive, achieve your priorities, and make your business more successful.

  • Date: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
  • Time: 6:30 – 9:30 pm
  • Location: DoubleTree by Hilton, Sacramento, CA

See all of the details here.

I was recently invited by my colleague and fabulous blogger, Janet Barclay, to comment on a post about naming your business, and thought many could benefit from my response. So I am sharing it here. If you want to read Janet’s original post that it relates to, and other great comments, click here.

As you know, I rebranded last year (by choice). I kept the name of my professional organizing division which I founded in 2002 as LM Organizing Solutions, but now have a new parent company name, Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises. I chose that name for several reasons: 1) I am going global, playing in a bigger sandbox, and wanted to share that intention through the name, 2) I am running a personal brand, and 3) I mostly use my real name online and that is what I noticed people would search for. To be honest, I use the business name less and less now, and focus more on my “brands” and “slogans” to market myself, always connecting them to my real name. My corporate name does not show up in many places. This was a very strategic decision.

business buildingAs a business coach and legal consultant for organizers and other entrepreneurs, I have seen the ugly side of business naming. Many clients have had to rename their businesses due to trademark disputes. I have filed trademarks for my clients, negotiated consent agreements for them to use the same name as another business owner, and advised them to rebrand altogether when the trademark issue was not on their side or too expensive to pursue.

But this can often be avoided up front, as you suggested. I use a 4-part test with my clients when choosing a business name:

  1. Domain Name Search – Check to make sure you can get the domain name that you want to represent your proposed business name.
  2. USPTO search – You can conduct a free search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site at USPTO.gov or use a paid service to research trademarks nationwide.
  3. State Corporations Database Search – You can do a quick search on the Secretary of State web page to see whether your name is available. If the name is available, you may want to reserve the name through the Secretary of State, but you are not required to do so before forming your business entity.
  4. NAPO Member Directory Search – If you are a professional organizer, you should check to see if the proposed name is already being used by a NAPO member. Remember, it is not NAPO’s responsibility to police names as a professional association. It is the business owners!