Every now and then we like to introduce you to an inspiring entrepreneur who turned their passion into a successful business.
Today, we’re talking with Angela Cody-Rouget, founding partner of Major Organizers and one of seven certified Professional Organizers in the state of Colorado. She is also a certified Family Manager. Angela spent 18 years dedicated to serving her country in the U.S. Air Force where she attained the rank of major.
She moved with her family and the military over 27 times. Because of this, she learned to keep her load light and not get attached to stuff. After resigning her commission to be a better wife and mother to her two children, she worked as a corporate sale representative for five years before starting her organizing company. Today, Angela puts a high value on her church, family, friends and staff. She sees that she’s part of a larger global family, and is growing her business so that she can help more of those in need – especially children.
Angela is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and Faithful Organizers, and has served as the President of the Board of Directors for NAPO-Colorado. Like most women, she sometimes feels torn between kids and career and the balancing act is difficult, but she’s thankful for a husband who is supportive and understanding and she couldn’t do life without him. When Angela isn’t organizing, you might find her hanging out with her children, hiking in the foothills, working on her book or cooking fabulous meals.
We recently sat down with Angela to talk about how she has grown her business, appearing on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank, and the best advice she’s gotten along the way.
Tell us about your company.
Major Organizers was unexpectedly created after I resigned from my position as a Major in the U.S. Air Force. My goal was to spend more time with my husband and two children who were both under 2 years old. But the recession changed that and I needed to find work.
My husband, who had nicknamed me Major Mom, suggested that I start a professional organizing business because I had organized family, friends and neighbors—and loved it. That was 10 years ago. Today, I’m still Major Mom, and Major Organizers is a leader in residential organizing with 12 locations in five states, 80 employees and four franchises. In all we’ve liberated more than 1,500 households from clutter without judgment.
What drew you to the field of professional organizing?
A passion for organization is likely in my blood. Being focused and organized helped me rise through the ranks in the U.S. Air Force. I’m also a huge fan of Peter Walsh and the show Clean Sweep as well as New York Times best-selling author Julie Morgenstern.
How did your former military career influence your business?
My years in the military taught me how to create systems and order for the masses. I can also adapt to the ups and downs of owning a business due to my military background. The discipline, logistics and determination that come from military training all make me a better entrepreneur, leader and employer.
What was the secret to growing your business from a small start-up?
I think the three biggest secrets are that you need to have a clear vision, mission and target audience. Every decision that I make and every dollar that I spend aligns with our vision, mission and target market. I knew I wanted Major Organizers to be a well-respected, recognized national brand that creates orderly, functional and beautiful homes across the world. That was the vision.
The mission is how you achieve the vision step-by-step. Our mission is to raise up an army of “liberators” (what we call our organizers) to restore order to the world, one household at a time. Lastly, the target market for Major Organizers: busy moms (working or stay-at-home) and their families, has been clearly defined from the beginning and we’ve stayed loyal to this target market.
What was the best advice you were given?
The best advice I was given came in the form of a question. I never thought of myself as entrepreneurial because I’d really trained to be an employee all my life so as I built my business I sought out resources to learn what I didn’t know. One of the resources I tapped into was the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program run by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). I had signed up for a new business roundtable where you could talk with a small business mentor.
When the gentleman leading my session complimented my business and asked had I thought of franchising, I replied emphatically “no”, I didn’t want to get into all the problems I’d heard others had with franchising. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “So you’re going to let someone else’s story run your business? Why not create your own story.” That question immediately shifted my thinking. It let me turn my focus to what was right for my business.
How did appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank shape your business?
Appearing on Shark Tank in 2016 helped my business grow exponentially. It brought us hundreds of new clients, several new employees, 275 franchise prospects, thousands of supportive emails and social media growth.
What advice would you give to other women who might be thinking about changing careers or launching a new business?
Lean on resources for women entrepreneurs—communities like Mogul Mom—and jump at opportunities that make you stretch. V-WISE holds business pitch and business plan competitions. I thought “why not” and registered for one. I won second place. A year later I went on to compete in another business competition they sponsored and I actually came in first place. I won $40K in cash prizes between the two competitions that I used to launch the Major Organizers franchises. And, the fact is that if I hadn’t done all those competitions I wouldn’t have been ready when the Shark Tank opportunity came along.
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