My Eight Year Journey on Becoming a Self-Employed Transcriptionist
It’s Just Like Building a Hangman
You have a vision with lots of ideas floating around in your head. But now you have to tease those ideas out and put them down on paper. You want your dream to become a reality, but you have no idea where to start. It’s a bit like building a hangman to start with, each part is another step further to creating your business.
- First of all you start off with the Frame – This is your Business Plan. It’s a snapshot of your business describing the service you are going to offer, your target audience, your financial projections, your marketing strategy and your competitors
- The Head – Time to think of a Business Name. Please don’t choose something because you like the sound of it or because it’s your surname. That won’t work for this type of business. Be clever! Be different! You want to sound professional. Choose a name that will draw business in. Also, do your research, don’t use the same name as someone else, otherwise you could find yourself being sued before you’ve even got started.
- The Trunk – Book an appointment with your bank to open a Business Account. There is a monthly fee you will have to pay for having a Business Account, but it’s the right way to do it. You don’t want your business and personal transactions intertwining; it’s best to keep your business account completely separate from your personal account, plus it’s a more professional way to go about it.
- The Left Arm – Invest in good quality equipment, i.e. a desk, comfortable chair, pc (not a laptop), headset, foot pedal, software etc. If you’re like me, you will already have lots of experience of being an audio transcriptionist, therefore you will have a good idea of what you need to get started. I also keep a backup keyboard, foot pedal and headset. Equipment does breakdown and you don’t want to be in the middle of an urgent piece of work with nothing to fall back on.
- The Right Arm – Your Business Website. The quality of your Website will determine the type of clientele you attract. Speak to a reputable web designer about creating one for you. It’s is a lot of money to pay out for a good website, but it’s a good investment for your business. You can create your own, but if you want to be taken seriously, then I would strongly advise against it. Don’t just go for the cheapest either, look at other websites to get some ideas. The name of the web designer is usually somewhere at the bottom of the website. I used http://refreshstudios.co.uk/
- The Left Leg – Marketing. This will always be ongoing. If your marketing dries up, so does your work! It’s good to have a Blog Page on your Website, a Facebook Business Page and a LinkedIn Account. Register your Business with some free local advertising sites. Just do a search on Google, there are loads out there. Remember, you want everyone to know all about you and the service you offer. Let them know what you’ve been doing, what you’re offering and just stay in touch with the outside world.
- The Intestines – Watch out for ‘Parasites’ as I like to call them. You want to flush them out from the intestines as soon as possible! They are entrepreneurs who prey on the newly self-employed start-up’s You usually find them at network meetings. They will ask for a one-to-one with you. They will take great interest in learning all about your new business. They’ll groom you over a few sessions and then they’ll make their move. They will talk you into using their services or buying their products; you scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours. Only you’ll be the one doing all the scratching while they are making all the money!
That’s your Hangman complete. Now you’re all set to go!
Other Useful Advice
I won’t lie, it was flipping hard work when I first started Midlands Transcription Services and it still is, but I went ahead with it knowing it wouldn’t be easy. I’ve always been a hard worker and I’d always recognised in myself what I had to offer and how much more I could push myself.
What I would say is, avoid networking meetings. I tried a few of these to begin with and they didn’t work for me. I’m not saying they don’t work, because they do work for lots of start-up and established businesses. Any new business I get, comes from having a good website, the content in it, and from keeping the interaction going via my blog and through LinkedIn.
Be prepared to lose friends, because you will! Your friends will be pleased for you when you start your new business, some might even help you out. But other friends won’t be as supportive and will do anything to distract you from making a success of it, such as emailing you when you’re busy, calling you on the phone or texting you. They might be in a regular job where they get paid for downtime, but when you work for yourself, as soon as you stop typing, you stop earning.
When you work from home, friends, neighbours and even family often think you’re sitting there in your pyjamas, cup of coffee in one hand, television on, just playing at running a business. You have to be firm from the start and set your boundaries. There are to be no interruptions when you’re working and you’re not there to run errands such as take in parcels for neighbours, collect children from school, let the dog out, babysitting etc.
Now talking about distractions, if you want your business to work, then you have got to take it seriously. Just like when you go out to work, your get up at the same time every morning, you get ready and off you go. I still get up at 6 o’clock, sometimes earlier than that. I get ready, I do my morning chores just like I used to and then I sit down at my desk.
Some days are really long where I can be working for up to 10 hours, some days are really short where I’m finished by 12 o’clock, some days I have no work at all. But I never switch off from work until 5 o’clock, even then I’m answering emails at night. Your brain has always got to be switched on, ready to take a phone call about a potential new job, answer an email, or download a recording and prepare a quote.
The one important thing I would like to mention is, this isn’t the right job to be thinking about if you’re easily distracted, or if you have a baby or young children at home. You just won’t be able to concentrate. Just think about it for a second; you receive a phone call from a potential new client and you have a baby crying or screaming children misbehaving in the background, it doesn’t exactly scream professionalism!
I hope you’ve found the above reading useful. There was no advice for me when I first started out, I went into it blind. But I’ve found that by learning along the way, even by making mistakes, this has helped my business to gain the strength and tools it needs to keep on flourishing.