First of all I chose a printing business and together we designed my logo - I now had a brand! Then a supply of business stationery was printed for me but importantly, the printer pointed me in the direction of my local business advisory service, BuisnessLink, which has since been disbanded although government advice is still available. BusinessLink proved to be instrumental in getting me on my feet. This government run agency not only educated me on the pros, cons and general pitfalls of winging it on my own, but insisted that I provide them with a business plan and that I attend a range of seminars. Having satisfied itself that I was serious about my business venture, I was fortunate enough to get a grant from the government to help get me on my feet and purchase equipment so vital for my work.
Next on the agenda was the important task of realistically setting my rates. Clearly I would not want to price myself out of the market but I didn't want to be too cheap either! When I started up, the internet was only just coming into its own and so I scanned the telephone directory and contacted competitive businesses by telephone to ascertain what the going rates were. These days this information is often readily available on competitor websites, including my own transcription services website. I am below the VAT threshold and find that this can often be advantageous when quoting for students or individuals who are unable to recoup VAT. Frequently, when I receive enquiries people do not factor the VAT aspect into their budget for transcription and are grateful when I point out that they need to check whether potential suppliers are VAT registered.
I did not have a business website until some years after I started trading in 1993. However, if I were starting up in the here and now, once all the nitty gritty details of the business were sorted out - brand, image, prices, etc - then website design would be the next logical step.
So back to my journey then and armed with newfound knowledge and enthusiasm gained from business seminars, I set to the task of marketing my target audience (by telephone, post or email) which turned out to be legal companies, university research departments and academics, market research companies and film and television production organisations, all requiring recorded dialogue to be converted to the written word by the process of transcription. I also took an advertisement out with my local Yellow Pages and joined a local business club to network and spread the word about my business. Again, advertising and networking these days is readily available online along with the important matter of SEO (search engine optimisation), a process of elevating a website in the search engine rankings so that our customers can find us!
A rose from my garden which I enjoy with great pleasure once the transcription work is done!