What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I worked for a small business as an administration manager and went back to work part-time after my daughter was born. It worked very well for me, but when I fell pregnant with my son, I realised that childminding fees for two children would eat up all of my take-home pay and so I decided to set up my own business.
The idea came from a quiz night where one of the categories was spelling. I have always been good at language and spelling and so I got full marks. Someone suggested I should have a go at proofreading and since I don’t like seeing signs with spelling and grammar errors on them (like Prudential: were here to help you), it seemed a good idea. I gained a qualification after starting a home study course, and I gave myself lots of homework.
What research did you do before launching?
I read up about small businesses, self-assessment, marketing, websites and search engine optimisation and looked at competitors’ websites and rates. I have signed up to a lot of newsletters for small businesses and have found Business Link to be a wonderful resource, especially the workshops, some of which are free. I also went to a tax workshop at my local HMRC office – my experience from my previous employment has come in useful with bookkeeping. I have been fascinated by all the other stories of amazing ‘mumpreneurs’ who have succeeded in business whilst staying family-oriented and believe that we are a workforce to be reckoned with.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
The internet has been a very valuable tool, as it has made things a lot easier than it would have been a few years ago. My first task was to create my own website which I did with a build-your-own site and then I set about signing up to every free directory I could find. This is the best thing I could have done as it is working for me 24 hours a day. I have tried to make it amusing as I have a silly sense of humour and didn’t want to come across as a schoolmarm; instead wanting to be more approachable and friendly. Sticking to clients’ deadlines is very important and I try to be realistic about timescales when taking on work.
What has worked well about your business?
Using the internet to promote the business means that clients have found me, and I haven’t had to do lots of cold-calling which can be quite scary! Also, I think that companies are happy to outsource their work to a freelance as it saves them money because they don’t need to employ somebody to do the job full-time. All businesses want to create the right impression and therefore the work I have done doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional perception of proofreading only novels and newspaper articles. I have been amazed by the variety of work that has come my way and find it fascinating to proofread different subjects – I have worked on a town’s tourist guide, students’ dissertations, legal journals, medical training manuals, microbiological reports, business presentations and websites, to name but a few!
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
I took on two very big projects for one company with short deadlines. It meant working without breaks and into the night and I was exhausted by the end, especially fitting in family life as well. I have also learned that it is very difficult to switch off from work as it is my own business, but now try to have some laptop-free evenings and weekends.
How do you fit in work with the family?
I work while my daughter is at school (although my son and I attend a few toddler groups during the week), in the evenings when the children are in bed and sometimes at weekends. I have a few friends I can call on if I need someone to look after the children. When my son goes to school, I will have more time to work, but I’m very happy with the current situation, as I get to spend time with my children and attend school plays and PTA events and enjoy the holidays with them.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Research everything before you start. Keep records of expenses as you go along. Enjoy what you do but also enjoy time with your children, as they grow up so fast. Set up a website and make sure someone proofreads it for you!
Your website link: www.r2proofreading.co.uk