Welcome to another Small Business Chat update, and I’m pleased to have another second update (so, third interview) from Alison Thompson from The Proof Fairy, fellow BookCrosser and proofreader/editor, although she’s branched out in all sorts of directions since we started out doing almost the same job a few years ago. We first met Alison in this series back in 2011 and updated in July 2012, and when she updated us in July 2013, her plan was this: “I will be working with between 6 and 10 people every month, helping them to write books. Once I have a few clients, I want to start outsourcing the proofreading and formatting work as far as possible so that I can concentrate on the coaching side and also spend more time writing myself. I also want to run regular workshops and webinars, and continue to raise my profile as an expert in ADHD parenting.” Did she get there, or did she change direction again? Read on to find out …
Hello again, Alison! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
I’m a long way off where I wanted to be in terms of numbers of clients, but my “butterfly mind” has kicked in and taken me in different directions again! The good news is that I have continued to move the business in the direction I wanted to take, and the majority of my services now are targeted at authors. I have coached two clients to write their books, and have started offering complete self-publishing packages where I handle the editing, proofreading, formatting, cover design and upload to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (ebook) and CreateSpace (print on demand) services. By doing this I have started to build a reputation for being someone who knows about publishing, which has led to many more enquiries and new clients. The coaching side of the business has, admittedly, not grown as fast as I wanted, but I am still marketing it and hope to develop the perfect coaching package eventually!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
The direction of the main business, The Proof Fairy, has stayed the same, but I find I still get people wanting the “old” stuff – e.g. copywriting, web design, newsletters, web maintenance, etc. I’m still continuing to offer everything I’ve ever done, though I don’t promote the fact that I do so many different things – and I’ve also recently taken on an assistant who is handling a lot of the day-to-day tasks such as managing my own and clients’ social media accounts and blogs.
However, I also have a second “business” which I’m in the process of shaping. Following publication of my book on parenting a child with ADHD last year, I spoke at several big events, including ADDISS’s national conference’s Teachers’ Day, and I realised that I really want to do more to help families struggling to cope with ADHD, and to dispel the myth that ADHD doesn’t exist. So I have set up ADHD Kids (www.adhdkids.org.uk), which is an umbrella for various things, including writing and speaking. However, the biggest change is that I have been taking an NLP and coaching diploma and I want to start offering coaching to parents of kids with ADHD. I should qualify in September, and to launch the coaching business I am organising an ADHD Inspiration Day in October, with speakers and workshops. It’s all very exciting, and I’m enjoying the new challenges it’s posing!
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learned to have more confidence in myself and in my abilities. If you’d suggested a year ago that I would be training as a coach and about to launch an entirely new business, I would have laughed! I’ve also learned that I do need to tame my butterfly mind and focus more. I’ve spent so long being all things to all people and while that has been successful, it’s meant I haven’t been following my heart. Now I have two clear areas that I am passionate about – working with authors, and supporting ADHD families – and I feel sure that by focussing on those two specific sectors I can grow and develop businesses that will not only be financially successful but will also keep me interested and make a real different to other people’s lives.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Be open to new opportunities, but don’t feel you always have to say yes, even if it is something you can easily do. Some of the jobs I do now on a regular basis are not particularly fulfilling, but I took them on because I knew I was capable and I thought I ought to do them. Try to work out what it is that makes your heart sing and your soul soar, and focus on that.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
Every time I’ve predicted where I’ll be something has changed along the way! As The Proof Fairy I would like to be doing more book coaching and I definitely still want to have a freelance proofreader working for me, so I can pick and choose the projects I want to handle myself. I have a couple of books I want to write, if time allows. And in terms of the ADHD stuff, who knows where the next 12 months will take me? All I can say is that I feel like I am entering a really exciting period of my life … So watch this space!
Inspiring words from Alison there, and she’s a good example of how saying yes to new projects and keeping an open mind on what you do for a living can take you in a whole new direction and open up loads of possibilities. Alison has also started a podcast series in which she interviews authors about their writing and publishing – I’ll be doing my own interview with her soon and I’ll note on this blog when it’s available – a nice opportunity for writers to be heard on her platform for other writers! I can’t imagine what Alison and the Proof Fairy will be up to next time we catch up, but I’m looking forward to finding out! And here’s how she was doing!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.