Welcome to my own Small Business Chat update. My participants tell me they find it useful to reflect on the past year and plan ahead, and I’m no different. And today it’s my birthday, so it seemed apt to do this now. I started interviewing myself back in December 2011, then December 2012, December 2013, a December 2014 and January 2016. Last year, these were my plans for the year: “I’m going to be reading more because I started to make more time for reading over Christmas and I’m continuing with that. I’m going to keep running a half-marathon distance or more a month, and hopefully (very carefully and slowly) running a marathon later on in the year. I’m going to complete the self-mentoring for editors guide and produce a print and e-book version by the middle of 2016. I might write up my research or I might not!” Did I achieve these? Um, partly. Oops! But I’m no different from my other interviewees there.
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Reading more: Yes, I read 11 more books in 2016 than in 2015 and I read more non-fiction (not a goal, but I like reading non-fiction. I did a report on the year as well as a top ten reads list here. I had more time for reading because I adjusted how I was working; see below.
Running: I continued running half-marathon distances until the Easter, when I had an epic fall (over a dog: not funny yet, I’m allowing it to be funny from next Easter), cracked and bruised my ribs and had to eschew running (and moving, sleeping on one side, coughing, laughing) for a bit. HOWEVER, I did fight my way back to some form of fitness, and completed my first marathon in Iceland in 6 hours 1 minute (race report here).
Writing: I did not complete the self-mentoring for editors guide or produce any versions of it in book form. I did add to what I had already and it will be done.
Research: I have nearly but not quite finished writing up my Iris Murdoch research.
So it looks like I completed more of my personal than work goals, and that’s fine!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I continued to make sure that I took more time off, and this had an impact on what I was able to do with the writing. I now take most weekends off, or at least 1.5 days of each weekend; I might have the odd bit to do.
The balance of my work has changed: I’ve always worked with writers and journalists and had worked on transcribing the interviews for a couple of books, but this last year I’ve worked a lot more for ghostwriters on big projects. I have had repeat projects from some clients and been recommended on within the ghostwriting community. This is great as it’s large projects with reasonable flexibility and interesting work: you really get to know the subjects of the books, and also having a lot of tapes of one person means you can build a glossary for them, spend less time looking things up and get more done (and more earned) in the average hour.
I’ve also continued to work on more in-depth and longer academic projects in transcribing, which again is good from the point of view of economies of scale. I have continued to keep a good mix of academic, journalist and corporate work. My clients are constantly amazed at how much I “know” – which is mainly looked up, of course!
My editing work has stayed constant, working with translators, non-fiction writers, etc. I have moved away from any fiction editing except for a couple of regulars, as I prefer working on non-fiction.
My localisation work has diminished; I’m not sure why and it hasn’t had the effect on my income that I feared, as I’ve balanced it with corporate transcription.
In my personal life, I’ve qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness which means I am doing more volunteering in my running club, which I love! It’s great to have the theory behind the practice and the practical tips from the course at my disposal.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
It sounds really arrogant to say you haven’t learned anything. I’ve continued to know that I am supported by a community of colleagues; I have kept up with saying no, and every year I re-learn to trust my gut instinct and that sometimes you do end up pulling a late night to get something done.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Be clear on what you’re offering people. As economic and political times don’t seem to improve, competition can become more fierce. Be clear what you’re offering to a prospect, but do not allow people to play you off against your colleagues.
Keep a good spread of customer types and regions, etc. to try to protect yourself against economic shocks.
Make time for mental health, whether that’s running, reading, colouring in or sitting around blankly staring into space. If you need it, do it.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I will still be running, I will have done the Birmingham Marathon and I will have supported running club mates through the training, too.
I will have volunteered at parkrun or junior parkrun 100 times (you don’t get a special t-shirt for that but it’s so cool to say you’ve done it.
I will have finished my self-mentoring guide to editing careers and also a transcription version.
I will have continued to maintain a good work-life balance and have most weekends fully off. I will continue to work as transcriber to the ghostwriter stars and will see lots of my books on the shelves but often not be able to point them out as I’m not allowed to talk about them!
I will have written up my research such that I can provide a copy to people who want it at the Iris Murdoch conference in September.
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. 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.