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Using a transcription app rather than a human transcriber – advantages and disadvantages

Have you considered using an app to transcribe interview tapes or dictations, rather than doing it yourself or hiring a transcriber? Today I have a guest post from my friend Mary Ellen about her experience using a transcription app. When she told me about how she’d used one to transcribe the interviews she conducted for a magazine article, I was very interested and asked her to write me something about how it all went.

I’m not saying don’t use apps – but if you have the funds and you want an accurate and quick transcription, it’s worth learning from what she found out.


Recently, I was commissioned to write an article about visually impaired runners. Being inexperienced, I blithely accepted the challenge to interview five runners without realising the effort that is needed in getting all of their interesting stories into text.

Aware of the fact that there are people who transcribe interviews for a living (like my lovely friend Liz), the fact was that my fee was a free copy of the periodical and so the budget did not cover the expense of paying a transcriber. The instructor for the writing course I was taking recommended the transcription app Otter so I put it on iPad and used it while interviewing.

It had occurred to me to transcribe it myself, but as I was also working full-time as a teacher time was at a premium. So, with a deadline looming, I cracked on with the interviews which I loved doing. However, after each one I was soon to realise that the app was not ideal for getting their words into print accurately. Oh the errors! The software, to be fair was able to differentiate between the person I was interviewing and me. Aside from this, the text it transcribed was disjointed and while some words fit, most of the sentences made little sense. After each interview, 
I had to correct the errors in the transcription.

Luckily I had written notes so I knew roughly the quotes I wanted and could then listen to the sections I wanted to quote from. However, this was labour-intensive as I then had to hand write the correct words and then re-type the corrected quotes. Worse still, I was writing the article on the iPad I had recorded the interviews on and so had to hand write the correct words before I typed them. This was frustrating, since I knew if the app had transcribed the words correctly this was a step I could have avoided.

So my first adventure in interviewing for an article was great since I loved talking to interesting runners but really, I could have done without having to retype the faulty automatic transcriptions. It makes me tired just thinking about it now. I am determined to continue pitching ideas to periodicals and hopefully get a paid assignment soon. I would definitely pay for a transcription by a trained professional for an article I was being paid for since it would make better business sense. Not only would it save me time, it would also allow me to take on more work, since I wouldn’t have to spend precious hours transcribing. Given that it took me about about an hour and a half per interview to type out my quotes, that is about 7 and a half hours.

In the end, I think the transcribing app, though free, was a false economy that made the article much more labour-intensive than it had to be. Live and learn!

Mary Ellen Flynn writes about special educational needs and disabilities and running. You can find her at @mareflynn on Twitter.

Other relevant articles on this website

Why you need to be human to produce a good transcription

How to get into transcribing as a job

The technology transcribers use

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2020 in Skillset, Transcription

 

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A real-life example of beta reading #amwriting @edprice7 @steev8

I often encourage the writers I work with, especially those who are publishing independently, to get a beta reader or two to read their text before they get it edited, so they have a reader’s point of view and can make the necessary changes before going through the first or maybe a subsequent stage of editing. You can read my article about beta readers here. But what is is like to be a beta reader?

I came across this article by Ed Price through the writer Steve Chilton mentioning it in a reading runners’ group I’m in. I don’t often share articles on here but this one explains exactly what it’s like to be someone’s beta reader and is hugely valuable for that. Here’s just the start of it all – Ed goes into lots of fascinating detail which will be useful for any writer or person who has asked to be their beta reader, I’m sure …

Steve asked me to be his ‘critical friend’ after he had finished the first draft of the manuscript. While I have a good deal of experience putting coursebooks together, I’d never before been involved in the editing process of a biography. So what could I bring to the role of critical friend?

Speaking to Steve, it was clear that he wanted a sounding board: someone to read the manuscript and see what worked; what might need more clarification, and whether there were any areas that could be tidied up or even cut. Having spent months buried in research and drafts and edits, it made sense that a ‘friendly’ pair of eyes with a certain degree of critical acumen could be beneficial to him. The longer you spend in researching and writing, the harder it can become to see the wood for the trees; to read a text the way a paying customer would.

Read the whole article here (shared with Ed’s permission).

Other useful articles on this blog

The different kinds of editing and proofreading

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2020 in Reading, Writing

 

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Staying as a “Company of One”

4c IMG_20191124_105654

Yes, even a sole trader gets to have hobbies and holidays!

I recently read Paul Jarvis’ book, Company of One, which I have reviewed on my book review and running sister blog. I enjoy reading business books (and editing them, too) and it’s always nice if you read one that tells you you’ve been doing the right things all along, isn’t it!

I’ve been running my company of one for 11 years now, give or take a month, and as I’ve written before on here, I started off VERY small, working at a day job with only a few clients, then building things up while still working at the day job, working out on a spreadsheet when I was replacing enough income to swap a day in the day job for one on the business until I took the full-time plunge (which wasn’t so much a plunge as a gentle push off into the sea from a gently sloping beach) in 2012.

I’ve never been tempted to take on staff, although I enjoy working in coopetition with other editors, localisers and transcribers, gladly recommending trusted colleagues when I’m not a good fit for a prospect (or a current client’s particular project, as happened recently) or am simply too booked up. And as the image shows, I have reached a stage where I can indulge in my hobby of running and go on holiday (when holidays can be gone on) – there really is no heroism in working every single hour of every single day to the detriment of your physical and mental health and your relationships with family and friends. About a year ago, I decided not to work at weekends if I could possibly help it, and while that has cut down on my coffee break availability during the week, it has given me a proper rest at the weekend.

Jarvis also talks in his book about the importance of maintaining your business in line with your own personal ethics and character, and I think this is vitally important for two reasons. First of all, that buzzword “authenticity” – if you are being your authentic self, people will see that and respond positively, and the people who align with the way you work and your character will come to you and stay with you. Second, it will protect you, as there’s nothing like working outside what you’re comfortable with to make you feel stressed, edgy and unwell.

if you set this out from the start, you can keep good customers you’re aligned with and retain your own comfort. For example, I’m clear that I don’t work on topics which have cruelty or violence (especially animal cruelty or violence) or very upsetting scenes. I have initial terms and conditions which explain this and I ask new clients to read my full Ts and Cs and check they are not planning to send me something which I will find upsetting. If I do end up working on upsetting content I will stop and say no, and explain why. And because I’ve set that expectation, it’s OK, and we can all respect that. For example, years ago when I still edited fiction, I worked on some supernatural thrillers which were really well done but too much for me. I explained after one that I wasn’t going to be able to do these any more as it was too much. My client was absolutely fine, and retained me for working on their non-fiction and another line of fiction that was less brutal. More recently, a long-term ghostwriter client offered me work on a book that I knew from the subject matter I wouldn’t be able to deal with. I found them an alternative transcriber for that project, and am starting work on their next book soon. Setting the parameters from the start allows this to happen and saves me from upset and my clients from sudden unexpected refusals.

So just because other people run themselves ragged hiring staff, pushing for new sales constantly and trying to firefight problems at all times of the day and night, it doesn’t mean you have to, too. You can find a way of doing business that suits you, that works with your ethics and personality. If I can do it (and I was a very much in the background admin person without an “entrepreneurial-type” personality), you can, too.


I’ve written my own business books, too. I was just remarking to a friend that I had a review opining that one of them has too many cardigans and not enough bullet points … and that I’m fine with that!

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

What are the stages involved in writing my book?

a hand writing in a bookWhat are the stages involved in writing a book? Where do editing, proofreading and beta reading fit in?

Authors often get confused about the different stages and people involved in getting a book published. It’s not as simple as “Write a book – get it published!” but nor should it be so complicated that only the professionals understand it.

I work with a lot of people who are indie-publishing or self-publishing their book, however these stages will be roughly the same whether you’re publishing in the traditional route with a publisher, or going it alone. When the publisher gets involved can also vary.

What are the processes my book needs to go through?

Here are the basic stages for your book.

  1. Plan
  2. First draft
  3. Second draft
  4. Beta readers
  5. Third draft
  6. Edit (usually in Word)
  7. Fourth draft and preparation for publishing (layout artist, cover art, blurb)
  8. Proofread (usually in PDF or another file format from which the book will actually be produced)
  9. Publish

Note: You might have a substantive edit before or just after the beta readers; if you have one after that stage, it’s an idea to add another beta read in afterwards, which would give you this:

  1. Plan
  2. First draft
  3. Second draft
  4. Beta readers
  5. Third draft
  6. Substantive edit (usually in Word)
  7. Fourth draft
  8. More beta readers or the same ones again
  9. Fifth draft
  10. Edit (usually in Word)
  11. Sixth draft and preparation for publishing (layout artist, cover art, blurb)
  12. Proofread (usually in PDF or another file format from which the book will actually be produced)
  13. Publish

One last point: it’s better to have your edit and proofread done by different people: just as it’s hard to edit your own work, it’s hard not to miss things if you’re proofreading something you edited. See the link below for how to handle the style sheet you will need.

Other useful articles

The different kinds of editing and proofreading (it’s biased towards fiction but also works for non-fiction):

All about beta readers and what to ask them

Style sheets to pass from editor to proofreader

How to request a quotation from an editor

Negotiating and booking in your project

I hope you’ve found this very quick guide to the process of editing and proofreading useful. If you have, please share this article using the buttons below, or leave me a comment. Thank you!
 
 

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Displaying your data in Excel – pivot tables

We can use pivot tables to display the number of times a value appears in a column or row in an Excel spreadsheet.

Why would I use a pivot table to display data?

I keep a record of my reading, including author, publisher, date, fiction or non-fiction, source, if there are any special features like mental health, immigrant experiences etc. I used to tot up some of this information manually using my book blog but this year it’s been in Excel so I can copy other book bloggers and share more detailed information.

I wanted to be able to display numbers of times I read books by x publisher etc. so taught myself this pivot tables / pivot charts procedure.

Setting up a pivot table to display my data counts

Say I want to count the number of times I’ve read books published in particular years in my spreadsheet of books read. I want a graph with the years along the bottom and number of books from each year up the side.

First I select the source data to use, by highlighting the Date column.

Then I go to the Insert tab and select PivotTable then PivotChart:

This brings up a dialogue box. I check the range is in there and then tick the Existing Worksheet option, because I want to display this on my worksheet.

I select the first cell of the destination range to tell it where to paste (I’ve not filled that in yet here), and click OK .

The PivotChart Fields pane appears on the right-hand side of the worksheet. Date (or whatever field you selected) should be showing at the top. Click the tick box next to Date and drag Date down to the Axis section and then the Values section.

The empty Values section populates with Count of Date: this is correct. Once I’ve dragged them down …

As if by magic, a chart appears with my data!

I can move this around and resize it using the arrows that come up as you hover over the box containing the chart.


In this article I’ve shown you how to use pivot tables and pivot charts to make your data display in an easily readable form in Excel.

This works for Excel 2010 and above for PC.

Find other Excel tips in the Excel category!

If you found this article useful, please let me know in a comment!

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in Excel

 

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Small business chat update – Sophie Playle

Small business chat update – Sophie Playle

Hello and welcome to a lovely editing-inspired update with  Sophie Playle, editor and trainer of editors from Liminal Pages,  We first met Sophie in December 2013, and got updates in January 2015, March 2016, March 2017, and April 2018, where this was her plan: she wanted to be “Where I am now, but better”. Good plan! Let’s see how she’s getting on now …

Hello again, Sophie! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

As always, I think I can do more in the time I have than is realistic, so I’m a bit behind on where I’d hope to be – but I’m working on it, and trying not to beat myself up about it!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Most things have stayed the same. I’m still offering editorial services to authors and publishers of fiction, and I’m still offering online training to editors. The main difference is that this year, I’ve set the dates for when my courses will run in advance (rather than launch them as and when). This seems to be working well – it helps me and my potential students plan our schedules better.

Oh, the other thing that is about to change (at the time of writing) is my website. It’s been nearly two years in the making, but I designed a new website for myself from scratch (learning new software and design skills) and had it coded by a professional web developer (*cough* my spouse *cough*). I’m currently in the process of transferring all the content, but it should be going live soon.

Since my business has reached a point of stability, I felt it was time for a custom-built website. I’ve been using WordPress themes since the start, and those have served me well, but now I want to take my business to the next level. The new site will be much faster and look super-slick.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Teaching others teaches me so much. It forces me to find holes in my knowledge and solidify what I know. I’ve learned even more about story structure and types of narration recently, which in turn has improved my services.

At the start of the year, I detoxed from social media and learned that it didn’t have much impact on my business and that I felt more creative and less anxious. I wish I’d done it sooner.

Social media is full of other people’s successes and ideas, and I feel this can make you feel less enthusiastic about your own business, and crowd out your own thoughts and ideas. On top of that, it’s a time-suck – time that would be better spent elsewhere.

I’m not saying removing yourself from social media is right for every business (and I certainly haven’t totally removed myself from it), but I do think we all need to take a good hard look at how we’re using it and the true effect it’s having.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Get out of the house every day, preferably somewhere green. You’ll feel better for it.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

My new website should be up and running, as should my latest course on copy-editing fiction, Tea and Commas. I’m hoping to incorporate more video into my business, too, and this is something I’ve already started experimenting with. I’ve just moved house, too, and so I’m looking forward to getting into some new routines. I find regular structure to my day makes me happier and more productive.

I always love reading Sophie’s interesting newsletters (especially as she works from all over the place, which makes me a bit jealous sometimes) and I always appreciate her honesty. Having a website refresh is a great idea and I’m glad that’s all going well. And she’s completely right about getting outside every day, into natural surroundings if you can. I’m fortunate to have my running hobby to help me do that.

Website: www.liminalpages.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/sophieplayle

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. 

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Sara from Sara’s Parlour

Small business chat update – Sara from Sara’s Parlour

Welcome to the first update from Sara, a friend of a friend, who runs Sara’s Parlour Face Painting, which offers face painting and other art services in the West Midlands and beyond. I first interviewed Sara in June 2017 so we’re long overdue a catch-up (and that’s entirely my fault) and I’m glad to see things are going so well. Last time, this was where Sara wanted to be in a year’s time: “Full time, potentially with at least one paid worker in the office so I can work on being creative!”

Hello again, Sara! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes things are on the up.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’ve continued to grow my corporate client base. I still don’t have an assistant – but I’m hoping to this will change shortly. I am busier than ever!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Sometimes you need to make a change before you get snowed under. It’s always worth looking for what business help and advice there is out there.

Any more hints and tips for people?

If you want to run your own business it has to be a labour of love. Expect long hours – so make sure its something you really love to do!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Expanding what we offer with more party services and I hope to have expanded into mural making as I have an illustration degree

I very much agree with doing what you love – even though my job is a lot less creative, I still enjoy very much being in on the process of creation at the text level. Do have a look at Sara’s origin story in her first interview (ever start a business by accident? I sort of did that, too!) and click on a link below to see the marvellous work Sara does, and I’ll be looking forward to her follow-up interview next year!

Sara’s Parlour
Tel: 07964 081 325

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. 

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Getting your business ready for no-deal Brexit if you don’t pay VAT – EORI number registration

HMRC state UK businesses need an EORI number to trade with Europe after a no-deal Brexit.

I received this email from HMRC yesterday and I suspect I only received it because I signed up for their update emails (none of the others of which have been useful so far). I am just putting it here for people to see – I’ve been through the process and got my number (but when they give it to you, copy and paste the page into your own records otherwise you have to go back in and search for it once you’ve been approved). You need a Government Gateway login to access it.

This is not legal or business advice, I am merely sharing what I’ve been sent in case it helps any other sole traders who are not VAT-registered.

Dear Liz,

The Government has said that the UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances.

Leaving the EU without a deal means there will be immediate changes to the way UK businesses trade with the EU that may impact your business.

  • UK businesses will have to apply customs, excise and VAT processes to goods sold into the EU (these are the same rules that already apply for goods and services traded outside of the EU).
  • Trading partners in the EU will have to apply customs, excise and VAT processes to trade they carry out with you, in the same way that they do for goods and services traded from outside of the EU.

HMRC is helping businesses get ready for Brexit by automatically issuing them with a UK EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number. We have written to more than 88,000 VAT registered companies to let them know the UK EORI number they’ve been assigned. Businesses will not be able to move goods in and out of the UK without one.

If your business is not VAT-registered, you will still need to apply now for a UK EORI. HMRC cannot give you this automatically.

You can check the next steps you need to take to ensure that your business is ready for Brexit using our trader checklist.

We will continue to provide you with the latest guidance and support to help you prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU.

You can sign up for HMRC emails here.

You can register for Government Gateway here.

Not legal advice. Not tax advice. Sharing what I’ve been sent.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2019 in Brexit, Business

 

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Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Catching up with one of last year’s interviews, today we’re chatting to Kathy Ennis, from LittlePiggy. She focuses on helping small and micro-businesses develop, including social media, marketing, branding and business planning. Kathy joined us in May 2012 and we updated her story in July 2013, August 2014 and February 2016April 2017 and April 2018. At that point, this was Kathy’s plan for the year: “Well, I hope to be living beside the sea by that time. As far as the business is concerned, I just want things to tick along the way they are at the moment as it’s all so lovely at the moment..” Let’s see what happened next …

Hello again, Kathy! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago? Are you in fact by the sea?

Well, I am by the sea. I moved to Old Hunstanton in Norfolk last November. It’s a lovely place and I feel so privileged to be able to call it home.

I hoped to minimise the disruption to my business but there have been a few hiccups. Whenever I have moved before it has always been within a defined geographical area, which meant I carried my network with me – you know what they say “your network is your net worth”. This move was a complete upping of sticks, so I am having to start a lot of things from scratch; that can’t but have an impact on business.

I am lucky to still be working with a few of my clients in London, and I do work online with others – but my big push for the coming year is to build a client base in and around my new home.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

As I said previously, the house move has had a big impact and caused quite a few changes. I have also been working on honing my offer and my customer profile which means I am working with clients in a slightly different way. I must say, the use of platforms like Zoom has started to really transform the way I work.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Rather than learned, I am learning to take time out to really appreciate my surroundings.

I live a 3 minute walk from one of the most beautiful beaches / coastlines in England; I also have marvellous country walks on my doorstep. There’s more to life than work and, sometimes, you can over-do/over-think stuff; taking time out is essential.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I am able to structure my workload and appreciate my surroundings because I know exactly what I am offering and who I am offering it to. I have a plan for my business that allows me to get things done and not worry about what’s next – because I know what’s next.

So, my biggest tip is to get a plan – not a business plan, but a plan for your business. I use a method I developed where it can all be done on one sheet of paper. If anyone wants to know more they can book a Discovery Call with me on https://calendly.com/littlepiggyuk/discoverycall

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

More established in my local area, working with clients face to face but with more emphasis online. Working fewer hours and days per week- all the things I have remodelled my business to allow me to do.

I’m fortunate in that none of my work is location-based, so I could work anywhere in the world as long as I have broadband and a decent keyboard. And the nature of my work means most of my clients now are regulars or by recommendation, so I don’t need that local network so much, although I certainly engaged with it at the beginning to build my confidence and experience, and also help others. But it must be so hard to build that up again! I have also adjusted my working hours – I very rarely work weekends now, and that allows me more down time, or time for my hobbies of running and athletics officiating. I wish Kathy all the best in building her networks locally, and am happy she can get out into marvellous natural environments so quickly and easily now (jealous? me?).

Website: https://littlepiggy.ltd/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittlePiggyUK/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathyennis

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathyennis

Email: kathy@littlepiggy.ltd

You can find the website for Kathy’s book here, and order it from Amazon.

Phone: 07815951585

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. 

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Mel Bridger (was Carpenter)

Small business chat update – Mel Bridger (was Carpenter)

I’ve let these interviews slide for a couple of weeks, sorry – real life intervened in the shape of an ultramarathon and a family celebration. But now let’s say another hello to Mel Bridger (was Carpenter), a busy exercise and fitness guru who is always updating and pivoting and refining her business models. You can find her at The Mummy Trainer and she also runs a printing company with her husband. We first met Mel in February 2013 and updated in February 2014, March 2015, May 2016 and July 2017. At that point, here was where she wanted to be in a year – and knowing Mel, so much will have changed in two years! “Still studying, still working and still striving to be the best that I can be!”

Hello, again, Mel! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward two years ago?

Well, I now have a very successful Multi Format Fitness Organisation called Beatz Fitness (originally a clothing line, we loved the name so much, we used it for everything!) that I run with my husband. We have 140 active instructors in the UK and Ireland and thousands of people take part in Beatz classes every week!

I also ran the first Social Media Marketing and Networking Event for Fitness Instructors (FINE – Fitness Instructors Networking Event) on 1 June 2019 and I will be running Quarterly Masterminds in addition to that (the first is on 28 September 2019).

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

My ethos is still the same, my drive has increased I feel! I’m moving more into theory-based tutoring, coaching and public speaking and focusing less on the actual delivery of physical classes.

I also get booked for workshops at events outside of the Fitness Industry (I specialise in Video for Social Media) and I’m working on my first book (which has changed titles and topics so many times)!

Wow – exciting times! What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known two years ago?

That I’m capable of so much more than I give myself credit for – I wish I’d had the confidence to push forward with a few products sooner but then I also believe that there is a time and a place for everything.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Never ever stop learning – Whether that be a course, attending an event, networking, reading a new type of book or podcast, education is important for you to survive as a solopreneur/entrepreneur

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally have that studio I’ve been talking about for years! I’d like to move more into training brands and business coaching within the Fitness Industry, I’ve been doing this a long time now, it’s time to pass more of this knowledge on!

Wow, Mel is certainly a force to be reckoned with, so who knows indeed! I’ve loved seeing her growth and if it’s possible to have more drive and confidence,she’s done that! Good luck for the next stage!

Beatz: www.beatz.fit

www.themummytrainer.co.uk

Info@themummytrainer.co.uk

www.themummytrainer.co.uk

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. 

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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