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Working with an editor 2: How do I negotiate with an editor or proofreader and book my project in? #amwriting

Working with an editor 2: How do I negotiate with an editor or proofreader and book my project in? #amwriting

This article follows on from Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote?, where I explained what an editor needs from a prospective client in order to give them a price and turnaround quotation. Now we’re going to look at where you go from there – what will the editor/proofreader send you, is it OK to ask for a sample edit, and how to proceed with negotiating and then – hopefully – booking an editor.

What does a quote from an editor include?

Your editor will usually quote you a price and a turnaround time. I work in a price per 1,000 words (different people do different things: I like my clients to know up front how much they’re going to pay) and will tell the prospect how much time I’ll take to do their work and when I can slot it into my schedule. So I might say something like “I can take on this project for £7.50 per 1,000 words, I’ll need 2 weeks to do the work and I would be able to start it on 1 May”.

Be assured that a good editor will have thought very carefully about the pricing before they send it to you. I try to be as fair as I can to myself and the author, basing my price on the amount of work that the edit will involve. This is why most editors and proofreaders will offer a “from” price on their website if they have a price at all, as that’s a guide to the least it will cost (for something involving a very minimal amount of editing). Some editors offer discounts for students or self-publishers, so make sure you’ve explained if you’re one of those categories.

How to negotiate with an editor

In my opinion, the negotiations should be about dates and turnaround times, and about what you want your editor to do, not about price. I don’t offer a high price so that I can be beaten down to my “real” price, and I don’t know anyone who does.

The price an editor offers you reflects …

  1. Their experience and training
  2. Their knowledge of your subject area or genre
  3. Their knowledge of English grammar, sentence structure
  4. Their ability to help you to express yourself in the best way possible, while retaining your unique voice and writing style
  5. Their knowledge of standard style sheets
  6. Their ability to match the style sheets of publishers, journals, etc.

But within the negotiation, it’s fine to, for example, ask for a sample edit, or ask if the work can be done in a shorter time period (this may involve an urgent fee but your editor will explain that).

Regarding time slots, it comes as a surprise to some people to discover that their editor / proofreader has other clients on the go. We have to keep booking in clients and rebooking regulars in order to have a constant stream of work and, basically, a continuous income. So if your editor really can’t start working with you until the week after next, there will be a good reason for that and they may not be able to move that commitment. However, do give them a chance and ask, just in case.

Is it OK to ask for a sample edit?

Some people are nervous about asking for a sample edit but most editors are happy to provide one. We usually limit it to about 1,000 words, which should show up any major issues that are going to come up in the job as a whole. I use Tracked Changes in word or marked-up PDF as appropriate, and I also send back a skeleton style sheet detailing the decisions I’ve made so far, so you can see how I work.

It’s a good idea to send your sample text from the middle of the work in question. You will typically have gone over and over the start of your manuscript, but not paid so much attention to later sections. A section from the middle will offer a truer representation of the level of editing needed.

Asking for quotations from more than one editor

It’s of course fine to do this, and good practice, as I would do when engaging a plumber. There are some other elements of good practice here, though:

  • It’s polite to let an editor know you have asked other people for quotes and may need time to make your decision
  • It’s not polite to play editors off against each other. Editing is quite a small world, and if you claim to Editor A that Editor B has offered a very low price, well, they might just know each other and check … Be honest and fair as you expect others to be fair to you
  • Let the editors know when you are going to make your choice
  • Let the unsuccessful editors know the result, as well as the successful one

This last point is really important. If I’m negotiating with a client on a job, I’ll be holding open a slot for that job for the time frame we’ve been discussing. It’s only fair to let me know if you don’t want to book my services, so I can accept another job in its place.

Choosing an editor or proofreader is a whole topic in itself. You need to feel comfortable with them and they need to work in your subject area or genre. You might think I’m great, but however lovely I am, I’m just not going to be able to edit your horror novel! It’s fine to look at references (a good editor will have references or testimonials on their website) and to discuss how they would approach your book. It needs to be a good fit from both sides. If I don’t think I’m a good fit for you, I will usually be able to recommend on someone who will be more useful, but an editor’s ability to do this does rely on the networks they’re in.

Booking in your editing or proofreading project

So, you’ve chosen your editor, you’ve told the ones you don’t want to use that you have no need of their services. Now you’ve got a slot and a price that you’ve accepted. These are the next stages:

  1. Signing a contract or accepting terms and conditions in writing – I ask people to do the latter, but will create a formal contract if one or other of us thinks it’s necessary. Make sure you read all the terms and conditions carefully and ask about any you’re not sure of.
  2. Maybe paying a deposit in advance if your editor requires it.
  3. Submitting your work.

Now, most editors and proofreaders understand that the date you think you’re going to have your work completed isn’t always the date you’ll have it completed. Even if you think you’re ready, something might come up. If you’re using the booking to force yourself to finish the job (and there’s nothing wrong with doing that in principle!) then something might come up.

The golden rule for me is: it’s fine if you get delayed, as long as you let me know.

If you’ve booked to send your work to your editor next Monday and it’s Friday and you’ve not finished, then let them know. Preferably let them know before that, so they can book another job into the space. Let them know when you think you’ll be ready, and update them. As I mentioned above, most editors have more than one job going on at the same time, so it should be possible for your editor to shuffle work around to leave your slot open in a week’s time, say. However, if you don’t let them know and don’t keep them informed, then suddenly expect them to edit 100,000 words for you with no notice and a month late, they simply might not have the time in their schedule to do that!

Don’t miss your slot: if you get delayed, let your editor know as soon as you can.

Negotiating and booking in with an editor or proofreader

This article has given you, the author or writer, some hints on negotiating with editors and getting your job booked in with them. Everyone works slightly differently, so I’ve tried to keep this as general as possible, and based it on my own practices.

If you’ve found this article useful, do please comment and share using the buttons below! Thank you!

Other useful articles on this website

Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote?

Do I need editing or proofreading?

Working with Tracked Changes

What is a style sheet?

On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?

 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in Copyediting, Ebooks, proofreading, Writing

 

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Small business chat update – Hannah Jones and Duncan Jones

Small business chat update – Hannah Jones and Duncan Jones

We’re out of season now but here’s a lovely update from Hannah Jones and Duncan Jones of the company Marine Discovery Penzance, who run wildlife spotting boat tours from the Cornish town in the very west of the UK which is one of my favourite places. I invited them to take part in this interview series last year after having been on one of their catamaran trips, and this was their first interview. When I asked them then what their plans were for the upcoming year, they replied, “The time has come now to either grow the business or streamline it. In our case growing further would mean having to buy
another vessel, and take on a skipper and more staff. Streamlining would mean trying to almost narrow our appeal – a business cannot be all things to all people and all budgets. We are still thinking about which way to go, but something will change because the summer we have just had was insanely busy and we don’t want to suffer burnout”. This is such a pivotal time in the life of a business (I covered the general options in a series of articles on the topic a year or so ago, although not with specific boat tours reference!) and I was interested to see how they’re doing this year. Read on to find out …

Hello again, Hannah and Duncan. I know from your Facebook page that you’ve had a great summer of wildlife spotting. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Broadly yes, though this year has been even more successful than last year in terms of customer numbers and turnover. We were running full boats from May right through to the end of October.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

We kept the same staff as we had last year, and it looks as though they will both be with us next year. This is such a massive advantage, as it means we don’t have to look for new staff and train them during those early months of the season. They are both very different, but big assets to the company.

We now only operate the shortest trip (the 1 ½ hour Bay Discovery) between the start of the season and the end of June, which takes in the Easter holidays and the May half term break. Demand for this trip had been falling in recent years during the peak season, and we found it impossible to fit into the peak summer schedule. This did mean that there were certain families we “lost” to other companies which was a shame, but such was the demand for the longer trips, it didn’t matter financially, and hopefully they will come back when they want to do a longer trip (when their children are older maybe). We also streamlined our pricing structure, getting rid of the family discount but retaining the child’s concession. It hasn’t had even the slightest adverse effect on our visitor numbers.

We have also made the decision to convert our engine power to electric. We have bought a new electric outboard engine from Germany, who lead in this kind of technology. It is a costly investment but one which will pay off long term. As the technology improves we hope to power this eventually using solar energy, but for the moment it will run on batteries, alongside one remaining petrol outboard and the sail power of course. This will mean lower fuel costs, fewer emissions and a quieter experience, during those days when there is no wind and we have to use the motors. These motors also require much less servicing than petrol and diesel engines, and need no engine oil. There is zero risk of fuel spillage.

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

What have I learned? That working smarter rather than harder (in terms of hours) is often the thing to do, though there is no substitute for hard graft and dedication of course. I’m glad we made the decision to streamline rather than grow.

Brexit – well it’s hard to know what it will bring isn’t it? Lots of people didn’t think it would happen, yet here we are. Hopefully it won’t mean our overseas visitor numbers will drop (with the weak pound I doubt it), and I really hope that it doesn’t mean the increasingly number of European residents in the UK will stop holidaying in Cornwall. We get lots of Central European people living and working in the UK visiting us, for example. We have made no secret of the fact that we are concerned about the effect Brexit will have on the marine environment, and people have overwhelmingly agreed with us.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Life is not a dress rehearsal – work hard but don’t forget to live as well.

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

Are you generally pessimistic or optimistic about Britain’s future in this new world we find ourselves in?

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

Making use of new technology and using the ongoing findings of our research to help us find the wildlife on our trips, which is what gives us one of the edges over the competition. This is alongside the experiment with the electric outboard engine. This should hopefully prove to customers that we are genuinely committed to being genuinely environmentally friendly rather than simply coating our marketing in greenwash.

Times are extremely uncertain – I have no idea what next year will bring. Very few people do.

I’m so glad they had such a good year and have worked out a way to build the business which works for them (when it came to full-capacity time for me, I built up my network of people to refer onto so I could say “no” while offering an alternative option, and streamlined what I offered and who I offered it to; different options are available). I love the idea of them offering even more environmentally friendly boat tours, as this is what attracted us to go out with their company in the first place, and I’m sure next summer will bring more development there. I suspect more people will be holidaying in the UK next year although who knows, really – I’d love to see a few answers from fellow business-owners to that Brexit question.

You can find Marine Discovery Penzance online at www.marinediscovery.co.uk as well as on Facebook and Twitter. You can email them or call on
07749 277110

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 December 3, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote from an editor or proofreader? #amwriting

handshakeA large number of people get in touch with me every week to ask for a quote for editing or proofreading. I’ve put together these guidelines for contacting me for a price and turnaround quote, but it would apply to most editors and proofreaders I know, with a few tweaks here and there.

Sending me all this information in one go won’t give you a price decrease or a quicker turnaround if we end up making an agreement, but it will make the process easier and quicker – for both of us.

What does your prospective editor need to know?

This is what I need you to send to me in order to be able to give you a fair price and turnaround quote:

  • Is the material a book or something else (a website, advertising material, etc.)?
  • If it’s a book, is it fiction or non-fiction?
  • What is it, generally, about? (I have a list of things I don’t work on in the Content section of my Terms and Conditions – it is really helpful if you look at that first and check)
  • How long is the book – in words?
  • Is it finished and ready for editing yet?
  • When will you need it back from me?
  • What do you want me to do – editing or proofreading (see the distinction here, or the summary below)
  • A sample of your work – preferably from the middle of the book

Other editors might ask for other information at the first stage (if you’re an editor, do add a comment if you have other questions you ask – I’d love to know!)

Why does your editor need this information?

I need this information so I can work out

  • Whether I am the best fit for editing your book (if I’m not, I usually have someone I can recommend you on to)
  • Whether I can fit your project in to my schedule (I’m pretty busy with regulars and pre-booked work, so it’s unlikely although not impossible that I can fit you in at short notice)
  • What is a fair price, given the time it will take me to do your editing or proofreading
  • What is a fair turnaround time, given the scope of the work (with relation to the work I have in my schedule already)

I think that any editor would give the same answers.

A note on timing

Good editors and proofreaders get booked up quickly. If you have any idea of when your book will be ready for editing, start looking around for editors then, not a week before you want to put it out there.

For one thing, once you’ve had your book edited, that doesn’t mean it’s immediately ready for publication (see this article on that topic).

For another thing, your editor is likely to have other projects going on and will need to slot you into their schedule. The further in advance you ask them, the more likely they are to be able to fit you in.

I will never mind a vague estimate for a few months’ time, followed up by a firming-up process when we agree when the manuscript will arrive with me and when I’ll return it.

A last-minute request might work, but it’s much better and likely to be successful if you plan in advance.

Quick check: what service do I need?

Although this doesn’t quite fit in here, this is the issue that I have to clarify most frequently, so here’s what I send back to prospects explaining what I do – it’s useful to have a think about this before you contact me and decide what you need to be done:

I provide an editing service for fiction and non-fiction books and other texts. This will cover identification and resolution of

  • typos
  • spelling mistakes
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • sentence structure (repetitive structures, etc.)
  • wording (repetitive word use, etc.)
  • consistent spelling / hyphenation / capitalisation throughout the text
  • comments where wording is unclear and suggestions about changes

This is typically done in Word with Track Changes turned on.

Substantive editing includes all of this plus suggestions on major changes to the format, ordering and content of the book.

My proofreading service looks at the manuscript once it’s ready for publication and checks for:

  • typos
  • inconsistencies
  • layout (including headings separated from text, page numbering, etc.)
  • matching contents page with headings and page numbers

This is typically done in PDF using comment balloons to mark up the text

Sending the correct information to an editor

This article has explained what information I need in order to provide a price and time turnaround quotation for editing your book. Other editors might need other information, and I’d love them to let me know if that’s the case. Hopefully this will make the process smoother for the author and the editor in those early stages of creating our arrangement.

Read the next article in this series: How do I negotiate with an editor and book my project in?

Other useful articles on this website

Do I need editing or proofreading?

Working with Tracked Changes

What is a style sheet?

On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?

How do I negotiate with an editor and book my project in?

 

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Copyediting, Ebooks, proofreading, Writing

 

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Small business chat questions – over to you!

Small business chat questions – over to you!

For a while now, I’ve been adding a special bonus question to my small business chat update posts: what would you like to ask other business owners? There have been some great questions and some lovely answers, too. Here I pull together some of the good ones and I bet a good few of my readers have some answers to them, whether you currently run a business, have been a freelancer or hang out with the self-employed crew – why not click on the link, go to the comments and add your answer?

Managing, growing and maintaining your business

How do we make more money … without diluting the principles that drove us to start this business in the way we did in the first place?

I’d like to know how many people use contracts with their clients and why they see them as a good idea

I’m a procrastinator. What do you do to motivate yourself and achieve things that you’d otherwise happily let slip down your to do list?

What’s the hardest part about running your business?

How are you staying up to date with changes taking place in your industry?

How do you keep the momentum going? Where do you get inspiration from to keep things fresh?

What’s the one thing you’ve done that has had the biggest impact on your everyday workday – whether it’s a strategy you employ or a piece of software you use?

Time management and work-life balance

How do you manage to maintain a healthy work/life balance? Do you have any secret tips, or links to articles or videos you can recommend?

How do you find time to do your work and also keep up with social media or other marketing tasks?

When you started out in business when did you start to take time off for holidays?

What are your tips for balancing work and family time?

How do you fit small business around a young family – especially if your baby isn’t a big day sleeper!

How do you maintain focus on your business when issues in your personal life are draining all your energy?

Have you ever thought about quitting? If so, how did you get to your ultimate decision (whether you carried on or did indeed quit) and do you feel like it was the right thing to do?

What motivated you when it seemed too difficult to continue?

Social media, advertising and lead generation

Do you feel your business gets any benefit from using Twitter?

Where do you get your leads from?

What medium of advertising to you find most useful in obtaining new customers and why?

How do you go about finding work if you’re having a quiet period?

What do you think is the most cost-effective way to get mass brand exposure to consumers?

Staff and success

What inexpensive ways are there to treat your staff?

How do you grow a team effectively and not damage the personal nature of your business?

How do you successfully delegate work? What tricks have you got for growing your business, but still retaining control?

If you were to recruit your first employee, what do you see as being the most important role you would need to recruit to move your business forward? Would it be a finance person, marketer, operations, etc.?

Miscellaneous

If you could plan the perfect week at your business what would it be like?

Are you ready to publish a book?

Seen a question that tickles your fancy, that you’re just itching to answer? Click on the link for your favourite question(s), go to the Comments and add your words of wisdom. I know the interviewee(s) you choose will be thrilled to hear from you (and I’ll display your URL by your answer, for that bit of extra exposure …)

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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How long does transcription take?

How long does transcription take?

As a busy professional transcriber, I get a large number of queries from potential clients. They often want to know how long it will take for a transcriber to do their tape, how quickly a transcriber works. So, how long does transcription take? I’ll share a few details to make it easier for people to understand the parameters.

How long does it take to transcribe a tape?

I did a quick poll among other transcribers I know, and the answer does vary, but on average, it takes 30 minutes to transcribe 10 minutes of tape. So if you have an hour-long tape, it will take me around 3 hours to transcribe it (if you try it yourself, and you’re not a professional transcriber, it’s likely to take a lot longer. If it doesn’t, consider a career change!).

What factors affect how long it takes for a tape to be transcribed?

There are various factors that will make the tape take a longer (or shorter) time to transcribe.

It takes less time to transcribe an audio file if …

  • The speakers speak really slowly and clearly
  • It’s an interview and I’m asked to only take notes on what the interviewer says

It takes more time to transcribe an audio file if …

  • There are more than two speakers
  • The speakers have strong accents
  • The tape quality is bad (muffled / quiet / picking up the background noise too much)
  • The speakers are speaking really quickly
  • There are a lot of technical terms or other details which I need to look up
  • I’ve been asked to use a complicated template or put in more than the standard number of time stamps

That’s why I and other transcribers tend to charge extra for additional speakers, extra time stamps and ‘difficult’ tapes

How long does it REALLY take a transcriber to type out an audio file?

What people sometimes forget – both transcribers when quoting for work and clients when asking for quotations, is the need for rest. Typing for hours at a time can be quite brutal on the hands / shoulders / back / ears / eyes. Transcribers need to take breaks. There’s also the time for checking at the end – listening right through or at least running a spell check.

So an hour-long tape is not likely to take me exactly 3 hours; I’d say more like 3.5 to 4 hours. I try not to type for more than 7 hours a day, and I prefer not to do it late at night (though I do do it early in the morning instead).

Your transcriber might also have other projects which need to be completed before they can start yours.

All of these factors mean that you shouldn’t be surprised if you ask about an hour-long tape and find out it will take a day or 24 hours to return to you. I’m sure my fellow-transcribers like to be flexible, as I do, but there are limits to human endurance!


Hopefully this article has clarified the amount of time it might take your transcriber to transcribe your tape. Typing speed is one thing, transcription speed is another, and remember that your transcriber is human (that’s why they’re good at what they do) and needs to look after themselves.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2016 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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Small business chat update – Carrie Weekes and Fran Glover

Small business chat update – Carrie Weekes and Fran Glover

I’m delighted to feature an update from my old friend Carrie Weeks and her lovely business partner Fran Glover from A Natural Undertaking, the independent undertakers. I’ve been watching them go from strength to strength since they launched exactly two years ago, in November 2014. I interviewed them in October 2015, and I can see there’s been a big change from a company less than a year old to a thriving and established (and multi-award-winning) business now. The most well-prepared new business I’ve ever come across, this was the plan for A Natural Undertaking for the year that’s just passed:

  • We want to have a higher percentage of our funerals to be from the Kings Heath and Moseley area and a higher percentage of those to be natural burials, because those are beautiful.
  • We want to be seriously considering our own premises and what those would be.
  • In parallel with the business development, we would like to be more visible and high-profile around Birmingham as facilitating the death conversation.
  • We want to make sure that we’re continuing to look after ourselves.
  • We want to bring other local companies into our network so that we can run our business within a local, sustainable supply chain.
  • We want to be making sure that people have more information and better choices about funerals for themselves and their loved ones.

All that remains now is to see how they’ve done!

Hello again, Carrie and Fran! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

We want to have a higher percentage of our funerals to be from the Kings Heath and Moseley area and a higher percentage of those to be natural burials, because those are beautiful.
We have achieved this through word of mouth and reputation and repeat business within families we have worked with, being welcomed back into the families, which is lovely. We are getting there with the natural burials: we are recommended by our local natural burial ground when there is a particular type of funeral that needs to be arranged.

We want to be seriously considering our own premises and what those would be.
We are still considering this, moving closer to fulfilling this plan and researching our options.

In parallel with the business development, we would like to be more visible and high-profile around Birmingham as facilitating the death conversation.
Carrie is the chair of Brumyodo (Brum You Only Die Once), a 45 person-strong voluntary collective that works in the community to make people aware of the options they have.

We want to make sure that we’re continuing to look after ourselves.
We have achieved this – we have had holidays and are able to have time off, and have the support in place to enable this to happen.

We want to bring other local companies into our network so that we can run our business within a local, sustainable supply chain.
We work with local caterers, florists and venues and are constantly working on making use of members of Brumyodo.

We want to be making sure that people have more information and better choices about funerals for themselves and their loved ones.
We are definitely doing this, attending the Kings Heath Street Market, having a presence at death cafes and pop up shops and distributing death wishes cards around the neighbourhood, as well as other community and awareness-raising activities.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

It’s been all about consolidating this year. We’ve been putting the support in place to allow us to have holidays and time off, backed up by other funeral directors in our network.

We have had to produce formalised policies and procedures in order to become members of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, so we have built the company ethos and culture into those at the same time as formulating them on paper.

We have increased confidence in the business model, and we are still looking at the next stage, but with that increased confidence, getting the numbers up and securing premises.

We’ve won awards, becoming Modern Funeral Director of the Year 2016, and Carrie took part in a panel discussion, “It’s Your Funeral”, at the Cheltenham Literary Festival this year.

What hasn’t changed is the service we’re able to give: high-quality, personal service, growing gradually enough that we can still do that ourselves.

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

We wish we’d known it was OK to be confident about it all. We’re actively selling the service now: a year ago we were less brave.

Winning awards and getting consistently good reviews, testimonials, recommendations and repeat business within families has given us that confidence.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Trust your gut instinct, especially if you’ve set up a new business in your middle years after having a multitude of experience in other areas. Also, you can’t be the only person to experience whatever it is you’re experiencing, so share your questions and learning points within your networks.

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

How do we make more money … without diluting the principles that drove us to start this business in the way we did in the first place?

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

• Hopefully with premises or further along the line to having them
• With some staff
• Maintaining momentum while giving people the same level of service and choice
• Developing new products and services, partnering with other people in the wider industry: we have lots of ideas here
• Succeeding but without losing our essential characters and business characteristics

Watch this space – there are so many exciting things going on and it’s lovely to see A Natural Undertaking growing – but slowly enough to keep things on an even plane and operating at a high quality – and developing the brand and what they’re doing. They’ve really found their niche, and I can only look forward with excitement to what will happen next. Oh, and Carrie has recently starred in my friend Verity’s FLASH project on people who were librarians in a former job role – do pop over and have a read about how she got from libraries to funerals!

You can find A Natural Undertaking online at www.anaturalundertaking.co.uk and on Facebook and Twitter. You can find out more about Brumyodo here.

Carrie Weekes or Fran Glover are available 24 / 7 on Phone: (0121) 444 0437 and Mobile: 07986 423 146 and you can email them, too.

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 November 12, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Being kind: coopetition versus competition

Being kind: coopetition versus competition

It’s been a difficult year, with feelings, especially political ones, running high, and society seeming to fracture. There are a lot of unknowns out there, and when faced with the unknown, people tend to huddle together with the familiar, fearing or lashing out against those not of their “tribe”, whatever their tribe might be.

It’s no different with small businesses. I see a lot of people and industries that seem afraid of bonding with their competitors to offer more to customers; who see everyone in their line of business as a threat. I’m not saying that there’s more than enough work to go round; what I’m saying is that behaving kindly towards your competitors might see you doing better with your business.

Here are some tips.

Talk to your competitors; network

How do you know who to trust? I’ve found the fellow editors I trust and recommend on to through friendship groups, friends of (editing) friends on social media and networking. Even I shy away from recommending clients to unknowns, but get to know people, chat to them about your industry, help them out and let them help you. In this way, you can build up a network of people who can support you, and who you can recommend clients to.

Rather than saying no straight out, recommend on

It happens to all of us: feast and famine. If you have a lot of work on, too much to take on that extra client, why not recommend them on to a trusted colleague? They will think better of you if you find them someone to work with rather than just saying no and leaving them to get on with it. Maybe your name will pop into their mind when they have the next job.

Help the client find their best fit

If a prospect comes to you with a particular type of work that isn’t your best offering, recommend them on to someone who will be a great fit. I don’t do a lot of fiction editing now, and certainly don’t edit certain genres. I will always seek to recommend the prospect on to someone else who I know will do a better job, making it clear that this is not where my specialism lies, but making sure they know what I do. Hopefully the warm, fuzzy feeling of being sent on to someone who can help will extend over into remembering me when they have that piece of work that’s better suited to me.

Reciprocity and karma

Even if those prospects you’ve recommended on don’t come back to you, I’m pretty well certain that the person you recommended them on to will do likewise when they’re busy or confronted with something in which you excel. I know this has happened for me.

Cover clients without stealing them

A friend and I cover each other’s regular clients when one of us is on holiday (this of course means that if we meet up with each other, all hell tends to let loose …) We wouldn’t dream of stealing those clients, of poaching clients, saying, “Why don’t you stay with me now”. What a relief to know you can go on holiday – or be ill – and have someone to look after – but not steal – your regulars!

If you’re nasty about a competitor, it’s likely to backfire on you

I’ve seen a few examples of either direct nastiness about a competitor’s services or people scoring points in industry forums. What I’ll say here is that if a potential customer or partner sees that kind of behaviour, I think they’re going to be much less likely to buy from you, and would be less likely to recommend you to others. If we’re in the same industry, I wouldn’t be inclined to pass work on to you.

This goes for being nasty about customers, too

Yes, we all need to let off steam, and have private places to do that. If you’re rude about a customer in public, you may well make people wonder how discreet you’re going to be about any work you do for them (what if they needed to do a return after a genuine problem?) and I’d have concerns about anyone I’d send over to you.

Be kind. Work with people not against them. Help others out.

That’s it, really. It’s just my thoughts, gleaned from 7 years in business working out how it all works: it’s called coopetition when people cooperate and work together rather than in conflict. I’ve felt happier and more comfortable working in this way, and I also know that people will recommend clients over to me and I can take the odd holiday!

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Business, Ethics

 

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