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Happy birthday to me! (or, rather, to my business)

Happy birthday to me! (or, rather, to my business)

Although I issued my first invoice in August 2009 (and so will be celebrating in August, too), when I set up as self-employed, I matched my financial years to the UK’s financial years, to make everything easier, and so Libro officially started in April 2009. I cannot believe I’ve been going ten years, though – that astounds me.

Originally, after a lot of experience working on various types of texts through my working life (see About Me for more information), I was approached by one of my colleagues at the university library where I worked to see if I could edit their student’s Master’s dissertation. I said yes, did it, and instigated a string of lovely referrals. For the rest of that year, I mainly worked on dissertations for people whose English wasn’t their first language (I still do that today, although I work on more PhDs now).

I was lucky enough to have a fairly routine job and flexitime, so with a lot of time management and hard work, no holidays and an understanding then-boyfriend (now-husband), I worked part time editing and full time in the library through 2010. Then in 2011 I made the decision to go part time at the day job, after making sure I was replacing my wages with my self-employed income. I came off the Certificate of Low Earnings (which lets people who don’t earn much from their self-employment not pay national insurance: something I only did because I was paying NI through my PAYE in the job). Later that year I dropped a second day of the day job and in November 2011 I resigned, starting full-time self-employment in January 2012 (at which point I got jury service for the first two weeks of January!).

It’s been a lovely part of my working life and one I hope never to leave. I have a reasonable amount of flexibility, working alone at home (but with lots of friends a Facebook messenger message or “meet me at the cafe!” request away). My earnings went up and then stabilised, I had a good year last year and I’m aiming to work a bit less this year to retain my flexibility. I’m grateful to my lovely clients, some of whom have been with me almost from the very beginning, and I now edit, proofread, localise and transcribe, so I have a lovely variety of work, from helping academics record the voices of their interviewees to sorting out philosophers’ words and making sure British people understand American companies. Here’s to the next ten years!

And to celebrate, I added two chunks to my Kiva portfolio and, with the repayments I had sitting in my account, made three loans to three entrepreneurial women around the globe:

  • loan Rosa
    Honiara, Solomon Islands

    A loan helps to buy bags of rice, biscuits, soft drinks, and noodles for her canteen (general store) business.

    $25.00

  • loan Jivtiben
    Kutch, India

    A loan helps to purchase kurtas, sarees, leggings, etc., to expand her clothing business.

    $25.00

  • loan Mwanaisha
    Makumbusho-Dar es salaam, Tanzania

    A loan helps to add stock of braids, weaves, earrings, necklaces, hair food, hair pegs, and hair treatments.

    $25.00

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2019 in Business, Celebration

 

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When you see businesses being criticised for not being prepared for Brexit, this is why some of us are not prepared for Brexit

So having had lots of emails telling me how to export goods to the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, I tried once again to find out what happens to tax arrangements for people who export services. I’m by no means the only UK person in this situation. Please note I do not expect them to have all the answers, however it would be nice to know if this issue has been discussed, what to do if there’s no deal, etc. I think I am right to want to know how to conduct my business after Brexit, especially given the government, etc. reports detailing the horror of companies NOT being prepared! (Financial Times reports, for example)

Here is my somewhat Kafkaesque conversation over live chat with a representative of HMRC (I checked and it is OK to share this, see below).

[Note, I seem rude to start without saying hello but you’re told to enter your question first!]

LIZ DEXTER: Are the reciprocal tax arrangements between the EU and UK going to continue?
Additional detail: I provide services to EU clients. Currently, I only need state I pay self-assessment taxes to HMRC in the UK, or occasionally need to provide my UTR to prove this, in order for companies to pay me my full invoice and not tax me at source. However, some countries insist on further
paperwork (e.g. a client in Lithuania asked me to get an HMRC employee to sign a letter for them stating I paid tax in the UK). Is this situation being
monitored over the time of Brexit and how can I find out what’s happening?

HMRC: Good afternoon

LIZ DEXTER: Note: I have signed up for all the email alerts, but they are solely about companies that export and import goods, not services. There’s nothing I can find having read the WTO rules which we revert to with a no-deal Brexit. And hello.

HMRC: There is no further information I can give you regarding leaving the EU other than what’s available on gov.uk

LIZ DEXTER: There’s no information on gov.uk about this specific situation that I can find. Can you point me towards any information for exporters of services, not goods, please?
The reason I ask this is that the Ease of Doing Business if I have to get an HMRC employee to sign a paper for every client I had will badly adversely affect my business (and the tax I’ll pay in the UK!).

HMRC: Give me a moment whilst a check my guidance.

LIZ DEXTER: OK thank you.

HMRC: I don’t have any guidance I can give you. It just tells me to direct you to guidance published on gov.uk

LIZ DEXTER: Which doesn’t have anything to do with exporting services at all. OK it’s not your fault but can you please feed back that there are so many people in my position, I have EU customers asking me how they’re going to deal with me post-Brexit, whether they can continue to use my services. It’s embarrassing and very stressful. Or HOW they can continue to use my services.

LIZ DEXTER: Is it permissible to share my download of this chat with other self-employed people or my clients?

HMRC: I will feed that back. Sorry but at this time we don’t have the information you require.

HMRC: Yes that’s fine.

LIZ DEXTER:  Thank you. And I appreciate your help and that
you’ve done all you can.

REFERENCE: Record of your HMRC webchat [url redacted, can be provided upon request]

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2019 in Brexit, Business

 

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Small business chat update – Nicky Lloyd Greame

Small business chat update – Nicky Lloyd Greame

It’s a big 2019 welcome to Nicky Lloyd Greame from business coaches and mentors People and Potential, who we met first in July 2014. and caught up with in September 2015, September 2016. and January 2018. When I asked her then where she wanted to be now, she replied, “To be honest, similar to where I am now but with a more consistent client base. More training being delivered and more schools as clients. I just want to help more people, especially children.” How’s she getting on? Let’s see!

Hello again, Nicky, and thanks for sharing your progress with us again. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

In many ways yes, and in others no – but I find that when you work for yourself that’s often the way – there’s rarely a straight clear road to success and that’s part of the excitement!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The Stress Specialist as a brand is most definitely on the map now. I am doing much more corporate work in addition to 1:1 coaching and my business model has expanded more than I could even imagine. I have online courses (live coaching using FB lives), an active FB group, companies are using me as an ongoing resource rather than just to deliver training. Its amazing 🙂

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

How to harness the power of LinkedIn… this has made such a huge difference in my business this year. And I’ve also learned that I LOVE being on stage talking about mental health and stress and how everyone can help themselves just by learning a bit more. Its transformational.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Surround yourself with people who believe in you – I’ve been working with a business coach this year and along with my other coach and supporting friends and family – they have not only helped lift me but (and equally as important) they have been there to make sure I recognise and reward my successes.

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

For the first time ever I see the possibility of me needed to recruit to keep up with demand… and definitely much more speaking from the stage. The more people I can reach and share my positive message about mental health the better we all are.

What wonderful progress Nicky has made this year, and it’s interesting how she’s found LinkedIn helping her, as I personally ended up leaving the groups I was in on there as they descended into adverts and self-promotion with no real community and support. This shows it is still good for accessing corporate markets and it’s brilliant that Nicky’s been able to get her very important message in front of those companies.

Nicky@thestressspecialist.com | www.thestressspecialist.com | https://www.facebook.com/groups/stressspecialist

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Tammy Ditmore

Small Business Chat Saturday is back! After having a bit of a break from blogging, I’ve been in touch with all my interviewees from last year and I’ll be continuing to feature a good number of them. There’s a chance to join the roster at the bottom of this post. So we welcome back  Tammy Ditmore, owner of the perfectly named eDITMORE Editorial Services! We first met Tammy in June 2012, and had update chats in June 2013, August 2014, September 2015, November 2016 and January 2018. Editors are always interesting for me to talk to, of course, and I felt for Tammy, who was worried about work coming in regularly at the time, with her resolution for the next year being, “If things stay slow in the new year, I will be making some concentrated efforts to contact past clients, and some new publishers, businesses, etc. I’m not panicking (yet) because I have some good ideas about which bushes to start shaking. In fact, I’m not too sad about having a little extra time to catch my breath during the holiday season–I just don’t want this slower work pace to last for too long!” Unfortunately, Tammy had no idea of the terribly stressful events that were just around the corner. Read her story now – and thank you, Tammy, for sharing this difficult time with us.

Hello again, Tammy. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, mostly. When we touched base last year, I was coming off a down year and was not quite sure what to expect. But 2018 turned around with some long-term projects coming from unexpected places.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I continue to work for a wide mix of clients, but last year I worked with two clients on some large projects, which filled my schedule in unexpected ways. That enabled me to reduce my workload significantly for a couple of months in the summer when I was able to live in Florence, Italy, where my husband was teaching with his university program. I did very little work during that time so that I could enjoy our amazing experience. Unfortunately, the big projects that carried me through last year will be winding down in the next few weeks — I have work scheduled for the next couple of months, but it I will need to start lining up others beyond that.

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

The main lessons I learned this year were ones I never wanted to learn about dealing with trauma and stress and how much that can affect my ability to focus, which is an absolute essential in the work that I do. In November, a gunman walked into a nightclub a few miles from my house and murdered twelve people, including a police officer and a young woman who was a student at the university where my husband teaches and our 21-year-old son goes to school. Less than 24 hours later, wildfires ripped through both sides of our community; my husband and I were evacuated from our house at 3 a.m., and our son spent a long day and night helping to run an emergency shelter at the university as fires burned to the edge of campus on every side. The fires and the weather conditions that make them so dangerous and unpredictable lasted for about five days in our area. Although our neighborhood and the university ultimately were spared from major damage, three people died and hundreds in our community lost their homes. At almost the same time, scores of people died and thousands lost homes in a wildfire a few hundred miles north of us.

It’s difficult to describe just how much impact these events had on our lives and our community. My son knew two of the people who died in the shooting and several others who were in the club that night, and everyone we know has been grieving the senseless loss of so many beautiful lives from our community. We also know people who lost homes and see evidence every day of the damage and destruction caused by the fires. Although I and my family were physically safe, I was not able to do any real work for several weeks. I simply could not concentrate enough to edit or write for any length of time. Fortunately, my clients were completely understanding — coincidentally, the two clients I had to delay the longest were authors writing about traumatic events in their lives. One of those writers actually provided me some very practical tips that helped me deal with my own stress.

Eventually, I was able to focus and work again, but it took me much longer than I had expected, and I am still trying to catch up. Ultimately, I learned that I cannot force concentration in times of stress and that berating myself for my lack of productivity only makes things worse. I had to give time and attention to myself, my family, and my immediate community before I could find any attention span for work. I know these kinds of events do not affect everyone the same way, so I can’t compare myself to how someone else reacts–I simply have to respect my own feelings and start from there.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I continue to find that word-of-mouth and repeat business are my best ways to find clients. A lot of people actually find out about me from a friend or colleague. Many of the people who recommend me have never actually worked with me, but they know what I do and are ready to recommend me when they find out someone needs an editor. So my tip is to make sure that everyone you know is aware of what you do and is aware that you need clients.

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

I hope I’ll be in about the same spot as I am now: working steadily with a variety of clients and projects. My husband will have a yearlong sabbatical from his university job starting in August, and my goal is to be able to do some traveling with him while continuing to work.

First of all I want to say how honoured I was that Tammy chose to share her story with us. When you’re self-employed, it’s easy to think you live in a little bubble, and it can be so traumatic when events outside our office but close at hand intrude (I’ve been very concerned about Brexit because I’m not sure how it will affect how I work with my EU clients, with very little information available as I write this, for example). The other points Tammy makes are equally pertinent: all of my work pretty well comes from word of mouth and recommendations, as well as regular clients, and it’s worth reminding people of what they do. I wish Tammy an uneventful year of solid work and a lovely sabbatical.

Tammy’s website is at www.editmore.com and you can of course contact her by email. She’s based in California.

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 January 19, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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What happens to your website statistics when you drop the ball with your blogging?

When you have a professional website with a blog attached, what happens to your reader stats if you stop blogging? I did not do this experiment solely for this blog, but I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what happened when I had a blogging hiatus.

I haven’t updated this blog for six months. How did that happen? I’ll explain below. What am I going to do about it? Start blogging again, I hope …

Why did I stop writing blog posts?

Back in the summer, I made the decision to stop working at weekends. Working in this case included both paid editing, proofreading, localisation and transcription work and the additional marketing tasks like blogging, writing articles, responding to blog comments, etc. I did have to make the odd exception when work levels were high or I’d taken time off during the week (or had a holiday) but by and large I’ve stuck to this and am happier, less tired and more balanced as a result. OK, I took up a new hobby as an Endurance (cross-country and road relays) running official and lately a Track and Field official, which has involved weekend training courses and time standing around in muddy fields or boiling hot infields, but that’s a healthy, outdoors hobby.

However, the anticipated drop in paid hours didn’t happen. In fact, in 2018 I have brought in around 12% more revenue than in each of the two previous years, on average, I’ve worked the same number of hours per week, and I’ve in fact had fewer low-paid-hours weeks this year. So what had to give? Blogging.

This was exacerbated by the fact that, while my blog still obviously displays my knowledge of Word, language, business, etc., and channels people to buy my business books (still going just as strong as ever), I have been fortunate enough to have sustained my customer base through a lovely set of regular clients and through their recommendations to others. Added to this, over the nine years I’ve been self-employed, I’ve moved from a model of working with lots and lots of small jobs, editing Master’s thesis for overseas students, etc., to longer-term projects working with regular translator clients and writers / ghost-writers, so work has been more predictable, and I haven’t really needed my blog to funnel customers to me like I once did.

So it slipped. Should I just let it go?

What happens when you stop writing new posts on your blog?

Because December is always a low-traffic month anyway, I’m sharing stats from July 2016 through to the end of October 2018. Although there are peaks and troughs always, with March always being busy with those students and their Master’s dissertations searching how to put bibliographies in alphabetical order, you can see the drop-off in the latter few months of the cycle. That’s when I stopped blogging.

It’s pretty well-known that Google and other search engines like regularly updated content to index. That’s why I and others tell people to keep blogging and/or updating their website regularly. So I knew this, and the stats show it.

What am I going to do with my blog? Should I give up blogging?

Although I don’t feel at the moment that I NEED to write and publish lots of blog posts, I’m going to get back into it. How, I will share below. There are a couple of reasons WHY:

  • Although I have sufficient clients now, especially with lots of them being in Europe and the threat of Brexit looming, I can’t assume that will continue to be the case (small independent sole traders like me have had no advice from the government or HMRC). So it’s good to keep marketing yourself even when you’re busy. I am fortunate enough to have lots of lovely colleagues I can pass work to that I can’t take on at the moment.
  • I enjoy helping people. I get a buzz when I receive a comment saying I sorted out someone’s problem, or one of my Small Business Chats interviewees thanks me for a referral they received from my site. I do my job because I like helping people, and the blog allows me to help more of them while I’m doing other things!
  • I loved finding out what my Small Business Chat interviewees were up to and how they were getting on, and learning from their journeys. I don’t want to lose those connections.

What’s the plan?

I’m going to use my time wisely. Over the festive break, I’m going to add the flesh to the bones of a load of ideas I’ve put in my blog post drafts and get them all ready to schedule through the year (the plan there is to see how many I can get written and then distribute them evenly through the next year, keeping an eye on what’s about to publish as I go through the year in case there’s some awful clash between a light-hearted Troublesome Pair and a horrible news item).

I’m going to get in touch with my January 2018 Small Business Chat people as normal for their updates, but I’m also going to contact all the June-December 2017 ones I never got back to, see if they want to continue to take part and slot them in until I can spread them evenly through the year again. I will point them here and hope they appreciate my honesty and openness and continue to take part.

Over to you …

Have you paused your blog (especially a professional one) and started up again? What did you learn or change? Are you one of my abandoned Small Business Chat folk? Would you like me to continue featuring you again or has that series run its course? Have you enjoyed reading those posts? Have you, well, missed me?

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2018 in Blogging, Business, Marketing, Writing

 

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New editing book review – Peter Ginna (ed.) – “What Editors Do”

Fellow editors who follow this blog but maybe not my book review blog might be interested to pop over there and read my review of this excellent book, edited by Peter Ginna, “What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing”.

I would recommend this book to all editors, writers and people generally interested in the process of how books get from ideas to the printed (or electronic) page. The chapters I’ve singled out are by no means the only stand-out ones: it’s of a very good quality and level of interest throughout.

(read more)

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2018 in Business, Reviews

 

Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Welcome to another update and a big change for one of our former crafty ladies, as this time round Shelly Terry from hand-made card company, Evelyn Mae, has become Shelly Terry from social media management and strategy and coaching company, Sheldon & Co. We first met Shelly back in in February 2013,  and then updated with her in March 2014, February 2015, April 2016 and, most recently, May 2017. At that point, Shelly was still making cards and was thinking ahead to shifts in her daughter’s routine and how that might affect her business, a very real concern for all those entrepreneur parents out there: “Next year I have a feeling it will all change when my daughter starts to drop her naps – I am hoping this is the same time she can attend nursery, so I can still have some designated work hours, but we shall see!” But what happened next? Something exciting, I think …

Hello again, Shelly! I suspect not, but are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Absolutely not! My daughter did indeed drop her nap, and I have a better pattern for working, but everything else about my business changed!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

So I have a brand new business that I didn’t plan on having this time last year! In September a business friend asked for help with managing her business Facebook account, and I now run a business as a social media manager, strategist and coach! I help other entrepreneurs to manage their social media accounts, build Facebook shops and put a social media strategy in place and help them to create content for their online platforms.

I also run a free coaching group in Facebook which gives business owners support in creating content for their social media platforms, and guidance on developing strategy to implement in their own business.

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

I have learned to plan my year better, this business is already out-doing my previous one, even after 8 months, so there is so much room to grow, that I need to be organised. I absolutely love it!

I wish I had known that I would find a career that was a surprise, but that I adored – I might have pursued it before it found me! I have had a variety of jobs in the past from college lecturer to actress, and it has surprised me to find a career that encompasses all of that!

Any more hints and tips for people?

Be as prepared and as organised as you can be for your business ideas, and work towards that ‘ideal’ business you have in your mind’s eye- but don’t be so blinkered that you miss other opportunities that you don’t even know exist yet!

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

We are moving house, so I envisage I will be working out of a new office space that is far tidier and more organised than my current one. I also hope to have some larger clients on books, as my daughter will have 15 hours of pre-school so I will have a lot more time to invest in my exciting new business!

I also plan currently to continue with my greetings card business for now – but I think at some point I will have to decide how viable it is along side my new business. Time will tell!

Wow – an impressive shift. I love what Shelly says about being organised yet open to new opportunities – I’ve often mentioned that a whole half of my business came about when I saw a tweet from a journalist I followed who needed a transcriber and thought “Why not put my audio-typing training to good use?” and now I spend half my time transcribing for journalists, academics and ghostwriters, something I’d have never imagined when I started out as an editor. Have a look at these lovely new links and I can’t wait to see what Shelly does with her new business!

… and her lovely cards still going at www.evelynmae.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. 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 May 26, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat