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Small business chat update – Liz Dexter

Small business chat update – Liz Dexter

Welcome to my own Small Business Chat update. My participants tell me they find it useful to reflect on the past year and plan ahead, and I’m no different. And today it’s my birthday, so it seemed apt to do this now. I started interviewing myself back in December 2011, then  December 2012, December 2013, a December 2014 and January 2016.  Last year, these were my plans for the year: “I’m going to be reading more because I started to make more time for reading over Christmas and I’m continuing with that. I’m going to keep running a half-marathon distance or more a month, and hopefully (very carefully and slowly) running a marathon later on in the year. I’m going to complete the self-mentoring for editors guide and produce a print and e-book version by the middle of 2016. I might write up my research or I might not!” Did I achieve these? Um, partly. Oops! But I’m no different from my other interviewees there.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Reading more: Yes, I read 11 more books in 2016 than in 2015 and I read more non-fiction (not a goal, but I like reading non-fiction. I did a report on the year as well as a top ten reads list here. I had more time for reading because I adjusted how I was working; see below.

Running: I continued running half-marathon distances until the Easter, when I had an epic fall (over a dog: not funny yet, I’m allowing it to be funny from next Easter), cracked and bruised my ribs and had to eschew running (and moving, sleeping on one side, coughing, laughing) for a bit. HOWEVER, I did fight my way back to some form of fitness, and completed my first marathon in Iceland in 6 hours 1 minute (race report here).

Writing: I did not complete the self-mentoring for editors guide or produce any versions of it in book form. I did add to what I had already and it will be done.

Research: I have nearly but not quite finished writing up my Iris Murdoch research.

So it looks like I completed more of my personal than work goals, and that’s fine!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I continued to make sure that I took more time off, and this had an impact on what I was able to do with the writing. I now take most weekends off, or at least 1.5 days of each weekend; I might have the odd bit to do.

The balance of my work has changed: I’ve always worked with writers and journalists and had worked on transcribing the interviews for a couple of books, but this last year I’ve worked a lot more for ghostwriters on big projects. I have had repeat projects from some clients and been recommended on within the ghostwriting community. This is great as it’s large projects with reasonable flexibility and interesting work: you really get to know the subjects of the books, and also having a lot of tapes of one person means you can build a glossary for them, spend less time looking things up and get more done (and more earned) in the average hour.

I’ve also continued to work on more in-depth and longer academic projects in transcribing, which again is good from the point of view of economies of scale. I have continued to keep a good mix of academic, journalist and corporate work. My clients are constantly amazed at how much I “know” – which is mainly looked up, of course!

My editing work has stayed constant, working with translators, non-fiction writers, etc. I have moved away from any fiction editing except for a couple of regulars, as I prefer working on non-fiction.

My localisation work has diminished; I’m not sure why and it hasn’t had the effect on my income that I feared, as I’ve balanced it with corporate transcription.

In my personal life, I’ve qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness which means I am doing more volunteering in my running club, which I love! It’s great to have the theory behind the practice and the practical tips from the course at my disposal.

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

It sounds really arrogant to say you haven’t learned anything. I’ve continued to know that I am supported by a community of colleagues; I have kept up with saying no, and every year I re-learn to trust my gut instinct and that sometimes you do end up pulling a late night to get something done.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Be clear on what you’re offering people. As economic and political times don’t seem to improve, competition can become more fierce. Be clear what you’re offering to a prospect, but do not allow people to play you off against your colleagues.

Keep a good spread of customer types and regions, etc. to try to protect yourself against economic shocks.

Make time for mental health, whether that’s running, reading, colouring in or sitting around blankly staring into space. If you need it, do it.

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

I will still be running, I will have done the Birmingham Marathon and I will have supported running club mates through the training, too.

I will have volunteered at parkrun or junior parkrun 100 times (you don’t get a special t-shirt for that but it’s so cool to say you’ve done it.

I will have finished my self-mentoring guide to editing careers and also a transcription version.

I will have continued to maintain a good work-life balance and have most weekends fully off. I will continue to work as transcriber to the ghostwriter stars and will see lots of my books on the shelves but often not be able to point them out as I’m not allowed to talk about them!

I will have written up my research such that I can provide a copy to people who want it at the Iris Murdoch conference in September.

You can find me here, of course, and also on my books website and my book reviews one for more personal stuff. Happy New Year!

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 January 21, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Welcome to an update with the lovely Amelia Wilson, now of The Editing Shop where she provides copyediting, translation review and localisation services (and someone I recommend to prospects for these areas when I can’t fit them in to my schedule. We originally met Amelia in November 2014,and had our first update in January 2016. When I asked her then where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied “That’s a great question, because for the first time since I started I’m setting goals and intentions for next year. I feel like I’ve got ground beneath my feet now, and I can start building. I would like to niche down even more, and package my services into something very specific, with my products to go alongside. I keep overhauling my website, it’s quite basic at the moment but I’d like to create an online home I can be really proud of, and which better serves my clients and readers. I’m also setting revenue goals so that I can improve on last year and continue to grow. Here’s to an exciting 2016!”

Hello again, Amelia, we’ve spoken during the year but let’s get started on your exciting update. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes and no – I guess that’s always the way! My business looks a lot different this year (intentionally), and I’ve ticked off a lot of goals: I’ve streamlined the behind-the-scenes which makes the day-to-day running of the business a much smoother process, and I’ve also carved out time for the more creative pursuits I had in mind at the end of last year.

Some things I feel a bit behind on, but I think it’s an occupational hazard of business owners to beat ourselves up over the things we didn’t get done instead of celebrating all that we did. Overall, I’m really happy with where I am, what I’ve done, and what’s in store for this year.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I completely overhauled my branding, my business name, and my website, because my old branding didn’t reflect where I am with my business anymore. I’m glad there was a need to do that (however long and complicated the process!) because it shows how much things have grown and developed since I started two years ago.

I’ve put a lot of work into developing my first product, a course, and I’ve put an emphasis on connecting with other business owners and making new friendships. I’ve started blogging consistently and sending out a newsletter, to really build a community with the people I serve.

I’ve also been working hard to increase my revenue streams, and successfully experimented with affiliate marketing, which is something entirely new to me.

The things that have stayed the same are my core services and the fact that I’m still totally in love with what I get to do every day!

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

My big investment this year was a conference for female online business owners. I shared what I learned from that in a blog post, but the longer I’ve been doing this and the more entrepreneurs I meet, the biggest thing I’m learning is that we’re really all in it together. The people we admire and look up to are facing the same challenges that we are, and you can’t overestimate the importance of community and support as you continue to grow.

I completely agree; as I’ve said many times, cooperation is more important than competition! Any more hints and tips for people?

Be fluid and open to change. My business and my brand looks an awfully lot different than it did last year, and while it’s not perfect, and it took (and takes) a lot of work, it was the absolute right move to set me up for success going forward. If you wake up one day and think something could be better or different in your business, don’t let the complications of making the change stop you from adapting.

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

Have you got a community or friendship circle made up of other people in business? Where did you meet them and how much of an impact do those relationships make?

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

My course will have launched! I hope to have increased and diversified my revenue streams, and to have continued to grow my audience via my blog and newsletter.

This is all so exciting – lots of change and a lovely new website, but still a great service and a good contact to have to be able to pass prospects to (I really cherish the people I can do this with, in the same spirit as Amelia’s discoveries of community and cooperation!) I wish Amelia the best for her business through 2017. And one last very important point …

Finally, if any of your contact info, websites etc. have changed since last time, please give me your new links.

All change! My website is The Editing Shop and you can find me on Twitter @editingshop.

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 14, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Marvin Edinborough

Small business chat update – Marvin Edinborough

Today we’re catching up with my old personal trainer, Marvin Edinborough, or Marvelous PT. He started taking part in this series in July 2012 and checked in for an update in August 2013, October 2014 and December 2015, Especially as I’ve been involved with supporting beginners and other runners in my running club and qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness, I’ve thought of Marvin’s excellent Emotional Intelligence and the way in which he tailors his training to how his clients work and are motivated – and there’s a lesson there for all of us in adapting to how our clients need to be interacted with. Around this time last year, when asked where he wanted to be by now, Marvin replied “I aim to be working towards my life goal of running my own qualifications company. At the moment it’s just ideas, but over the next few years I’d like there to be some sort of development. I’ll still be personal training of course. No matter how busy I get I will find time to personal train, as it’s something I have enjoyed for 6 years now”. Let’s see how he’s getting on.

Hello, Marvin. It’s great to have you back! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, definitely. Currently I am still tutoring on fitness courses, both delivering full-time courses and meeting with learners who are studying online for practical tutoring days. It’s going great and I believe I am slowly but surely making a difference to the industry with the personal trainers I am putting through.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well I am still tutoring, the change has been I am now travelling and meeting with learners all over the Midlands, interacting with and training people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. One by one I am affecting learners across the West Midlands, enabling them to succeed in what is a very competitive industry.

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

In the past year I’ve done a lot of re-learning if you like, going back to when I sat my own personal training qualification and covering modules you probably wouldn’t use in everyday training. I also, as stated, wish I knew the requirements to provide these types of qualifications independently, as this is something I intend on doing going forward.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Take the leap. Go for it. Whatever “IT” may be. That is something I intend to do this year, my aim is to have started my own company, providing qualifications by August. What has stopped me so far is my ability to do the above.

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

My question would be on a personal level! Business owners who have “made the leap” if applicable: How do you juggle the hustle and bustle of running a business, tending to a toddler, whilst working and still having time to workout!!!??

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

In a year from now I hope to be running my own qualifications company, and for this to be established (Marvelous Qualifications, maybe?) producing high-quality professionals.

I love that a man’s asking questions about fitting in work and childcare – so often it’s only women who are asked about this! Any tips for Marvin? I’m glad he’s on the case of training personal trainers, as there are some very shoddy courses around but he has the credentials and attitude to teach people the right way. Let’s hope he has that qualifications company going by the next time we talk to him!

You can contact Marvin via Facebook, Twitter or email.

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 7, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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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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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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