Last month we celebrated 20 years of trading as The Transcription People. It’s been a rollercoaster few decades of learning, trying again and continuing to survive in the cut-throat world of small business ownership. So to celebrate 20 years, I’m taking stock of the biggest business lessons I’ve learned along the way.
What an interesting 20 years its been! Two kids, moved the home-based office into commercial premises, bought an office, sold the office, back to home-based, moving cities, digital disruption, day-to-day life … the list goes on. But I’m proud to say after 20 years we are still going strong and remaining true to the core of our business. Plus, many of our clients are still with us after 20 years! So what are the biggest business lessons I have learnt along the way?
I found one of the first blog posts I’d ever written, not long after leaving my corporate job to start AMC Professional Office Services, (later The Transcription People). I was full of ‘rose-coloured-glasses’ expectations of what working for myself would be like, and how different it would be from the dreary world of cubicle life. Well it isn’t quite as rosy as what I thought back then. The challenges that come from running your own business are numerous. It’s kept me up many a night more than my predictable corporate job. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As a working single mum, with my own business, the work/life/parenting balance is more precarious than ever. The benefits of being my own boss is still phenomenal when it comes to having kids. I can still work around their school and sport hours, be home if they’re sick or on holidays. But the emails still come in during dinner, files need to be completed in school holidays, and working late after their bedtime is my daily reality.
Having ridden the digital wave over the last 20 years, what I’ve learned is to learn as much as you can about so called ‘disruptive’ technology. Try to understand if or how it can impact your business and see where the opportunity for your business lies.
In the transcription industry, voice-to-speech technology can be seen as a threat to transcription services. Many overseas providers in non-English speaking countries use these technologies so that they can claim to offer a similar and lower-cost offering. Now on face value this could appear to completely obliterate our service.
However, after reviewing a number of technology providers in this space, as well as gaining many clients who had trialled this option unsuccessfully, we identified several areas where it just doesn’t stack up against human transcriptionists. Multi-speaker audio files are nearly impossible to transcribe using technology only. Our clients are happy to pay a premium for quality, formatting on their template or letterhead, and proof-read work requiring no changes.
Notice I didn’t say keep growing? When I changed my business to transcription-only from offering a suite of professional services, I didn’t look back. Specialising in one field was the right thing to do then. It helped us become a leader in our niche. We have expanded the size of our business to accommodate client growth, pulled back later in harsher market climates. But this ability to change and evolve has meant we are still standing when many other businesses have collapsed.
And now the time is right to expand our offering again. We have big plans over the next 12 months and I’m sure I’ll learn more business lessons along the way. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. It’s very exciting times for the TTP team, so stay tuned!
Annalisa, Founder and Director