Taking our Q&A this week is Rachel Smith, the founder of The Copy.House, a professional copywriting and proofreading business.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
I always wanted to make my living from writing but got into local government instead; as you do. As a project manager for Bradford Council Department of Regeneration in 2006, I managed a network of creative, digital media businesses in Bradford and I loved it. I really wanted to be part of the scene. I was always an aspiring writer and had studied a Master’s in English at Leeds University but I also wanted a useful skill that people would potentially pay for, as well as writing, so in 2008 I became a qualified proofreader. I wanted to be part of the same vibrant business community I was helping as a council officer, rather than working for the council, so I started copywriting for the digital media sector and it flowed naturally from there and I was away.
What is your business motto?
Always on-message, always on time, always mistake-free.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Trust your instincts, stay real and don’t let social media take over your life.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
The uncertainty of monthly income. I’ve come from twenty years of part-time, public-sector work benefits of sick, flexi, holiday pay and pension contributions. Although ultimately I’m happier out of that life, the certainty of financial health was a luxury and can’t be taken for granted as a business-owner.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
The energy and excitement of working for a new client. The delight you can give clients who have no idea how to put a blog together and are so happy to see their words written and presentable for the world. Every day is a new adventure and challenge. Plus, you can go to the supermarket when most people are at work, and wear what you want.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
There’s not a lot I don’t enjoy. I’ve aspired to this life for a long time. But I admit, it can be a tough experience sometimes; on your own, trying to make your way. There are days when it just hits you and you think, “What on Earth am I doing?” But that’s all just part of it.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
I know many local people who run fantastic businesses, full of integrity and respect for their customers. Despite being fantastically clever in the first place, they are constantly learning, in order to serve these customers better and are doing so well for it. I’d have to say, my longstanding client, the one who gave me my first shot at brand-led, creative copy and that was Shaun Wilders, Managing Director of Cultrix IT and Web Experts, www.cultrix.co.uk.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Still working for Shaun and my other long-standing clients. I’m proud to have been part of their journeys and have them on mine. Oh, and I’m very proud to have recently been made proofreader on the team at The Happy Newspaper! I feel famous.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
I’d like to publish a book about copywriting for businesses and become known as an expert in my field. And more of the same because I love working in the heart of people’s businesses when they realise brand and tone-of-voice is in all their words, not just their website. I like this in-depth supportive work; it gets me close to the action.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
Search and Find in Word. Oh wait, we have that already. A bot that can type for you when your hands are tired. Ok, we have that too. I’m all good then!
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
Working on words that work towards societal and environmental change is my ultimate. There are many great ethical communications agencies out there but Creative Concern in Manchester are pretty special, who I’m proud to say I have worked for already, and, internationally, I like Momentum in New York for some of the innovative campaigns they get involved in and tackle with originality and spirit.
Are you a business owner and want to take part in our Q&A? Email email@example.com for details.