Chandra Clarke is founder of Scribendi.com, a quick turnaround online proofreading service.
We decided to ask Chandra to share her experiences in starting a proofreading and editing business.
Chandra, where is your business located?
Scribendi is located in Chatham, Ontario, Canada.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Scribendi.com provides fast, affordable, and professional English-language editing and proofreading services to individuals and businesses around the globe. Individuals who use Scribendi's services include native and non-native English writers, students, authors, playwrights, journalists, business professionals, academics, and web site designers. Scribendi also provides editing services to large corporations, including international banks, publishing houses, and NGOs.
When did you start the business?
The original web site for Scribendi was launched in 1997. The company was incorporated in 2003.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Before starting Scribendi.com, I worked as a journalist, first with my high school paper and then part-time at my hometown newspaper. While working my way through an undergraduate degree via distance studies, I was promoted to managing editor at a small weekly paper. After months of enduring the responsibility of producing a good publication while not having the ultimate decision-making authority over it, I decided it was time to strike out on my own.
I started taking in editing jobs, knowing that kind of work was available after having seen some atrocious press releases from police stations concerning "marjewana busts." By the end of 1997, I knew there was a market for a fast, professional editing service; I began designing a system that would make the editing process easier, both for the writer and the editor. Scribendi.com was born shortly thereafter.
Where did you get the startup money?
I funded Scribendi through personal investment.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
The document preparation industry is a highly fragmented one; thus there are literally thousands of competitors advertising their services on the Internet. The businesses come in all different sizes and in order to stay competitive, Scribendi must leverage an aggressive marketing plan complete with Pay-Per-Click campaigns and strategic search engine optimization tactics.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Scribendi.com has grown faster than anticipated over the past few years. As the principals of the company, Terence Johnson and I have thus found our roles are evolving fairly quickly.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
The main thing has been hiring the right people. You can have all the fancy software in the world and good business processes and so on, but if you don't have the right people in the right positions, none of it will work.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Take the time to plan your business strategy. Don't just rush into an online business assuming that your idea will instantly succeed. Spend time researching your market and your competition, and don't rush to push your product or service into development too quickly. Patience and planning go a long way when you're just starting out.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Chandra. It looks like you have a great business in the making!