Starting A Transcription Service Business

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Starting A Transcription Service Business Powered By Docstoc
					Starting A Transcription Service Business
I successfully began typing from home back in the early 1990's while working for a transcription
company based in Seattle, Washington. As the years progressed, I chose to branch out on my own
talents and started Northwest Transcription. One of my first customers was a large insurance
brokerage firm based in downtown Portland, which previously used the service I was working for.
Because I had established a relationship, exposed them to my strong skills and professionalism, they
decided to give me the account instead. I was instantly billing out over $2,500 per month. From that
small beginning, I branched out to serving a variety of prominent insurance companies and attorneys
with their transcription needs. My business grew to adding four part-time employees who worked from
home. I learned that ingenuity, persistent, integrity, and dedication were the keys to success.
If you have the proper skills, you can make money from home as a transcriptionist, even if you do not
have any medical terminology background. Many industries are in need of individuals who can
transcribe the spoken word into text that are not health-care related.
Below are the the basics for starting your own business, maintaining a professional appearance when
working from home, finding the proper equipment to do the job, marketing your skills, pricing your
services, and industries to target to find work. To be successful, you'll need patience, diligence, and
resourcefulness to get the job done and bring the customers to your door.
Below is a sampling of the types of recorded verbatim transcripts that various industries routinely
need transcribed:
• Recorded Insurance Statements (Auto and Home).
• Recorded Insurance Statements for Workers' Compensation (injured employees)
• Administrative Law Hearings (Employment and Department of Motor Vehicles)
• Public Testimony (i.e. City Council Hearings, Planning Commissions)
• Government Hearings
• Business meetings or seminar speakers
• Court Proceedings (i.e. Motion Hearings, Pleas, Sentencing, Trial Testimony)
• Client Interviews (i.e. Attorneys)
• Law Enforcement Interviews (i.e. Police interrogations, witness statements)
• Depositions
• 911 Calls
• Wire Taps
• Focus Groups
• Sermons
• Dictated letters, memorandums, reports, summaries, proposals, appraisals, legal pleadings, briefs,
  and investigative reports
Marketing can be the most challenging obstacle to building a transcription service. If you have the
confidence, ability, and know-how, you can be successful. However, there are large transcription
services in the industry already that you will be competing with, but it doesn't mean you cannot build
your own local clientele over time. Below are ideas on who to contact when marketing for particular
areas of work:
• Recorded insurance statements can be obtained by contacting insurance company claims
  departments. If you don't feel you have the marketing skills to get in the door, you can find work
  through large transcription services already servicing these companies who routinely hire work-at-
  home individuals. An Internet search can provide you with companies to contact. Also, contact
  attorneys in your area who specialize in auto accidents and workers' compensation.
• Administrative Law Hearings -- Market to attorneys who specialize in DUII (driving under the
  influence cases) or employment matters, who routinely attend hearings.
• Law Enforcement - Local law enforcement agencies will sometimes outsource the transcription of
  interrogations or witness statements. You can obtain the work usually after stringent background
  checks on yourself and fingerprinting, but if you can get into a local agency it's a good source of
  income. Market to your local law enforcement agencies.
• 911 Calls and Wire Taps - Criminal lawyers and private investigators occasionally need 911
  transcripts or wire taps transcribed. You may find private individuals as well going through divorce or
  custody battles who tape record telephone conversations that need transcribing.
• Focus Groups - Research centers do focus groups and often need the group conversations
  transcribed. Contact any research centers in your area.
• Sermons - Yes, sermons. Large churches or religious organizations need transcription of preached
• General Marketing - In your marketing to the general public, you'll find individuals who may need
  transcription of government hearings, client interviews, business seminars, and public testimony at
  planning commission meetings or city council meetings.
• Business Correspondence - Some industries still dictate, though email has taken away a lot of that
  work. However, you'll still find those who prefer to dictate letters, memorandums, legal pleadings,
  appraisals, proposals, briefs, books, etc. Market to the general business public for these types of
  transcription items.
• Freelance Companies - There are a variety of online freelance sites that you can register on the
  Internet where you can bid on transcription jobs.
• Procurement Departments - All cities and states have portals on the Internet where you can register
  as a potential vendor. Bids are also placed on those sites for transcription work needed. Check them
  out, register, and keep on top of the work sent out for bid.
Transcription has come a long way and has evolved over the years. At first, it started with shorthand
(an art lost). Then it progressed to tapes. However, tapes came in various sizes: standard, mini, and
micro. Then the world of digital transcription arrived and various types of file formats were borne. But
transcription media wasn't the only evolution, as our computers have changed, our word processing
programs have evolved, and the way we save and transmit files. To be truly successful and a full
service provider, you need to invest in the right type of equipment, which includes transcription
machines, computers, and software. If money is a problem, there are cheap solutions on the market
you can explore.
• Computer - A good computer, comfortable work station, ergonomic keyboard are a must.
• Software - MS Word and Word Perfect are the basics. Most law firms are still using Word Perfect.
  (TIP: You can buy older versions of these word processing packages online that still work in newer
  versions, if you do not have the funds to purchase the current software.)
• Transcription Machines - Some people still use cassette tapes. There are standard, mini, and micro.
  (TIP: Purchase used machines, as you will use this medium less.)
• Online Transcription Software - There are a variety of audio files, however, to transcribe them you'll
  need software. FTR Player Plus is a free software you can download from the Internet, that can be
  used for court proceedings. Express Scribe is another free software you can download off the
  Internet that plays a variety of audio files. (TIP: For each of these programs, you'll need to purchase
  a foot pedal to plug into an USB port.)
• Digital Transcribers - There are also wonderful, but very expensive, digital transcription machines for
  purchase through Dictaphone, Philips or Lanier. These machines are somewhat like computers
  where you can hook them up to a standard telephone line and the customer can call in and dictate.
  A separate unit is usually needed to retrieve the dictation and transcribe the audio. If you have
  employees, you can actually have them use remote units in their homes to log into the main unit and
  transcribe as well. These units are great for busy executives who want to dictate from their cell
  phones in the car or on a plane.
Professionalism is the key to a thriving business. When you start a business, do it right.
• Decide what type of business entity you want to operate under - sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation.
  Visit your local state government website for starting business tips and explanation of the various
• Choose a good business name. If you don't want to operate under your own personal name, you
  can register an assumed business name with your state.
• Open a separate checking account for your business expenses and income. Keep accurate records.
  Purchase a software package that can generate invoices and keep business financial records.
• Get a PO Box for your mail, rather than using your home address.
• Get a business telephone line, rather than using your home phone.
• Invest in business cards and letterhead for marketing purposes.
• Start a simple website to refer customers to regarding your services.
Now you're set up, how do you price your services? There are a variety of ways.
• Charge by the hour - You can set a flat hourly rate for your services.
• Charge by the word - You can charge on a production basis, a per-word pricing basis. Word Count
  software can be purchased to calculate how many words are in a document (based on a five-
  character keystroke).
What are industries standards? Industry standards are published standards of how long it should take
to transcribe a document based on the number of minutes/hours of audio. There are published
standards on the Internet. Years ago, Association of Business Support Services International (no
longer in existence) published such standards. Their publications, however,can still be purchased.
Check our links.
Market rates are rates you can obtain locally by contacting other transcription services to see what
rates they are charging. Remember, you not only want to make money, but you want to be
competitive as well and give customers an incentive to use your services.
Here are links to websites where you can bid for freelance work:
Check back soon on how to order my publication "Starting, Growing, and Maintaining a Profitable
Home-Based Word Processing/Transcription Service."

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