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B2B ID: Frances Fahey, Fran’s Fine Editing in Easthampton

NAME: Frances Fahey

JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Owner, Fran’s Fine Editing in Easthampton

WEBSITE: www.fransfineediting.com

AGE: 61

WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: 2008

WHAT YOU DO: I provide copywriting, proofreading and editing services for small- to medium-sized businesses, and I write résumés for individuals. I write and edit all types of marketing documents (Web copy, brochures, letters, newsletters, print ads, etc.) and proofread books and screenplays for authors. I also have a few ongoing corporate contracts to proofread publications.

EXPERIENCE: Thirty-three years of experience as a researcher, writer and manager in human resources. I semiretired at age 55 and started my business shortly afterward. I also recently became a certified professional résumé writer.

THE MARKET: Small businesses, especially start-ups; students (for editing theses and dissertations); and everyone else (for résumés).

HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: Network, network, network. I’m on the board of the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, volunteer with the Women Business Owners Alliance of Pioneer Valley, and am a member of other professional organizations. I also get clients through my website, social media and print advertising, but the majority of my clients have come to me through personal referrals.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? Because it’s a home-based business, I had only minimal overhead (paper, ink, software, free website and blog) so I did not have to take out business loans. In my third year of business, I was able to reach a point where I could use my profits to improve marketing and enhance my skills — purchase new hardware, run print ads, join national organizations, and take a certification exam.

KEY TO SUCCESS: I recognize that it’s a little intimidating for people to have someone else write for them or alter what they have already written. So, I focus on making my clients comfortable and treating them with friendliness and respect, putting their needs first. I would say 60 percent of my new business comes to me through the good relationships I have built over the years. Also, I look for ways to collaborate with folks in businesses that complement mine, such as Web designers and career coaches, as they can refer their own clients to me.

CHALLENGES: The toughest one is managing my time effectively in order to meet tight deadlines. It’s also a challenge to accurately estimate how long it will take me to complete a certain job, as I want to set clear expectations for my clients about cost and turnaround time before we begin working together.

MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: I ask for a deposit up front for large projects, so that a client can’t leave without having paid me for time already spent. Fortunately, it only happened to me once — early on — and it was a valuable learning experience.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: Be honest with your clients and own your mistakes; you’ll keep clients in the long run.

WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: I’m grateful to my wife’s aunt Ruth, a retired editor from the New York publishing world, who encouraged me to become a freelance editor back in 2008. Once I started my business, I have since found mentors in all of the networking groups I have belonged to. They include folks like other small business owners, specialists in social media and business coaches. Groups that support women in business have been particularly helpful to me. And being a member of a weekly writing group helped me rediscover my creativity.

TOP GOALS FOR 2012: Implement my new logo, website and newsletter, and make the time to get back to blogging.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from other business owners or experts, and be open to what they suggest. You can never get enough input, especially when you are starting out. Look for free and low-cost seminars from your local business or economic development agencies; there are a lot of experts out there, and they are happy to help you.

PARTING THOUGHT: Do what you love to do — I am — and it will pay off in the long term.

B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at beetlepress@charter.net.

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