My regular readers will have noticed that we have a somewhat new contributing writer- Erika Wassall. She is jack of all trades and I am blessed to have her writing for us. She is a professional freelance writer, children’s book author, farmer, avid cook and DIYer. Amazingly she is also an entrepreneur who started her own Medical Transcription work at home business. In fact she is so successful that she employs others to work from home!! Knowing that so many moms are trying to find a way to work from home, I asked her if she could take a little time to answer some questions about her job as a medical transcriptionist and journey as an entrepreneur. She obliged and here is my interview with this entrepreneur on her work from home business.
Medical Transcription Allows Her To Work From Home
Image designed by Vecteezy
Could you tell us a little about your business? What does a Medical Transcriptionist do?
I am the owner of ADA Transcription, a company that specializes in medical and academic qualitative research. We work with universities, hospitals and research centers all around the country. Interviews, focus groups and case studies, get recorded and the transcripts are used as data for the study. This area of transcription has some very industry-specific needs in order to properly capture the essence of the conversation.
I have about a dozen transcriptionists and two proofreaders at this point.
How did you become a medical transcriptionist?
Honestly, my cousin was doing presentations to sell a Medical Transcription Certification course. I went purely to see her. But I got intrigued and ended up purchasing the course. After completing it and doing my own research, I was more drawn to qualitative research, as opposed to medical records work.
I worked for other companies for about a year on the job. Soon I found myself going… “I could do this on my own!” So I worked on a business model for another year and finally dove in full-time. For years, it was a one-man show, working 80-hour weeks on a regular basis.
Did you have any previous experience starting or running businesses?
Nope. I didn’t even really know anyone that did. It was terrifying (still is sometimes!) But I had always found myself with ideas about “doing my own thing”, since I was a child. I am grateful that my entrepreneurial spirit has somehow always been a part of me.
How did you make your Medical Transcription jobs grow?
Without sounding arrogant… we do an elite job as medical transcriptionist, and I pay extremely close attention to customer service. I always answer the phone, regardless of the day or hour. I email people back usually within an hour. If a good customer needs something special, I won’t charge extra unless I really have to. I want clients to feel like their needs are my priority, NOT my bottom line.
For years, I did cold-sales work every single day; emails, phone calls, flyers, you name it. It was boring and often felt pointless. But every once in a while, it would work.
Now, I use my customers! I try to make their interactions with ADA Transcription memorable so they’ll pass the name on. If I do get a referral, I THANK them. A referral is the highest possible compliment and should be acknowledged.
Today, the majority of my new business is from word of mouth. Satisfied customers are any company’s BEST advertisements.
How did you figure out how to handle the growth as it began to grow?
As a medical transcriptionist, I struggle with this constantly. While growth is a good thing, it never seems to happen in the nice slow, steady way we want it to. It’s feast or famine! And it’s a hard balance when you can take that next leap to bring on a new person or purchase that software to help manage workflow.
Be OVERLY honest with your team. Don’t advertise for a position that may last a month without being clear about that. You can find excellent people, who will be fine with that, if you’re upfront about it.
Be honest with your customers too… but maybe not AS honest. In the beginning, if I was asked if I could do something, I would always say “YES! Absolutely! No problem at all!”, while simultaneously Googling to find out what it even meant! But I had confidence in myself that I would do whatever it took to make it happen. Sometimes I lost money on those projects. But I kept my customer happy and I learned something. Those things have their own profit.
What do you think contributed to your success as a Medical Transcriptionist?
I was lucky to have a full time job for about the first year, while I transcribed on the side for others. I was able to get a feel for the industry, and to know what I did and didn’t like about the way they did things.
On top of that, I largely contribute my success to my customer service, my amazing customers and the fantastic team I’ve built. I want my transcriptionists to be proud they work with us. I keep them apprised of exciting new customers, company growth, and milestones while monetarily thanking them with bonuses, employee of the month awards and more.
My transcriptionists and proofreaders are amazing. It’s important to me that they know that.
What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
It really is managing growth, and I still work on overcoming that everyday.
But perhaps a more tangible answer is balancing my life. Working for yourself is hard. You have to draw a LOT of hard lines and there is no one there to force you to do it! There is no supervisor who will get mad at you if you take a two-hour lunch break.
Hours can be rough. Even in the past six months, I’ve had nights where I worked until 10pm, weeks I worked 70+ hours, and one night where a transcriptionist dropped a large file that was due to my client by noon the next day. I sat at my computer from 10pm and just barely finished the file completely by 11am. By then I had other regular work to do and didn’t get to sleep until close to 3pm.
I work HARD. So as the company has progressed and I’ve found myself no longer working 80-hour weeks on a regular basis, I let myself enjoy it! If I find myself with a few days of even more downtime, I run with it and take an entire Tuesday afternoon to myself or sleep in on a Thursday!
There are a lot of negatives to working for yourself. You deserve to enjoy the positives too!
What advice would you give other women who want to start a business and/or work from home?
Be prepared that working at home may not be what you expect.
When I ask people why they want to start their own business the answer I often get is “flexibility.” This always confuses me slightly. Depending on what you’re doing, working for yourself is often significantly LESS flexible. You’re not done at any particular time and I can’t take sick days or leave early. There is no such thing as paid vacations, (in fact last month was the first real vacation I’ve taken in six years, and it took months to plan).
EVERYONE has a boss. In my case, it’s my customers and my deadlines.
Yes, I can often avoid the crowded supermarkets by going food shopping on a Monday morning, it’s easier to get to the DMV before it closes and I can schedule a dentist appointment for 8AM without worrying about getting flack from a supervisor. In THAT way, it has flexibility. But one piece of advice I find myself often giving is to really look at what type of flexibility you’re looking for, and whether working for yourself will provide that.
You have to be willing to face problems head on, and you have to be good with numbers, so you can track your own progress, while still being able to step back and look at the big picture.
I don’t have a “regular income”. And that is a scary way to live sometimes.
But what I have created is MINE. I feel good about what I do. I feel good that I help other women (and men!) work from home and that I am a part of providing their families with income too.
If it’s something you want, if it’s something you know you want to get into, a pull you almost can’t explain, there’s only one thing to do!
Plan for it and DO IT!
Make a business plan. Re-write it. Re-write it again. Plan out a budget. Look at a timeline and plan out what tangible steps you have to take to get there, but be prepared for that plan to change many times along the way.
Dream big. Dream HUGE in fact. But make decisions based in reality.
Talk to people! Most people who have built something are MORE than happy to talk about it (hence my long, droning answers, lol). Ask questions, but don’t take anyone’s answer too seriously. You ultimately have to make your own answers.
What is your favorite quote?
I thought about this for a while, trying to come up with something meaningful but playful, something that represented me and might touch others. Then I realized what the REAL answer was:
Sounds silly and overly simple. But the truth is, it’s helped me with everything from awkward moments and overwhelming days to really difficult struggles in my life. And it’s helped me to remember good moments too. Sometimes taking a moment to just close my eyes and breathe helps to capture a memory, or to put some perspective on a bad situation.
Being a medical transcriptionist is a part of who I am. To me, both my customers and my employees are all a part the team that makes up the company and its success. If you feel drawn to being an entrepreneur, if it’s something that you feel is innately a part of you, don’t let go of that. It’s a unique quality that when nurtured can spawn something truly beautiful.
As an entrepreneur myself, I can tell you that Erika gives great advice and she does a great job at painting a realistic picture of working from home. I enjoyed having her share her insights and wisdom with us! I hope you enjoyed this interview with entrepreneur, Erika Wassall, and learned something too!
Do you ever think about trying out your entrepreneurial skills or working from home? Have you ever considered Medical Transcription work from home?