Jul 09

Starting up a business

While it’s highly recommended to write regular posts, I have to admit that I have been in “violation” of this golden rule for blogging. But … I had a good reason!

The past couple of months it’s been crazy around here, since my husband decided to start his own physical therapy practice. All hands were on deck, searching for a location, equipment, computer, software, supplies, and all that’s involved in started a business. This all had to happen within two months, and it took many hours, visits, calls, internet searches, take out dinners, etc., but we pulled it together! All my prior reading, research, teleclases and other information sources must have prepared me mentally to tackle this job, because I never expected to start a business this way, and this quick. We learned to prioritize and made the practice functional by the start date, leaving the purchase of additional equipment and decorating for later. Roel already had a client base and they needed to be serviced!

Having an existing client base was crucial to the decision to start the business, because if we had to start from scratch we would probably not have taken this important step. The practice is up and running, even though we both have so much to learn. Most healthcare providers who are highly skilled in their field, never learned how to run a business. Equally, most translators and virtual assistants don’t know a thing about medical billing, but if we wanted to succeed, we’d better learn fast.

So while Roel was diving into all types of books, magazine articles and internet sources, he learned that he had to switch his mindset to that of a business owner. On the other hand, I was burying myself in books and talked to specialists about medical billing, to help me understand how the billing cycle works. This helped me big time, when we had to decide which billing and office management software to choose for the practice. I learned about the features, requirements, support and the different price tags of these programs. These are the most important factors in the decision making process for this type of specialized software, and again we looked at all the pros and cons before we decided what best fit the needs of the practice and our wallet. It is real easy to get carried away and order that fancy package used by most PT clinics (which may have a staff of maybe 10?). But we kept our head cool and choose one in the midrange.

Knowing some about technology, computers, business requirements and latest developments and trends, contributed to the final selection of the best computer package and printer for our needs, saving us a lot of money on set up and installation as well.

In the meantime I was also working on creating the website for Remobility, using information from the old brochure and what I knew about the practice and it’s owner (LOL). In addition, all that  knowledge I had gathered over the years on how to create a decent website could be put to good use once again. The website is an ongoing work in progress as we continue to test what works or looks better.

My latest endeavour was getting the newsletter together. The main purpose will be to educate clients and the general public, and at the same time be a useful (online) marketing tool next to the website.  We have already received some feedback about the newsletter, that we will implement with the next edition. The newsletter will also be made available on the website. We have many exciting plans we want to develop for the future

As you can see, I had a good enough reason to be away from my blog even though I felt very guilty about not posting.  However, I am back and I hope to write more frequently because I am beginning to get inspired to write more (LOL).

Mar 28

Ever proofread a translation?

According to Wikipedia proofreading traditionally means reading a proof copy of a text in order to detect and correct any errors. Before a text is published it should be free of errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, context and syntax.

Why? Because any text with errors will turn the reader away! Whether it’s a book, article, newsletter or website content, no matter how interesting the topic, no one will want to continue reading because it does not convey quality and reliability of the content and source.

Most people think that proofreading is a boring job, but if you like to read and words are your “thing” (like they’re for me), it’s no effort. In fact it’s even fun; sort of like a puzzle that needs to fit together. I can’t help it, but I will fall over typos I read on websites or in articles. Errors just jump out at me, screaming to be noticed, and I feel this urge to make it right! Of course I can’t do that myself, so I’ll write to the owner or author of the site or article, to let them know about the typo. They may not care to change it, but I’ve done my duty and it feels right! (even if I don’t get paid)

Is all proofreading the same? Absolutely not! The three most common types of proofreading are based on native language, translations and specific knowledge. In turn, these can be used for general, academic, international, technical, scientific, print or electronic publishing.

Proofreading can be done for text that was written in the native language of the writer, but it becomes more complicated when the text is a translation. At that point language and cultural knowledge will peek around the corner and the proofreader should have a good command of both.

Why is this important? Mainly because it helps the proofreader understand what the translator tried to say, but not using the proper expression. I encountered this in my last proofreading assignment, when the writer used “annual development plan” in stead of “medium term plan.” How did I know what he meant? Because I am very familiar with both, the native language and the culture where this expression is used, and that of the audience for whom the text was intended. You see, the writer turned properly used terminology of his native language into an expression that would certainly be misunderstood, even though they have the same meaning in each language. He made a common mistake by doing a literal translation from Dutch into English. More about translations in my next post.

When proofreading a translation, the proofreader can look at the target text only, but sometimes the meaning may not be clear, and he or she will need access to the source (original) text. Both texts can be viewed side by side to compare for accuracy of translation and proper syntax, while the proofreader will constantly switch back and forth between the two languages.

The third most common type of proofreading is when the text is very specific or “technical”. This may require that the proofreader has a technical background as well. For example, a Biochemical research report should be reviewed by someone with a solid background in Biochemistry.

A highly skilled proofreader will usually have a college or postgraduate degree, so be sure to check this before hiring a proofreader for your project.

Feb 18

Feeling stuck? Use Idea Mapping!

In November last year I attended a virtual assistant course where I met Tara Kachaturoff, who hosted and produced the Michigan Entrepreneur, a weekly television talk show. That’s how I found out about idea mapping and I was so intrigued by the subject that I decided to try it out. After all, if successful executives used the technique it had to be good right?

You can use it to get ideas, plan events, create todo lists, anything that makes your creative juices flow. So I tried it out when planning our Thanksgiving dinner last year. It would be dinner for 20 and those of you who have cooked big dinners before, know how “easy” it is to forget something, anything! There was always something that was either missing or showing up after the dinner. NOT this time! From appetizers to desserts, I didn’t miss anything and I absolutely loved this idea mapping!

The month December is for most people the busiest time of the year and I am no exception, with 13 birthdays, parties, dinner invitations and family gatherings, I just feel like going in hiding during the entire month. But this time I was going to try my secret weapon again and I used mind mapping for Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners, holiday shopping, and trip planning. I am currently even using it for business planning and further development of my virtual assistant business. You can litterally use it for anything and it is such a great tool that I would highly recommend to anyone who feels stuck, overwhelmed or is in a creative dip.

To learn more about this technique I am currently reading Jamie Nast’s book Idea Mapping and with all it’s “blooms” and “flows” it is easy to read and follow instructions to learn the proper use of idea mapping. Above all, Jamie teaches us to have fun while activating the brains and guide our ideas.

Buy the book here : Idea Mapping: How to Access Your Hidden Brain Power, Learn Faster, Remember More, and Achieve Success in Business

Thanks Tara, for bringing this to my attention. I’m sure glad I met you!

Jan 19

Hello WordPress world!

Welcome to my first blog and site in WordPress. I have to admit that I was very intimidated when I was taking some of the online lessons, because it all sounded so technical. I would call myself semi-technical person and most of what I know about web design and HTML, I learned on my own. Well, with the help of my friends who knew a little bit more than me.

I read someone’s comment about WordPress and almost felt like doing the same. This person claimed that WP is for tech-geeks and he ran hard in the opposite direction! Funny image came to my mind, but I could understand.

Now that I’ve played around with WP a little, I am beginning the grasp the program and I can appreciate the flexibility or versatility it offers.  I still have tons to learn, but I’m on my way and nothing challenges me more than the (almost) impossible. Not to say that I won’t admit defeat when something appears to be way above my head, but half of the fun is in trying something new. Come back to read more about my development in the WordPress world!