Microsoft Business Advantage Success Story
Originally published (February 2000) in Microsoft Business Advantage Success Stories Section, which no longer exists on the Microsoft site. Printed with permission of Microsoft.
Ten years ago I lost my job because of corporate downsizing. Immediately, I found it difficult to gain new employment. I worked at two different jobs before realizing that I possessed many skills and characteristics that could help me start my own business: a strong, varied business background; a computer; and a love for organization, writing, editing, typing, and people. Rather than being fearful, I felt full of hope.
In 1992, I contacted several local secretarial services and joined the National Association of Secretarial Services (now the Association of Business Support Services International or ABSSI). It seemed wise to work for a temporary agency until I had the funds and timing to be a full-time entrepreneur. The following year, I officially began Office Support Services (OSS) in Phoenix, AZ.
I launched my business Web site in 1996 and my free Webgrammar site ( link to: http://www.webgrammar.com) in 1999.
Webgrammar has been a key player in my move from a 90-percent local business to a 90-percent Internet business. OSS has evolved from a strictly secretarial business to an editorial service that copyedits business and academic documents and Web site-related text. I also assist companies with Web-site redesign and serve as a consultant to other small businesses.
Two years ago, almost all my business was locally based. Thanks to technology and people willing to share time, knowledge and expertise, that all changed within a year. That year I also took time off to learn HTML and other Web development functions, so I could create and maintain my own sites. I enjoyed having others manage the sites, but once I understood the Internet culture and began making daily changes, it was more efficient to make any modifications on my own.
Webgrammar.com is my gift to the Internet community. It's a cyber-conduit of information, with resources and references for students, writers, editors, educators, businesses, organizations, and Web designers. I wanted to give to the Internet community some of what it has given me: tips, tutorials, and friendly mentoring.
Microsoft® Word and Microsoft Publisher are mainstays of my daily work. I use Word for both online and brick-and-mortar clients; and Publisher-with its graphics capabilities, layers, ability to print crop marks, and ease of use-is my all-time favorite work tool. I use it for flyers, ads, brochures, business document design, newsletters, postcards, presentation transparencies, books, and booklets.
Learning to use technology effectively and selectively is a key to business success. It's not always easy, but it's definitely not impossible. Most technology can help us accomplish tasks quickly, giving us the freedom to move on to related or complementary areas of interest.
My small business success means that I'm meeting my goals, not that I'm making a fortune. It also means more time for continued study in Web development, and for mentoring, one of my most cherished activities.
I find inspiration in many forms, including the simple idea that, even though I'm sixty-something, I can learn and grow daily. It's also powerful to know that my hearing loss is not a barrier to conducting business on the Internet. And it's rewarding when OSS brings in enough income to maintain Webgrammar's activities and have enough left over for occasional trips to Dairy Queen and a favorite restaurant or two!
Technology's constant expansion truly opens doors for independent contractors. To other small businesses, I'd offer this advice: Never stop seeking tools that will help you run your business more effectively and provide the finest customer service. Ask your peers and mentors, because the right tools are out there.