The Editing Studio - Susannah Thompson

Susannah & her son, William 17months
Susannah & her son, William 17months 

Susannah Thompson: The Editing Studio

Tell us about your business?
The Editing Studio is a one-stop-shop for proofreading, editing, copywriting, and research services. I specialise in editing, and proofreading any type of document in need of a final polish - from university essays, advertising material, reports, website content, brochures, media releases, resumes, and selection criteria.

I liken my business to the process of getting a house ready for sale. It may be a solid house with great features, but unless the exterior is spic and span and the garden neat and tidy, it will be overlooked by potential buyers. It's the same with any type of document. The ideas and content may be great, but poor spelling and grammar, and awkward phrasing will inevitably lessen its impact.

Why did you start your business?
I started The Editing Studio because I needed a better work-life balance; before establishing the business, I was a lecturer and tutor at a university and I was also studying for my PhD. Lecturing and studying were both really fulfilling, but I found it a great challenge trying to juggle all the demands of academia as well as be a mum.

It's a long-running family joke that I've always been so passionate about reading and writing that I would read everything I could lay my hands on, even poring over the street directory on long car trips when I was younger. I've just always loved words and reading well-written prose – in whatever shape or form! I've also marked hundreds and hundreds of essays and tutored countless students, so it made sense to combine my love for words and my experience as a lecturer and tutor to create The Editing Studio.

Has starting your own business lived up to expectations?
It's harder than I imagined. I think I thought that if I developed a website and designed some business cards, then clients would come flocking, which is pretty naïve in retrospect! I've had to go out on a limb and learn new ways to market myself and to promote the business, which doesn't come naturally to me but it's becoming easier.

What have you enjoyed most about running your own business?
I enjoy 'going to work' in my pyjamas – or at least in tracksuit pants! I am very lucky in that my youngest child is a very easygoing little boy, so he happily plays while I work. I feel very fortunate that I am able to sit at my computer and do work while my son plays with blocks at my feet! I love that I can go to my daughter's school events and do the school run and still maintain an outside interest and contribute to the family's income.

I also get to play with words all day and to read a diverse range of documents on a diverse range of topics, from university essays to government reports – I never get bored.

What is the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is setting limits - knowing when it's time to stop for the day. There is always something that could be done – even if all client work is finished I could always do more to promote the business. I've had to be pretty strict with myself in turning off the computer and calling it a day.

Do you have any children – what are their names/ages?
I have two gorgeous kids – Olivia is a spunky 6 year old, and William is 17 months old.

How do you manage to juggle the running of your business with family?
My days are really structured. I do the majority of my work when my little boy is having his long nap in the middle of the day – long live daytime naps! Work time shuts down when it's time for the school pick-up, and then starts up again once the children are in bed.

What is the hardest thing about being a working mother?
The balancing act can be a fine one. Some days I get it right – I manage to get my daughter off to school on time, spend time playing with my little boy, do a good day's work, and then even have some quality time relaxing with my husband once the kids are in bed! Other days I feel as though I'm flying by the seat of my pants, but those days are becoming less frequent.

What do you think about 'me' time? And do you manage to fit some in?
'Me' time is essential!  Most days, I get up before the rest of the family to go for a walk or a run, to clear my head, get ready for the day ahead, and just to have half an hour where I'm alone with my thoughts.

Have you ever thought about giving it up?
Sometimes I think it would be simpler to find a job with set hours and a distinct separation of work life and home life, but I've never really honestly considered giving it up.

Do you have a favourite networking opportunity or event?
I am fortunate in that I have a number of friends who also run their own small businesses, and their experiences have been invaluable as I have gone through the process of marketing my services. Sometimes people who are on the outside of the business can offer really fresh perspectives on how to grow and expand – I've been able to get some really innovative marketing ideas, for example, from casual chats over coffee.

I also do a fair bit of volunteer work, mainly proofreading and copywriting for community organisations whose activities I support. The benefits of that are twofold: it gets my name out there in a professional sense, and I get to feel a sense of satisfaction that my business is worthwhile.

Do you have any advice for someone starting their own business?
Be realistic, both with your capabilities – what you can offer – and with the returns. Find a couple of good books which will give advice on how to establish your business, utilise any assistance provided by your local council for small businesses, and then just do it!

Interested in starting your own business? Chat with other entrepreneurial mums in the My Business Forums.