Can You Say "Profits"?

On Her Own

It was January 1994. The next step was to clear the dining room table of her East Providence home and transform the room into her office. Her husband, Jeffrey, installed her computer, and with a dedicated phone/fax line, a Macintosh and a stack of newly printed brochures, Horton Interpreting Services was born. Her first jobs came easily: Previous clients called to request her services--and kept calling. When Horton had too many requests to fill, she hired consultants. And before long, she decided to expand beyond Spanish.

This one-person business, though, entailed inordinate administrative time. A client might schedule one emergency session and never return. Horton needed contracts: a guaranteed number of hours of interpreting per month.

Horton knew hospitals, businesses and state agencies all put interpreting contracts out to bid, but she didn't know how to get into that loop. So she called purchasing agents she'd worked with before and asked what contracts they were putting out to bid. "[Agency staff members were] excited to hear I'd gone into business for myself," says Horton. That one-on-one contact served her well: By the end of her second year, she had an even flow of contracts and enough consultants (50 to 60) to respond to requests for up to 35 languages.

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Can You Say &quotProfits"?.

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