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Five things to know if you want to own a firm someday

When NCRA members talk about the benefits of becoming a court reporter, captioner, or legal videographer, one of the top responses is that they can be their own boss. But the business side isn’t something that comes up in most court reporting program curriculums. If you’re interested in becoming more business-savvy, you can take small steps today to position yourself for the future.

Know your worth
Monyeen L. Black, RPR, CRR, owner of MB Reporting, Inc., in San Ramon, Calif.

Knowing your worth is the start. I know what the minimum rate that I want to make for a day of work is. I learned long ago what I thrive on and what types of jobs are just not for me. I have now learned to say no to the jobs that are not of interest to me and what jobs/items were not negotiable. For instance, I choose not to report certain types of cases and have just learned to say no when they are offered to me. This keeps me happy. You must not view your business as a “court reporter” or “freelancer” but instead as a company that needs to be profitable in order to stay in business. You must know what you make on each job. Numbers do not lie.


Always learn
Angie Starbuck, RDR, CRR, CRC, owner of PRI Court Reporting, Columbus, Ohio

I started learning more about business topics by reading everything I could get my hands on! I have read (and still do!) countless blog articles and books, and I’ve listened to many podcasts. I quickly joined the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) through our local chapter and have gained access to many more informative webinars and classes. I have also made connections within the court reporting world and have been fortunate to have a few people I can ask business questions of and share information. I met some of my first firm owner friends at the NCRA Firm Owners Conference in Dana Point, Calif. Those relationships and that experience proved to be invaluable to me.


Make connections with others in your business
Lisa A. Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR, Knight International Court Reporting, Littleton, Colo.

Don’t be afraid to ask people questions and don’t be afraid to talk to people. Talking to people is how you build relationships, not just with your clients but with other professionals. Join your state court reporting association and NCRA and serve on committees. You learn so much through committee connections that you don’t get otherwise. You get to know people and learn about how you can help other people. But the incredible thing is that you get so much back. Don’t be afraid to give back, because you will get so much in return.


Focus on your ideal client
Debbie Bridges Duffy, RPR, Bridges Court Reporting, Chicago, Ill.

Decide who your target market is, and focus on that one ideal client. Don’t waste your time on clients that are high maintenance. Focus on your bottom line and profitable clients. If you are a court reporter, you should try to work for those who share your values and support and encourage you.


No matter where you are in your career, realize that you are building your own brand
Andrea Couch, RDR, CRR, CRC, Associated Reporting & Video, Boise, Idaho

Whether you work for a firm as a freelancer or as an official or a CART provider or captioner, whether you are a subcontractor or employee, whether you aspire to own your own firm one day or not, you are always building your personal brand in everything that you do. Every piece of work that you put your name on builds your brand. Every interaction you have with clients builds your brand. Be mindful of that. Be protective of that. What you make of your career is up to you and you alone. So work hard, get your certifications, never stop learning. Position yourself to be able to go out and do whatever you want to do. Take ownership of your brand and take pride in it. Be fierce in the pursuit of your goals and amazing things will happen.