GETTING YOUR SCOPING BUSINESS ORGANIZED
Your invoices don't need to be fancy, just professional looking. (And
be sure to proofread your invoices!) Most of my reporters that I work
online with like to get an email invoice after I send a job back, and
usually pay from that. But I still print and mail them a hard-copy invoice
for their records because I print one for myself anyway. I mail all my invoices (along
with returning any tapes) on Fridays.
Your email invoice could look something like this:
Re: People v. jones
Scoping services - Jury trial May 25, 2000 (25MA00) - 120 pages @
$1.00/page = $120.00
Put your address on (at least) the first few email invoices so they know where to
send the money. I also put my Soc. Sec. number on my printed invoices
as they will need that to prepare your 1099 form for taxes each year.
Which reminds me of another important point: You are now self-employed
and you will need to set aside money from each check you get to pay your
taxes. Consult a cpa to see if you should be paying quarterly estimated
payments. Don't end up on April 14th and find out you owe a few
thousand dollars to the irs and didn't realize it!
For new scopists, or veterans who find it helpful, I thought I'd
describe a little work log I use. It's just on a piece of lined paper
and it looks like this:
After I do each job, I add it to the log. Then when I've been paid for
that job, I highlight it in green. That way it's real easy to see what
invoices are unpaid and I usually make a note of my total $$ for each
week just so I can keep an eye on my weekly production.
| Year: 2000|
|Date|| # Pgs. || $ || CR|
|09/29|| 105|| $105.00 || BL |
|10/02 || 99 || 84.15|| MI |
|10/04|| 144|| 144.00|| KW |
Some things you can do while you're in the startup mode:
* Design how your invoices will look - select paper, software, etc.
* Buy some business card stock for your printer from the local office supply store and
design and print some cards. You do not need to pay to have hundreds of
cards printed by someone else.
* Decide what your starting rate page will be, and decide how flexible
you can be for the first few jobs.
* Be prepared to explain to the reporter how soon your invoices will
become due, and decide how flexible you can be if they tell you their
payment time is longer.
* Have your trainer's name and phone no./email address handy in case the
reporter asks for a reference. (They hardly ever do!)
* Make a list of questions to ask the reporter about the job: how many
pages it is, when do they need it back, will they be sending you tapes,
is it a videotaped job, etc.
* Be prepared to assist the reporter in learning how to email jobs if
they don't know how.
* Be sure to let the reporter know you can read steno (if you indeed
When you get that first job:
* Ask the reporter to send you a few pages (printed preferably) from a
completed job so you can see their preferences - and make notes of those
preferences in a file you keep on each reporter.
* Don't be afraid to say you're new; but at the same time, be
* After you complete the job, encourage the reporter to let you know if
he/she sees things you've done they'd like handled differently.
* After you complete the job, give the reporter an invoice, keeping a
copy for yourself.
Forgot one important thing: Buy a good transcriber! Also some extra
diskettes so you can back up ALL (repeat - ALL) your jobs.
(In response to a question about keeping manual records:)
It sounds like you're capturing all the necessary information but just
finding it cumbersome to use. I would suggest using a software package
to record everything. That way you can retrieve any information you
need - by reporter, by month/quarter/year, etc. I use Peachtree, which
I've used for years and love it. I enter the data after each job is
completed and it generates an invoice. Then when I get paid, I enter
the amount received for that invoice. It makes checking monthly
production a snap and I never have to go through a big ordeal when tax
time rolls around - just print the report. Quicken is another
package that is popular. You type some sort of invoice anyway, right?
Might as well let that same information do the rest of the work for you!
> keep a handwritten record in case my computer crashed. Or is it enough to just back up data on a disk?
I tell ya, when my jobs come in, I write my info down on a paper log I keep
on my clipboard (reporter, job name, date rec'd, pgs, rate and amt. billed).
I also keep this info in my computer for billing invoices I send out. I
started the practice of writing it down on a paper log in order to have a
handy place to quickly glance at what work I had on hand to do. I had only
begun this practice for about a month or two, when my computer completely
crashed - dead - and this paper was my only way to trace what work I had
so I could bill my reporters. Of course anything I do bill ends up in my
computer and is backed up on disk. Boy, I'm glad I had my paper or I would
have had nothing to go on to bill with. Everything on the computer was lost.
Crashed and glad I had my paper back-up
>>Crashed and glad I had my paper back-up
I *hate* when that happens!
I back up my entire G/L system periodically...uh, okay, when I remember
to do it... but I generate paper invoices upon completion of each job
and print three copies: the original for the reporter, one copy for the
reporter's folder (placed in their "open" section until paid, then moved
to the "paid" section), and one copy for me (kept in my A/R folder until
paid). This way, without having to look in the computer (which
sometimes is inconvenient), I can grab either the reporter's folder (to
see what they owe) or my general A/R file to see everything that's
I also keep a handwritten log of work that shows who, #pages, $, and
date completed. I highlight the line item as it gets paid.
I think the key to whatever system is used is: 1) Does it provide the
current status of where you're at, and 2) does it easily provide
information needed at tax time.
I run an Excel sheet that I open the first of the year. I have
templates or forms for invoices for each of my reporters. Once I fill in
send out an invoice, e-mail or snail-mail, I enter the amount in one column
for the reporter on the spreadsheet. When I get a check, I enter the amount
received in the second column. Two clicks of the mouse button and in the
third column Excel tells me how much is still due. At the end of the year, I
use the Excel to total the first and second columns and there's my figures
the accountant and whatever balance due I have to carry to the next year. A
little copy and paste for the headers and the first of the year I'm ready to
I do, however, keep hard copies of the invoices on a shelf above my desk so
know at a glance who owes me money at any given time and that's my backup in
case of computer crash.
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