Case Study: Rachel Gristwood

Rachel Gristwood provides proofreading services, searching out spelling mistakes, grammar that needs to be improved, along with punctuation and formatting errors.
Rachel Gristwood

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Rachel Gristwood

Tell us a little bit about what you do.

My name is Rachel Gristwood and my business is called Well Read Proofreading Services.

I provide a fresh pair of eyes for people who have written something. I use my great attention to detail to correct spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, and check that all formatting is correct. 

I help people make their writing the best it can be prior to publication or examination.

Types of work I’m involved in includes helping companies with their documentation before it goes out to clients; working with local authors on their books and magazine articles to complement their businesses; proofreading websites to ensure there aren’t any typos; proofreading PhD theses and Masters dissertations for students before they submit them, and I’ve checked journal articles match the journal’s house style prior to submitting them to a publisher. 

How did you find out about The Growing Club?

I first heard about the Growing Club through an advert in the Rhubarb City News, the Galgate residents’ newsletter. I called the number and Jane suggested I go in and have a chat with her. It was in the reasonably early days of The Growing Club, and it was really helpful. I knew immediately that I’d found something that I wanted to continue with.

Rachel Gristwood

Tell us more about how The Growing Club has helped you?

I had an idea that I wanted to start a business, but it was feeling very overwhelming. And I knew there were things that I didn’t know how to do. I like that it’s a women-only environment, so it felt really safe. I was doing a course in proofreading and had become a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, which is now the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading. Jane mentioned that I would be a prime candidate for the Roots and Shoots course, the 12-month business start-up course.

I joined and it was lovely being part of a group where we were all trying to find our way to set up our businesses. Some women had already set them up, some hadn’t. I officially set mine up in May 2020; that was when I was paid by my first client and I registered with HMRC.

I feel so much more confident after completing the course. It was great helping me to get my head around the finances, and prioritising what I needed to do next. 

I would recommend the Roots and Shoots course to other women because it takes away the isolation of starting a business on your own. And it gives you access to other women who are in a similar situation. Inevitably, some are going to be further ahead than you and you’re going to be further ahead than some other people. But the very fact that you’re all in the room, and you’re trying to set up your business, really gives you a tight bond. I found the training sessions incredibly helpful too, especially the finance and marketing workshops. 

What were your goals when you started the course?

Before Roots and Shoots, I had anxiety, and I had to be careful not to overwhelm myself with all the many issues surrounding setting up a business. Going through the Roots and Shoots course enabled me to learn things in manageable chunks and refine things that I’d already done. The course helped me learn things I needed to know, and that helped reduce my stress levels.

What are the next steps for your business?

The next step for my business is to find more clients. I am planning to contact publishing companies with a view to being taken on as a proofreader, which would bring in a more stable income. During lockdown, I completed marketing training courses through Zoom, so I now have a presence on LinkedIn, Google My Business and Facebook, which I didn’t have before joining the Growing Club. My mentor, Nicola Combe, has been instrumental in helping me choose which social media platforms to focus my efforts on, and has been incredibly supportive in so many other ways too.

Any final words?

The thing that I am most grateful to the Growing Club for is that I’ve had so much support and that it’s taken away so much of the stress. If I have a question, and I don’t know the answer, I can go to Jane or Nicola. If I’ve got a little something to celebrate, then I can share it in the Drop-In session. It’s made my journey less stressful, and therefore more enjoyable. And I feel more confident in the decisions that I’m making because I can talk them through with people who are experienced in business. 

The advice I would give is if you’ve got a business idea, just go for it.

My mentor gave me a gift at the Growing Club Christmas party in 2019, and it says, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” 

And the funny thing is, my business has gone from being a dream and becoming a reality. I have clients, I’m registered with HMRC, and I’ve got my income spreadsheet! I am constantly pinching myself that I’m actually running my own proofreading business.