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Two Women Prove a Home Business Partnership is Possible Living in Two Different States
A mother from Florida and her friend from Texas team up and create a successful partnership running a unique and viable home-based business!
Back in 1994, after over 20 years in the corporate environment, Cathy Watson resigned from a job in Houston, Texas, after it started giving her anxiety attacks on the daily commute to work. She began searching around for a way to work from home using her computer skills and found a career called “scoping.” Scoping is the process of editing legal transcripts (depositions, hearings, trials, and the like) for court reporters using specialized computer software. After doing some investigation into this intriguing niche profession, Cathy jumped in with both feet and began a successful career as a scopist.
In July 1995, after scoping full-time for not quite a year, Watson got a call from “Money Magazine” and was interviewed as part of a story on top home-based careers. That is how Judy Rakocinski, who was looking for a home-based career after selling a successful gift basket business, found Watson and contacted her about getting started. Rakocinski lives in Florida and Watson lives in Texas. Nonetheless, a friendship immediately bloomed and has grown since. Their communication has all been over the phone, e-mail, and Instant Messenger ever since they met online.
In July of 1997, Watson and Rakocinski finally met for the first time in person at the annual National Court Reporters Association convention in Orlando. Cathy and her husband, John, and Judy and her husband, Chuck, and their three children all had a wonderful chance to really get to know each other! The scoping team of Watson and Rakocinski stayed very busy over the next several years and the Scopists Support Group (“SSG”), was started in May of 2000, followed by ScopistsSupportGroup.com in May of 2001. In 2001 web design was added to their list of services, using the name of Websites by Mazco.
Working in a partnership has been very rewarding for the two. “Cathy and I talk many times during the day using email, instant messaging and the telephone,” says Judy. “We’re always in communication about our current students as well as our graduates. We’re not happy unless they’re all as busy as they want to be.”
“Judy and I love to brainstorm together,” states Cathy. “Sometimes one idea generates ten more. Also, we value each other’s opinions, so we don’t get our feelings hurt when one spots something the other doesn’t care for.”
After several years, realizing that the ratio of scopists to court reporters was about 1,000 to 60,000, it was clear that the need for professionally trained scopists was great. Rakocinski and Watson decided to develop a training program for that specific purpose. Thus, they began to develop their online business at BestScopingTechniques.com where they offer an online, self-paced course designed to teach people to become professional scopists. “BeST” is a fun course designed to get new scopists out in the world in as little as eight weeks.
The duo poured themselves into every aspect of the program from total content of the course right down to the actual web design itself. From the opening page, featuring the phrase “Unlock the Door to Your Future,” to the “Main Campus,” where you will find student areas, public areas, a library, a chapel, graduation and party rooms, Watson and Rakocinski made sure they left no stone unturned! It’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill, boring home-study program. This program even includes fun “paks” to keep students excited about their new venture! The majority of their lessons are downloaded from their web site as Adobe Acrobat documents. Of course, there are the traditional study materials like textbooks – three shipments of them, in fact. There’s even an online graduation ceremony! And Watson and Rakocinski provide each BeST graduate with his/her own complimentary web page at Scopist.biz and matching business cards to market scoping services, plus the first opportunity to respond to work leads generated by their site at ReporterSupport.com.
After graduation, BeST students receive ongoing support, and there is no time limit on professional advice and expertise. BeST graduates stay as busy as they want to be and know that if they ever need anything, they can always count on Watson and Rakocinski to be just a click away. The future of scoping is ever-changing, but it’s here to stay. Rapid advances in technology are producing CAT (computer-aided transcription) systems that are more user-friendly and more flexible (albeit more sophisticated) with each new update. A recent arrival is AudioSync, an integrated sound file that allows the scopist to listen to the audio of the proceedings without the reporter having to send audiotapes. “We sometimes hear from people who are worried about the future of court reporting (and thus scoping) with the advance of ‘electronic’ courtrooms and voice-recognition software,” says Watson, “but none of these can produce a written transcript without a human involved. With the proper professional training, a scopist will continue to be a vital part of the process reporters rely on to keep their production high and turn out accurate verbatim transcripts.”
After almost eight years, Watson and Rakocinski recently met up again in person for a special BeST luncheon held in Tampa, Florida.
As a true testament to their positions within the scoping community at large, Watson and Rakocinski have been invited to participate in the Houston Court Reporters Association annual seminar where they will give a presentation on the scopist-reporter relationship. Court reporters will be able to earn continuing education units by attending.
Whoever said you can’t have it all obviously never met this dynamic duo!
Reprinted with permission from Kathy and Judy at www.bestscopingtechniques.com © 2008 All rights reserved.