1. Why are you in business?
I love history and research and I understand that some people don’t. But a lot of little still want to know where they came from. This is where I come in to help.
2. Why are you in this type of business?
Genealogy and family research has been my obsession for the past year and a half. I want my business to be a cheaper alternative to an Ancestry subscription.
3. What is your background? Education, Work Experience.
I earned my associate’s degree at night while working full time for a law firm. Then I had the opportunity to work for a company that provided health insurance, so now I’m at a call center.
4. Can you provide me with a description of your business?
Shawnee Lynn’s Genealogy Services is a concept in which I handle all the research and legwork associated with learning your family history. I provide a clear and concise method to understanding where you came from without the effort.
5. How long have you been in business? In this business? In other businesses?
Well I created this concept less than a month ago. So I’m pretty much just starting out on this adventure and learning as I go.
6. What type of business form do you have, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, distributor?
Sole proprietorship. I do all the work myself with the tools I have at my disposal.
7. What are the advantages of this form of business ownership?
The main advantage is I get the thrill of making the discoveries and sharing them with my clients. The drawback is it takes time to do the research and there’s only one of me. I really hate making new clients wait while I’m finishing the one I’m working on, but unfortunately it’s the nature of the beast, currently.
8. How did you get started in this business?
Genealogy became a hobby of mine through my mother. She’s been into it for years, but I never understood it until about a year ago. I got started because I wanted to share the sense of surprise and discovery with others.
9. How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
Even though I have only been doing this a year, I was trained by the best, my mother. We’ve hit a brick wall with her great grandfather (which means we can’t find proof of who his parents are) and the mystery captivated me into researching every single family in the county with his last name to find proof. We still haven’t found anything finite, but I do have the necessary experience through all the skills I have gained hunting this ancestor down.
10. How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?
With the popularity of AncestryDNA and other DNA tests rising, I’ve realized that people DO care about where they came from, they just don’t know how to go about doing it. Or maybe they can’t afford a 20/month Ancestry subscription. This is where I come in. I do have to be very careful with some of the discoveries I may make, because it may not be pleasing to my clients, which can get me in trouble, legally. I’m working on compiling a disclaimer page. The political environment will always be a factor as well. For example, a client may not be happy to learn one of their ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. It’s just the nature of the job.
11. Do you know who your competitors are?
Yes. Genealogy services are a common business model, I’ve noticed. Especially in the freelance circles like Fiverr. Where I stand out is I like to keep my services affordable.
12. How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business?
I use Facebook and Instagram for marketing and advertising. I use an app called Canva to make my ads and graphics that I use. The rest of it is just word of mouth.
13. Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
To be completely honest, if my business stays as small as it is right now, I’ll consider myself blessed. Yes I would love to be able to do this as a full time job, but then again, I like the intimacy of having a small business.
14. Do you plan to compete in the global market place? If yes, how? If no, why not?
Yes and No. The research I currently do is just inside the US. Maybe in a year or two I can expand into worldwide research. Without this capability, I can’t quite compete in the global marketplace yet.
15. How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
Technology is a very important factor in my services. I use my smartphone phone and a computer daily in my research. Also, I utilize Ancestry, FamilySearch.org, and many other online tools to conduct research. My advertising is mostly conducted on social media and image editing apps.
16. Where is your business located?
I can conduct my business anywhere in the US. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram and I also receive emails at email@example.com. I live in Alabama and most of my first customers are people I know locally.
17. Whom do you seek advice from for your business?
I hate to admit this, but when I’m stuck and need help, I usually just Google what I need. There are many bloggers and other business owners with plenty of great articles and tools to utilize.
18. What do you do with your profits?
At this point in my business, I’m still working on breaking even. I purchased an Ancestry subscription and I pay $12 a year for my domain, shawneelynn.com. My goal in this business isn’t to make a profit but help with the costs of what I utilize in genealogy.
19. Do you have a business plan to operate your business?
I do. Currently I’m just keeping things simple and loving the work I put into every client’s family tree.
20. Does your business have a stated mission statement, the reason that this business exists?
I have not created a mission statement yet, but it is on my radar now. Keep your eyes out for that soon 😉
21. Do employess or a downline?
I’m assuming you’re asking if I have employees or a downline system. This is not something I’m planning on doing anytime soon. I’m not ruling it out for the future, but it’s not on my radar right now.
22. What is your target market?
My target market has many different characteristics. People who want to know where they come from, but lack the time, experience, or they don’t know where to even start.
23. Can you describe your customers?
Yes. They have a real passion for what I find fit them. Every single person I’ve helped so far has been so excited and interested in family.
24. Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
They see me radiate a true passion for what I do. Plus I am a very economical option.
25. Are there any ethical concerns that your type of business must deal with?
Oh yes, daily. Doing this work, you never know what you’re going to dig up and whether or not your customer is going to agree or even get offended. I’m also working on compiling a legal disclaimer for my website.
26. How do you overcome these ethical problems?
My first step is to create the disclaimer. Second, I make sure that the sensitive material I dig up is completely accurate. If it is, I contact the customer directly and we talk it out.
27. What is your management style?
I have to budget my time carefully, as not to spread myself too thinly or neglect other duties. Since I am a sole proprietor, time management is the only management I have to deal with, since I manage myself.
28. What are the biggest issues for running this business?
So far my biggest issue has been getting the word out to the right people. Advertising is the hardest thing I’ve dealt with.
29. What is the future for this type of business?
I’m just taking it as it comes. I’m building my portfolio and taking care of the clients I have. I just hope I’m able to continue doing this for as long as I’m needed.
30. If something happens to you, what will happen to your business?
If something happens to me, my mother will settle the clients I have left and probably shut it down. I would love to see our young people get into genealogy so the hobby and craft doesn’t die out.
31. What did you learn from this interview?
I learned that I need a mission statement and to take the legal implications seriously enough to take steps in the right direction.
32. Do you have a website? How can someone who is interested in your business contact you?
They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/shawneelynn.genealogy/ or Instagram at https://instagram.com/shawneelynn.writer
33. Is there anything else you would like to add to your interview?
No, you covered everything well. It gave me many ideas to improve my business. Thank you for having me.