So you want to know a bit more about Action Light...
For a small company, Action Light actually does quite a lot. But if you're looking for the bottom line, here it is:
We are information designers.
Information is everywhere, but it's just a big pile of words and pictures if it is not thoughtfully curated, refined, and presented: in other words... designed. At Action Light, we design information for very specific goals - to help our clients make more money, to bring them more customers, and to save their time. The rewards for doing this work extend far beyond the money in the bank at the end of a project - we get to be a part of the success of our clients' businesses.
Getting to this point has been quite a journey and every journey has a story. Here's ours...
The main character in the Action Light story is me, Shelley Smith. I trained as a teacher, had a 2-year working holiday in London and worked in the field of adult education for some time. Then in November 2009, I made my escape from full-time employment and started my own business - Action Light Training and Development.
In the early days, I developed training material and set lots of exams for adult learners studying to upgrade their literacy levels. One day I got a call from an associate asking me if I'd like to take an international business trip with a bit of a difference. He needed me to develop a business skills training programme and then come over and train it... On the Island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean... Which is only accessible by ship... On a 5-night voyage...! I submitted my proposals just about immediately. Before we knew it, my husband Garren and I were watching the wake behind the RMS St Helena with Table Mountain slowly fading from our view as we headed for this fascinating island.
We spent a month on St Helena training the business skills programme to the government employees and business people on the island. The programme was very successful, but we were left wondering how we could continue the training remotely... More on this later.
In the meantime, I discovered Articulate and fell in e-learning love! I started developing e-learning courses to support the Action Light business skills courses and I also took on contract work doing instructional design and content development for e-learning development companies. I worked mainly in PowerPoint and Articulate, but also used Captivate. When Articulate Storyline came out, I didn't hesitate to get a licence and I've been using Storyline ever since, particularly to develop scenario-based courses.
The need for remote training kept coming up again and again. So (after a few attempts), Garren and I joined forces to develop Classroom 7, a training application for trainers to build courses that learners could take online. I use Classroom 7 to present many of the Action Light Business Skills courses and it helps me to keep detailed records of my learners and the various training courses we offer. It also helps me to offer more to my learners and my client companies, because I can add e-learning modules, PDF cheatsheets, links to valuable resources, and lots more to my face-to-face training sessions - and it's all easily accessible online for my learners. We offer Classroom 7 as a Software-as-a-Service application and many other trainers are reaping the benefits of having an online component to their training offering, or even offering entire courses online.
Back to school
I wrote my first school textbook in 2003. In 2011, the national curriculum was completely reformulated and so there was a need to write new textbooks for all the school subjects. I was asked by Heinemann Publishers (part of Pearson Education) to co-author four of their Natural Science and Technology textbooks for the Senior Phase, as well as to edit titles for Life Orientation, and History and Geography. Finalising the textbooks was intensive work, but I am immensely proud of the result, and I like to think that my textbooks are helping to inspire a love of science and technology for many school-going learners.
After a series of happy coincidences, I started tinkering with web design. At first, in 2011, I would not have called myself a website designer, but after a bit of digging here, a favour done there, and the discovery of the legendary Squarespace, I realised that I was actually quite good at web design; and, judging by the fact that I was being asked to design websites (for money!), many other people agreed.
Today I do consider myself a website designer, but I'm a whole lot of other things as well... My background in education, instructional design and writing allows me to offer a fresh take on website design and I can also offer services like copywriting, branding and entrepreneurial advice. Because I design on Squarespace, I can do a beautiful initial design and website setup, but then hand over the day-to-day control of the website and its content to my clients.
I absolutely love being an entrepreneur / contractor / small business owner. What makes it even more cool is that my husband Garren also works for himself, which makes for such a lovely lifestyle for us and our family. It's not without its challenges, but we'd have to be offered an obscene sum of money to do things any differently! This year, we're going to be blogging about our entrepreneurial journey. Our first aim is to encourage would-be entrepreneurs to make the move into the world of small business ownership by sharing some of the steps we've taken to get to the point of a viable small business. Our second aim is to journey with other entrepreneurs as we share the strategies and tactics that we're using to build our businesses. So if you're a fellow entrepreneur or a would-be entrepreneur, sign up here and let's help each other achieve small-business greatness!