I recently launched and published my first book, Entreprenacity, and in doing so, have met up with a community of authors and publishers who have been super helpful.
Today’s tribute is to the founder of MyeBook, Dave Henderson.
I trust that his story may be encouraging to entrepreneurs in general, and to budding authors specifically.
Dave tells his story
I am a Durban transplant currently trying to embrace wine-culture and the freezing-cold waters of Cape Town.
My family were hard-working government employees and business, or money was never a typical dinner-time discussion.
This meant that after school I followed suite and began studying a technical diploma in engineering. This was followed by a handful of jobs in relatively quick succession as I began to realise that – for several reasons – I did not enjoy being seated behind a desk in somebody else’s business.
This frustration is what lead to the unexpected beginnings of our publishing business.
What started as a project of sorts to help my author-father ended up as part-time evening work while I still worked full-time in what was to be my last job within the engineering space.
The part-time work quickly grew as it benefited from the increased attention I gave it.
Finally, came the important put-up-or-shut-up moment where I knew I could not continue juggling my full-time job with what was a fast-growing baby.
The goal was a simple one at face-value – create and shape a business that specialised in providing the most fun and empowering publishing process possible for the first-time author.
What started as a fun, part-time publishing project in 2012 culminated in me leaving my job in 2014 as I took my baby full-time.
If only I know what was in store for me
Some of the challenges I faced in starting were cashflow, experience and building a team.
Nobody can prepare you for what managing your own business will demand of you. All of us have had consecutive long and exhausting days at the office, however, since starting this business it feels like I have been physically and mentality stretched in ways that – if published – would be contained within a novel titled 50 Shades of Business. But seriously. It is challenging. All of it.
Every warning or saying that comes to mind regarding small business invariably has a grain of truth to it. I bumped my head into every conceivable problem from the start.
Firstly, the illusion of passion was popped. While passion is a great catalyst to start a business, it is a bad one to depend on once the business has started moving.
After that, learning how to sell myself and the business has also proven to be a vital skill that has taken years to sharpen. As is trying to find and build a team that is equally motivated as the person who started the business.
We are probably more than 360+ authors strong within our self-publishing community since we first completed our first books back in 2012.
At any given moment I am helping around 20 to 25 eager authors get their books published.
Publishing your first book can easily consist of around seven or eight steps for the average author.
From editing, illustrations, cover design, typesetting your book interior to be printed or just getting your new eBook created and then published to Amazon, online.
Typically, an author would need to assemble a team of freelancers that would carefully handle each step. The author would need to manage each of these processes.
We take care of all those scary bits. We provide every step an author needs. We also have a group of publishing experts under a single roof. This means that the author saves time, losing less hair in the process.
Three lessons that I learnt in building MyeBook involved cashflow, branding and a great team.
The importance of cashflow, aka selling: Too many people, while maybe having a great idea, could not sell that idea, product, or service to potential customers. Either get comfortable selling or find a partner who can.
The importance of branding: Being average consigns your business to the basement. Do not be afraid to make bold statements about your service or brand. Just be sure that you can back it up.
The importance of building a team through a shared vision: Building a business on your own is a lonely journey.
Find people who you have exciting conversations with.
Figure out how to attract them to work with you. Hint – money is not the first conversation you should be having with them.
What we do can be a lonely journey. It is ok to be vulnerable. Share your passion, but also be willing to share your struggle.
Find a group of like-minded business people where you can let off steam or moan about your current troublesome customer.
Focus on strengthening your social circle.
Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College. Contact him on Steve.Reid@falsebay.org.za