If you have an author business in place, it’s your job to evaluate the success of it as it grows and you produce more content to distribute. Here is a little about my journey as an owner of an author business to help you with yours.
Finding the Right Business Driver – And I Don’t Mean That Kind of Driver!
Being of entrepreneurial mindset, I challenged the three-driver principle (Operational Excellence, Customer Intimacy, or Product Innovation) – unsuccessfully. I was thinking there must be other ways to drive your business, but at their bases, all my ideas fit into one of those three categories. I determined – and still think – My strategy professor was absolutely right that there are just three ways to be a market leader.
When I discussed the idea for my current company with an advisor, he said, “Bonnie, how fast can you write?” He assumed I had made the decision for my literary consultancy’s strategic driver to be operational excellence. The more clients, the better. Like McDonald’s – billions and billions sold. For the first year, I thought he was right. I concentrated on building my literary consultancy to the largest volume client base I could manage.
Billions and Billions Sold
Beginning Year 2 of that business, I conducted the analysis to review the previous year of business, as any good MBA would do. I was doing pretty well, I thought. The market had validated my idea with several good prospects, and two clients had even finished their book projects. I had as they say, “a going concern,” but was I running it the right way?
“Kaizen,” another advisor mysteriously told me. “Continual improvement. Do you need a change to improve?”
I asked myself and my financials some questions. How am I finding prospects? What is my proposal-to-client-conversion rate? What are my client acquisition costs? What is my lifetime value of clients? How much am I spending on each client?
With these figures, I realized the service I was presenting in my firm was unique to the market in this regard: I was hands-on with my clients, hands on with my vendors, hands on with my subcontractors. I love McDonald’s, as a former employee, a shareholder, and a consumer. However, McDonald’s we are not. My business isn’t about how fast we can churn out books or how cheaply we can do it. It is about creating a relationship of encouragement and accountability, with a diversity of product offerings.
My firm was then – and all my companies are, to this point – boutique, specialized; we don’t take on every prospect we meet so my competition isn’t high volume entities like lulu.com or xlibris.com. As I suspected, my driver really was – and continues to be – customer intimacy, with the product innovation overlay. I knew I had to make some adjustments in marketing and pricing to reflect the time and care each of my clients was receiving, and partner with entities whose services were complimentary to mine.
Don’t be afraid to evaluate your company, or to make a change if you’d like to see different results. There’s strength in options, as the saying goes, and as a business owner you’ll need to understand your options to decide if a change is right for you or if you need to keep driving in the same direction.
If you’ve already started a business, ask: How much time do you spend with each customer? In a 40-hour work week, how many customers can you realistically serve? What has worked for you in the past that you’d like to continue, and what needs to change? Do you need to alter some of your processes, marketing or pricing if you have a different type of company than you thought you have? I look forward to hearing your comments below.
[This blog is part of a series on the business of authorship, including updated excerpts from Building A Business, Building a Life by Bonnie Daneker, Tana Gildea, et al.]