David Henderson’s family were hard-working government employees, and business or money was never a typical dinnertime discussion. This meant that after school, Henderson followed suite and began studying a technical diploma in Engineering. After a handful of jobs in relatively quick succession, he began to realise that – for several reasons – he did not enjoy being seated behind a desk in somebody else’s business.
This frustration is what lead to the unexpected beginnings of his publishing business, MYeBOOK, as a part-time evening project. Henderson talks to us about taking his side project to full-time business.
Q. Why did you initially start MyeBook?
What started as a project of sorts to help my author-father, ended up as part-time evening work whilst I was still employed full-time. The side hustle quickly grew as it benefitted from the increased attention I gave it. Finally, came the important put-up-or-shut-moment where I knew I could not continue juggling my full-time job with what was becoming a fast-growing (business) baby.
The goal was a simple one at face-value: create and shape a business that specialised in an empowered publishing process for the first-time author.
So, what began as a fun, part-time 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…
Q. What were the challenges of starting?
Cashflow. Experience. Team.
Nobody can prepare you for what managing your own business will demand of you. Of course, I was used to 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’s challenging. All of it. Every corny 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 wall from the start. Firstly, the illusion of passion was popped. Whilst passion is a great catalyst to birth a business, it is in reality a bad one to depend on once the business starts moving. After that, learning how to sell myself and the business has also proven to be vital skill that has taken years to hone. As is trying to find and build a team that is as equally motivated as the person who started the business.
Q. How many budding authors have you helped?
We are probably more than 360+ authors strong within our self-publishing community since we first completed our first books back in 2012, and at any given moment I am helping around 20-25 eager authors. Publishing your first book can easily consist of around 7 or 8 steps for the average author, which means they have to assemble a team of freelancers. The author would then need to manage each of these processes, the freelancers and the quality of work. We take care of all those scary and time-consuming steps with our group of publishing experts under a single roof. This means that the author saves time and loses less hair in the process.
Q. What are your 3 top lessons learnt?
- The importance of cashflow, aka selling. Too many people – whilst 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. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements about your service or brand. Just be damn sure that you are able to 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 can 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.
Q. What words of encouragement do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
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 with whom you can let off steam or moan about your current troublesome customer. Focus on strengthening your social circle. Trust me on this one.
And finally, your most important bit of advice
Before starting a business, make sure it is for the right reasons. Money or “passion” for an idea are not normally strong enough reasons on their own. Do your homework – many serious entrepreneurs are happy to share their time with you – as long as you can show you are serious about the process and willing to learn.