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Small business chat update – Chrissie Metcalfe

Small business chat update – Chrissie Metcalfe

It’s Small Business Update time and today we’re saying hello again to Chrissie Metcalfe from Chrissie Metcalfe Recruitment. We first met Chrissie in February 2012, and she updated us in April 2013, May 2014, June 2015. and September 2016. At that point her plans were as follows: “In another year’s time the events side of the business will be standalone and I will have a member of staff looking after this full time. I WILL have my convertible. We will still be in Morley and I will be out of the office more bringing business in, as the office will be covered every day.” Did Chrissie get her convertible? Read on to find out!

Hello again Chrissie! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I am further forward now than I thought I would be, as there are four of us in the office now. Helen is still by my side, I have an events manager and also a part-time young lady who is learning recruitment and supporting us in the office and out on the events.

We are in a bigger office now but in the same office block in Morley.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I am still the same person and we still recruit in the same personal and caring way that I did from day one. I am still very grateful for every job that comes in and for every second of work that the team do to take CM recruitment Ltd further forward.

What has changed is that I delegate now instead of trying to do everything myself. The team are skilled in their own unique ways and I make sure they use their skills as well as learning new things all the time.

I also allow myself time off.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I have learned that is not always good to try to do everything yourself and that actually I am not the best at everything. Helen is 100 times better than me at the back office stuff i.e., payroll, invoices etc…

Also it is not a bad thing to walk away from a client if you feel that they treat staff badly or if they want you to do a quality job on the cheap.

I wish I had moved to this location years ago as the move is the best decision I have ever made.

I also wish I had known that relaxing a little does more good that trying to push forward so much that you end up exhausted and no good to anyone, but at the time you don’t see it

Any more hints and tips for people?

You will fail but get up, you will fail again but the person the keeps getting up is the person that will succeed

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

This time next year I will have just come back from a fabulous luxury holiday that myself and my fiancé have just booked and I will WILL be in that convertible I have been going on about.

We will have one more staff member in the team but will still be in the same office block.

We have 145 staff on our books for event work and I see this being double this time next year which means we will be able to support more events

The permanent side of the business will be bigger and myself and one other person will be the ones going out to bring business in rather than it just being myself.

I love CM Recruitment Ltd and I really feel that CM recruitment Ltd loves me now…..

What fantastic positive news and I’m sure there’ll be a pic of Chrissie in her convertible next year! I totally agree with the concept of taking rest: you are all the better for being rested rather than run ragged.

Chrissie Metcalfe Recruitment’s Leeds phone number is 0113 887 3786 and they can be found at

Topcliffe Mill,
Topcliffe Lane,
Morley,
Leeds
LS27 0HL

Their website is now at www.cmrecruitment.agency and you can email Chrissie or the general office address and she’s also and on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Tone Hitchcock

Small business chat update – Tone Hitchcock

It’s time for one of my favourite Small Business Chat updates, saying hello again to Tone Hitchcock of Anthony Hitchcock Art & Design. I first interviewed Tone in May 2012 and then we did updates in June 2013, July 2014, September 2015, and October 2016. Last year, when asked where he wanted to be by now, Tone answered,This time next year? More of the same, hopefully. I have some potentially ace stuff coming up (some of which was potentially ace at this point last year too, but is now a lot closer to potentially happening…), so I’m feeling very optimistic for 2017!” Was he right to be optimistic? I think so …

Hello again, Tone! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

The year since we last chatted has been pretty amazing, actually; I’ve been very, very busy, and have done a massive variety of projects, the largest of which was designing, creating and installing an 8.5m long Pliosaurus in Bristol Museum. I hinted somewhat obliquely at this job in my last post, as we were just about in the very early stages of working out how the exhibition was going to come together. The whole project was about 3 months work, spread over an 8 month period; unusually, we managed to control the work to the extent that it didn’t get on top of me, and I had time for other commissions in between. The finished piece has been in place in the museum since June; she is suspended from the ceiling as if swimming, but is close enough to the ground for children to interact with; she has a face tracking camera installed so her eyes follow you around the room, and a movement sensor triggers a deep growl if you get too close to her sore mouth. The project culminated with the museum producing an exclusive toy Pliosaurus to sell in their souvenir shop, based on my original sculpt: having a toy dinosaur made is, quite literally, a childhood dream come true!

I’ve included pics of last year’s Art Ninja stuff, which has now been broadcast; I did some more work for them this year, so I’ll share those images next time. I’ve worked for Leviathan Workshop again, sculpting heads for Katy Perry’s dancers to wear at Glastonbury, and a swan pedalo for a musical in London; I made some fantastically fun props for Jeremy Clarkson’s Grand Tour show, did some mutant potatoes (or ‘mutatoes,’ as we decided to call them) for a horror comedy film, sculpted some giant eggs for a Really Wild Show special, and made a load of exhibition props for various clients too, so all in all I’d say I’m further along this year than I expected to be.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still doing the same kind of work, but every year, I make more contacts, and have a better body of work to show to prospective clients, so while the nature of the job is the same, the quality of projects I’m being offered is definitely improving. I’ve also had a some extremely good propmakers recommending my work to some quite big clients, which is at once rather humbling and very satisfying.

The Pliosaurus was the first project I’ve done that I needed to bring extra people on for, too, which was a slightly alarmingly grown up change, as normally it’s just me in a shed making random nonsense on my own. This really felt like a big step up. Still not sure if I’d want to manage a team all the time, but it all went very smoothly; I had Brendan Arnold & Emma Powell working on the animatronics for the eyes, and the control system for the camera and sound, Sarah Dowling helping me with the actual construction (along with my Dad, and my mate Dan, who happened to have a day off at the right time!), and my cousin Giz Hitchcock, who I’ve worked with a lot before, on the installation and final artworking. I also managed to rope in Damir Martin, a longstanding FB friend from Croatia, into producing some amazing CG animations that are projected onto the curved walls around the Pliosaurus to further the illusion of being underwater.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

This year has, in fact, been pretty smooth. Obviously, every project has its own challenges and issues, so you learn from them, but, for a change, there haven’t been any massive lessons this year, probably because I haven’t made too many gaffs in the initial part of a job, so haven’t had to do any real fire-fighting.

Any more hints and tips for people?

In this job, you ALWAYS need to keep a beady eye on tv & film production assistants. They tend to be very lovely and affable, but inevitably have far too much on their plates, which means that often emails don’t get read properly, you’re always chasing them for decisions, and once the project is complete, they tend to move on very quickly to the next thing (read: forget to send your invoice to their accounts department…). As I’ve sais before, the admin side of this job is the least fun- let’s face it, no one decides they want to make film pops for a living because they actively enjoy paperwork- but you really do need to make sure that EVERYTHING is written down and signed off properly.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

More of the same! Bigger and better, hopefully, although a life-sized Pliosaurus is going to be pretty hard to top. This year, I also spent a week as an extra on a film (based on a Scandi Noir book; it’s been relocated to the US, and filmed as ‘3 Seconds,’ if you fancy looking it up on IMDB), which is the first time I’ve had time to do this since spending a day as a medieval Lord in ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War.’ I played a Hispanic gangmember, complete with facial tattoos, in Gloucester Prison, which was standing in for New York. Great fun. If I can fit in a few more gigs like this in between my proper job, I’d be quite happy.

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So he was right to be optimistic – what a fantastic year and fancy having a toy made from one of your designs – that’s got to be a high point in anyone’s career. I can’t wait to see what Tone does next!

See what Tone’s been up to recently at Anthony Hitchcock Art & Design at www.tonyhitchcock.co.uk. You can, of course, email Tone.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Alison Thompson

Small business chat update – Alison Thompson

It’s Small Business Chat update time with Alison Thompson from The Proof Fairy, proofreader, editor, and author. We first met Alison in this series in July 2012, and  she updated us in July 2013, August 2014 and August 2015, Last year, when we spoke in August 2016, Alison had just had a tricky period in her business when some big clients moved on, through no fault of her own (these things happen, they’ve happened to me, particularly when agencies lose a big contract and you can’t do anything about it), so she’d taken on a part-time job to keep things stable. When I asked about her plans for the year, she had this to say: “Whatever I say in this section, I never seem to get there! So I think I’m going to leave this really open and just say that in another year’s time I want to be financially comfortable and doing something I really enjoy. And I will DEFINITELY have written that erotic novel!” So, what happened next? Read on to find out …

Hello again, Alison. Last time we talked you had just started a part-time job and had some fairly open plans. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Well, I was pretty vague about my plans for the next year, so I guess I’m where I thought I’d be! The part time temping job because permanent at the start of 2017, and then full time in May. I’m now responsible for health & safety, facilities management, temp recruitment, training and HR admin for a retail fulfilment company. It’s taken me into areas I’d never dreamed of working – who’d have thought I’d spend most of my day in a hi viz vest and safety boots! I’ve also been learning lots of new things so my “portfolio” of skills has grown substantially.

However, I still do a little bit of freelance work. I’ve kept a couple of long-term clients and do monthly newsletters, blog posts and proofreading for them, plus I take on other projects as and when I can. I’m currently proofreading and formatting a travelogue, which is quite an enjoyable job, and I have a website redesign coming up too. It’s been much harder than I thought to juggle the two roles though – I’m usually tired when I get home from the day job, and then want to relax at the weekend rather than work! I’m gradually starting to find a new routine.

I’ve still not written that erotic novel though …

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

See the above answer! I’m working a full-time job, dabbling in freelance stuff on the side and trying to fit in a social life too. I guess the biggest change is that I’ve pretty much dropped my plans for any sort of coaching business, partly because I don’t have the time to give it to do it justice, but also because, especially with the ADHD parent coaching, I found it too draining on me emotionally.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

The biggest lesson has been to never say never. Twelve months ago, I was starting the temping job fully expecting to hate working fixed hours, hate working with other people, hate having to get changed out of pyjamas in the morning and hate being told what to do! But actually, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of a more traditional job and have made good friends. I’ve also thrown myself into areas I had no previous experience of and have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Be honest about how things are. When my business was struggling, I stuck my head in the sand for a long time in the hope that things would pick up. If I’d been honest with myself I could probably have turned things around much faster. And be open to opportunities, especially those where you can transfer your skills to a new area. You never know what you can do until you try!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I’m enjoying the “proper” job at the moment and I hope that will continue, but who knows what’s around the corner? In terms of the business, I’d like to have found a way to promote my ADHD online parenting course so it makes a regular passive income, because that would be a far more efficient way of supplementing my salary than spending every weekend proofreading!

As for the erotic novel … I live in hope of doing it one day!

I admire Alison for her positivity and tenacity and for doing so well in her part-time temp to full-time permanent role. I completely know where she’s coming from with the coaching: I’ve had people approach me for career coaching, especially in transcription, and I’m just not keen on spending all that energy doing that one-to-one, it’s just not my forte. I can’t imagine how hard that would be in the ADHD area. Like Alison, I’ve created resources instead, which helps other people without exhausting ourselves. Good luck with that erotic novel, Alison and thanks for sharing your story with all its ups and downs!

The Proof Fairy: Helping You Take Your Book from Possibility to Plan to Publication Tel: 01367 888229 Mob: 07927 330293 Skype: alisonthompson555 www.theprooffairy.com

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Annabelle Beckwith

Small business chat update – Annabelle Beckwith

Here’s a lovely update with my friend Annabelle Beckwith of the consultancy, learning and development organisation, Yara Journeys. I’ve known Anna since our very first day at university, and now here we are, both running our own businesses, me working on my own and interacting with almost all of my clients remotely, Anna out there interacting, training, facilitating and helping people to grow. I first interviewed Anna in 2012 and again in May 2013, September 2014 and February 2016. Her goal has always been to keep growing personally and in her business, and she’s also been working on side projects such as books and online materials. Let’s see how she’s doing now …

Hello, Anna! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes and no: I’m still writing and delivering training programmes and travelling the world, but I’m now focused on productising my knowledge. I’m writing a book and setting up a branch of my website to sell training products and business games and scenarios

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’ve grown a LOT in the last year in a personal development sense. I’ve realised that there’s more I can do if I just push myself out of my comfort zone a bit, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve also realised that I don’t want to grow a huge company which I them have to ‘manage’ – I enjoy working with a range of colleagues and associates from project to project, so I’m going to carry on doing that, rather than succumb to the pressure of being an employer.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learned a lot about mindset and about finding one’s purpose and following that, rather than trying to plan life to the nth degree (and it never plays out that way anyway) In some respects I wish I’d figured this out years ago – on the other hand, if I’d come across the people and information and learning that have come my way this year, I’d have missed them because I wouldn’t have been ready to learn, if that makes sense!

Any more hints and tips for people?

INVEST in your own personal development. And do it properly – not just a few piecemeal workshops here and there or freebies from the local business enterprise agency. Invest in YOU because that’s who’s driving your freelance business!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I’ll still be writing and delivering programmes and travelling – but I’d like to be speaking at more events…and of course my book will be finished and my online business will be up and running

It’s always a difficult decision when you get good and well-known and then you need to choose how to grow. I’m like Annabelle, I don’t want to become an employer, and I don’t even contract work out or work in partnerships and collaborations myself – although, to be fair, that’s easier to manage when you’re in the training and development field than editing and transcription. I’m sure Anna’s chosen the right path, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops her new materials.

The Yara Journeys website can be found at www.yara-journeys.com . Anna can be contacted via email.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Susannah Davda #smallbusiness

Small business chat update – Susannah Davda #smallbusiness

Welcome to the second update from shoe guru Susannah Davda from The Shoe Consultant. What does being a Shoe Consultant mean? Susannah explains: “I help people to start shoe brands in a strategic way. I also work on research, development and range planning projects for established footwear brands and retailers”. She joined in June 2015, and I interviewed her again in August 2016, this was where she wanted to be by now: “I’d like to take on more consultancy clients, grow my other services, and be taking a salary”. Lee’s see how she’s doing now!

Hello Susannah! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, pretty much. I’ve gained additional consultancy clients and taken on some exciting new projects. The B2B side of The Shoe Consultant is really the focus of most of my time at the moment. Regarding salary, I’m in a position to pay myself but have adopted the strategy of investing profits back into the business first. In a few months’ time, I’ll put myself on the payroll.

Sounds good. What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m busier than ever. Since my son started nursery in January, my workload has expanded to fill the available time and then some! I still have the same focused approach. I only work with shoe-related things, and always keep the company mission in mind: shoes should be comfortable and beautiful.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

That persistence pays off when it come to late payments from clients. If somebody is late paying according to the due date on the invoice, don’t let it go. Just calmly explain to them that as detailed on the gov.uk website, you’ll be charging daily interest on the money owed. I had no idea I could even charge interest until an accountant friend of mine told me.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Take time away from your desk to think. Some of my best business planning is done away from my desk. Running or going for a walk is good for gaining a little perspective.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I would like to be in a position to be more selective about the projects I choose to work on.

I can certainly back up the idea that going for a run is good for business – it clears the head and things you’ve been mulling over can suddenly work themselves out – a bit like sleeping on a problem. It’s also good for us desk-bound people, too!

You can find The Shoe Consultant online here: www.shoeconsultant.co.uk and on Twitter and email. You can buy her new Shoe Shopping Kit on Amazon here.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat – Laura Rennie

Small business chat – Laura Rennie

Welcome to another new interviewee today – Laura Rennie from Arena HR. Laura told me that she found this series, read one interview and couldn’t stop reading them, which is great to hear, and I’m excited to include her insights. Like many people, Laura went self-employed in a business area she already knew – in fact, as we’ll learn, she’d been providing free advice for some time before she realised it was time to go solo. Laura’s got an event happening this week – do pop over to have a look.

Hello Laura, and welcome to Libro Towers. What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

My business is called Arena HR. I have worked for charities, private and public sector organisations but what I was finding was that I was providing advice to friends, people who knew my friends and family that needed help personally or within their business and showing them how to create a positive working environment. Now I do this through the movement of #doingHRright – our first Scottish Conference for DisruptHR takes place next week. People are keen to find the right way to get the best for their staff and do the best for them. I finally Incorporated in February 2016.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

After experiencing HR done wrong, I realised that it was more common than I thought. Businesses out there need to be supported and understand how to do HR right.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

20+ years of HR experience AND lots of successes behind me, I realised I could offer a service that people needed, not just in the corporate environment.

Had you run your own business before?

Nope, hence the reason why I provided the service for so long without charging anyone.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

I came up with the concept in January 2016, by the end of the month I had my first client so incorporated the following month. Six months later I was handing in my notice and becoming a full-time business owner.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

Don’t feel you have to work every single day and night. Learn when you work best and take breaks with family and friends without feeling guilty.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

Move into digital practices quicker. They might be scary but they will save you so much time later on!!

What do you wish you’d done differently?

This is tricky because every failure has been a great learning experience. Our first employee lasted two weeks and then we had to dismiss them. Not a great advert for an HR company but it just wasn’t the right fit. My gut knew. I should have listened better.

What are you glad you did?

I made a few rules that I stick by every day, no matter what.

What’s your top business tip?

Go with your gut. That’s your experience and knowledge all coming together shouting at your brain and heart. Listen.

How has it gone since you started?

It’s grown so quickly. In one specific month our turnover increased by 300% – now we are recruiting our next team members and up for a major award.

Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

We’ve grown and diversified – and we have created and produced an interactive App which will be available in app stores soon.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

Opening our next office to service our London clients!!

I completely agree with Laura’s tip about not working constantly, and I also like that she has learned from her mistakes. A gut reaction is indeed a mixture of experience and knowledge and very well worth listening to, too. Good luck with the event, Laura, and we’ll look forward to hearing how the office and new App are going next time!

You can find Arena HR and Laura Rennie at www.arenahr.co.uk

You can email Laura using this link, and the Scotland event can be found here.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Stephen Tiano

Small business chat update – Stephen Tiano

It’s Small Business Update time, so settle down with a cuppa and let’s chat to Stephen Tiano from Tiano Book Design who is here for the sixth time! In his first interviews in 2012 and 2013 we heard about his life working in the civil service and doing book design in the rest of his time, by April 2014 he was planning a move and in May 2015 he was planning to retire from his day job and work on book designing full time. When we caught up with Stephen in June 2016 he HAD retired and his plans to achieve by now were: “Well, I’d be okay to be as busy as I am now, with as much work waiting in the wings. I’d be happy to have more. I think for the first time I expect to be busier, to have grown and expanded. Here’s hoping!”. How exciting to be planning expansion after two and a half decades in the business. Let’s see how he’s getting on …

Hello, Steve, good to talk to you again! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Definitely not. On the downside is that new jobs had not been coming in as quickly this year as I’d expected after how busy I was last year. On the other hand, I’m shocked at having a rather big, consuming, project, a book of (for want of a better word), philosophical, questions asked by the author, and answers provided by people he’s asked. And each of these chapters or sections of questions is illustrated by five pages of photos my author has taken. He’s a professional photographer. It’s not the first book of photoessays my client’s published, tho, to my eye, it’s the first time he’s had a designer who’s been able to pull out all the stops along with a lot of involvement from my client) to make this book stand out. On my part, this project has been a way for me to expand my image-editing skills in Photoshop. I’ve famously (well, perhaps that’s a bit grandiose of a way to word it) said that not only am I not an illustrator, I essentially CAN’T draw a straight line. So my Photoshop work has been limited to photo editing. But for this book the photo editing has involved working with backgrounds and color in ways I had never approached before.

On the other hand, things started picking up as summer began; and this is contrary to way things have been most of my years freelancing. That seems to be purely because self publishers now fill just about all my workload. And they don’t seem bound to the kind of seasonal schedule as traditional and academic publishers.

Then, too, I’ve gotten involved with another author’s adventure in taking self-publishing and spinning out a publishing company from it. I should backtrack. I have, indeed, employed a new, lower price structure, in certain instances, to help me keep my earnings within the social security limit I mentioned last year, so that there will be no giveback beyond the regular taxes on my income. I’m electing to go that route with certain clients who otherwise would not be able to AFFORD my services, but with whom I want to work, both just to insure that their voices are heard, but also because they have books in them that I really want to see get the best possible treatment and, ergo, have the best chance of finding an audience and succeeding in measured sales.

To be sure, this doesn’t mean taking part in the “reverse leapfrog mambo,” where freelancers bid competitively to see who will work cheapest for projects they find on the “meat rack” jobs boards.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well, continuing on the track I started down in the first question, I continue to devote some time nearly every day to root around and find interesting, new, paying book projects. But I definitely discuss each potential project with an open mind about what I’ll charge. In preparing my proposals, with books I’ve already made a commitment to in my heart and mind, I work out a price the usual way and then try to get some detail about the potential client’s circumstances, so I can come up with the correct discounted price, sometimes as little as one-QUARTER to one-third of what I’d normally charge.

So what’s that mean in concrete terms? Well, the second project I mentioned above, the author spinning out a whole publishing company idea, for instance. I did that once before for a self-publishing author who formed a company, Pascha Press, that, for a couple of reasons, one being her fighting a serious illness, hasn’t succeeded quite the way we’d hoped, though she’s trying to reinvigorate the business and continue with the few books she’s had planned from the start. This new one began with my answering a posting seeking help getting a book to press from my client’s father, as the client is a young woman about to start high school. She’d already self-published three or four books, but with little fanfare and no real professional design and layout help. Her parents, however, have supported her every inch along the way, editing and advising her.

The book that found it’s way to me was a book of ONE-PAGE, capsulized biographies of 100 impactful New Yorkers, called THE 100 MOST IMPORTANT NEW YORKERS. For this one, to move the process along, I got involved in sourcing photos of the subjects of my author’s biographies. And this has been both eye-opening and a project in and of itself. Although I’ve stated before that I’m leery of the use of stock photography, for a book of such bios, the more recognizable the subjects of the photos, the better. Additionally, a high school student’s budget is definitely limited—so I’m looking strictly at public domain and otherwise free-to-use photos. And my usual proviso about making the choice to self-publish being a choice to go into business as a publisher is not quite the hard-and-fast rule I’d come to regard it. I mean, she and her parents absolutely want to be successful in terms of sales, but they’re realistic about how they’ll need to break through a system that still doesn’t make it a walk in the park to commercial success for first-time authors, especially those who are self-publishing.

Stephen Tiano 100 most important new yorkers

So, then, about mid-way through my work, her dad—with whom I’d broached the subject of their starting a publishing company, as my intrepid young author, Agatha Edwards, was planning a whole series of “100 MOST IMPORTANT …” books—told me that he’d done the initial paperwork to start the formation of Brooklyn Bridge Books. Further, Agatha was already at work on the next book THE 100 MOST IMPORTANT AFRICAN AMERICANS. I immediately sourced a logo—again, a public domain image is perfect, as we want the image instantly connectable with the company name. Agatha is still writing and rewriting this one and her mom and dad are editing her.

Stephen Tiano Agatha

I’ve finished sourcing photos for this new book. I’m actually knee-deep laying out the first 50 bios. We’ve got a look and a plan to reuse the framework of the first cover, with subtle distinctions, for the whole series and I am again a publishing company’s Creative Director, with a stake in the business.

Here’s the front cover for the new book, THE 100 MOST IMPORTANT AFRICAN AMERICANS:

Stephen Tiano 100 most important african americans

 

All great stuff! What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Well, that changing circumstances—I was NOT immediately 100% happy with the idea that lowered prices were the way for me to go—opens up new avenues for work and making work a dream adventure. I’m trying to use the phrase “semi-retirement” as a mantra of sorts to get me to focus on looking ahead and not backward too much with wishes I’d done things differently. I’m finding there’s a tremendous amount of freedom and flexibility in embracing this idea that, more than ever, I work on exactly what I want whenever I want. At the same time, however, I’ve started to become a bit more vocal online about what I dubbed above the “reverse leapfrog mambo,” actually commenting a couple of times on one such jobs boards blog.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Keep your eyes open for new ways to promote. For instance, blog interviews like the one you and I have now made an annual occurrence. And then, too, there are other media. I was interviewed a few months back by an Internet radio station, Paperback Radio. Every effort has the potential for greater reach. It’s not the same old world and way of doing things with paper résumés sent out to prospective employers by snail mail. We’re in a gig economy where all the new media, including social, are part of a whole arsenal of ways to approach prospective clients. (Funny … this reminds me that I want to cold email every publisher listed in the current year’s Writer’s Digest to see if they might have projects for me. I used to do that annually and haven’t in two or three years, as self-publishers have so filled my dance card. But I would like to try get some work from traditional publishers again.)

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Well, I certainly hope to be building on these new directions—busier than ever, of course. And another year closer to the point where I no longer have limits on how much I can earn without a penalty. I’d definitely like to continue to work with self-publishers, as it’s really exciting to be part of bringing new, undiscovered authors, who, in years past, would not have had an opportunity to make their voices heard.

At the same time, I’d like to get a foot back in the world of traditional publishing. I can’t say enough about how fortunate I am to have cultivated my “freelancing with a net” for so many years at the same time that I worked a full-time day job. The independence it gave me to pick and choose clients, to remain staunch about getting paid like a professional and not accepting pennnies-on-the-dollar and the same prices that only someone living in a third-world economy can live on was a gift. And now, in my semi-retirement, even more secure than when I was working, I love that I can accept new opportunities that don’t pay my full price and give some back to the publishing universe.

Lots of exciting stuff and also thoughtful reflections on the state of the publishing industry and its associated industries – I do love and appreciate the level of effort and detail Steve puts into his interviews. I love Agatha’s work and hope that project goes on to further success!

Stephen Tiano
Book Designer, Page Compositor & Layout Artist

tel. & fax: (631)284-3842 / cell: (631)764-2487
Skype: stephentianobookdesigner
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If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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