This is part two of my interview with Next Century Publishing CEO, Ken Dunn. If you missed part one, check it out here. Ken has an incredible story that lead him to becoming the entrepreneur he is today. Here is his advice for the entrepreneur that's starting or growing a business.
4. What advice would you give an entrepreneur starting a dream business?
It's what my mentors taught me. If you are going to start a business, remember that nothing is new, only new ways. Start by finding someone who already had the success you want, in the field you want, and convince them to give you advice. Pay for the advice if you have to. Develop a very detailed written business plan right up front, before you invest any time or money. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Get successful people who are not related to you to give you their opinion on your idea, just based on reading the plan. Take the feedback seriously.
Do not be blind. You may think you have a great idea but a smarter person than you may have a real reason why it won't work. Listen sincerely to the advice of experts. They will save you making very costly mistakes.
Go slow and keep expenses low. I remember starting a business with a few partners a few years ago. We had a great plan, and we did over one million dollars in revenue in the very first month. My partner who was the majority shareholder decided that we were going to start the business in a 20,000 SQ/ft office with 25 staffers before we made a dollar. By the time we started, we were so far in debt that the business ended up not succeeding, even though we did $14 million in revenue in the first year. Treat your cash like your wife. Honor your money, covet your money, do not give it away, do not spend it frivolously, respect your cash-flow as you appreciate your deepest relationships.
5. What is one thing entrepreneurs don't think about but should when starting a business?
The vast majority of entrepreneurs became blinded by their excitement. They believe their press. They come up with an idea to do a business. They start blindly running without seeking advice or structuring their business appropriately. Along the way, they hear from people why it won't work, or similar experiences and the pitfalls related. They refuse to listen and keep blindly running forward. Inevitably, they hit potholes, roadblocks or challenges that they could have avoided if they had just sought out advice, properly planned and gone a bit slower. In most of these cases, the businesses fail. I have learned that there are no bad ideas, just bad plans.
6. What are you working on right now that excites you and what are some longer term goals?
For the past two years, my team has been building a website called http://ReadersLegacy.com. I had this idea five years ago to create a social media site that was specifically built for book lovers. It was designed to give reading enthusiasts an opportunity to create a virtual version of their home library. You see, with the virtualization of the publishing industry, the experience that a real book lover has with their personal collection of books is intimate.
For those addicted readers, their personal collection--their home library--is part of their legacy. The home library is a "Readers Legacy." I first started thinking that the reader's legacy was disappearing in 2011 when I read the articles that were written after August. The online sales of books passed the offline sales. Friends started predicting that 90% of books would one day be electronic versions. Although few believe that anymore, I realize that, in the new publishing industry, the personal library experience was going to disappear, so I decided to do something about it. We wrote a business plan, had experts in the publishing industry review it and everyone agreed that there was a major place for it.
We decided to do it right. We opened an office in Panama City and hired some high-quality computer programmers and architects, and we started building www.ReadersLegacy.com on the python platform. We have written millions of lines of code, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, and now we are in a private beta with our full launch at the http://ReadersLegacyWritersConference.com in Las Vegas, NV on June 5-7th.
ReadersLegacy.com will also become the number one spot on the internet for author support with pages in the system for people to build out the virtual libraries. Authors will have pages, every book in the world will have a page, publishers will have pages and people who write books can advertize directly to the people that read those types of books.
Authors will be able to benefit from a new platform where they can do mass video conferencing with their followers without logins. An author can live stream for an infinite amount of people without a login. They can build a WordPress quality website in less than five minutes and, of course, they can participate in advertising directly to the readers who already the same genre of books. This is a little bookstore with 14,000,000 books and an ability for authors to add their books if they are not with a major distributor.
ReadersLegacy.com has been the biggest opportunity that I have ever guided and watching it come to life has been incredibly humbling. Over 24 people are working tirelessly for one vision. There are still tickets left for the Readers Legacy Writers Conference where we are launching the website. We are also going to be putting on a writing conference with over 16 NYT, WSJ, Amazon and international best-selling authors. Publicists and advocates are coming together to teach new authors how they did it. It will easily be the most talked about event in the publishing industry this year.
I want to thank Ken for his time and great advice for entrepreneurs. The one thing I hope you take away from these interviews is that your dream is possible!
Full disclosure: I was not paid for this interview or asked to do it. I interviewed Ken because he is interesting and inspiring.