Each month I take time out to get to know and share with you all, one of our fantastic members, in the Thrive Collective Membership.
This month I’m catching up with Josie Dom, a children’s author with two picture books published – Lum and Lum’s Mum – and more to come.
Josie attends schools for author visits, which include art and craft activities and a fun Lum treasure hunt. Alongside author visits, Josie has also devised a Storytelling Workshop for KS1 and KS2 children. Using arts, crafts and natural materials, children are given the opportunity to imagine and create their own stories, which led to the name “Imagination & Creation Workshops”. The workshops are fully inclusive with no written element and meet Ofsted criteria in confidence development, participation and literacy.
So Josie, what made you decide to set-up your own business?
In 2001 I returned from a 6-month round-the-world trip and worked in a variety of temporary secretarial roles in London for over a year. At the end of this time, I set myself up as a self-employed Virtual Assistant and have remained self-employed ever since. Now I run my VA business alongside my work as a children’s author.
What does being a business owner mean to you and why you set up in the first place?
I love working for myself! It means that I can be available for my children whilst they are young, attending school activities, cooking nutritious dinners and being there to listen and chat at the end of the day. I also enjoy the freedom and flexibility I get from working at home.
I set up my VA business because I could not see myself working as an employee again!
As for being an author – all authors are self-employed including those with publishing contracts. I chose to take the self-published route (using the self-publishing arm of a traditional publisher) so that I could utilise their expertise in the physical publication and distribution of my books. All authors need to carry out their own marketing activities (publishing companies only fund marketing for the big names) so it made sense to self-publish which would mean a greater profit per book sale than royalties would provide.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
I’ve been influenced by my Dad and my Nan. My Nan started out as a dressmaker, went on to running her own shop and later returned to dressmaking as a pieceworker. My Dad spent most of his working life with the Greater London Council (GLC) before it was disbanded when he went on to set up a company, along with four colleagues, to provide the services which organisations had grown used to receiving from the GLC. Seeing a parent running their own business is an education. I wonder how this will influence my children.
What is the best thing for you about being your own boss and running your own business?
Autonomy. If I want to do something in my business, I can. Of course, the flipside of this is that sometimes having to make ALL the decisions is overwhelming. However, even with the overwhelm, it is still the best thing about being my own boss.
What practical advice would you give to anyone about to start, or in the early stages of owning a business?
Research – you can never know too much about your profession, industry or market.
Education – teach yourself or attend courses to get up-to-speed on everything you need to know in order to run a business.
Go for it – despite my other advice, there comes a time when you have to trust that you have researched enough (for now) and learnt enough (for now) to launch your business.
What advice would you give to women in business? From your area of expertise or in general.
If you’re thinking of becoming an author, understand that writing your book is the easy part. After the book is written, you might find that there is a steep learning curve for publishing, marketing, business admin and all the other elements required in running a business. If you believe in your book, keep going!
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given in business?
Be yourself. It’s taken me a long time to have the courage to do this. It’s still a work-in-progress.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
I have actually learnt that there is always something new to learn. The world changes and businesses need to be able to adapt.
What skills were you able to bring over from your previous work experience that you found to be most helpful or practical in your business?
Office admin skills are needed in every business. Luckily, I trained as a secretary and use my skills daily.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
I think my most effective marketing campaign in terms of ROI was the launch party for my first book, Lum. Over 100 people attended for an afternoon of stories and activities. I am looking forward to hosting future launch parties for my new books.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
For a couple of years, I purchased The Girls Mean Business Awesome Marketing Planner, which I highly rate for its easy-to-use, friendly and fun system. I felt I’d learnt a lot from the system and could continue to put it into practice without purchasing the physical planner. I did miss the support group on FB, but luckily found Thrive which has a friendly and supportive FB group, the opportunity to attend Meet-Ups and heaps of online training from experts in different aspects of marketing.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
2020 is shaping up to be a great year for me. I’ve finally found my confidence! You will find me at the following events in the coming months:
Essex Book Festival 14 March
Little Legs Festival 24-26 June
Maui Waui Festival 28-30 August
I’m also in discussion with two artists about illustrating two new stories for me, with the intention of publishing at least one this year. There will be another Lum book soon too.
I’m also trying my hand at writing a chapter book.
We love having you in the Thrive family Josie, and we’re looking forward to receiving an invite to your next book launch!
I’m Sam Dixon, founder of Thrive With Sam Dixon, an experienced Marketing Consultant to ambitious businesswomen who want to launch, grow and scale their business with flexible marketing support.
For a free 30-minute discovery call get in touch by email firstname.lastname@example.org or come join Thrive Collective, my monthly membership community. JOIN HERE.