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How to create a successful publishing business

James Evelegh has three tips, picked up from the PPA conference in November.

By James Evelegh

How to create a successful publishing business

I went to the PPA Independent Publisher Conference in November to find out.

There were loads of tips and takeaways. A successful publishing business is first and foremost about creating desirable content and delivering it to an audience… profitably.

So much, so obvious, though easier said than done.

Here are my three key takeaways from the day on how publishing businesses can lock in future success.

1. Align your business for a profitable future.

Successful businesses make the time to ask the key questions. Where does the real value lie in our market and are we best placed to capitalise on it? This necessitates stepping back from the coal face and intelligently reviewing the market and where your company currently sits in it. Are you putting too much resource into marginal activities? Are your teams organised optimally? Company structure, right-sizing, portfolio review and goal setting are at the heart of these questions. Find your North Star goal and get everyone behind it. Craft the company mission and communicate it to your teams, and then keep communicating it. A key part of this is having the discipline to play the long game – keep iterating and innovating, but always in pursuit of your North Star goal.

2. Create an energising company culture.

Are your teams motivated? Really? Are you sure? Have you asked them? You can only deliver on company profitability if you have talented and motivated teams. Staff retention is an oft-overlooked KPI. High staff turnover is disruptive to your business and will slow you down. Do regular staff surveys, analyse the results, act on them and report back. Make any concerns identified the subject of future survey questions. Goal setting, clear roles and taking time to engage with your staff are all critically important, though often overlooked in the daily maelstrom.

3. Act as if you’re about to sell up.

Even if you as a business owner have no intention of selling your business anytime soon, it’s a good discipline to act as if you are. Any prospective purchaser will do a due diligence check on your business, to find out what you do well and what you do less well. Too much of the ‘less well’ and the deal will be off, but the key point here is that if you’re doing things poorly, then your business will benefit by you putting that right. So, do the due diligence yourself. This needs to be done cooly, calmly and clinically – there must be no pre-conditions and no sacred cows. Everything must be on the table. If done properly, it will be a highly instructive exercise and help you become a better, more profitable business. You might even discover that you’re sitting on something worth selling.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list to receive the magazine, please register here.