BLG Leadership Insights

Self-Publishing: A Lesson in Proactive Leadership

Angela K. Durden is her own publisher and she thinks the old publishing time-line, submit-wait-pray, is dead.

Durden is her own writer, editor, designer, quality-control manger, marketer, and saleswomen and she likes it that way. It gives her ownership of her work and she doesn’t have to chase down “distributors, bookstores and wholesalers.” She’s also happy that she doesn’t have to wait and pray any longer. She can get to work instead. Her home-based publishing company has released a business book and a children’s book.

Affordable technology has revived America’s slumbering cottage industries. Independent entrepreneurs like Durden can now sell quality services and products to customers and business with a decent computer and an internet connection.

The growth of cottage industries and home-based entrepreneurs can also inform our definition and perception of what a proactive leader really is.

Small business owners don’t operate in a large collective but it doesn’t mean they act alone. They aren’t making business decisions and trying to capitalize on new ideas by simply running full steam ahead with blinders on. Smart small business owners like Durden act slowly and with the support of their families, prospective customers, and advice from friends and mentors. They take measured moves forward in order to avoid costly mistakes.

Next, small business owners do their homework. In Durden’s case publishing her books made sense, even though it wasn’t exactly the norm. She met resistance, but she was prepared with rebuttals. She knew that publishing her work with an old brick-and-mortar publisher was slow and unlikely to happen if she didn’t have a “platform.” Instead, she argued that her work would be successful in her market and at her price points. All she needed was a quality product. By knowing what her critics were going to say, she was a step ahead of the game.

Successful home-based business owners also know that they have to work doubly as hard to establish legitimacy. Small business owners don’t have the luxury of office space, petty cash, and extra frills to entice new clients. Instead they have to work on relationships and build solid networks. It’s not an easy job, but it’s one small business owners have to work on continually.

Lastly, cottage-industry entrepreneurs have to know when and how to divide their time and resources. It’s a delicate balancing act that is often done over a shark-filled pool. Small business owners like Durden have to know which companies she can trust to print her book, lest she waste money, and which speaking engagements to make in order to promote her book. It’s a skill that must be developed quickly in the tense environment of a small business.

The skills home business owners use are the same skills leaders in Fortune 500 companies use. Staying proactive in any leadership position requires that you have the micro-skills of moving forward with support, anticipating resistance, establishing legitimacy, and knowing how to deploy time and resources smartly.

Durden’s self-publishing outfit demands proactive leadership to survive. So far she’s doing a great job. Leaders looking to expand their efforts don’t need to look at larger than life CEOs for inspiration. They could do well to peek inside the windows of a few cottage businesses to learn what skills are always important.

Picture Credit: MnPix

BLG Leadership Insights Leadership On the Edge

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Picture Credit: Veen