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Growing a business...

Let me start with a confession... Starting a business wasn't actually as hard as I thought it would be! Five years ago I had an idea which I was hugely passionate about, I did a LOT of research, spent a huge amount of time planning and slowly but surely, I took the steps to make it happen, and voila! Shine Books became a reality.

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But growing it? Now THAT has been a little trickier! Entering a world of spreadsheets, calculations, marketing and algorithms, and trying to make the right decision where to invest savings and how to make financially feasible decisions - who knew writing the books would be the easy part?!

I am extremely proud of what Shine Books has achieved in the last 2 years - we have sold almost 2000 books, donated over £800 to charity, had incredible feedback and reviews from many very happy customers and played a small yet important part in having a positive impact on society. From a financial point of view we have made back the money we originally invested, added 4 books to our collection and been able to attend some trade shows and exhibitions to grow our following. Lots of plus points right?!

Finding the time to do it all though is getting increasingly harder... I have recently taken a part time job to try and earn some money to put into the books (shh, don't tell my poor husband he won't be getting anything paid into the joint account any time soon!), but of course this then limits the time I have to work on getting the books out there, in addition to bringing up two (extremely time-consuming) little people.

Also, I have recently been hitting (metaphorical) wall after wall with potential avenues to grow and develop the business. I have entered many award and grant opportunities, only to be told my turnover is not yet successful enough to win....

Schools don't have the funding they would like, or need, and trying to get noticed as a little independently run self-publisher in a sea of giant publishing organisations/celebrities and mega bucks companies is getting increasingly difficult.....

  • Celebrities I have reached out to love the books (yay!)....but will only promote them through paid advertisement (boo).

  • Big book suppliers are extremely keen to have the books on their system, but will only do so if I sell to them at 80% off the wholesale price (which would leave me seriously out of pocket....double boo).

  • Some publishers have offered to publish them... but with a huge financial contribution from me and an even 'huger' cut of any further sales, meaning I wouldn't be able to continue with my charity donations (...triple boo).

  • Making the books available on amazon and online at WH Smith, Waterstones .... but in order for them to get noticed amidst the MILLIONS of other books/be added to physical stores I need to pay a SIGNIFICANT amount of money for advertisement, with no guarantee of sales. Sigh.

After considerable research, one solution would be to do a mass bulk order from China (where the print quality is excellent, and where they can print and ship my books for a THIRD of what I currently pay)... this would not only mean I can start working with the school suppliers who require such a hefty discount, but it would also (hopefully) provide me with the future funds and opportunities to advertise, market and substantially grow Shine Books. I'm thinking school workshops, a TV series....... and that's just for starters...

Alas, this option does require an £8000 up front cost (and maybe turning my lounge into a book storage facility...), which leaves me in a tricky situation.

GoFund Me? Crowdfunder? A wealthy investor passionate about raising awareness and removing stigma for young people? All of the above?

Asking people for money is something I really don't like doing (especially when my friends and family have been so incredibly supportive in buying the books, sharing my posts etc), but I find myself in a position where in order for Shine Books to grow and be successful, I believe this to be the only viable option. If you've taken the time to read this, firstly thank you, and secondly, I would love your thoughts ......

*and just to be clear, I am hugely passionate about Shine Books and will not stop until these books are in the hands of every child across the country - this is most certainly not me throwing in the towel...

But is this the next logical step for the business? Is this the best option? Talk to me business savvy people... I know you're out there...........

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