I think I learn something new about business almost every day. As CEO of 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com), I started this company with a crumb and a bread box (just kidding ... but close). Here are some of my lessons that might help others.
Expensive Education -- Distribution
If I were to tell you that at one point I actually paid a distributor to sell my books that never paid a thin dime, would you believe me? If I were to tell you I paid that distributor over $10,000 would you believe me? And received no money in return. Well, believe me. The book distribution business is hinky and borderline fraudulent. Bigger publishing houses might suffer through their loop holes, hidden costs, and funky billing, but boutiques like ours cannot afford those practices. To make matters worse our clients' attitudes at that time did nothing to save it. We had to buy returns one time, and the client had the nerve to say, "It feels good to sell books." Well, needless to say those books were not officially 'sold', and I still have some around. So in publishing be careful which distributor your publisher works with and be extremely careful not to try and do a book distribution deal without reading every single line of the fine print.
People who work for you ... work for you ... I love my business partner Scott D. Roberts. He's so no-nonsense. Whenever there is a question when it comes to business, he is a straight-up guy. He's like, "You're the CEO! Why are you asking permission?" Good question. I often find myself acting like I work for others to the degree that I lose my firm leadership. The policies and decisions of the company should not be questions or even posed as questions. Strong leadership requires direction, focus and clarity. You make decisions, and then you lead the way. My nature is to be inclusive and collaborative, but at times it has not served me. I discovered when I was firm and clear, people respond positively.
Failure is merely an opportunity to learn. We look at failure all wrong. The act of doing is more important and learning how to do. If you get it right the first time (wonderful), but most of the time winning and prevailing is a process. Failure is an opportunity to try again -- only this time do it better until you get it right. But even in succeeding that is only one part of the journey. Once you succeed it's time to move on. And isn't the process the whole part of the fun? So, okay maybe something didn't work out. Give yourself the five minute pity party, dust off those knee caps, and get moving. You can't succeed unless you try -- so keep trying.