July 13, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Lesley Williams, Founder at Major Street Publishing

Who are you and what business did you start?

I am the founder of Major Street Publishing, a business book publishing company I started 12 years ago.

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I have been in publishing throughout my career. I had been involved in a publishing startup early in my career, a family business, which we sold to a multi-national. I then worked for 9 years with two global businesses, before being made redundant. It was then that I summoned up the courage to start up on my own.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I was able to start slowly, investing in a few books at first and my redundancy payout funded the first 12 months of the business. Although it was a start-up, I ran it as I had run a large company, with strict reporting, cash flow and sales forecasts and strategic planning. I was fortunate that the relationships I had developed over the years were strong and many connections were happy to support me in my own business.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I think relationship building is the key to strong business growth and being open to new ideas. Change has been a constant over the life of my business and you have to learn to embrace it and look for the opportunities it brings.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The business has experienced good growth over the past 3-5 years (despite the pandemic). This year hit harder than 2020 and the next few months will be tricky as we come out of lock downs. But, beyond that, things look good. If we can grow during a pandemic, imagine the opportunities when things get back to normal.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Expect the unexpected! And keep your eyes on the mid-to-long term horizon.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

MYOB for accounting; Trello and Asana for project management; Shopify for our website; Canva for design.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

As business book publisher, I get to read the best business books as part of my job. A particular favourite this year, Turning Right — Inspire the Magic, by Kay Bretz, was not only a great read, but it taught me to aim high, reject self-limiting beliefs and embrace change — and as it was written by an ultra marathon runner, it encouraged my lockdown running habit.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Be bold, but be aware of your risk. Don’t think that working for yourself will be easier than being employed. I’m the hardest boss I’ve ever worked for! Books, podcasts, media (including social media) and when we can get back out there, talk to other people about their experiences.

Where can we go to learn more?