We all want to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but what does starting a business actual involve? Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t sound that straight-forward… Well we chatted to Steve Watson who started his own publishing business from scratch. This is how you can turn an idea into profit.
From creating a business plan to trying to think outside the box, here Steve tells us what he did and the things he learnt from the experience. This is some career advice you won’t want to miss.
1. Talk us through your career journey
I started out as a writer and editor – I’d edited a section on the student newspaper at university, and after graduating I moved to London and took the first editorial job that came along. That led me into editing inflight magazines, and I really learned on the job, figuring out how to put a magazine together. Our office was above Magma on Clerkenwell Road, and I’d wander down there a couple of times a week and spend ages browsing the shelves. I loved these strange and beautiful magazines and I started writing for a few of them, most notably the film magazine Little White Lies. That was my first real introduction to the world of independent publishing.
2. Why did you decide to start Stack?
I really wanted to help these fantastic independent magazines reach more readers – I just couldn’t understand why my friends hadn’t heard about them. There’s an assumption these days that print magazines are in decline, and that’s true for many of the big titles, but at the other end of the spectrum there’s been an explosion in creativity, and small independent publishers all around the world are creating really excellent magazines.
3. What would your advice be to aspiring entrepreneurs who see a gap in the market but aren’t sure where to begin?
Do your research – there may be a very good reason why that gap exists! It’s really easy to put together a survey that lets you test your assumptions, so don’t just talk to your friends about what you want to do – get in front of strangers as soon as possible and you’ll learn a lot about how credible your idea is. If all goes well your next step will be to draft a business plan – grab some free examples of business plans from the internet and start sketching out what your business will actually do, how it will make money and when it will make money. The business plan I made before I started Stack was wildly optimistic and ended up looking nothing like what actually happened, but going through that process meant I’d really familiarised myself with what I wanted to do, so I was able to deal with things when they didn’t go as expected.
4. Tell us about Stack and the magazines on offer
Very simply, Stack delivers a different independent magazine every month. You never know what you’re going to get next, but you do know it will be a beautiful, intelligent magazine you probably wouldn’t otherwise have come across. We send out magazines about food, music, design, film, current affairs, cycling and lots more besides – the only thing uniting them is that they guarantee an original, authentic voice from outside the mainstream, and they represent the very best of independent publishing.
5. How did you choose which magazines to feature?
All the magazines on Stack must have something to say for themselves – too many independent magazines look lovely, but when you start trying to read you realise they’re a bit empty. The magazines we send out must also be open and inclusive – we have thousands of subscribers all around the world, so while all the magazines we send could be considered niche, they have to find a way of welcoming newcomers into that niche. And finally, the magazines when taken as a whole have to provide a good mix – it would get boring if Stack kept sending out food and drink magazines every month, so we deliberately vary it to keep things interesting.
To sign up to Slack go to www.stackmagazines.com and hit the big ‘Subscribe’ button.