Moving in with the in-laws is not what most of us have in mind when picturing ourselves controlling our own destiny, which is why not everyone enjoys the same freedom as Laura Pepper Wu. Thanks to bunking with the fam and more sacrifices, she’s in charge of her life story and her startup 30 Day Books. Both are real page-turners.
30 Day Books is a book studio that provides tools and resources to assist independent writers in brand building, growing readership, and realizing career goals. The publishing world is full of upheaval and opportunity. Along with her husband Brandon, Wu is determined to help writers make sense of the terrain and become accomplished “authorpreneurs.” Inspiring for founders and self-motivated souls of all kinds.
Grab a chair, and listen to this good yarn:
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
The very first book we self-published was titled ’30 Day GMAT Success,’ which is now in its 3rd edition. The original plan was to be a small press that published a series of books and guides that teach a new hobby or skill that could be learned in 30 days. The company has since evolved into producing broader titles and tackling different kinds of projects, but we still love the name!
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Unfortunately, I sit down with a coffee and check my email. My goal for 2013 is to hit up the three things that need to get done that day and leave checking email until after lunch. I’m not confident in my self-control though, I’m always anxious that I’m going to miss something urgent!
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I co-founded 30 Day Books with my husband. We now have an assistant working with us, and a bunch of brilliant contractors we call on when needed.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
Oh yeah, I remember those days. The biggest struggle I went through was feeling like I was too young to run a business, and craving others approval because of it. Even now (at 28) I look young for my age, so I sometimes struggle to have people take me seriously as a business owner. Or at least I think I do – I know that some of it is in my head.
Looking young actually makes me more motivated, more professional, and more driven – a blessing in disguise perhaps. Still, it is embarrassing to get asked for ID when networking at events for 21+! And no, before you say it, I don’t think looking young is a compliment, and yes, I’m sure I’ll feel differently at 40!
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
Hug my dog, moan for a bit, go for a walk? I don’t know, I usually need to vent for 10 minutes and then I’m back to putting on my logical hat and finding a solution. I try to be a glass is half full kinda gal, so I think frustration is only as affecting as you let it be.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
Oh yeah, house music all the way! At least after lunch as I suffer from serious afternoon dips. Mornings are for jazz music, coffee and working from home. In the afternoons I work from a co-working space in my neighborhood. Renting a desk there seriously made being self-employed so much more fun! I love that place and I recommend all small biz owners look for a similar space in their town or city as a better alternative to working from home or out of a coffee shop.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I think we’re going to follow (or be ahead of!) the trends that will happen in digital media and content publishing. I think apps, games and books will form a sort of hybrid of multi-media. I want to keep producing and marketing any type of content that entertains, informs and inspires. That’s my goal with everything we do!
Who or what inspires YOU?
- Strong women.
- Films with smushy, happy endings.
- House music or any tune with a serious bass line.
- Strong coffee served in beautiful ceramic mugs.
- In-person networking with energetic folks.
- Power yoga and all the yoga teachers out there making the world a better, calmer, sexier place!
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded?
Self-funded all the way. Consulting and royalties pay the bills now. In the beginning, we ate into our savings and lived rent-free at my in-laws, which was super nice of them and allowed us to get our projects off the ground and still have a few little luxuries. We thoroughly disliked living in suburbia but sucked it up for 2 years – and it was worth every penny saved!
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Rent is expensive, yo! Even if you don’t want to move out of your plush pad, could you move home for 6 months or a year and put the money to better use? Consulting can be a lucrative way to fund projects, meet new people and grow your knowledge base. Just make sure that it doesn’t eat into your time and goals too much. Finally, cancel your subscriptions! Phone, TV, car payments can add up. See if you can’t cut some of these out.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?
A part of me nags to do something more humanitarian, and it’s in the plans to incorporate that into our business this year. I’d likely work with women in business in developing countries.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Hmm… this is a great question. It’s making me think! Let’s see… I’m proud of what I’ve built and done in the last three years, but I still have much bigger goals. The next three years will hopefully be scaling up and improving. Also, the day I meet Richard Branson, I’ll call myself successful. I throw that into every interview because he’s my hero and I want to have a beer with him so bad!
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
I spend 12 hours+ a day on my computer, so hubby and I vowed not to get smart phones so we wouldn’t turn into complete screen addicts. I have a crappy phone that can only text and call, and I love it that way!
Dogs or cats?
Dogs!!! I’m borderline obsessed with my puppy and he makes frequent cameos on my website and social media. I’m allergic to cats.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
Hmmm, toughy. I don’t know… maybe that we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we focus on treating customers as people, not as numbers? That’s all I ever want from a product or service, and that’s what we strive to do with 30 Day Books’s fans, readers and users.
Where can our readers get a hold of you?
Any other projects you’re working on that we should check out?
Two book marketing guides: 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!