Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nikki Auberkett, Founder of Tala Editorial, LLC., located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a team of professional editors and designers who help independent authors curate their manuscripts into high-quality novels ready for bookstore retail.
Tell us about yourself
I actually first became a published editor when I was fifteen years old! I started in journalism and the city newspaper, but I'd been writing fantasy and post-apocalyptic fiction even earlier. I spent the subsequent years editing academic papers and articles, manuscripts for friends and colleagues both in fiction and social science nonfiction, and it was something I enjoyed so much it didn't feel like work.
Then when the pandemic hit and I lost my job in 2021, I realized everything was perfectly aligned for me to finally do what I've always wanted ever since I was a kid: write my novels and edit books at home—no boss, no corporate setting, no limitations. But added to this entrepreneurial drive was now my passion as a cultural anthropologist: the deep desire to preserve stories and voices. Now that independent publishing is booming, there are thousands of stories ready to be shared. Being a part of that process makes every day a fulfilling and exciting adventure!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We just celebrated our first full year as a business, and our financial reports are far beyond what I expected for the first fiscal year. What this really means to my team and me is that we've successfully supported indie authors from rough drafts to published novels—a dream that used to be out of reach for so many of them. Paired with this came the incredible blessing of being able to provide avenues of income to friends who'd been dreaming of being able to pursue creative work at home! So, all in all, I'd say my biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been simply being part of something that's brought dreams into tangible reality. It's exhilarating just to write that down!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In the first 2-3 years, the work hours are seemingly unending. I made myself a schedule of 10 AM - 7 PM, but I almost never actually stop working until I pass out! This is mainly due to wearing all the hats: creator, administrator, editor, bookkeeper, graphic designer, web designer, tech support, VA to my team, copywriter...all while working on writing my own manuscripts. As we grow, we'll be able to grow the team to manage these functions, and I'll have my free time back. Until then, I have to pry myself from my desk!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Focus on your passion, NOT the money! It's very easy to tell when a business owner has financial blinders, which ends up pushing away prospective clients (and income) instead of attracting them. People want to work with people, not soulless systems or entities. When it's clear you're doing this because your heart and soul are dedicated to it, your best clients will be so attracted to your mission that money will never be an objection.
- A business mindset is all about investment. In the first 2-3 years of entrepreneurship, you will be required to invest significant amounts of time, energy, emotion, and money into not only starting your business but operating it as something that can and will scale at an accelerated rate. This doesn't mean you have to be wealthy in any of those aspects in order to start! But it does mean that you will have to get creative and resourceful and go in with the full understanding that you're building the foundation the rest of your career will rest upon. Quick and cheap will crumble in the long term!
- Get a mentor. If you invest any significant amounts of money into anything, let it be a professional mentor who you connect with on a personal level and who not only understands your vision but is passionately dedicated to seeing you succeed. No solid foundation can be laid by one person. It takes a team to verify the progress and help you navigate and alter your projected journey according to where you're at so you can get to where you want to be.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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