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on 12 February 2004
Anyone who has started their own business will be familiar with the trials and tribulations that you go through, but it is so great to hear it from other people. BT, the banks, and most big companies are all the enemy and most other small businesses are all life savers. It is the psychological side which is so refreshing to hear. There are tons of books about how to be a successful entrepreneur but very few about how to be a successful pre-entrepreneur. I am 85% of the way through launching my own small business, and reading this book will help push me through the last 15% more quickly and with a much better attitude!
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This book is a "warts and all" journal of setting up a publishing business from scratch. The personal account succeeds far better than most "business guides" in showing potential entrepreneurs how to take the essential step of converting ideas and intentions into successful action.
There are plenty of books available that tell you what you ought to do in order to start a business. There are very few that inspire and enthuse the reader in the way this journal does.
The IPG is frequently asked for reading recommenations. The White Ladder Diaries has gone straight into the list of books we recommend to new or potential publishers (the others being Marketing Books by Alison Baverstock, Publishing for Profit by Thomas Woll, and Clarke's Publishing Agreements ed. Lynette Owen).
Although my professional interest is specifically in the publishing arena - I am sure that this book will be an inspiration to anyone considering taking the brave step of setting up their own business.
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on 27 February 2006
"To start a business from scratch with a great idea but little money is a terrifying but thrilling challenge. White Ladder is a fine example of how sheer guts and drive can win the day."
PLANNINGABOVEANDBEYOND.COM, April '05 "White Ladder is a publisher of books about how to sort out everyday life better using skills predominantly drawn from business. So Ros Jay kept a diary about the first few months of setting up the business and brought it out as one of their first titles. What I like about this book how realistic is the account of the thrills and spills. Setting up a business doesn't ever go to plan - lots of things take longer or don't work as you anticipate and likewise the successes can be just as unexpected which can be a blow to the ego. There's a lot of detail which if you're not in the publishing business can be overwhelming - though if you want to get into publishing I think it has to be one of the best primers ever written! BT certainly don't come out of it very well. But it gives a real insight into living on the edge - it's not all anecdote though. All the way through the principles behind setting up a business are codified. There's even a summary of all of them at the end. And it won't surprise you that the book also contains promos for the other titles White Ladder have now brought out. A great read if you want to know how starting a business feels."
Idea of the week: Tips that turn your leap into a small step
"MAYBE you'd love to start your own business but can't get your head around the concept of how to make the leap from good idea to running an actual business. If so, this book is for you, writes Rachel Bridge. The White Ladder Diaries tells the true-life story of how married freelance writers Ros Jay and Richard Craze went about setting up their own publishing company from scratch in the summer of 2002 - from having the initial idea of publishing their first book.
Written in the form of a personal diary covering the first 10 months of their venture, the book includes lots of practical tips and advice for budding entrepreneurs in any field. It deals with everything from how to register for Vat to how to accept credit-card payments via your website.
It even tells you how to persuade a bank's call-centre operative to put you through to your local branch. (Answer: say you think you left your glasses on the counter.) Because Jay and Craze are in the publishing business themselves, the book is written in a very accessible style. And, unlike so many other people's personal accounts, it is virtually cringe-free with hardly a jokey comment or exclamation mark in sight.
Jay said the secret of making the leap from an idea to running a real business was to realise it was not actually a leap at all. She said: "If you keep on taking small steps that don't commit you, then one day you find that it's just another small step to actually having a business. And, as you take each step, if you still think it's a good idea, you'll find it is harder to stop than it is to keep going."
The only thing the book is not able to shed any light on is how to raise external finance because they funded the entire enterprise themselves with savings of £8,000. "
As it says in the book's blurb, it they can do it, so can you. Go on, stop dreaming - be your own boss.
THE SUNDAY TIMES Business Section Rachael Bridge
Snakes and ladders
"The internal workings of the book trade may make sense to those on the inside, but new entrants find an assault course of "accepted practice" separating publisher from consumer, as Ros Jay discovered....The White Ladder Diaries, subtitled "The Pain and Pleasure of Launching a Business", offers useful lessons, learned from direct experience. Boiled down to "Golden rules", many of them apply equally well across the book business."
THE BOOKSELLER Publishing Start-up Feature
Brand new chapter
"Mirror Money got advice from Ros Jay, an author who decided to start her own publishing company. Ros's tips for going into business: Find experts who can advise you. I would advise small companies to use small suppliers. Look professional. You can't start a business without a proper cashflow forecast. Get your hands dirty.
"We settled on publishing quirky titles and marketing them extensively. We were lucky because we could continue to write for other publishers and earn money as the company got started." Ros's book on starting your own business, The White ladder Diaries, is very cheap."
DAILY MIRROR Money Pages Feature By Anna Day
"What a refreshing change - a book about business that doesn't read like a business book. Easy to read, simple, but definitely not simplistic, The White Ladder Diaries is written in a relaxed, personal style and with marked absence of jargon.
The book follows a couple, Ros Jay and partner Richard Craze, through the gestation and birth of their new publishing company, White Ladder Press. Full of valuable lessons derived from first-hand experience, such as: keep it simple, do as much as you can yourself, only spend money on essentials, try your ideas out on others, ask for business and ask for help, and most important, trust your own judgement. And, as many books and stories about business start-ups warn, don't expect any co-operation from the banks; you will be disappointed.
If you are seriously thinking about starting your own business, buy this book, read it and take notice of the advice."
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on 4 December 2004
This book follows the personal journey of two people as they set up their own publishing business. While nosey people who like the idea of fly-on-the-wall business books will enjoy this - people looking for any substance or big breakthroughs will find it lacking.
Many of the author's big discoveries are pretty common and some of the recommendations are well, pretty much lacking in authority or substance. It seems like they're passing sometimes dubious information they've been given on verbatim without really knowing if it's actually useful.
I do quite like the authors after reading about their trials and tribulations - but I think the book does a better job of making you like them than it does of passing anything useful on to budding entrepreneurs.
This book falls in an odd category between entertainment (without drama) and education (without substance).
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on 10 February 2004
I'm planning to start a business and have read loads of books on the subject, as I would advise anyone to do. This one is different from the rest. It gives the emotional angle as you follow the author's journal of starting a publishing company. It is as gripping as fiction and gives you the mistakes and the disheartening bits as well as all the positive stuff that you get from other books. By the end of the book you really like the author and are rooting for her business to do well. The book also contains masses of really useful information about how to do the practical stuff like registering for Vat and writing press releases and so on. If you want to set up your own business read everything you can get your hands on, and make sure this book is on your reading list.
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on 8 March 2006
This is THE guide to starting your own business. Non nonsense, no frills advice and beautifully written - I would definitely recommend this book to anyone thinking of starting a business.
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on 26 January 2004
The author gives a down to earth account of starting a business. As the title suggests it is a diary of the steps taken to get the business up and running, the problems encountered along the way, and how these were dealt with. The book is refreshing in it's approach to the subject of starting a business, and will keep you interested and wanting to read on, as opposed to some of the "text book like" offerings available on the subject.
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on 10 February 2004
In the space of one month this book has turned my life around. I have been wanting to start my own business for over ten years. And that's ten years of sitting on my arse picking my nose and staring out of the window. My brother bought this for me and I thought 'Oh, yeah, another inspirational bollixy book'. Boy, was I wrong. yes, it is inspirational but I started to read it and couldn't put the damn thing down. It hooks you. You care about these people. Once you start to read it you are filled with enthusiasm and fire - it gets you up out of your chair shouting 'If they can do this, then I can too!' and by bollix you find you have taken that first step. Good book, well written and very funny in places.
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on 28 February 2005
This is a well-written, entertaining and extremely useful insight into setting up a publishing company. It's treatment of the steps needed to publishing a book; from inspiration strikes and disasters to the more mundane finance and admin. sides are treated with a sense of humour and a lots of nitty gritty practical information. This book isn't meant to be an academic introduction to publishing - there are other books on the market for that - nor is it meant to be a guide to setting up a business. It's about the experience of two people, warts and all. Publishing isn't all glamour and the book reflects this - it takes you on the roller coaster from interviews with She magazine one minute, to the dramas of malfunctioning phone lines the next. It's about real life, and life has mundane bits in it, like it or not. If you happen to work it publishing you can learn a lot from it. If not, it's just a dam good read. The list of lessons learnt/tips at the end of the book, which could apply to many industries, make it so much more than just a diary. If you've ever thought about writing and publishing your own book, setting up your own company, are intersted in how a book is produced, or are just looking for an interesting and original read, buy it.
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on 19 July 2010
Having read and enjoyed several books from White Ladder's eclectic list I was intrigued enough to want to read this account of how they started their publishing business. It's an interesting tale on the human level and also offers lots of practical tips for anyone starting a small business, whether it's in publishing or another field.
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