5 Tips for Launching a Side Business

When Calee Lee looked for e-books to read to her two young children on her Kindle, she came up short: Colorful pictures didn't seem to come alive on the black-and-white screen, and others, especially older classics, didn't seem to be formatted properly for the e-reader. "I said, 'I could do better than this,'" says Lee, 29, and she did just that.

She started writing a children's story based on Queen Helena of Ancient Greece, who is known for sending a boat full of cats to Cyprus to help control the island's snake problem. When Lee was visiting Cyprus with her family, they had seen the cats that still live throughout the monasteries, and she thought it would make a great children's story.

Lee, who lives in Irvine, Calif., published that book, The Queen and the Cats, and decided to keep going. Her publishing company, Xist Publishing, has since published more than 80 e-books and began turning a profit earlier this year. At the same time, Lee continues to work full-time on her video production business.

Lee shared her top five tips for launching a successful side business:

Don't quit your day job.

Lee, who runs her own video production company out of her home, says she wanted a second stream of income, and her publishing company provided that. "I'm making more doing this than I did as a copywriter when I first got out of school," she says. In fact, she predicts that at the current growth rates, her publishing income could exceed her income from her full-time job within two years.

For now, though, the dual incomes are giving her family the financial security she was seeking. "We experienced the recession like everyone else," she says. "Now, we're able to pay off debt, hire help when we need it, and go on vacation this year," she adds.

Steal time wherever possible.

With two young children and a full-time job, it's not easy for Lee to find time to write, publish, and promote books. Instead of sticking to a set schedule, Lee fits in work wherever she can, which sometimes means writing when she could be folding laundry. If she's having a slow week with her video business, she puts in more hours on her publishing venture, and she often works after her children go to bed. "Juggling is the key word," she says.

Create what you wish already existed.

Much of Lee's energy and motivation comes from the fact that she's fulfilling one of her long-held dreams--to write and publish children's books. And not just any children's books. "I wanted to give [my daughter] some princess alternatives," says Lee, which is why she often focuses on royal women from Christian history. "They are beautiful women that were strong in a different way. Helena traveled halfway around the world 1,500 years ago and she helped a village in a tangible way," she adds.

One of her new books, A Necklace of Virtues, features an English princess, Audrey, who gave up her wealth after encountering poverty. Lee says she was inspired by her five-year-old daughter's question about why some people have so much and others so little. "It can help parents start that conversation," she says.

Minimize your upfront costs.

Instead of offering her authors and illustrators advances as big publishers tend to do, Lee offers them what she calls a generous royalty package. In some cases where sales are high, that means they end up earning more money than they would have otherwise, she says. Lee minimized other costs by using family friends with legal expertise to review contracts and working out of her home.

Focus on word-of-mouth marketing. For a recent book launch, Lee worked with the author to plan a 26-blog tour, which generated online buzz. Lee also finds that potential authors and illustrators now find her through word-of-mouth, as well, and she receives a handful of new submissions for potential projects every week.

For this self-made publisher, reading those submissions is one of her favorite parts of the job.

Twitter: @alphaconsumer

More From US News & World Report

Quiz: How well do you know India's economy?

Question 1

Which of these products is India the world's largest producer of?

Poll Choice Options
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Milk

Latest News

  • BSE Sensex hits record high for third straight day

    The BSE Sensex and Nifty hit record highs for a third session in a row as infrastructure companies such as Larsen & Toubro extended recent gains while lenders including Yes Bank advanced on hopes the worst ... …

  • Sensex, Nifty at new highs; capital goods sector gains

    Mumbai, April 23 (IANS) A benchmark index of Indian equities markets touched a record high of 22,912.52 points Wednesday for the third straight day, surpassing the 22,853.03 points it touched Tuesday. ... …

  • Rupee falls for third day; foreign fund inflows key

    The rupee weakened for a third consecutive session on Wednesday, falling below the 61 to the dollar mark for the first time in more than a month, hurt by good demand for the greenback from importers and by continued weakness in Asian currencies. Most emerging Asian currencies fell as the Chinese yuan extended its recent decline to a 16-month low, while the Indonesian rupiah touched its weakest level in more than seven weeks due to increasing month-end dollar demand. It is likely revolve …

  • Procter & Gamble quarterly profit rises on home care sales

    Procter & Gamble Co , the world's largest household products maker, reported a higher quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by an increase in sales of its home care products. Sales were unchanged at $20.6 ... …

  • HC pulls up Delhi chief secretary over water-logging

    New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday pulled up the city chief secretary over water logging in the capital during the monsoon. A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog slammed the city government, saying nothing was happening in the city as per the master plan. The court had summoned the chief secretary after the authorities failed to submit a report on short and long-term measures to tackle water-logging in the city. "We are living in an …


  • This might well be India’s biggest Ponzi scam

    It was just too good to be true. Ashok Khital, 45, displays every symptom of a man who knows he's been conned. …

  • India's star studded football league

    High and mighty including Sachin, Salman & Sun Group buy ISL teams …

  • Leaderspeak with Rajesh Janey

    Rajesh Janey, President - India & SAARC, EMC shares many firsts in his life. …

  • Power Hungry

    Gujarat has power round-the-clock. Most other states do not. Why this will matter in the general elections. …

  • Etcetera

    The most keenly watched contest of the current general election will be the one for the Varanasi parliamentary seat, where the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi squares off ... …

  • Economy vs Democracy

    As the country gets election fever, cash comes out of mattresses and turns into liquor, gifts, and food. But it is not bad for the health of the economy, reports Sarika Malhotra from the trenches. …

  • Bracing for Challenges

    Raghuram Rajan is preparing to deal with concerns that may arise when a new government takes charge. …


  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Price % Gainers
    Price % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Price % Losers
    Price % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    Recent Quotes
    Symbol Price Change % ChgChart 
    Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
    You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
  • Recent Quotes News

      Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.