The good thing about working in a startup is that other products and companies are constantly under evaluation perhaps because they are competitors, big in the news or super innovative. Without being aware of it you get an idea of what is a good business model and the ones who just don’t have one. Back in July, the book on interior design in Iran was still just an idea – I didn’t write a business plan or anything similar. I mainly thought about key points:
- Understand the market
- Understand the target group
- Understand the financials
- Understand my personal goal
An easy-to-follow flowchart created by the printing startup MOO helped me. My goal was not to become the key expert on the publishing sector but I wanted to understand how things worked. What steps were involved from an initial book idea until it’s a success in the bookstores? I actually just wanted to know what would be the easiest way for me to make a profit margin and refinance my costs.
Because my personal goal for this project is not to become rich, not even that the book becomes a bestseller in the architecture or travel category. On a financial level, my aim is to break even. Because I value the non-material factors more on one hand the experience of setting up a business with a physical product and on the other making the world aware of the great design I find in Iran.
From break even to USP
Still I believe only good-will doesn’t help anyone – you have to know your financials. So my market study focused on all different costs throughout the production: research and composition of the book, printing, marketing, shipping. As I soon understood I wanted to publish the book myself and not through a publisher.
So I evaluated prices for all four steps, set up my rough cost calculation and estimated a break even which provokes the same answer by almost anyone: That’s doable! Plus the interior design book sector is no small niche. Also my USP was clear: there has been no book on the topic of Iranian Design ever.
Which leads to the next question: Who would buy this book? The answer has evolved since summer but the key groups are still the same.
- ‘Hipsters’ in European and North American cities who love design, travel a lot and are often themselves creative
- Iranian expats who feel proud of their country and its traditions
- Architects and interior designers worldwide who want to get new inspirations
- Travelers who want to read up on Iran before or after going to the country
- Travel agencies
The key groups will definitely be the first two and so the decision to publish the book in English. Both groups are fluent in English. Hipsters because they are young and work and live internationally. Iranian expats because its biggest community is based in L.A. with 2 million people. I will for sure learn more about our customer segments when I start marketing and selling but so far the segments look reasonable.