Giving Up the Entrepreneur Hustle

I opened Harrelson Press with the release of our first book in 2013. The idea came to me after working with authors and realizing that the majority not only do not maintain the creative rights to their creative work but they also don’t see much profit from each book sale. Book sales is not a lucrative business in and of itself. The product is small and the profit margin on each book sale is small. You have to sell a lot of books in order to cover even one of your bills.

I wanted to help authors understand the nature of the industry and their own hopes and dreams while also providing a space that allowed their creativity to blossom. In those first three years of Harrelson Press, I ran myself ragged hauling books back and forth to set up a book stand for two days only to tear the whole thing down two days later, each day with less books. The statistics were always running through my head.

Only 20% of new business don’t survive the first three years.

I scoured for festivals and for events trying to get our name out there, working long nights and weekends in order to “make it.” It wasn’t uncommon to set up for a Friday-Saturday event, tear down on Saturday afternoon, drive back home and get ready to preach and pastor the next morning. I was hustling and burning both ends of the candle.

As a bi-vocational pastor, this was what I was supposed to do, right?

As a female entrepreneur, this was what it took to get noticed and gain respect, right?

I sit here, eight years later, I realize I did it. My business is still in existence. We have gained respect and recognition in a niche market. We have expanded and adapted to include services like copywriting, dreaming and visioning work with authors, and formatting for writers interested in self-publishing.

While some might say it was the hustle in those first three years that made it possible for the business to survive, that’s simply not true. The hustle brought up very important decisions about what was worth our time and effort and what simply wasn’t. The hustle led to a refining of who we were and what we did.

The hustle ultimately wasn’t worth it.

Now, I am able to choose intentionally and purposefully where we invest our time and energy to make the most impact and also the most fulfilling experiences for our company and our authors. This is “making it.”