Sue Stevens - Owner and Manager, Bold Type

Sue Stevens
'It's something I have always wanted to do and when I did the calculations, the timing was right for me. It's terrifically exciting getting my corporate identify designed, building my website and speaking with prospective clients, one of which will be Career FAQs.'

Despite the turbulent economic times, Sue resigned from her job as Publisher at Career FAQs recently to take the plunge into self-employment.



Why now for starting your own business when most people are trying to hang onto their jobs?

In a word, ‘freedom’. I am looking forward to having the freedom of making my own decisions about where I want to go with my career and my life.

From a business point of view, it’s also good timing. My business is about helping other businesses maximise their website marketing potential. In an economic downturn, if a company can get new business and get the jump on competitors, it can improve profitability when others are losing market share and the business will be well positioned when the good times roll around again.
On a personal level, I am looking forward to having more flexibility on a day-to-day basis. Because my primary business tools are my Mac laptop and iPhone, I can work from just about anywhere. So I can visit family who live out of town for a week or so and keep my work going while there. There’s that freedom thing again!

So what is the main focus of Bold Type?

The business is about providing web and print publishing solutions for clients.

For websites, I’ll be specialising in website search engine optimisation (SEO) enhancement. This means appraising the current traffic to the website and implementing very simple and effective measures to improve SEO, traffic, leads, clients and profit.

For print publishing, I will be working for publishing companies, custom publishing houses and other businesses producing print materials. What I do – whether project management, editing or writing – will depend on individual client needs. I’ve already done some freelance work for McGraw-Hill and the Real Estate Institute of Australia and I’m looking to build my client base.

What’s your point of difference from other publishing support businesses?

The fact that I have experience developing websites with very good SEO capabilities and that I also have high-level publishing skills means that I can incorporate my publishing and editorial experience to the web publishing world.

It’s a big change moving from full-time employment to not having a regular income. How do you propose to manage this?

In the first instance, I have set up a home-based office which reduces my set up costs.
In terms of income, I prepared a business plan that outlined a best case financial scenario and the worst case and I realised I could manage the worst case situation for quite a while. Realising I will be OK financially made a huge difference to my decision to start my own business.

What is your background?

I have worked in publishing and corporate communication all my working life.

For the past four and a half years I have been Publisher at Career FAQs and I’ve loved every minute. It’s a great company to work for and we have produced some truly great career books. We get lots of praise about the books from teachers, students, career seekers, employers and industry groups. 

Under my watch as publisher, we’ve also developed one of the best career websites around. The content is relevant and new articles about the ever-changing workplace are posted every week helping our web visitors stay in touch with what’s happening. 

Before Career FAQs, I worked in education publishing for 12 years which was enormously rewarding. I worked as a senior production editor, production editor and quality and standards manager among other roles. Being at the coalface of education publishing honed my editorial skills to a fine degree.

In my spare time, I pursued some education of my own which eventuated with me being awarded a PhD from Sydney University in 2005. 

Will you employ staff?

Not in the initial stages. I have an extensive network of publishing professionals with whom I will be contracting for different jobs. For example, if a client needs a website designed, I will approach some graphic designer colleagues and structure the web design into the contract on a sub-contractor basis.

What is your advice to someone thinking of starting their own business?

At the risk of being sued by Nike, ‘Just do it!’

In saying that, I think you have to have the right mentality to run your own business. It’s not just about turning up at work, doing what you are paid to do and leaving at the end of the day. It’s a very different thing altogether.

But if you feel you have the temperament, then identify something that you like doing – something that you are good at – and put together a business plan. The plan can be very simple but it gives you a direction. Then if you can find a point of difference that sets you apart from your competitors, even better.

Finally, there’s lots of support around that is right at your finger tips – if you are sitting at a computer! Use all the websites that are around that help people set up a business. The Australian Tax Office, NSW Government and other websites have been a great help with all the administrative aspects of setting up a business.

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