Dear Preston: Doing Business With Our Hearts

I recently got an email asking me if I would like an e-galley of a nonfiction book, something I rarely discuss here at Quality Time. I prefer fiction and there is so much out there that writing about nonfiction almost seems like a waste of my time. But this book was about a subject I wanted to research anyway, so I snapped it up and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Called Dear Preston: Doing Business With Our Hearts: A Practical and Friendly Guide to Running Your Own Creative Service Business and written by Preston Bailey, the book is a chatty guide to the dos and don'ts of running a creative business. Preston got his start working with flowers and ended up running a luxurious, successful event design company. (I took a look at his website, at some images from recent events and he is still doing amazing things with flowers. I particularly love the blue image with the trees that look as though they are coated in ice. Preston's road to success wasn't all sunshine and roses; at one point he found himself a million and a half dollars in debt. Dear Preston gives plenty of tips on how to avoid the same fate.

About half of the book is written in an agony aunt style, with Preston answering questions I'm assuming came in on his blog. After he gives a somewhat simple answer he expounds on the subject and then moves on to the next question. His core themes are generosity, abundance, daring (to go ahead and take the steps to start your business instead of just talking about it) and keeping your creative fire burning.

Sometimes his advice seems a little naive, or too optimistic, as when he says that jumping right into starting your business is good, whereas I would have suggested taking some classes at your local community college and working in your chosen industry before tackling it on your own. But overall his advice seems solid, is interesting and given in an easy to digest style. I read the book in about three days, squeezing it in while I was waiting for my kids or otherwise grabbing a few minutes to myself.

The author covers such topics as commissions, good, bad, or terrible; feeling burnt out; how to fix negative emotions like jealousy or perfectionism; how to find clients; how to keep clients; finances; employees; and your company website/social media. He also stresses not trying to do it all yourself, or at least not staying solo after you have enough money to hire help.

Dear Preston isn't just a fun, educational read; it's also inspiring. Anyone who can build their business without much formal education, climb out of that much debt, and remain generous of spirit is a potential role model. The book is filled with anecdotes as well as questions and answers and the little stories will teach almost as much as the straight up facts. He doesn't get into the nitty gritty, such as explaining balance sheets when he talks about finance, but he covers a lot of subjects and gives the reader excellent jumping off points for further research.

The book is due to be released on January 23rd, 2013.

Bonus Treat:
I realize I should probably not run two bonus treats from the same author in a row, but Kate Beaton did such a lovely job with this comic called Something Nice, that I couldn't resist. It's about the gift giving impulse, family and what it all means. You may need to click the image to enlarge it.