Greer turns traditional publishing dream into reality

22:46, Jan 07 2014
Sally Greer
Beatnik's Sally Greer

Beatnik is working hard to make it as a traditional publisher in a digital age and so far it's doing okay.

Sally Greer, a trained graphic designer and photographer, started the Auckland company in 2006 and went fulltime in 2009.

The 36-year-old mother says managing the creative and business side of the company can be "overwhelming".

But she must be doing something right because Beatnik has now published 12 books and receives hundreds of publishing requests a year.

Greer says it's hard to make it in the small New Zealand market and the company is looking at moving into Asia in the future.

Kiwi cookbooks are the company's bread and butter, she says.


Beatnik's books are sold in Whitcoulls, Paper Plus, independent cafes and gift shops.

Greer plans to step back from the day-to-day running next year to be more creative.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I've always had an independent streak and I'm quietly driven.

I knew from a young age I'd work for myself.

I also wanted to move away from a service or time-based based business and use my skills to develop products and a brand.

I've always been passionate about books but in some ways Beatnik found me rather than the other way.

What have been the biggest obstacles in running your company?

Lack of capital investment.

I started with nothing and used design work to fund the publishing. It's still the trickiest part.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Don't do it!

No, just kidding. It's fun and rewarding but it's also challenging so ask lots of questions and gather as much knowledge as you can before taking the scary or risky step.

Even if you learn what you are doing is crazy (like setting up a traditional publishing business in a digital age) be passionate. It will get you through the hard times.

What sacrifices have you made to be an entrepreneur?

Quite a lot. A normal life, romantic relationships. You name it, it all gets put under pressure.

I think the hardest thing is not being present for my son as much as I would like.

I'm stepping back from Beatnik next year so I can get some time with him before he's a teenager and doesn't want to know me.

Who is your "business guru", or who do you admire, and why?

I'm addicted to reading books about business and entrepreneurial people. I gather from many rather than one.

What do you do in your downtime?

Watch movies with my son. Laugh with friends and family. Swim, play volleyball, walk, draw, read.

Do you think businesses should "give back" to the community?

Business should be a part of the community.

Everyone needs community and we give back by supporting the abundance of talent out there.

Are you prepared for failure?

Yeah! Failure happens on a daily basis. It's part of life, it's great to fail and learn from it.

What has been your biggest disappointment since you started your business?

Struggling to feel on top of things.

It's a personality flaw rather than a flaw with Beatnik.

Things will go well but I don't always stop to appreciate how far we've come.

Where is your favourite place to relax?

For the past seven years I've gone to a certain tree up Mt Eden in Auckland to give over my issues to the amazing view.

What is one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?

I'm shy and can find group situations or presentations extremely overwhelming.

It's been a lifelong issue.

I love family, friends, small groups, and one-to-one conversations. I've figured out ways to still do business but it has been a challenge at times.

You have to look out for the quiet ones - we'll catch you unawares.

Fairfax Media