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Alexander Niehues (aka Alex Newton) worked as a senior management consultant in the corporate world for 20 years before quitting his career to work at home in Stuttgart and founding K-lytics.
“I was traveling around the world, working seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” said Newton.
After his daughter was born, Newton decided he wanted to spend less time traveling. So he asked himself, “Is there any way of earning money from home?”
This was about the time of the Kindle gold rush in 2014. Always comfortable with data analysis, Newton began examining Amazon book sales ranks. Then he created a series of premium analytics reports for authors.
K-lytics has become successful in the indie publishing world in part because Newton applied data analysis skills he acquired while working as a management consultant. The “K” stands for Kindle and the “lytics” for analytics.
“It’s market intelligence for authors and publishers,” said Newton.
However, I was curious about the new skills Newton cultivated as an entrepreneur.
Almost anyone can come up with a business idea and set up a page on Kickstarter, a Shopify store or invest in a WordPress website. Unfortunately, inspiration, motivation and even a little bit of capital aren’t enough to succeed as an entrepreneur.
“I see way too many entrepreneurs and startup companies who go by gut feel. This is where the rigorous corporate process helped me a great deal,” Newton said.
“Before you spend money, ask, ‘What it’s going to do to your business? What’s the return on it? Are you going to see a return?'”
When Newton came up with the idea for K-lytics, he validated it by showing the company’s book reports to several interested authors.
“They said, ‘Can you do this on subcategories?’”—and that’s how K-lytics was born.
As an example, an entrepreneur might decide to invest money in contracting a customer support team to handle time-consuming customer issues. This investment should then generate a return to the business and free up some of the entrepreneur’s working day.
Have The Courage To Act
The wheels of management in larger businesses grind slower than in start-ups. While executives in larger companies must make decisions, they have room for analysis and even procrastination.
“If you’re in consulting, you can always tell the client, ‘Look, this is what you can do. You have option A, B, C and D, and here are all the pros and cons,’” said Newton.
An entrepreneur, on the other hand, faces many immediate decisions every day, such as where to invest money and spend their time and which projects to act on.
“You can analyze things to death, but you’re not making the decision. As an entrepreneur, you’re faced with decision-making like every day, every minute, every hour of the day,” said Newton.
“That’s a skill I have to develop and leave behind the comfort and the luxury of analyzing every problem.”
Decide What You’ll Outsource
Newton works extensively with outsourcers who help him with parts of the business he’d rather not work on.
“If you’re not into numbers, try to find somebody who can help you with it. It is absolutely affordable,” said Newton. “You have a great many engineers and programmers in India, Pakistan, the Philippines who are highly trained and can help you with the analytics of your business.”
However, entrepreneurs new to outsourcing should think strategically about whom they choose to hire. Often, this means preparing detailed checklists, deciding on an appropriate budget and writing out a detailed job description before hiring anyone.
In some cases, suitable applicants delivered on a project before he officially hired them.
“You have to use a professional process, not just write emails or a very short description of what you want,” Newton said.
This, in turn, frees Newton up to grow K-lytics. It’s easier than ever to outsource repetitive tasks using sites like Upwork.
No, It’s Not Passive
Quitting a demanding job to start a business doesn’t mean more free time to lounge at the beach and watch your bank balance grow.
Newton says he’s busier than ever, although he spends less time traveling and more time with his daughter and family.
“What I now have is active income, but it’s earned from home by hard work,” said Newton.
December 20, 2018 at 11:02AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs