Pay closer attention to growing revenues than managing costs.
Tim Hill, originally from the UK, has been in the publishing of scientific, technical and medical journals for most of the past 45 years. In 1969 Tim commenced working for John Wright and Sons at the Stonebridge press in the UK. Tim left John Wright and Sons to join a very progressive mathematical photocomposition publisher. From there Tim and family relocated to New Zealand in 1982 and Tim commenced working for ADIS International Ltd. After working in many different roles at ADIS, including Vice-President for Information Technology Tim became Managing Director until leaving ADIS in 1999.
After a year as a business consultant Tim was recruited by The Open Polytechnic of NZ to establish a journal publishing operation where he was the Chief Executive Officer. In 2005 Tim, together, with former colleagues from ADIS International established Dove Medical Press with offices in the UK and NZ. Tim is the Publisher at Dove Medical Press and has a staff of 30 publishing professional based in the Auckland editorial offices in New Zealand. Dove publishes some 130 journals in the areas of medicine and science.
Where did the idea for Dove Medical Press come from?
Several of us ex-ADIS International senior staff stayed in touch after we sold the company. We had all done different things since leaving ADIS, but wanted to work together once again. We saw that the scientific, technical and medical publishing world was on the verge of changing and wanted to be a part of the new digital changes that were going to happen. Our objective was to maintain or improve the editorial standards that we all knew and thereby marry the new evolving content delivery systems with the best of breed editorial practices.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Well I am normally looking at my emails over breakfast at 6:30am. I can then answer any of the urgent emails that come in. Our location in New Zealand and our customers mainly located in the US, Europe, and China means that we receive a lot of emails overnight. I use Outlook extensively and have a large number of rules set up to try to better manage the volume of emails.
I usually arrive in the office around 8:15 and try to clear my emails. Then I have regular meetings at 11am and 2pm each day. These cover a range of topics from supervisors reporting progress in their respective areas to interviews of potential employees. There are also a large number of project meetings which I like to sit in on.
While Dove Medical Press remains reasonably small I can continue to be involved at this level. However, as it gets bigger I am going to have to back off
How do you bring ideas to life?
Impatience and persistence. If a new idea is going to contribute positively to the company then we have to find a way to get it done and juggle the overall priorities in order that it can be brought to life on time and to deliver on the original idea.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I think that the growth in the use of mobile computing has the potential to completely alter the Scientific, Technical, and Medical publishing landscape. The old paradigm of printed journals and narrative is changing with the advent of video content delivered alongside the traditional article. I think that video and other media are evolving rapidly.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Sleeping on good ideas. Those ideas that seem fantastic and must do’s are better left for a day or so. Amazing how you see things differently only a day or so later.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I was very young I worked at weekends in a milk bar. The work was physically hard, hot and sweaty but my grandmother would come and visit the milk bar every Saturday without fail. She would just see that I was working and drink her coffee and then leave without necessarily saying a word. She just wanted to see that I was Ok. Family really is everything and that is worth remembering at those times when work vs family conflicts arise.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As we have gone along Dove Press has adapted and modified as markets and technology change. We recognize challenges and adapt to them at the time. Therefore I don’t think that I would do anything differently.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Pay closer attention to growing revenues than managing costs.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Our competition has invested in expensive automatic computer systems that send out template emails and our authors dislike these. We have always believed that people do business with other people, not companies. Accordingly all our staff are customer-facing and all are courteous, respectful, even a little formal but our authors greatly appreciate their interactions with us because we are not like the others.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had a consulting business that failed after a year. It was difficult at the time, but it made me fully appreciate that my own strengths were not in the area of one to one sales. I was not good at it and so in my next venture I was sure not to have such a sales structure. It was just not something that I was good at doing.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If there is a Farmers Market near to you then why not plant some heritage fruit trees? You need some land to be able to do this and it can take a year or two. In that time you will have to tend to your trees and then when you have harvested the fruit go along to your Farmers Market and meet and mingle with the people. You may not make a lot of money, but you will have fun and make friends.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
That would be my Kindle e-book reader. Just a fabulous, focused, device. It does exactly what it says it will do, offers outstanding battery life and makes reading my books – I normally am reading 3 or 4 at a time – easy. I take it with me whenever I travel and like the fact that I can take my library with me without having bulky and heavy books to carry.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Kindle on Amazon because they have a very comprehensive book collection, the prices are good, and it provides a seamless process with my Kindle reader.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. I loved this novel when I read it in the 1970s and have re-read it recently. That normally results in disappointment, but not in this case. It has very little to do with business, but everything to do with people.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
The Seth Godin books and blog are a wonderful source of ideas, inspiration, and common sense. I would recommend anyone to take his blog and just absorb its ethos over time.
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