MOMpreneur: Tina O’Connor, Owner of Be That Books Publishing

image of tine o'connor from be that publishing
  • Published
  • May 30, 2014

Tina O’Connor has led a particularly unique life. From earning a Psychology degree and publishing articles in a number of neuroscience journals to opening a pair of liquor stores in her native Calgary, Tina forged a fascinating path. By the time her kid-count got to three, Tina recognized the need for a lifestyle change. So she wrote a book.

Running your own business is not always easy, and its not for the faint of heart!

We interviewed the now three-time author and CEO of Be That Books Publishing to learn how she manages to balance life at home with three kids and a growing publishing empire that continues to thrive.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My parents were very entrepreneurial, and I knew from a young age that I wanted to own my own business. Once I started having children, the flexibility associated with owning my own company really fueled me towards buying my first business. After 2 children, I could not see myself returning to a 9 to 5 job!

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Flexibility and accomplishment. I know that what I am doing is making a difference, and that my company results are directly related to how much effort I put in each day. I love that I can swap my schedule around as needed to accommodate anything that comes up. If I need to work more at night to make up for a special volunteer day at school with my kids, I have that flexibility. Also, my business donates 10% of proceeds of each book to charity. I LOVE being able to give back, and I know my authors like it too.

Describe a typical day:
Once kids are off to school, I begin my work day. Depending on the day, I may be editing or reviewing manuscripts, working with our designer to create new book covers, managing our author network and booking tours, working with our social media team, I may write a blog post, or continue writing my own books. I also manage our entire distribution network (amazon, chapters-indigo, etc.), as well as handle tradeshow bookings, and creation of marketing materials. I also work closely with my web designer to ensure that our site stays up to date at all times. I spend a majority of my time ensuring that our projects (new books) are on track as far as time lines. I also prepare segments for TV appearances, and network with the right people to keep my business in the forefront of the right people’s minds. I still have one daughter in kindergarten, so by lunchtime, I am back to being a mom until my husband gets home! I do spend a significant amount of time working in the evenings, but it is worth it!

Tina O'Connor with family

Days off are the best, and you have to give yourself permission to take them (that is the hardest part!)

Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family that answer the call?
I am so lucky to have both my family and my husband’s family on call for when the need arises. We used to have childcare in place, but it became more important to me to spend time with, and raise my own children, whenever possible. Now I just make adjustments so that it all works out. And my mom’s are always available to lend a hand when they need to!

Have you ever had to sacrifice something at work to make the family work?
Yes! At times, a deadline has been pushed, or something ends up waiting because my family needs me. My family is my number 1 priority.

What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
I love spending the day with my kids at the zoo, swimming pool, or just outside at our acreage riding bikes and gardening. I also spend most Wednesday afternoons lunching with my mom and my sister, and we have been doing this for 6 years now! It’s funny…when you prioritize something you can always find (make) time for it. I am also a true yoga fan, and I make sure I take time for me each week to get all bendy and calm.

What does the future look like?
Next year, all my kids will be in school full time (WOW!), so I will have more time in the day to grow my business. I expect to add 5 to 10 new authors (or books) per year to my publishing company. I also expect to put out 1 new title in my Be That series each year. I also dream of hosting my own TV show one day!

Are you active in your local MOMpreneur community?
Yes! More and more moms are finding ways to work from home to create more balance in their work and home lives. I have an extensive network of MOMpreneurs that I network with, and bounce ideas off everyday. It’s important to support each other!

Name another MOMpreneur who inspires you:
Sandi Richard, Arlene Dickenson and Erica Ehm

Any tips for mom’s thinking of starting a business?
Running your own business is not always easy, and its not for the faint of heart! Everything falls on you. It’s a huge responsibility, and business is not always friendly! But if you’re willing to put the effort in (no matter what time of day it is!), it can be extremely rewarding. You must be diligent with your schedule and be careful not to run yourself into the ground. It is all about balance, and getting the most reward out of the least amount of effort, so you have more time for you and your family! Try not to get sucked into a lifestyle of working 80 hours a week…remember why you started your business in the first place, and stay true to yourself throughout this process.

Content Manager at FS Local

Jesse is a typical class clown. Born and raised just north of the Toronto, he fell in love with the City on school trips to the ROM and the Science Centre. He tried Vancouver for a few years, but the call of home was too strong to resist. Today he lives in the North-East Upper Beaches. (What? It’s a thing!)

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