Kim Bjørn, the designer, musician, author, and CEO of Bjooks, shares his journey of building a Danish boutique publishing company in this Entrepreneur article. Bjooks creates hardcover books on music technology, artists, and makers that are not only informative and inspiring but also beautifully designed physical objects. In this interview, Bjørn talks about his inspiration for creating the business, overcoming self-doubt to get a prominent artist to endorse his project, his methods for tapping into creativity, and what aspiring business owners really need to succeed. With valuable insights and tips from a real entrepreneur who has made it big in the niche market, this article is a must-read for anyone who wants to turn their passion into a successful business.
Important Details about All You Really Need to Launch a Business, According to This Art Book Entrepreneur –
– Kim Bjørn is the CEO and founder of Bjooks, a Danish boutique publishing company that creates hardcover books on music technology, artists, and makers.
– They have published only seven titles since 2017 but have sold tens of thousands of them all over the world, to world-known recording artists as well as hobby musicians, students, and tech enthusiasts.
– Kim was inspired to create this business after years of teaching interface design and playing music.
– His biggest challenge was lack of belief in himself, but he overcame it by creating a mock-up of the book cover and sample pages to present to Jean-Michel Jarre, who loved the idea and wrote the foreword for the book.
– Kim’s method to break through writer’s block is to write something down and correct it later if needed.
– For funding, he recommends crowdfunding to get instant validation of your idea and to create a community before launching the campaign. He also suggests working with brands to fund part of the books.
– Kim believes that aspiring business owners don’t necessarily need investors or a plan, but they need discipline, resilience, an objective look at themselves and their idea, and flexibility to reach their goals in other ways than they first imagined.
– His personal motivation quote is “Just do it”, which means taking one step at a time towards your dream, even if you walk backward or make mistakes.
Real Entrepreneurs: Kim Bjørn, Founder of Bjooks
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips, and insights from real entrepreneurs who are fighting business battles on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who is Kim Bjørn and What is Her Business?
Kim Bjørn is a designer, musician, author, and CEO and founder of Bjooks, a Danish boutique publishing company, operating worldwide creating hardcover books on music technology, artists, and makers. Since 2017, they have published only seven titles but have sold tens of thousands of them all over the world, to world-known recording artists as well as hobby musicians, students, and nerdy tech people admiring a good old physical book. They are known for packing inspiration and information into beautifully designed books that no one saw coming.
What Inspired Kim Bjorn to Create Her Business?
After years of teaching interface design and also playing music, Kim started asking herself “Why do these electronic instruments and interfaces look the way they do?” There has been very little tradition and a lot of invention in this area of electronic instruments (unlike acoustic instruments like the violin for instance, which has looked and worked pretty much the same for centuries). So she started “collecting” images of instruments and interfaces, driven by her curiosity and the fact that she couldn’t find any literature about this. It was her aha moment: No one had created what she wanted to have, so she had to create it herself; a book about interface design in electronic music.
What was Kim’s Biggest Challenge and how did she overcome it?
Kim’s biggest challenge was that she didn’t believe enough in herself. It took years with sketches in the drawer until finally, there was a window of opportunity when the legendary electronic artist Jean-Michel Jarre came to Copenhagen. A friend of hers had a connection, so she would be able to meet with him for 15 minutes. Kim decided that that was her moment: She wanted Jarre (her childhood hero) to write the foreword, and she wanted to know what he thought of the idea. But she only had a week to create a mockup of the book cover, sample pages, and a description of the project.
After working around the clock, when they finally met, Jarre loved the idea, and there was an instant connection. As soon as he was onboard, the rest was much easier. Kim had belief in herself, and the project became all fired up. She kind of started out in blue ocean, as it was the first well-illustrated book on this topic, and no one had ever seen this kind of book for a worldwide community coming. However, there was a worldwide niche. She never thought she’d make old-school hardcover books for a living, but even in these hi-tech times, she believes people treasure physical objects even more — especially when they’re well-made and when a lot of passion has been poured into them.
When it comes to tapping into creativity, do you have any methods that work for you to break through writer’s block?
Yes! Kim blocked several times during the creation of her first international book — what if it was a crazy bad idea?! However, at some point, she said to herself: “You know what? I will regret it to the end of my days if I don’t give this a shot.” So she made a yellow note and stuck it to the top of her computer screen with this sentence: “Just write it badly!” She realized she just had to write something, and that she could always correct it, delete it, write something else, and so on. This way, at least she got something down, and many times it didn’t read that bad after all.
What advice would Kim give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
Regarding where to look, she’d recommend crowdfunding as you get instant validation of your idea. However, create a community first, then launch the campaign. When you have social proof, you can always go to investors for your next product. Remember, this doesn’t necessarily need to be “that” million-dollar idea – it may very well come after you get some experience under your skin. Kim’s company never had red numbers, never owed anything, and she also created a concept of working with brands that then funded part of the books.
In terms of preparing for your pitch, know your numbers inside out. Check the competition and be thorough in your research. You want to be sure you’ve not missed something obvious. Be humble (I know; it’s a Scandinavian thing). Kim has often seen people believing that they’ve created something the world has never seen before, being cocky about it, only to lose all credibility because they hadn’t done their work properly. Part of that is researching and knowing who you’re talking to. Always be grateful for the time people spend listening to you and your crazy dream — especially when they start actually buying your products!
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to Kim?
A hard-working, self-made, creative, and innovative spirit — with a burning desire to make the world a better place no matter how small or big your idea or world.
What is something many aspiring business owners think they need that they really don’t?
Honestly? Investors and a plan. Kim sees way too many people who think that this is the only way to get something started, to grow or to reach the dream. What you really need is discipline, resilience, and an honest, objective look at yourself and your idea. Then you have to be flexible and willing to reach your goals in other ways than you first imagined. Things seldom happen the way you plan them to happen.
Is there a particular quote or saying that Kim uses as personal motivation?
“Just do it!” We all know where this comes from, and she has always loved that quote. It doesn’t get any simpler than that: Not in the mood? Just do it. No money or education? Don’t let that stop you. Not sure if you’re gonna make it? Just. Do. It. It’s the only way to learn what not to do. It’s the only way to get closer to your dream. Just take one step at a time, and one day you’re there – even if you’ve walked backward a few times, stepped on something, or walked down wrong paths. Just write one word, one sentence, one page, and suddenly one day there’s a whole book, and maybe even a whole life. It’s really that simple.