S & L Publishing

S & L Publishing

How Frank helped S & L Publishing master the ABCs of selling literacy

Sheena Cameron and Louise Dempsey are experienced teachers with a passion for literacy. They saw a gap in the market for an expert guide to support primary and middle school teachers in planning and delivering an effective writing programme. The result was The Writing Book. It was self-published – and an immediate success. Now what?

10-second summary

  • Challenge: How do two passionate educators turn their publishing success into a sustainable business that supports their educational mission?
  • Solution : Streamline their publishing business model and re-focus operations to drive revenue while avoiding the traps of complexity and burnout.
  • Result: After 6+ years of operation, S & L Publishing is an integrated publishing and training company that enables its two founders to continue developing new literacy resources while deploying its growing revenue streams towards the grand goal of raising literacy outcomes for students.
Sheena and Louise

The challenge

Sheena and Louise set up a company – S & L Publishing. At the
same time, they were busy running workshops to train teachers
in their methods. Their baby business had already expanded to
Australia but they were starting to feel stretched.
The overall venture rapidly became very complex with
offshore printing, international logistics and the associated
complications of tax. They faced the classic founder’s dilemma,
where an initial burst of success takes the entrepreneur away
from what he or she loves doing (and is good at)
They talked to Frank, and our advisers saw two opportunities:
1. Monetise the different aspects of their business.
2. Focus on the aspects that drive the most value.
The goal: To create a business model that would enable Sheena
and Louise to focus on what they enjoy (i.e. improving literacy
outcomes) without worrying about the money.

Sheena and Louise


Simplifying their Australian operations

We showed S & L Publishing how to reduce the inevitable complexity of operating in two different countries. By re-
shaping the way they ran their trans-Tasman business, we
stripped out a large amount of risk and management overhead.

Holistic reporting, without drowning in data

Using some smart tools in Xero, we were able to provide the
business owners with a holistic view of their Australasian
operations. Their remote bookkeeper has everything required
to stay on top of things while Sheena and Louise can see
aggregate numbers across both countries. This gives them a full
line of sight and ‘their world in one place.’

Building capability to deliver more teaching programmes

The business owners were being kept busy delivering training
sessions to small groups in remote towns simply because
someone asked them to. We introduced the concept of
opportunity cost. By encouraging Sheena and Louise to focus
on leveraging their time better, and employ an additional
trainer, they could deliver on their core mission of raising
literacy at scale, without having to do all the hard yards on
their own.

More money, more resources, more impact

By helping S & L Publishing set up a more efficient business
model, Frank has enabled the company to drive more profit,
while keeping the two leaders in place to develop and deliver
the literacy programmes they love.

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The results

As a result of their willingness to embrace the unknown, both in publishing and in associated ventures, S & L Publishing has enjoyed enviable business growth.

However, when asked to sum up how Frank has made a difference to their world, Sheena and Louise are proudest of their ability to reach larger audiences, both in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.
As a result of their success in Australia and New Zealand, they have been able to set up a charitable professional development project for teachers of Year 4-8 students in the Cook Islands. This project is focused on writing skills and fully funded by donations from the books published by S & L Publishing.
As educators, it is impact rather than revenue that rocks their world. But they never forget that the revenue makes the impact possible – and that’s where Frank comes in.

In their own words:

We realised early on that we were going to need some help. Initially, we were looking for an accountant to help us with our Australian GST. However, what we found at Frank went well beyond that. Obviously, they do our accounts and help us with general compliance, but their real strength is in being ideas people and motivators.

In addition to always being there to encourage and motivate us, they always seem to be one step ahead. So when the business started to take off overseas, they were very quick to suggest getting external advice in an area outside their expertise. This greatly helped simplify things for us.