What do rescue dogs, young adult novels, Rachel Hollis, and small business owner life have in common? They’re some of the favorite topics of YouTube personality, self-published author, and small business owner Savy Leiser, a.k.a. the internet’s gay aunt from the 80’s.
I have been watching Savy’s YouTube channel (SAVY Writes Books) for a couple of months. I’m not completely confident that it’s the first video I actually saw, but the first one I recall clearly is her review of one of Rachel Hollis’ books during which Savy was making cupcakes. Now, it’s not surprising for someone that I follow be baking, but this was different.
Of course it hadn’t escaped my notice that Hollis’ Girl, Stop Apologizing had gotten very popular and I was vaguely considering picking it up, especially after she won the Goodreads Choice Awards Best Nonfiction for 2019. For the record, based on reviews like Savy’s, I have decided against reading it.
Sidebar: I voted for Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill, but, retrospectively, maybe we should have all been reading How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi instead.
Other than watching her videos (and sharing a wedding anniversary!) with Savy, I also recently became an admittedly low-level supporter on Patreon and am an accidental lurker in her Facebook group Lady Business Owners (what can I say? I’m the worst.)
Savy earned her BA in Communication with a certificate in Creative Writing and her MA in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. In addition to running the YouTube channel SAVY Writes Books with content ranging from writing tips and book reviews to anti-MLM content and small business owner life, she also works as a music journalist and teaches creative writing.
Her first three books are young adult novels with LGBTQ+ themes – sometimes with some sci-fi thrown in for good measure. She began writing a fourth during NaNoWriMo 2019. Halfway through, she chose to put her novel on hold and change the topic to a new non-fiction and self-help book.
In case you didn’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a primarily online event that happens every November and challenges authors to produce a complete (albeit unedited) novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days.
Two days after starting the new book, she already had 11,000 of the 50,000 words – more than she had written in the entire first two weeks of the month. While writing it, she announced her plan to publish on September 8, 2020, her twenty-eighth birthday. Obviously she succeeded (happy birthday, Savy!) because this is my review of her newest book, #SavvyBusinessOwner
The professed goal of this book is to provide readers with real, actionable information about starting a business. The paperback is 275 pages long, which my Kindle app was kind enough to inform amounts to about a three hour to read.
Unlike major releases where a professional blurb writer who may or may not have read the book knocks out a couple hundred words intended to draw in readers and make the sale, this book’s description is written by the author herself and clearly tells the reader what the book is not as much as what it is:
WARNING: This book is NOT for BossBabes who want to build an empire. This book will NOT teach you how to get rich, especially not quickly. This is a book of SPECIFIC tips for SMALL business owners! This book is not going to motivate you. If you need SAVY, who’s likely a stranger you met on the internet, to tell you that “you can do it,” then you might not be ready to start a business. This is more than a self-help book targeted at entrepreneurial women. In this book, SAVY tells the full story behind the award-winning book and toy business The Furever Home Friends: from raising the money to start it, to registering an LLC, and more. You’ll learn how to craft a sales pitch, how to generate startup capital, and more, all while SAVY gushes about cute dogs. If you hated Girl, Stop Apologizing, you’ll love #SavvyBusinessOwner.
Honestly, I tried and I couldn’t make myself trim anything out of the description. It’s perfect. If you agree, don’t even read my review, just go order the book.
What I Think
Savy’s writing sounds very much like her speaking style in her videos. It’s very conversational, packed with information, and tends to veer suddenly into either her vitriolic hate for multi-level marketing companies or her love for Chewie (pet, muse, and secretary) before returning to the topic at hand.
Having written what reads as much like a memoir as a self-help book, Savy lets us in on all the dirty details of starting her small business The Furever Home Friends at 23, including where she actually got her startup money, her process for finding and hiring illustrators, the highs and lows of learning how to make a sale, and, often, how drunk on bourbon she was when making life-changing decisions. It’s safe to say that Savy and I lived out our early twenties in dramatically different ways, but the transparency is a potentially shocking though welcome change from most business self-help books, particularly those written by women.
If you’ll allow me a Savy-style tangent, let me note that this is a rare business book written by a women that is not directed specifically at women. Savy is a supporter of small business owners, not just small business women, despite running the aforementioned ladies-only Facebook group. Savy is not a mother and her book is not centered around how to build “a life you love” or any of the other buzzwords that try to tempt new moms into the entrepreneurial life with the promise of more time with family and truckloads of money for very little work. It bothers me deeply how, in general, books by and for men are “business” and books by and for women are “self help.”
Aside from the sheer willingness to give us a warts and all view of her business, the most refreshing thing about this book is that Savy does not pretend to be an expert. She is not telling the reader how to make millions working ten hours a day; on the contrary, she is basically telling us how to scrape by a living working sixty hours a week, but doing work that you absolutely love and are passionate about. Speaking as a recovering workaholic trying to do what I’m passionate about, this is personally much more motivating for me than the wispy dreams of passive income and working from the beach.
This Book Is For You If…
If you are considering starting a small business or have started one and are depressed it hasn’t become an immediate money maker, you should read this book.
I’m serious. Put away the Rachel Hollis toxic positivity, take a step back from those ads telling you work shouldn’t be hard, and read this book. It won’t be a one-stop resource for you, and it aboslutely will not illuminate your personal path, but it will give you a cold, hard look at what it takes to start a small business.