Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in programming but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lauren Maffeo, Author of Designing Data Governance from the Ground Up, located in Washington, DC, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is my first book! I wrote Designing Data Governance from the Ground Up while still in the thick of COVID-19 and published this book with The Pragmatic Programmers in Winter 2023. My customers/readers are senior leaders who own the data strategies for their organizations. They know they need consistent ways to create quality standards for their data but aren't sure where to start. My book is a six-step guide to help keep readers focused on the first steps they should take to bridge the gap between data governance standards and automating those standards throughout their data architecture.

Tell us about yourself

I got interested in data governance when I realized that it underpins AI and that lack of governance creates AI that's incorrect at best and harmful at worst. I first started specializing in AI as an analyst at Gartner, where I covered trends in cloud business intelligence software for small and midsize business owners. That's where I started learning about various AI techniques and how you can apply the right techniques to solve business problems. But as I continued at Gartner and eventually joined tech teams to help design data systems, I saw firsthand how most organizations can't use AI the way they want to because their data maturity is too low. I was motivated to write this book and share it with peers because I'm confident that when leaders approach data governance as a design challenge, they can solve it with their colleagues beyond the data team, and they can create the "data-driven" organizations that almost everyone talks about, yet no one has.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Writing this book while working full-time. Most friends of mine who have published books were on some kind of paid leave while they did so. I wasn't: I had to write this book in the early morning hours before logging on and fulfilling a full workday. It was a big time commitment.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Selling your own book is extremely expensive in terms of both money and time. Publishers expect you to have your own networks, channels, etc., to push your book to the right audiences, and while they'll promote your book on their own socials, they won't pitch you as a podcast guest, op-ed author, conference speaker, etc. You have no choice but to be your best advocate, go where your audience is (online and in-person), and ensure that the right readers find your book.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Writing a book is hugely fulfilling and a huge commitment. To do it sustainably, you should:

  1. Know your unique angle. Of everything that has been written about your subject area, what's your perspective, and why is it different? That hook will help you stand out in a crowded field of pitches.
  2. Set small, sustainable goals to meet your writing deadlines. Five hundred words per day might not sound like much, but when you add in research and other responsibilities, it can easily overwhelm you. I found the "200 lousy words per day" adage to be helpful for me.
  3. Know your audience. We all want our books to sell as many copies as possible, which involves trying to give it widespread appeal. The truth is that your book isn't for everyone, and the sooner you can define who your book is for, the sooner you can invest your time in seeking it out.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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