Despite mass digital consumption across publications, print is still holding court; The Skinny, Bido Lito and now Trailblazer are all thriving. That’s not to suggest Trailblazer isn’t successful in the digital arena as well – the publication has a large Instagram presence and its online readership continues to grow. Irrespective of the method of consumption, readers keep returning to Trailblazer’s well-balanced, thought-provoking articles on a range of topics from finance to climate change. Founder of the Liverpool- and Manchester-based publication, Tim Byrne describes the concept:
“I always say to people, think of it like a BLT for your brain – Business, Lifestyle, Travel, they normally get the gist with that.”
Having Lawrence Kenwright, founder of Signature Living, as a mentor early on helped Tim realise his ambitions to start the publication.
“I was taken aback by his tenacity and passion, he taught me an awful lot when he really didn’t have the time to spare. It’s because of local people like him I started Trailblazer. It’s important we champion local people, there’s too much negativity around us and it can pollute our mindset.”
Not having come from a publishing background, Tim has had to learn to adjust quickly to the complexities and technicalities of magazine production.
“I went in with an open mind and always planned on following my nose, especially because I knew nothing about the industry so I’ve endured plenty of steep learning curves. As long as you learn from these and adapt, then your chances of succeeding become a lot greater. One early example that springs to mind is ink transfer, we had a very dark back cover and when the papers were stacked on one another there was some ink transfer onto the front cover, which almost gave that person a moustache! Lesson learnt!”
But despite not having had a start in publishing, he found studying law at LJMU came in quite useful in establishing and running his company.
“When studying law your mind becomes conditioned to analyse what’s in front of you and I do that very often in business. I also believe that because law is very structured with its legislation and procedures it’s helped me build a solid foundation when first starting out.”
Tim makes sure he has a hand in everything that goes on in his operations, from social media to layout and design.
“Every good founder should know their business inside and out. I get a real buzz seeing it grow and it’s the little things that have the biggest impact, for example, the other day I was in a coffee shop and saw someone reading the latest issue. They didn’t look up for ages and took the paper away with them, even though it’s happened a number of times now it still assures me that we’re doing something right, and to keep going.”
Although Trailblazer has interviewed some inspiring people since its inception, there are others that would be high on Tim’s interview wishlist:
“Sir Richard Branson – he’s seen and done it all. Amongst the one million other questions I’d probably ask if he ever considers what it would be like to lead a 'normal life'.”
And if death wasn’t a barrier to communication:
“Alan Watts. I listened repeatedly to some of his lectures before making the leap into the unknown. I’d love to know his thoughts on today’s society.”
Three things Tim learned from studying at LJMU:
- The importance of time management, starting your coursework the night before and handing it in with two minutes to go definitely isn’t the way forward! I like to get things done as soon as possible these days
- The staff are there to help, not just with the degree. Something I didn’t take advantage of was the support network the University have invested heavily in.
- Law is a very useful topic and some aspects have come in very handy! For example, early on a client refused to pay because there wasn’t a contract in place, however, I made sure that everything contained in the emails created a legally binding agreement…we got paid
Students at LJMU that are inspired by Tim and would love to start up their own business, can take advantage of the support and advice within the Centre for Entrepreneurship.