Why Writers MUST Embrace Entrepreneurial Authorship to Succeed

As I was putting together my thoughts for a keynote appearance in Indianapolis, I began to think about the steps that brought me this incredible point in time. Simply put, I wrote a book. However, there is so much more hiding in the details.

Anyone writing a book today has many more opportunities to get their content in front of an audience than ever before. Traditional publishers still provide a solid foundation to anyone who lands a deal — contrary to what many information sources might lead one to believe.

Outlets like Amazon’s Kindle Direct and Lulu also provide writers with the ability to create and publish a physical or electronic volume. That means anyone who has written a book can get it into the public’s hands for a fairly small investment.

Other publishing possibilities also exist, such as partnerships with independent publishing houses (like I have for Stories of Elders). Indie publishers are often willing to take on newer authors and can provide them with a great foundation from which to launch a successful book and writing career.

Each of these has its pros and cons, but there is one important ingredient a book needs to become a success that crosses all of these paths and is often overlooked. It is something that I believe made it possible for me to research and write my book, fundraise on Kickstarter, find a publisher, manage the project, and garner the publicity it deserves.

Today, whether you self-publish, find a traditional publisher, or work with an Indie company, writing a book means being involved in almost every aspect of the project from start to finish.

So many people believe that a traditional publisher will grab the book from the writer’s hands while the proverbial ink is still wet and ship millions of copies to waiting bookstores around the world while the writer lounges by the pool waiting for royalty checks.

Not so much.

The “if you build it, they will come” mentality may have worked in 2000, before the advent of eReaders and self-publishing.  Today, billions of books are readily available to everyone, everywhere, many provided free online. Unless your book is put in their direct path, your potential reader will never know it exists.

Today’s writer must be a marketer, speaker, designer, and any of the other pieces of the puzzle that make up the Entrepreneurial Author. If you build it, you must then get to work making sure the reader can easily find it, will desire it, and can buy a copy in the format they choose.  Even the largest publishing houses won’t do this for you.

As a serial entrepreneur, I truly feel that my decade of business building ensured that I was equipped for the tasks required to write and distribute my book. Looking back, I can easily see how so much of my business and networking experiences directly impacted my ability to get the project done. Entrepreneurship basically made this book.

My path to becoming an Entrepreneurial Author began while running my tech company. While building the business I learned to manage projects, write copy, and build websites, all of which were important skills during and after the writing and editing process.

My entrepreneurial experiences empowered me to build the website for Stories of Elders, create a podcast of the interviews in the book, and syndicate the episodes to iTunes and Google Play. My design background meant that I had the vision to guide the book cover design, branding for my website, and any printed materials as well.

In the early days of my tech company, I spent a lot of time in coworking spaces making valuable connections with people who were busy with their own startup businesses. Many of those people had used Kickstarter to raise their first round of funding, and their knowledge was pivotal in my Kickstarter success (which I write about in detail here), as did my experience with online marketing.

The networking skills I learned as an entrepreneur helped me to find the people I needed to interview for Stories of Elders, and eventually led me to the publisher I am working with now. Without having been through the development and day to day management of my own company, I may not have completed and published my book.

If you want to write a book, you need to think of it as a business venture and approach the project with an entrepreneurial mindset. You must be willing and able to take on any of the tasks required, especially marketing your book — and yourself.  This means being honest with yourself about the tools in your toolbox, and reaching out to others who can help where you cannot.

Although the process may be easier if you have your own entrepreneurial background, surrounding yourself with knowledgeable, experienced entrepreneurs can help provide the necessary knowledge and experiences needed to do the job.

Don’t be afraid to write your book. Just start with some careful planning and don’t take the process lightly. Approach the project not only as a writer, but as an Entrepreneurial Author as well.

5 Books Your Business Can’t Live Without

If you’re anything like me, you like to download into your mind as much information from successful business leaders as you can.  Knowing what they did, how they did it, and the lessons they learned along the way has helped me so much in the success of my business.

Over nearly a decade of Entrepreneurship, I have read a lot of books.  Some were helpful, and some changed my work forever.  I want to share the ones that totally changed the game for me with you.

5. Built to Sell by John Warrillow

Why would I start by recommending a book to you that describes selling a business?  I realize that many of you never want to sell your businesses, but you still need to learn to scale them.  Built to Sell is written as a fiction but conveys critical lessons in building a business that gives you freedom, and it’s the book I used to scale my business and reduce my hours to 10/week.  Consider it a quick read into the 4-hour work week.

4. Tribes by Seth Godin

Leading a business is more than just numbers and organization.  Whether you realize it or not, you are leading a tribe with your brand.  It is critical to understand that sooner than later.  Seth Godin explains how to lead a tribe with your business without becoming owned by them.

3. Killing It! by Sheryl O’Laughlin

Look.  We all get sucked into our businesses.  We love what we do, right?  But our families and friends deserve our time, too, and it’s important to learn that balance.  Sheryl, the former CEO of Cliff Bar, shares how she learned this the hard way, and imparts some excellent business sense as well.

2. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port

Do you hate marketing?  Sales?  Networking?  You  need this book.  Michael Port has figured out how to turn these often unliked but necessary parts of business into simple tools that will bring in the cash.  His free companion workbook (downloadable after purchase of the book) makes his lessons even simpler to learn.

 1. The Success Principles by David Canfield

This book is ranked number one because it will effect absolutely every area of your life, including your business.  When I first came across this book I thought, “Really?  The Campbell’s Soup for the Soul guy?”  Still, I gave it a chance, and basically have my hair blown back every time I crack it open.  This book can move mountains.  If you choose only one book from this entire selection, make it this one.

I have been consuming books on business ever since I started my first venture in 2010, but it still took me years to fully understand and implement everything they were saying.  If you don’t want to wait that long, feel free to schedule a Strategy Session with me to discuss the key take-aways that will affect your business, most.

Podcast: interviewing the originator of Telesummits

I was so excited to interview Milana Leshinsky for this episode of the Angles of Lattitude Podcast.  She is the originator of Telesummits — one of the most en-vogue marketing strategies for Coaches and Consultants, today.  Her perspective on the hype was exactly what I’d been thinking:  that just creating an event to build one’s list and sell sell sell isn’t what Telesummits were created for and won’t develop real connections.  Check out her interview:

Why your work week should be 10 hours or less

The 70-hour plus work week is a sham.  Pride in overwork is misdirection.  These cliche’s are completely false, and they are distracting thousands of Entrepreneurs from the truth:  something in your business is out of balance.

In fact, you could easily be working less than 10 hours a week on your business.   You should also be making more in those 10 hours than you did in the 70 hours you used to work.  Think I’m crazy?  Read on to learn more about the amazing effects of Scaling a business.

What’s out of whack?

If you are working more than 40 hours a week in order to earn a living, something is truly out of balance in your company.  Typically there are two possibilities – either you’re charging too little or your lead generation pipeline is broken.

Charging Too Little

It is all to common that women charge too little for their products and services.  Especially services.  Over and over I’ve seen my clients undervalue their time out of a place of giving.  I love that my clients have big hearts, but our time is valuable!  It is used to make sales, project manage, order inventory, and more.  If you give all your time for free, you will quickly find that you are hurting your company and its growth.

If you feel like you may be undercharging, look at your competitors — in all markets.  I happen to live in a city that has extremely low cost of living, so it would be easy to price myself lower than the true value of my work.  If I had done so and had a consultation with someone in New York City, they would have thought I was way underpriced (and probably not worth their time).  Your pricing matters, not only to ensure you make what you should, but so others believe in your worth.

Broken Pipes

Alternatively, you may be priced on par, but your lead pipeline is broken, so you’re spending way more time hustling for clients and customers than you should be.  I tend to see this in clients who equate sales with sleazy used car dealers (and the like).

First of all, sales and marketing are two different things.  Marketing is your pipeline.  Sales is what happens once someone reaches you through the pipeline.  You need both.

Look over your lead generation over the past few months.  How are you doing?  Did you get many leads but not convert them, or are you not getting many leads at all?

If you’re providing a service and either of these is broken for you, I highly suggest taking a look at the book “Book Yourself Solid“.  It walks you through creating your Target Market, how to talk about your business, and then how to create the pipeline for marketing your work.

But I’m the only one that can do this!

Wrong.  If you truly were the only person in the world that could do what you do, you would be making way more money, and probably for an institute or organization.  So let’s rework this mindset.

I used to think I was the only one who could create websites that went deep into my client’s target markets.  I certainly am the only website developer in my city that has a degree in Anthropology.  While that is unique, that didn’t make me the only person in the world who could do what I did — or even the only person in the city.

In fact, once I stopped being stubborn and started looking for someone who could do what I did, I found someone even better.  That’s right.   Instead of finding someone who was as good as I am, I found someone who is even better.  Not only does she have the ability to see into the minds of others, she is also certified in other tools that I am not, and dreams up way cooler design for our clients.

What about the techniques and systems I had created specifically for my company?  I trained her on those, and she rocks them out from her unique point of view.  Since hiring her, our portfolio has quadrupled, all because I now have more time to sell and market our services.

Hiring a VA

Perhaps you’re not ready for employees.  That’s alright.  You still are doing work you shouldn’t be, like scheduling your social media posts, writing up contracts or proposals, ordering supplies, and more.  Yes, you need to oversee some of this through daily, weekly, or monthly checkins, but you don’t need to be doing these things, yourself.

This is when an Intern, Virtual Assistant, or Personal Assistant is absolutely the right fit.  They can be available to you as little as one hour a week, and they free up the valuable time you use to bring home the bacon.  More time to sell and create partnerships equals more money!

I am a big fan of Shared Hands (my friend’s VA company) which is 100% based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The fabulous part of their service is if you do happen to grow to fill your Assistant’s time, you can buy out their contract and bring them on as an employee of your business.

Systems, systems, systems

Finally, it may be that you are spending too much time working simply because you need to systemize.  How much time do you spend scrambling when a new client comes on?  I once asked a new client how she would feel if she had ten new clients sign that day.  She said she’d probably run away — she didn’t know how she would manage onboarding that many clients.

The truth is ten new clients should make you jump for joy.  If it doesn’t, or if you feel like you’re spending extra time doing small tasks, it may be that you need better systems.  Take a look at your repetitive processes.  Is your contract standardized?  How do you onboard your clients?  Do you have standard milestones that can be a part of an automated system?

Some of these things must be created internally, but some of them can be outsourced to an app.  For example, I found I was spending a lot of time emailing back and forth to schedule meetings.  I now use an app called Calendly which does it for me.  Some CRMs come with automation that handles your entire sales process for you.  Make use of such services to ensure your time is free to do the work that matters — and to see your family once in a while.

Podcast: the hilarious Tim Paige tells us about voice acting

Saying that I had fun interviewing Tim Paige would be the understatement of 2018.  My cohost JC and I couldn’t stop laughing.  I don’t even know if everything we discussed was “business friendly”.  I hope you have a listen and enjoy the episode, yourself!

Money Mindset

February’s theme in my Facebook group, the Fempreneur Forum, is Money Mindset.  This is something that MANY Entrepreneurs struggle with, especially at the beginning, and especially for women.  Women aren’t culturally conditioned to assume entitlement in ourselves, and that is one of the first assumptions we must blast through when we start our own businesses.

I have worked hard on my own Money Mindset since I started my first business in 2010.  It’s not just something that comes intuitively — I had to weed through my logic, rationale, environment, and even the things I was surrounding myself with in order to come to a healthy and growth-oriented Money Mindset.

Throughout the month of February in the Fempreneur Forum we will be discussing this issue.  Our workshop on February 27, 2018 will be a deep dive with a Financial Advisor on developing your own best practices and mindset as your business grows.  First, I’d like to tell you about my own breakthrough experiences.

Employment Trains Us To Accept Only Regular Pay

One of the biggest mental landmines I see in my clients is an irrational expectation of destitution.  One bad month and everything is ruined, I become a failure, and I’ll have to live under a bridge.  It’s extreme thinking and it’s absolutely not true – especially if you have good liability and life insurance (this should be your first move in starting your business).

Most of us had some sort of gainful employment before becoming Entrepreneurs.  We worked at the mall while we were going to school or may have had a salaried career.  We learned a lot of valuable skills through this work, but we also learned something not so useful.  We got used to regular money without having to manage sales, marketing, financial margins, clients, and processes.  We did our job, and money came.  Period.

This is clearly not the case when we start our own business.  Logically, I think we know that this will be a transition.  However, for some reason, the mind starts to freak out, and we start staring at the number in our bank accounts without remembering how it changes over time.

Yes, for a while that number may not be supplemented by sales in your new business.  It may take time to get set up and receive your first client.  This is especially true for brick and mortar businesses.  But over a long enough timeline, money always comes, and that bank number changes.

The issue is when we don’t allow ourselves to believe that money will flow to us ever again.  In fact, if you look over your business to date, I’ll bet you’ll notice that you received money at least monthly.  Even though I was terrified that money would at one point stop coming in despite my efforts not ceasing, money actually came to me rather regularly.  I just didn’t recognize it.

Mantra:  There is always more money.

What are you worth?

This leads me to my next point.  As Entrepreneurs, we have the prospect of earning an exponential sum.  Did you feel that immediate resistance when you read that sentence?  That’s what I’m talking about!

What do you believe you are worth?  How much do you think you can or should earn – per hour, per day, per week, per month, per year?  I ask you this because most Entrepreneurs have the ability to earn millions.  I’m looking at you, restaurant owners.

Something happens when we believe we’re not worth much.  We communicate that to potential clients and customers through our body language, reactions, and words.  They’re less likely to buy from us.  And we’re less likely to see opportunities to receive.  Our lack of confidence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Look around.  Is there someone in your industry that earns millions each year?  Why can’t that be you?  I’m serious.  If you own a local restaurant and only expect to earn $50k / year from it, you’re playing too small.  I know for a fact that there are restaurants in your region that are earning way more than that.  Certainly we know of the celebrity chefs and restauranteurs.  Why can’t that be you?

Now, there is a caveat, here, and that is for those who don’t want to live that big.  If you don’t want to earn millions, I challenge you first to consider why?  Is it really that you don’t want the hassle of managing that money, or are you afraid of the work it would take to get there?  If it’s the latter, why are you an Entrepreneur?  Entrepreneurship takes a lot of work, but it’s your work, which is what we love about it.

If you truly want a small operation and nothing more, it’s still important to set your sights on what would make you comfortable as an income.  Studies show that in 2017 comfort came around $75k / year.  With inflation, I suggest setting your sights at six figures from here on out.

For the rest of you, start following the giants in your industry.  What are they doing with their days?  How do they communicate?  How have they structured their businesses?  We’ll talk about scaling business at a later date, but business structure is critical to exponential growth.  Once you figure out how this fits your business, you will be unstoppable.

Mantra:  I receive money every day.

Pause And Affirm When You Receive Money

Often we will get so caught up in the to-dos of the day that we forget to pause and reflect.  This affects several facets of our mindset, especially our Money Mindset.

When I was struggling to recognize that I was receiving money, I started the practice of affirming when I received money, even when it was just a penny on the sidewalk.  A penny, though small, is still money.  If I found a penny, I received money that day.  Period.  I picked it up, stated to myself, “I just received money,” and put it in my pocket.  Slowly, my change jar got full, and so did my income.

If you feel like you’re not receiving much money, start by looking back over your business this month.  Did you receive any money?  Closing even one account means something in your business is working and that you are receiving money.  More importantly, you’re receiving clients / customers.  This gets into an important part of my Coaching process with my clients – replication.  I can’t get into it, here, but know that if something went right in your business, study it.  Then do it again.

What is your money mindset?  How do you protect your assets?

Managing Issues with your Business Partner

Having a business partner is very similar to having a spouse.  You share dreams, finances, and a ‘baby’ (the business / product itself).  This requires an enormous amount of collaboration, respect, communication, and a shared vision.  So what happens when things start to fall apart?

In my previous articles about Partner relationships I’ve provided advice for setting up a good relationship, and how to manage it if it fails.  Sadly, two of my clients are in the midst of difficult partnerships.  It’s too early to get a lawyer involved, but handling the situation well is critical to their emotional health and the survival of the business.  Here’s what to do if you find that something is a bit off with your business partner.

Keep Watch

There could be a myriad of reasons a business partner starts acting strange, making mistakes, or not communicating like they should.  However, if the behavior doesn’t seem to have a legitimate cause, or is becoming patterned, pay attention.  It could indeed be a phase, or it could be leading to harder times.  I recommend documenting any odd behavior or course correction conversations you may have so you have the facts in front of you.  It’s normal to want to ignore any warning signs because changes is hard, but it’s better to have your eyes wide open than to be blindsided after spending precious energy picking up the slack.

Set Your Boundaries

This is something we should do in all our relationships, but especially when a partnership seems to be going sour.  You must decide how much you’re willing to put up with before you take action, both for your health and the health of the business.  Just as I stated above, it’s easy to convince yourself to roll with the punches out of fear of change or a sense of duty, but this is how partnerships blow up.  Don’t wait until the kettle boils, so to speak.  Decide how many conversations you’re willing to have, how many mistakes the business can take, etc, so you can address the issue head on and have energy left to do the work of parting with grace if you must.

Have an Exit Strategy

It’s hard to dream outside of what you’re already doing, especially if it is your dream.  However, you won’t do what’s healthy for your business and partnership if you don’t have an exit strategy.  This could be another business, job opportunity, or buying out your partner so you become the sole owner of the company.  If you need to, meet with your lawyer to review your contracts so you have the utmost clarity on your options, and make a loose plan.

None of this is easy, but following the above steps will save you a good deal of heartache and pain in the end.  My hope is that you are only experiencing a rough patch, and you will work it out.

If you have experienced a partnership souring, what advice would you add to this list?

coffee-networking

Network Like A Ninja Pt. 2

This blog is the second installment in a two part series that gives away my secrets to networking.  If you missed the first part, I suggest you read it first so my suggestions here make even more sense!

Farm Your LinkedIn For Coffee Dates

After I’ve connected with someone I’ve met at a networking event or through a casual encounter on LinkedIn whom I’m interested in building a relationship with, I’ll ask them to coffee.  Coffee is casual.  It is a great way to get to know someone without spending a long time with them.  I’ve had to escape from coffee meetings that weren’t going well before, but I also have had coffee meetings turn into best business friends.

I do this on a regular basis.  I have one of those crazy huge LinkedIn networks, and there is absolutely no way I see each of those connections in a year.  Many are overseas, so I only see them when I’m abroad.  But for those that are local, I will send a casual message saying that we haven’t seen each other in a while so let’s catch up over coffee.  Even if it’s a person I have no specific business with, I still want to get in front of them.  I want to remind them of who I am and renew the trust they once had in me (trust inevitably fades over time without regular interaction).

Leverage Your Network For More Connections

Sometimes your network won’t be able to help you acheive your goal — at least, not directly.  You may not know someone who has expertise in an area that you seek or works at a business you wish to strategically partner with, but I’ll bet someone in your network knows someone who does.

I’ve seen entrepreneurs just starting their first business excel because they leveraged their network in this way.  They realize a piece of knowledge is missing in their tool kit and they go out and find it, wherever it may be.

This is the gold of LinkedIn.  You can search for a given company or organization, or certain skills, and then see who in your network is connected to the resulting profiles.  It’s amazing!  All you have to do is ask the person / people you feel best connected to for an introduction.  Technology is, at times, dubious, but this is like magic compared to the way we did it before social media.

Just Ask

More than once, a friend has asked, “How did you get that opportunity / engagement?”  The honest truth is that I just asked.  I just asked to fill an open advisory role at the newly opened Incubator in town.  I just asked if a new business training center needed more instructors.  I just asked for a meeting with my favorite European app development company.

Your network is full of people who love to connect with and help others.  As your business grows, you’ll meet other like-minded business owners who want the same — the freedom of an entrepreneur who does what s/he loves.  Overwhelmingly I find that people just want to help each other succeed.

Sure, it’s possible you might hear that scary word — no — but it’s important to bear in mind that ‘no’ actually means ‘not now’.  More often than not I don’t hear back from my busy colleagues at all and have to follow up with them a bit.  They never meant to send a negative signal.

Asking for a new connection, update, meeting, or opportunity is harmless, and often is the only way to acheive what you’re hoping to do.  So be polite, frame your need in a way that benefits them, and ask!

Example:  When I reached out to the app development team about meeting while I’m in Europe, I framed it as an opportunity to talk to someone who happens to represent one of their special interest markets.  I personally want the meeting for network growth, but they’ll benefit from the meeting by having a live person in a specialty niche to learn from.  Definitely worth the ask, and no big deal if the answer was no.

What’s the first networking move you can make using this advice?

Network like a Ninja Pt. 1

For many entrepreneurs, networking is an uncomfortable but necessary evil.  To me, networking is some of the best fun I have as an entrepreneur.  I have a natural knack for people and conversation, and I want to pass what I’ve learned in my seven years of networking as an entrepreneur to you so you can take advantage of the connections that are out there without feeling quite so uncomfortable. Read more

How To Launch A Successful Kickstarter Campaign

It’s no secret that I’m in the middle of finishing a book entitled “Stories of Elders:  What the Greatest Generation Knows About Technology that You Don’t“.  What most people don’t realize is that I Kickstarted the funds to travel and conduct the interviews needed for the book.

Kickstarter is an incredible tool for developing and funding a project where other funding may not exist. Since it was founded in 2009, Kickstarter has successfully funded over 125,000 projects amounting to over $3 Billion dollars (wow!). The website is highly trafficked, offering backers cool Rewards for their dollars — like the opportunity to try a product first — and the ability to be on the front lines of what’s new in the world.

Creating a successful Kickstarter Campaign, however, is not easy. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and the ability to communicate your story affectively. With these tools by your side, you might just have the start of your next big thing.

To prepare for my Kickstarter Campaign, I met with several other successful Kickstarter Campaigners to figure out the special sauce of a successful Campaign. Now, I’m bringing the lessons I learned from them and from my personal experience to you in this awesome guide, the current Featured Workbook in the Resource Library.  Just use your password to log in and download it!

If you want the guide but you’re not a member of the free Resource Library, you can use this form to get a password.  Enjoy!