Monthly Archives: April 2009

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset

So much for sales and selling, at least for the moment.

Being in Business as a Writer means building the business as well as learning about the basics of selling.

So now is the time to think about developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

True entrepreneurs look for opportunities first and work strategies for addressing those opportunities next.

They don’t start by saying: “I have these skills, so I need to find somewhere to sell them.”

Neither do they say: “I’ve got a great idea for a product so I need to find someone to sell it to.”

Apply this approach yourself. Where are the opportunities for people who want to build a business which has their writing at its heart?

The answer – as any entrepreneurial writer will see it – is where there are people struggling to write, right now, and actually need the help of someone who can writer.

Q Where are these people?
A Just about everywhere.

Q Why don’t you see them?
A You’re not looking for them.

Start looking ….. More next time.

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Earned Out!

18470603154How to take charge of your teaching career was published in August 2008.

I received my first royaly statement today.  During the period August 2008 to December 2008 the book earned more than the advance I was paid when I delivered the manuscript.

That’s good news.

It’s not simply good luck.

I have made a point of promoting the book whenever I can.

I have ensured there are reviews of the book on websites . . . and so on.

Here’s an example, then, of how taking a disciplined approach to book promotion works.  It’s also an example of how being a businessperson who writes pays dividends, or rather, royalties.

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Where’s your timesheet?

I filled in my first timesheet when my company contracted to do some work with an international consultancy.

It was a novel experience. I’d never been accountable to anyone for my time before.

I didn’t mind. I just wish I had had that experience years earlier.

Filling in a timesheet is a good discipline. It makes you think about how you are using your time, and if you are using your time well.

This is great news for anyone in business.

It’s great news for anyone in business as a writer.

If you are writing, or if you are doing anything else linked to your business, it’s very easy to use time inefficiently, especially if you’re working alone.

It’s very easy to get distracted, or not even to start on a task. It’s very easy to do something else in the time when you planned to write or in the time when you promised yourself you would work on promoting your business.

It’s a good idea, therefore, to assess how well you are using your time at present.

Start to treat time as a valuable resource. Put a price on your time, particularly on the time that you have managed to keep for your writing and associated activities.

Work out how you actually use your time. Create a timesheet for yourself and record what you do.

Don’t think too much about how well you’re being paid for your efforts at the moment. Just decide if you have given yourself value for money when you come to review your notes.

The chances are you will find you could be using your time more effectively.

Knowing this is a real step forward. It will make you think about how you could use your time differently for the future.

It will make you plan more thoroughly.

It will make you adopt a more businesslike approach to what you do.

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Building your reputation

Reputation is everything.

Business people know that they’re as good as their last piece of work. They know that their reputation goes before them and that it can be tarnished easily and quickly.

Your reputation is fragile and it’s valuable.

So, how much time do you spend shaping your reputation?

It’s a good start to do a good job, but it’s also important to know what you want people to remember about you.

Do you help people to do this?

I’m a businessperson who writes. That’s all I need to say, and it’s what people remember.

I build my reputation around this idea. I’m a businessperson first. I write, too.

It’s important to be very clear about these things. It’s part of the process of differentiating yourself from others. It’s all part of making sure you stand out from the crowd.

There are lots of writers, novelists, authors, journalists ….. writers of romance, writers of historical novels etc. If you have nothing else to recommend you then no one will see the need to single you out from a very large crowd.

Within the grouping where you want to position yourself you need to build a specialist reputation, so start to think of yourself as a novelist who ….. or a writer on HR subjects who ….

Don’t wait for someone else to label you.

Decide for yourself how you want to be remembered and what sort of a reputation you want to build.

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Good Business

Why didn’t I blog between March 23rd and April 3rd?

It was all to do with business needs.

The period leading up to the end of March and into early April is the most important time of year for the vast majority of businesses.

It’s the end of the financial year and people in business always have lots to do at the end of March.

There are all the final reports, final workshops, final days of support to be delivered. There are checks to be made that contracts have been fulfilled and that everything that has been promised by the end of the year has been delivered.

There’s also the very important job of invoicing to be done. With so many contracts ending in March, it’s really important to make sure that the final invoices are accurate. There won’t be another chance to invoice for work undertaken in the period that ends on March 31st if you make a mistake now.

Then there’s the job of making sure that the invoices have been received by customers. It’s also important at this time to check likely payment dates. This is all about checking that accounts departments have received everything they’re expecting, making sure you have presented everything in the form the accounts people like, and so on.

Of course, I already have contacts who know me in the accounts departments of all the organisations with which we are doing business. I’ve made sure I’ve built up good relationships with these people. I’ve found out about their deadlines and I’ve made sure I met them. I have also thanked them when they have ensured we have been paid on time.

In early April, I make a point of contacting all the people in our customers’ accounts departments and thanking them for their efforts throughout the year.

Now think about your own business.

  • Do you know the people in the accounts department of the organisations with which you work – even if you work on a self-invoicing basis or if you receive royalties?
  • Do you know who to speak to about all things financial in your customers’ organisations?
  • Do those people know you? Even if you have never met them, when you telephone, do they know who you are?

All of these things matter.

You need to keep on top of this aspect of your business. If you’re in business as a writer, you need allies wherever you can find them, and you definitely need allies in the accounts department.

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Think about the buyer

In the last post I wrote about becoming more market-focused and thinking about the supply chain leading your book to the reader.

This time consider a different ending place for this journey.

Think about the buyer. Think also that the person buying your book might not be someone who will read it.

People buy books for other people as well as for themselves. They give people presents. They give books away.

So, just like the entrepreneur I’ve been writing about, if you are going to succeed, you need to be able to move away from saying how great your work is and how much someone will enjoy reading what you have written to thinking about what you – or your publisher – could say to encourage people who will never read your work to buy it.

For a start, you can forget all that stuff about the story, the action and the characters, or if it’s a non-fiction book how good the advice in it is, or how informative the chapters are.

Every one says this about their work.

Every one’s work is good, just as every new product is the best, the most useful, the highest quality . . . and so on.

You need to find ways of differentiating what you are doing from what other people are doing, if you are going to succeed with that buyer looking for a birthday present or a present for someone with time on his or her hands.

What will make someone buy your book as a present for someone else?

It’s an interesting challenge. Think about:

  • What makes your book different?
  • What makes your book relevant to the proposed recipient of the present?
  • Why should your book be the one chosen as the present?

If you can begin to address these issues, you have gone a long way towards building a sound case ready for when you come to look for someone – be it an agent or a publisher – to become your champion in the publishing world.

Start making that case.

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