Monthly Archives: July, 2016

5 Helpful Articles on Startup Business

July 28th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “5 Helpful Articles on Startup Business”

Startup businessStartup – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Later in the week, a second post will summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme.

This week’s theme is startup business.

Part 1 This Week

In Part 1 this week I provided you with some original thoughts and content on what to consider before starting up a business. In Part 2 I am providing you with links to other sources. In this case, not surprisingly, the primary source of the external content is Entrepreneur, since that is their focus. Through these outside sources we are covering a wide array of topics around the subject of startups. They in turn provide links to many more articles and information.

5 External Sources for Tips on Startup Business

The first 4 of the following 5 links come from Entrepreneur. The fifth comes from Inc.

  1. You gotta get out there? Among the many concerns of a startup is just how in the world you can get word out there that you even exist, let alone add value. A sold public relations campaign is required. One component of that campaign may be media coverage. This article provides 5 ways to get media coverage as a startup. I’m going to follow each and every one of these ideas for an upcoming product launch.
  2. What it worth? How do you determine that what your startup is worth? Ever watch Shark Tank? Almost every entrepreneur goes in with an inflated sense of what the business is worth and then struggle when asked “what are your sales” and “how profitable are you?” This article provides 3 tips on how you value your startup.
  3. 50% of startups no longer exist after 4 years. The risk is very high but can be reduced when you follow a few tips. Although this article is written with tech startups specifically in mind, there are lessons for every kind of startup within it. I would add to its 4 ways to keep from tanking this tip – formal planning increases your odds of startup success by at least 50% Get Business is ART for an easy to use process and templates to do so.
  4. I really like this piece discussing Day 1 of a startup. Find the right fit.  In order to do so, you have to really take a look at yourself and decide what success means to you personally. Sign up here to get a copy of my free roadmap to Creating Personal Success.
  5. Your startup started up just fine. Now how do you master growth? Sometimes it can be tricky and sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. Too much growth in an unprepared business can drive it in to the ground. Here are 4 tips for mastering growth.

Now It’s Your Turn

Go get ’em!

 

5 Things to Consider Before You Startup

July 25th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “5 Things to Consider Before You Startup”

Startup businessStartup – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Later in the week, a second post will summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme.

This week’s theme is startup business.

What You Need to Do Before You Even Try to Startup a Business

Once you’ve decided that you want a startup a business, it’s natural to feel antsy. You experience a moment of empowerment, like you can do anything. All you want to do is run out the door and get to business-ing. I know first hand because I am launching a new product and can’t wait to start telling the world about it, but am following the plan devised by my marketing consultant which urges me to slow my roll.

Recently, we talked about researching if there’s a market for your business. You can read more about that here. Needless to say, you need to make sure there’s an opportunity for a business before you introduce it.

That’s not the only thing you should do, however.

Make Sure You Believe in What You’re Doing

For many (if not most) people who start a business, there’s a long and turbulent road ahead. There will be failures, mistakes, tough times, hard calls, and more. The only way to get through those times is to remind yourself that it’s what you’ve dreamt of doing. That it’s what you’re supposed to do.

If you don’t really believe in the business, there’s a high probability you won’t last when things get tough.

Talk with Someone Who Has Done It

Chances are you know someone who has at least tried to start a business. At the very least, you know a guy that knows a guy (or gal). Reach out to them. Grab coffee. Discuss the highs and lows and lessons learned. You’ll probably hear some things you don’t want to hear, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hear it.

Discuss It with Your Spouse/Significant Other

This one should be a given, but just in case there was any doubt, here it is. If you are not single, then you need to have yourself a sit down with your partner.

Don’t Wait Forever

The time to start a business will rarely be perfect. You will never have all the little pieces in the exact places they should go. Eventually, you just have to pull the trigger and see what happens. Wait too long, and you might miss your chance, leaving you a whole lot of regret.

If the opportunity is there, make it happen.

Do Some Reading

Not a reader? It’s time to change that. There are some amazing books out there that can help you develop leadership skills, business plans, networking capabilities, and so much more.

Don’t know where to start? How about Business is ART? With my book, you’ll be guided step by step through the process of setting up a healthy and successful business. Really, it’s the perfect business book to start with.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to order it now.

5 Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Website

July 21st, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “5 Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Website”

WebsiteHow Important is a Website for Small Businesses?

Once upon a time (like a century ago), the thing that gave a small business legitimacy was a sign displayed in front of a building. “Cobb the Cobbler Cobbles Hither.”

Decades later, a listing in the phonebook would become a crucial addition to the business location and signage. If you really wanted to stand out, you may even have an ad in the phonebook. People began to “let their fingers do the walking.” The phonebook listing allowed people to contact you, and the sign and building of course was where they could find you.

Needless to say, we live in a much different business world now.

Today, you don’t need a building or a sign, and you definitely don’t need anything in the phonebook (also known as a paper doorstop).

For many new businesses, the sole connection to the outside world is their website.

So, how Important is a Website for Your Business?

Very.

But, What About My Traditional, Non-Fancy, Small Business?

Yep. Crucial.

If there are customers out there looking for your product/service/information, then they’re probably using the internet. Without a website, they won’t find your business. Signs and listings simply don’t matter like they used to.

A Website is Your First Touch Point

Let’s say you have a building with a great big sign that people drive by daily. Even if a person drives by your business regularly, it’s likely they will check out your website first to see if it is worth stopping by. If a website is nowhere to be found, the odds of that customer stopping in are quite unlikely.

Why?

A Website is a Sign of Legitimacy and Trust

The vast majority of good, reputable businesses have websites. A number of shady, poorly run businesses do not have a website. If your business doesn’t have a website, today’s consumers will likely assume your business isn’t on the up-and-up.

Almost as bad, if you have a poorly designed, outdated, unfriendly website, it will turn some customers away.

A Website Levels the Playing Field for Small Business

Twenty years ago, it was pretty easy to tell how new/small/limited a business was compared to the big names in the industry. It came down to money and locations, something a startup could never compete against, at least initially.

With the prevalence of websites, however, a brand new business can look clean, professional, and established, outclassing competition that has been around for years.

If you’re in an industry or market that has great looking websites, you’ll need a great looking website to measure up. If you’re in an industry that has terrible websites, a great website can put you in the top of the class.

A Website is Always Accessible

Stores close. Workers sleep. But a website is always up and running, meeting the needs of your customers as best as possible. If you’re doing sales, then your website is suddenly a 24/7 store. If you make appointments, then it’s a secretary that never rests.

And even if you don’t do business through your website, it can generate leads, give information, and help people make decisions, all of which can result in new business for you.

Not Everyone’s Website Needs are the Same

Depending on what type of business you’re running, your website needs might be simpler than others. You may just need general, current information, some pictures, and a way to contact you.

Or you might run your entire business through your website.

Speaking of website features, we’re currently launching our online Business is ART University to help business owners learn how to succeed in their fields. Click here for more info.

9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 5

July 19th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 5”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. 

That generally wraps up the particular theme for the week. This theme has been a little different, however. This is the 5th and final post in a series on writing a book.

In Part 4 of “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book” we discussed self- publishing. In Part 5 we will discuss hybrid-publishing.

What is Hybrid Publishing?

As the name might suggest, hybrid publishing is a cross between traditional and self-publishing. Like self-publishing, anyone can use a hybrid approach and, like traditional publishing, some hybrid publishers are very selective – meaning that just because you have a book and can afford to pay for the service doesn’t mean the publisher will accept your work.

Which brings us to a very important point to remember – hybrid publishing is a service for which you pay. In many cases, a hybrid publisher’s business model is dependent upon the fees they charge for the service to get your book published and distributed, as opposed to the book sales themselves.

This can work both in your favor and against you. In your favor is that you keep a larger percentage of royalties than you might in traditional publishing. Working against you is that some hybrid publishers might not be as motivated to promote your book. So be very selective yourself.

Services of a Hybrid Publisher

The services that a hybrid publisher provides can vary, but may include the following:

  • Content editing
  • Syntax editing
  • Reference verification and credits (if you quote or use other sources)
  • Internal design and layout
  • Cover art and design
  • Distribution
  • Sales

Compare your needs with the services provided before making a decision on which hybrid publisher to use.

Advantages of Hybrid Publishing

There are some distinct advantages to hybrid publishing. A major one for me was that I didn’t have to worry about all of the stuff I didn’t want to worry about. I got everything I needed in 1 place.

Other advantages include:

  • For some would-be readers, there is still a stigma with self-published works. This is decreasing by leaps and bounds but is still out there (unfairly so). Having the name of a publisher, even if it is a hybrid, and especially if it is a very selective one like mine, Figure.1 Publishing, can add value to your work – at least in the eyes of the would-be reader.
  • The professional look of the finished product is undeniable. I can’t help but smile whenever I hand someone a copy of my book and, before they even open the cover, they look at it and say “Oh, wow!”

Your Book is Business

Don’t forget that whatever type of book you are writing, it’s production and subsequent sale is business and should be treated as such. To better strategize and plan your business, please grab a copy of Business is ART and learn how to Articulate, Revise and Track your own work of art.

Is There a Market for my Business?

July 14th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “Is There a Market for my Business?”
market

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

What’s your target market?

Traditionally speaking, a business exists to meet a need. If there is no need or that need is already being met, there’s no place for a business. This is basic supply and demand 101.

Even a well prepared and planned business can fail if there isn’t a market for it.

Figuring out whether or not there’s a place for your business is one of the very first things you’ll do when setting up a business. It’s going to take some work, and you might end up having to serious adjust your business model and/or who you’re targeting.

It’s not always about doing something new. Sometimes it’s about doing something better.

A truly original idea is a rare thing in this day and age. For most new businesses, you’re entering a market that’s already occupied. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. It just means you need to find your own angle – your own niche – your own place in the market.

Your potential competitors might be meeting the general needs of the customer base, but not every customer wants the exact same thing. So how do you figure all of this out?

You’re going to need to do your research

Not only will you find out if your product or service is valuable. You may find out how it can be more valuable. Researching will help you understand the size of the market and the concentration of competition out there.

Through research, you could discover a niche that’s largely being ignored.

If you can, actually talk to people in the industry

Whether it’s business people or the customers/consumers in the industry, you can learn a lot by actually talking to people who are in it. Make calls. Send emails. Create surveys.

Find the pain points and dissatisfactions that are currently there. Listen to the unheard voices.

Look at market growth

If you’re entering a rapidly growing market, there’s a lot of potential for your business finding success. That said, it’s also more likely that you’ll face new competition…

Look beyond the major competition. Are there up and comers?

All right, so let’s say you’ve found a niche or a unique angle that should allow you to reach an audience the big names are missing. The question, is someone else already building a business for that audience?

It’s easy to get so focused on the big bear in the forest that you forget about the wolves lurking in the shadows. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but you get the idea.

If You Can, Try the Small Step Approach

Not sure how much potential there is for your business idea? Or maybe you simply can’t afford to go “all in”. You don’t necessarily have to. Lots of successful businesses start as side-jobs or part-time gigs. This gives you the perfect opportunity to test market potential and gauge responsiveness with little risk.

If the Market is There, Go for It

See an opportunity for your business? Then it’s time to make your business happen. Of course, a business doesn’t just create itself. Learn the ways of crafting a business with the Business is ART book.

Available now!

Not a Paid Endorsement, but…

Pat Flynn’s book Will It Fly? lays out a process for determining if there is potential for your business or product before you invest heavily in it. This is not a book about planning the business, like Business is ART. This is a book about determining if it’s worth establishing in the first place. I am not a paid spokesperson and am not paid to endorse Will It Fly?. I simply am mentioning it as a potential resource for you to check.

9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 4

July 11th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 4”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. 

That generally wraps up the particular theme for the week. This theme has been a little different, however. This is the 4th post in a series on writing a book…and there is still more to come.

In Part 3 of “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book” we discussed traditional publishing. In Part 4, we will discuss self-publishing.

Self-Publishing

The good thing about self-publishing is that you are in total and complete control. The bad thing about self-publishing is that you are in total and complete control.

Self-publishing can be comparatively inexpensive, especially if you have the right network of friends and professionals that can provide guidance, assistance and services to you.

Join a Group

If you don’t have this kind of network, find one. Get involved. There is probably an authors’ group/club in your area. Contact it and start participating.

As with entering in to any networking group, go in with a mentality of giving not just taking. Everyone has something to give. In this case, it may be your time helping proofread the work of someone else. No one likes the group sponge, always soaking up the good stuff and never giving anything back. Don’t be the group sponge.

If you aren’t careful, the bill can begin to run fairly high when you have to hire everything out. A network of authors can help you navigate the costs much better than you can on your own. Aside from simply writing the book, other things you will need to consider that may cost you money include (but are not limited to):

  • Editing for, syntax, flow and content
  • Artwork and design for both the cover and the internal layout
  • Properly crediting other/referenced work (critical)
  • Software for producing everything from cover to illustrations to text
  • A self-publishing service provider
  • Where and how you will market and promote your book
  • Don’t forget the commerce end of things! How will you collect payments in exchange for your book – this includes how your reader will receive their purchased copy

Perhaps most importantly, a group or club can help you stay focused and motivated. It can be very easy to just quit. You need support. Your group can give it.

Are You an Ameri-CAN or an Ameri-CAN’T?

I self-published a fictional novel a few years ago. It was written as a form of self-therapy following the suicide death of a friend. I really wrote it for me…not an audience. But I learned a little something from it. In general, I’m not a big do-it-yourselfer. If I can afford to pay someone to paint the house, I’m going to hire someone to paint the house.

The same is true in book publishing. It requires someone who is far more patient and who pays far more attention to detail than I care to. If you subscribe to the theory of “close enough”, self-publishing may not to be the right path for you.

But if you have no other choice, saddle-up and get ready for the ride.

Follow Authors Who Do This

A couple of friends of mine are authors who make a living self-publishing. Check out their websites for more tips, information and some good books.

Next

In Part 5, we will discuss the hybrid model.

9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 3

July 7th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 3”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. And that generally wraps up the particular theme for the week. This theme has been a little different, however.

This is the 3rd post in a series on writing a book…with still more to come.

In Parts 1 and 2 of “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book” I mentioned determining your route for publishing the book and promised to expand on the topic. Promise (partially) delivered! I hope you find this useful.

Don’t Wait To Finish the Manuscript

If you wait until the manuscript is finished before you start your journey down the path of determining a publishing route, you will have lost valuable time, perhaps incurred increased costs, and most likely wasted at least some effort.

Start the journey early. You can begin before a single word is written, and you can be knee-deep in it once you have a synopsis, an outline, and 2 full chapters written. This is more than enough to get well on your way to determining your route.

3 Primary Options

There are 3 primary publishing options. They are:

  • Traditional publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Hybrid publishing

Let’s explore each of these.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing, the author typically is paid an advance up-front. When the author’s “cut” from book sales exceeds advance, the author is paid royalties. If that threshold is not met, the author may have to pay back some of the advance.

The author excerpts very little control in the process, and receives a very small percentage of proceeds from sales, but effectively only has to worry about actually writing and promoting the book. The publisher takes care of everything else, including a degree of promotion.

The good news for budding authors is that with increasingly simpler technology available to us, it is easier than ever to write a book. The bad (perhaps, perhaps not) news is that it is more difficult than ever to land a publishing deal with a major publisher. Many of the big household names won’t accept manuscripts from unknown, unrepresented authors. They may work exclusively with agents in their approved networks or they may simply solicit authors rather than have authors solicit them.

If you are someone who has built a very massive following, are famous (or infamous), or have already written a very well received book, you have a great shot at being picked up by a traditional publisher. But if you are a first time or unknown author, in other words, like most people, you’re pretty much screwed.

Some people feel that landing a traditional publisher adds the perception of legitimacy to book (and author). If you are bent on looking for a traditional publisher, but this is your first book or you are unknown, spend some time in bookstores and online. Look for boutique or niche publishers that fit your genre, then target them.

Just for fun you might try submitting to the big name publishers if they’ll accept proposals. Hey, it’s fun to play the lottery, right? So what the heck? Go for it. Just don’t hang your future on it.

A Recommended Process to Follow

Follow this process:

  • Make a “hit” list of publishers you want to submit proposals to
  • Limit the list (I arbitrarily landed on 20 for a trade book, but you might consider 100 or more for fiction and other)
  • Research how, when, in what format they accept submissions (most post their guidelines online)
  • Determine which accepts only from a literary agent
  • Determine if you want to seek one (I didn’t)
  • If you do, be very clear about which publishers you will contact directly yourself, just so there is no confusion or doubling up
  • Write a great cover letter and synopsis (lots of great advice is available on how to do this…use it)
  • If necessary, write a great proposal…look around and ask for samples from others who have had some success with theirs
  • Start sending and keep a list of who you sent to when
  • For boutique publishers you might follow-up with a personal phone call
  • Be patient – some tell you upfront you shouldn’t expect to hear from them for many months

To be continued….

We will talk about the other routes in the next post. Meanwhile, please check out my book Business is ART on Amazon. While it is written specifically for business, your book and you as its author are in fact a small business. I think you will find it very helpful.

9 More (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 2

July 5th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 More (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 2”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. But I took a little detour last week, which you can read about in my personal blog entitled #Significance (click here).

Prepare for Distractions

There are 2 ways to look at this, but each starts with the following premise: distractions will come. When they do, your stance is either, “Don’t care. I WILL stick to my schedule come hell or high water,” or “I just can’t possibly fit everything in, so writing has to take a back seat.”

As a general rule of thumb, I try very hard to take the first stance because otherwise it is too easy to ALWAYS be distracted and never get any writing done. But last week I threw my hands up in the air and said, “Writing will have to wait” in terms of my blog. I also had to cancel last week’s Business Is ART podcast, which was very unfortunate because my guest was going to be my publisher. But between an unexpected 2-day jury duty that ran from 8am to 6pm (the subject of #Significance) and rehearsal for a musical I wrote, am producing and am appearing in, as well as a TV appearance to promote the show, there just was no left-over time or energy to get it all done.

Sometimes, you have to give up and give in…just don’t let it be permanent or frequent.

Determine Your Publishing Route

I mentioned this in Part 1 of this post and said I’d provide more in the next. I lied. It’s too long much to include in this post, as it turns out. So, I will provide a 3rd post that will be exclusive to this topic. But to repeat you will need to determine if traditional publishing, self-publishing or a hybrid-publishing model is best for you to pursue. More to come on that!

Don’t Expect Perfection

It’s OK to aim high and aim for perfection…so long as you know it is not achievable. You can drive yourself nuts writing, re-writing and re-writing again while striving for perfection. Remember, your review team and edit team are there to help. The objective is NOT to hand them a perfect manuscript. The objective is to hand them a manuscript they can work with, and that they can help you to improve.

Don’t Blabber On for the Sake of Filling the Page

Trap – “I must fill the next 3 pages in order to meet my word/page count objective.”

Better – If you’ve said it, you’ve said it. Ever talk to someone that made the point 2 minutes ago but are still going? Don’t be that person.

Best – Add a little color to it. Describe something in a little more detail if you can make it interesting. Set the emotional tone. Don’t JUST stick to the facts. Make it interesting. But don’t describe the numerical code of the particular shade of blue when simply saying “royal blue” will suffice.

People Love a Story

Some of the best advice I received from one of my mentors was to tell a story. In my case, I was writing a business trade book, which can be exceptionally boring. He advised telling a story along the way. I actually tell many stories in Business is ART but there is one central story that is carried throughout the entire book. This helps to make it not just informative (snore) but hopefully also entertaining, even humorous (applause). My goal is for anyone to be able topic it up and enjoy it even if they couldn’t give a darn about strategic and business planning.

Don’t Go Crazy Seeking Tips

Plug “how to write a book” in your search engine and you get more results than you could possibly read. Look at 2 or 3, preferably written by people that have done it and maybe even more ideally by people who have done it in your genre. Learn from their experience, apply it to your plan, and then move on. Don’t keep reading more because after awhile, it all starts to sound the same.

Be Wary

Be wary of the many, many “experts” out there that just want to sell you something, sharing some high level tips in exchange for getting you to buy their “How to Write a Book” book. Hey, if you find my blogging interesting and want to buy my book Business is ART I would love for you to. But Business is ART isn’t about writing a book and neither are my business consulting services.

Be wary of what the individual is really trying to sell you by offering a little “free” advice that isn’t very informative unless you are willing to shell out a few bucks for the real juice.

Expect Critics

There are large portions of people out there who will say your book is crap. They learned nothing. They could do a better job than you did. Etc., etc., etc. But here is the thing. They didn’t. You did! Let me say again…YOU DID!!!

I looked at writing Business is ART this way – if it helped just one person then mission accomplished!

Don’t Be Afraid to Call Yourself An Author

You don’t have to sell a single book to call yourself an author. You have to WRITE one. I kind of think you have to make it available to others as well. But you are an author. Get used to saying that. It was VERY difficult for me to start saying that and even more so to describe myself on my various social media profiles and on my website. But it’s the fact. I am an author and so too will you be. Embrace it. Don’t say it with an embarrassed tone. And don’t let the critics’ follow-up question “how many books have you sold?” bother you. Just say, “Enough.”

You Aren’t One and Done

Get started on your next book as soon as possible. I’ll admit to you I have not gotten beyond the idea and rough outline stage for my next one. But, at least in my mind I have a valid reason. In my case, following the book are two additional products: online training videos and a software to automate the planning processes and templates described in the book. So in a real sense, I am continuing to build on the book. As soon as those products launch, believe me I am off to the races on the next one.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

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