Posts tagged "book"

Starting a Business – It’s Kind of Like Writing a Book

February 22nd, 2017 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan 0 thoughts on “Starting a Business – It’s Kind of Like Writing a Book”
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Drawing a blank

Depending on what survey you follow, 80-90% of Americans say they’d like to write a book someday. That’s not to say they will. Most won’t even start one. Why?

Because writing a book is hard. Trust me, I’ve done it. It takes considerable time and commitment and there’s no guarantee for success should you finish it.

(see Urbana Citizen Article Growing ‘Business is ART’ Brand)

In many ways, it’s not so different from starting a business (something I’m also familiar with). Much like book writing, many people want to start their own business – over half of the US population, in fact. And just like with book writing, most of those people won’t try.

“Where do I even begin?” they think.

Whether you’re starting a business or writing a book, it starts with the same thing:

An Idea

Many people simply like the idea of creating something. The trouble is, they don’t have a viable idea to work off of. You can’t create a book or a business without some sort of concept or starting point.

If you want to write a story, this idea could be a single scene that you can build off of. Did you know that James Cameron created the Terminator franchise after having a nightmare of a metal skull surrounded by fire?

For a business, it could start with simply fulfilling a need in your own life. Airbnb was started because the founder was struggling to pay his housing bills, so he began renting out part of his home.

Both of these simple ideas went on to make billions of dollars.

Of course, this is just step one. Once you have an idea, you can start planning things out.

The Outline

Even if a would-be writer gets around to writing a book, there’s a good chance they won’t finish. They get a few pages in. Maybe a few chapters. And then they get stuck. They’re lost, with no visible way of continuing their story.

Or they simply lose their passion. And then, everything falls apart.

The same is true for people who start a business. They have their idea, they get a name, they get things rolling, and then it all unravels. There’s a key element missing here.

A Plan

Whether you’re starting a business or writing a book, you need a plan. Book writers will create an outline. They may even map out key characters and write backstories for them. This gives you a plan to follow and helps you realize parts that don’t work in your initial idea.

A business plan does the same thing. It turns your initial spark of inspiration into a workable process. It gives you an end goal to work towards.

Some writers may succeed without an outline. And some businesses might squeeze by without a formal plan. But the majority don’t. Increase your chances of success. Have a plan.

Revisions. Revisions. Revisions.

Once you’ve finished writing your book, you might feel like the battle is over. You’re wrong. Now begins the revision process. It’s time to comb through and delete as much as you can. Any part of the story that’s not working, any word that’s unnecessary, any typo that you’ve made, all of it needs to go.

If it’s not necessary in the grand picture, cut it out.

The same goes for your business. You may have big dreams and grand plans for your business. But to get things going, you’ll want to trim that down to the most basic, workable form. A minimum viable product, as it’s called.

This is your starting point.

The Launch

For both books and businesses, the launch is a big deal. You want as much momentum as possible. You need to make noise. After all, there’s a lot of competition out there. Finding your audience won’t be easy.

Work your connections. Promote yourself. Reach out to whoever will listen. Network. And don’t stop.

Now, this is the part where the book and the business get different. If you’ve put a book out there, it’s set in stone. You can’t revise and tweak and adjust as you learn from the market around you. For your business, however, the revisions continue.

You’re on a path of constant improvement.

Whether you’re just in the idea stage or your business is already out there and operating, I’d love to help you on your path. From simple business tips for success to full strategic planning, this website and my book Business is ART has the tools you need.

Learn more here.

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.

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 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 1

June 27th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 1”

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. 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.

The Proof is in the Pudding

1 year and 3 days ago, my publisher, Figure.1 Publishing, and I got our first look at the proofs for the cover to Business is ART. It may feel like this every time for all I know, but as a first time author, that day was really special. It might be a little like seeing an ultrasound image of your child. Not quite ready to be born, but you can make out the baby’s face and features.

That said, I thought now might be a good time to provide a few tips for anyone else considering writing a book – of any kind, not necessarily business.

It all begins with getting a mentor or advisor. I was fortunate enough that a couple of college professors mentored and advised me from early on. One of them was Professor Roy Lewicki of the Ohio State University, who subsequently provided a foreword for the book.

For those not so fortunate, I’m sharing some tips based on my own experience. That doesn’t make me an expert, mind you…just someone who learned a few things going down the road you too are considering. These are my opinions. I am sure every other author has many of his or her own.

Tips for Writing a Book

  1. Know what your book will be about. At least know the basic premise if not have an outline. Keep your outline simple. Chapter title and a one-paragraph description of what that chapter is about. “Business is ART – Articulate, Revise, Track” began as 1 slide in a presentation I used to give on strategic planning. Before I wrote the first words to the book, I created an outline and determined the average number of pages I wanted to be in each chapter.
  2. Know WHY you are writing the book. I wrote Business is ART for both external and internal reasons. Externally, I wanted to provide something that business owners and organizational leaders could actually use to improve their odds of success. Internally, I wanted to have something tangible that defines who I am as a consultant and that would provide a launch pad for the subsequent production of both training videos and software that would deliver the processes and templates described in the book. At no point did I think, feel or say, “I am going to write a best-selling business book that will make me a million bucks.”
  3. Build a platform in advance. Your platform is your audience – people who will potentially buy your book. I highly recommend Michael Hyatt’s book Platform to help you devise a strategy for building yours. Do this before you start writing but after you know what you are going to be writing about. I started building a platform too late in the game and would approach things much differently were I to start over.
  4. Determine how you will publish. There are multiple tips in this category. I’ll expand on them in Part 2 of this post, but for now consider if self-publishing, traditional publishing or hybrid publishing is the best route for you and your book. Along the way, determine if your book will be available in print and ebook or just ebook…but definitely plan for ebook. You can decide now or later if it will also be available in audio form.
  5. Set a budget. Don’t kid yourself – writing a book ain’t free. Determine how much you can and are willing to spend. It will impact your ultimate publishing route, as well as how you will design your book, illustrations and cover – not to mention editing.
  6. Throw pride out the window. The thing that worried me most about the process was the editing. Before it all began I asked my wife to help me to keep a clear head and if she heard me complaining about editors, remind me that they are there to help me. It isn’t belittling to be helped. Business is ART went through 5 levels of editing. The first two occurred before anything was handed in to my publisher. One was a self-edit and the other was a content review by a team of trusted peers who graciously volunteered to help out. That review in particular was extremely beneficial because not only did they make recommendations on content, they validated that what Business is ART was developing into was something of value. The next 3 levels were through the publisher and they included content and flow, grammar, syntax and structure and final proof editing. My wife never had to tell me to “simmer down” because I embraced the whole process from the start for what it was…help not hindrance.
  7. Let your freak flag fly! If you’re thinking, “I’d write a book but would be too embarrassed to let anyone read it,” stop. Either stop thinking about writing the book or set aside the notion of embarrassment. These two things cannot co-exist. And if you do decide to write, be yourself. You like humor? Add a little humor. You like darkness? Add a little darkness. You like religion? Add a little religion. When you write, especially fiction, you have to imagine yourself as the character and/or the reader. You have to have multiple personalities. But don’t lose your own in the process. Let your freak flag fly.
  8. Establish a timeline. “I plan to write a book someday” could be the last words you ever speak. Someday never comes unless you put yourself on a schedule. The creative process is a little hard to put start and stop times to, but create a deadline for various milestones (maybe a chapter). Set aside specific times to write. You might sit down at your scheduled time and walk away with great stuff or with nothing. But even the “nothingness” may inspire something later. Write any time the creativity and mood strikes, but minimally, sit down at your scheduled times with your allotted objectives.
  9. Stop talking, start doing. This is going to make it sound like it was a much faster process than it was, but essentially, I wrote Business is ART in 10 primary sittings. I pre-determined that I would sit down and draft one chapter with each sitting. And then I did. Now, there was a whole lot of research, thinking and discussion that occurred first, and in between chapters, but when it was time to write, I wrote. For me, the best approach is to just dump it all out in text and go back later to fix it. If I slow down to correct spelling, make adjustments, etc. I get lost in those details and forget to write the rest. Just let it flow out of you. You can always go back and improve it. But know this – it will never be perfect and you will never be finished – it will just be done. I could go back right now and make numerous changes to Business is ART. Maybe in the 10-year anniversary edition.

The Shameless Plug

No matter why you write your book, you want people to read it…right? So don’t forget to ask people to go get a copy. You can find Business is ART at Amazon or go to Barnes & Noble or order a personalized signed copy directly from me.

Please go get a copy. I thank you in advance of your purchase – and don’t forget to leave a review…preferably a good one!

Three Pillars of Behavior

December 8th, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Relationships, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Three Pillars of Behavior”
Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Plato said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

I refer to these as the three pillars of Behavior Management.  At work, if your Behavior Management strategy does not address all three of these pillars, there is an increased chance that you will not get the results you would like (or need) from your employees.

My opinion is that most people in the workforce want to do a good job that they can be proud of.  Most employers want exceptional performance from their employees.  If this is true, then already there is a chasm.  What is “good enough” in the employee’s mind may not be good enough in the employer’s mind.  So how do you bridge the gap?

Start by considering these three pillars.  What does the employee #desire? What gets the employee to feel a positive #emotion about the job and the company? And finally, what does the employee #know?  This goes beyond knowing the job and is a critical piece that should seem obvious, yet is often overlooked.

As an example, the employee desires to do good, quality work because it makes him/her feel good about him/herself, and that makes him/her feel happy (emotion).  But the employee “knows” there will be no recognition or reward from the employer beyond a paycheck.  What is the likelihood that employee will burnout and performance will suffer in the long run?

Two mistakes employers make in this regard are:

  1. A paycheck should be incentive enough to do a good job (see “chasm”).
  2. Incentive and reward beyond the regular paycheck means more money.

Neither are necessarily true, and there are all kinds of ways to address them, but that’s another topic for discussion. In the meantime, if you focus your Behavior Management strategy on these 3 pillars, you will be way ahead of the competition.

All About Business is Art

October 12th, 2015 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Goal, Key Performance Indicator, KPI, Leadership, Objective, Strategic Planning, Strategy 0 thoughts on “All About Business is Art”
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Hard Cover Copies of Business Is ART Arrive

In this, the inaugural post at the new and improved Business is ART Blog, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about Business is ART (BIA).

Business is ART is designed for anyone looking to increase his/her odds of success. It teaches readers a simplified method to formalize their vision, strategy, business plans, and key performance measurements. In it, I explain how this method does not require extensive business knowledge nor time.

Why BIA? Because the vast majority of businesses operate without a formal plan and studies show that if they did, their odds of success improve by 30% to 50% or more. Would you take those odds?

If every business did that much better, just think what it could mean to the economy, the jobs market and our ability to deal with social issues such as poverty. With that in mind, it almost becomes a moral imperative or obligation to improve business odds – Business is ART aims to do just that.

The book is now available in paperback or ecopy at Amazon and Barnes & Noble or from several independent bookstores. It may also be purchased in signed, hardcover copy directly from me through the Order page of this website. The BIA software automates the method and templates and is currently under development. It will be available on a subscription basis.

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Launch of BIA at “An Evening with the Arts”

In the meantime, please take a look at this 3-minute video entitled “What’s a Plan?” for a better understanding of what a formal plan entails. You may also download a free copy of my 1-page Strategic Plan Template or my free eBook entitled “6 Steps to Evolving with Intent” from the Resources page of this website.

All I ask in return is that you allow me to add you to my email distribution list and provide me with a little feedback from your experience. I do not spam or share your contact information with anyone.

I hope you enjoy Business is ART and this blog, but most of all, hope you find it helpful and entertaining.

Welcome to the Website and Blog

October 12th, 2015 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Goal, Inspiration, Key Performance Indicator, KPI, Leadership, Objective, Strategic Planning, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Welcome to the Website and Blog”
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Published by Figure.1 Publishing

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the new site for Business is ART including the Business is ART Blog. This blog was previously located on my consulting web site at Articulate, Revise, Track. In fact, archived, earlier blog posts can still be found and will remain there for some time to come. Meanwhile, new posts will appear here, and from time-to-time old posts from the previous site will be resurrected here.

This blog is dedicated to providing helpful insights and tips based on experience and lessons learned that you can apply to your work and personal lives. There are 3 major categories of posts you can expect to find here in addition to the occasional random subject. They are as follows:

  • Posts specific to business and leadership
  • Posts referring you to my weekly personal blog entitled #Significance
  • Posts referring you to my consulting business’ weekly newsletter

If you follow the link to my old blog site, you will see several examples of each. The business and leadership posts are self-explanatory. #Significance is a weekly blog regarding lives focused on significance versus success.

My weekly newsletter is entitled “The Weekly See 7.” As a consultant, I do business as “SeaSeven LLC” so “See 7” was a little play on the name. Each week the “See 7” names a theme relative to business and provides you with a summary & links to 7 prescreened online articles, presentations or videos that have some relevance to the overall weekly theme.

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

© SeaSeven LLC 2017.
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