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6 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing A Book

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You’re going to write a book. 40,000 words to go. Then the book goes to the editor, the typesetter, and the printer. Simple – right? Wrong.

Having worked with over 100 entrepreneurs on their books, I’ve found the writing and editing process rarely goes to plan. Content gets cut, reorganized and added. In four cases, I’ve even told clients to write new books.

After you’ve spent months waking up early, staying up late, squeezing your writing around family, friends and work; after you’ve said no to invitations, events and getaways; and after you’ve spent your hard-earned dollars on coaches and courses to help you put your knowledge on paper … you don’t want an editor telling you to start over.

So what can you do? Read on for the six mistakes entrepreneurs make when writing books and what you should do instead:

1. Choosing the wrong idea

You’re highly qualified in your field and have 15 years of experience but you’ve just started learning about a new area you’re really passionate about … and then your clients keep asking about something else entirely.

Most entrepreneurs choose an idea that only answers one of these areas. This is a recipe for disaster:

  • If you aren’t passionate about your idea, you’ll give up part way through.
  • If you aren’t knowledgeable about your idea, you’ll end up rambling and repeating yourself to bulk up your word count.
  • If you aren’t addressing your readers’ desires, no one will want to buy your book, and you’ll be left with a very expensive paperweight.

Instead, brainstorm until you find an idea that hits the sweet spot – the intersection between your knowledge, your passion and what your readers want.

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” – Herman Melville

2. Not choosing one type of book

Great books come in all shapes and sizes, and entrepreneurs usually write one of the following:

  • How-to books
  • Thought leadership books
  • Interview books
  • Memoirs

The problems start if you try to write a combination of all of them, which will result in a confused book with no clear purpose, or your editor cutting half of your content because it isn’t relevant. Instead, commit to one type of book before you start writing.

 

3. Failing to plan

Time and time again I see entrepreneurs getting stuck on their first drafts. Why? Because they have an idea for a book, then sit down in front of a blank Word document and rely on inspiration to provide the content.

Instead, plan your book!

  • Start with your book’s central idea – in one sentence, what’s your book about?
  • Brainstorm – get a blank piece of paper and write down your central idea. What other ideas does this sentence spur? Write down everything you can think of that’s related to your central idea.
  • Organize your brainstorming – review your scribbling and see if there are any common themes that come up. These ideas will become the main sections or chapters of your book.
  • Plan your chapters – brainstorm, organize and expand your ideas for each chapter. What do you need to cover to discuss the topic in detail?

 

4. Thinking they have a plan (when they don’t)

How can you think you have a plan when you don’t? They follow the first three steps of the planning process and then start writing. They have a central idea and five key areas they want to discuss. They’ve even organized these areas in a five-step process. Is that a plan? Not even close.

The purpose of a good plan is to guide every word you write. With a good plan you never need to worry about writer’s block, because you never have to come up with new ideas – they’re all laid out in front of you. You also never need to worry about the writing process stopping and starting, and taking months on end because, once again, everything you need to write is laid out in front of you.

A good plan takes the effort out of writing, because you’ve already done all the research, brainstorming and organization. Then all you need to do is expand your bullet points into full sentences.

Instead of relying on your chapter titles for inspiration, create a plan so detailed your book writes itself.

 

5. Including everything they’ve ever written

You’ve been in business for a few years now, and you have a slew of marketing content up your sleeve – brochures, flyers, blog posts, articles, interviews, case studies and more. Writing a book should be easy, right?

While using existing content is a great way to boost your word count, a big issue we see is clients who have copied and pasted entire blog posts or articles into their book when they don’t actually fit. And if it doesn’t fit, it often gets cut.

Instead, ask yourself:

  • Is the content directly related to your central idea?
  • Does your reader really need to know this?

It’s only when you can answer both questions with a ‘yes’ that the content should go into your book.

“It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.” – Isaac Asimov

6. Not making time to write

I get it – you’re an entrepreneur and you spend all your waking hours doing client work, answering enquiries, completing quotes, catching up on admin, and more. You’re lucky enough to spend time with your family, let alone write a book! The truth is, you’re always going to be busy, and those who wait to find the time never get started.

Instead, you need to make the time to write. Get started with these tips:

  • Carry a notepad/phone with you at all times for when inspiration strikes.
  • Set a daily writing target, and don’t go to bed until you’ve written your words!
  • Remember this is a short-term challenge. You only need to make the time for the next four to six weeks, and then you’ll be ready to send your book to your editor!

 

Which mistake are you having the most trouble with when writing your book? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Jacqui Pretty is the Founder Grammar Factory, a writing and editing company that helps entrepreneurs write books that boost their businesses, as well as the author of Book Blueprint: How any entrepreneur can write an awesome book. She and her team have worked with over 100 authors and their clients have become Amazon bestsellers, gotten featured on national television, landed paid speaking engagements and doubled their revenue. In short, she has witnessed first-hand the power of publishing to transform a business.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Elaine Slatter

    May 7, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Great advice, Jacqui. I wrote a “how to” book for women who want to become entrepreneurs. I wrote every day and found that it became a daily “must do” before anything else. The more you write, the more you want to tell your story, so then you write more. Before you know it you are finished. The extra research on chapter topics took more time than I expected, but it was important to get it right.

  2. Michael

    Jan 4, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Awesome advice Jacqui I wrote my first book and it was a total flop.I am in the process of writing a second book and this article will help me a lot to get this one right.

  3. Charlene Rhinehart

    Dec 22, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Thanks for writing this article, Jacqui! I’m writing my first book and I’m guilty of falling into the entrepreneur trap you mentioned. I’m inspired to set daily goals amd commit until it’s done. Thanks!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Thanks Charlene, and good luck with your book!

  4. Ann_B

    Dec 21, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    ‘Repeating too much information from a previous successful publication’ can also make a point in the list. People want the next book to include new advice!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      That’s a great point, Ann. While referring to other publications and research can be a great way to add content and build your credibility, you do need to have an original take on the information to add value. Thanks for raising that!

  5. Tim Denning

    Dec 20, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Jacqui thanks for writing this article. I am writing a book right now and these tips are very useful. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Thanks Tim – I’m glad you found it useful and best of luck with your book!

  6. Ethan Bridges

    Dec 17, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Hi Jacqui,

    I can’t answer your question yet, as the idea of writing a book only teases my mind for now.

    These are great tips. I see how specificity can nail it. Thank you!

  7. Ernie Ayon

    Dec 17, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Thanks! Awesome advice that couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m in the process of writing my first book and have learned a ton in these past few months. It’s quite the undertaking but luckily there are a lot of good resources to get started. The points you list here are great advice.

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 17, 2015 at 6:18 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Ernie. Best of luck with your book!

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Success Advice

How to Be a Selfless Leader in Your Business

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Leaders are required to make decisions daily that impact the success of the business and its bottom line. Understanding leadership training key terms can offer insight into core values and principles associated with leading people. Leadership training prepares leaders to recognize a variety of leadership styles prevalent in many organizations, the significance of communication, team building, and establishing a vision.

The following 6 key terms are important to building foundational skills in leadership:

1. Leadership style

Leadership style is the process of exploring the methods leaders use to approach guiding human capital in the workplace or on organized projects. It can encompass persuasive presentation skills that inspires trust, integrity, character, positive role modeling and other behaviors useful when working towards a goal.

2. Vision planning

According to leadership experts, a vision is an idealized picture or snapshot of the future, and vision planning is the ability to communicate core values and articulate a sense of direction by implementing a plan as it pertains to this vision. Organizational vision encompasses a strategic plan that generates motivational impact and leads employees to a specific outcome or shared desired goal.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” – John Maxwell

3. Team building

Team building is the method a leader chooses to empower a group of people using motivational strategies and guidance to accomplish a specific task. Effective team building must encompass an understanding of organizational culture and the dynamics of teamwork in order to exceed shared goals and objectives.

4. Communication

Communication is the ability to impart and exchange information through the process of listening, writing and speaking. Successful leaders understand that enhancing communication skills not only makes them more effective as leaders, but boosts the company’s success as well.

5. Performance evaluation

An important aspect of leadership training is determining whether the steps taken towards a goal are working. One of the many roles of a successful leader is to appraise or assess the effectiveness of both individual and collective workplace skills and strategies to achieve stated goals.

“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” – Jim Rohn

6. Decision making

The term decision making is the process of choosing from several ideas or choices. It’s the practice of targeted determinations that can offer creative problem solving solutions. This is a vital skill in developing potential leaders because it strengthens the use of critical thinking and resourcefulness to make choices on behalf of the company.

How to be a selfless leader in your business organization

Many leaders try to play it safe when leading their business. In other words, they don’t really lead. They are afraid of taking risks and possibly making some people unhappy. It’s important to note that when you own a business, you may make decisions that won’t make everyone happy. Ideally, your culture will be set up so that what you do is transparent and enables people to speak up and share their concerns.

At the same time, people in an organization want their leaders to lead and part of that involves the leader making a passionate commitment to the direction the business needs to go in. When there isn’t clear leadership in a business, then the business is like a ship that is moving in a circle. It’s going nowhere.

A leader must always make it clear that what they are doing is actually serving the best interests of the business as opposed to their own best interests. If people in the organization think that a leader is abusing their position, it can create a toxic situation in the business bringing it down as people leave or sabotage the business.

A leader must be selfless, focused on what will truly benefit the business and the people in it. They must be willing to share the spotlight, instead of taking all the credit and must recognize the value of trusting the talents of the people they work with.

Recently, I was talking with a client of mine. He was having some personnel issues, and I suggested he carefully evaluate the talents of each person involved. After doing that, he made some changes in roles, and the people involved were much happier because they were doing the work that capitalized on their talents.

Throughout this process he was transparent and he made it clear that the changes he was making were for the benefit of the company. Each person involved saw that because the leader was honest and focused on the success of the business. He wasn’t making changes to make it easier for him, but rather making changes that would really help the business succeed. That’s the kind of leadership that is needed when a business undergoes changes or needs to focus on a specific direction.

What does being a selfless leader mean to you? How do you focus on the welfare of your business and show that to the people involved in the business? Share with us below!

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Success Advice

Things You Need to Know to Succeed as a Life Coach

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Becoming a life coach is one of the biggest choices you will ever make. Your choice in this field will change how you treat your spouse, how you empathize with others, and how you manage your business.

When I decided to make life coaching my goal, I had many steps to take before I reached the finish line and I wasn’t quite sure how to motivate myself to get there. I know that I am not the only one who struggles with staying motivated. That’s why I’m sharing with you the secrets that helped me make my dreams a reality.

Dan Sullivan is the founder of The Strategic Coach, a company that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Dan is often considered to be the number one entrepreneurship coach on the planet. If there is anyone who can motivate you to make your dreams a reality and go for gold – it’s him.

Here are the 2 life-changing ideas I learned about becoming a life coach:

1. Keep Selling Yourself

Don’t sell yourself short – but keep selling yourself on your future. Dan Sullivan suggests that the reason why we, as entrepreneurs, can’t focus on achieving our goals is that we haven’t actually sold ourselves on our project or endeavor. I believe this wholeheartedly. We may have listed our pros and cons, we have an ideal outcome, and we may even have a backup plan – but we haven’t truly committed to our goal.

In order to properly take advantage of an opportunity, we must be focused. There is no doubt that we live in a new age of multi-tasking. We watch videos while we respond to e-mails, we’re glued to our phones when we’re out on dates with our spouses – we even have the option to have two multi-tasking windows open on our smart devices so that we can do different things at the same time.

But studies show multitasking accomplishes less in the long-run. Multitasking reduces both our performance and efficiency. Dan suggests instead of trying to do everything at once, sell yourself on three tasks a day. The next day, sell yourself on three more. This will help you to have more focus and drive on what you are doing. You will accomplish more and feel better about fulfilling your goals.

2. The 3 Wins are Everything

Dan suggests that positive focus is everything when it comes to succeeding in business. That’s why he developed “The 3 Wins” mindset. After the day is done and you’re getting ready for bed, focus on three wins you had. By focusing on the three things you did right, you practice gratitude in your personal life. You set goals, reach them, and then celebrate them – no matter how small! This can help you have a more positive mindset going forward.

Dan Sullivan explains, “I would look at tomorrow… and I’d say, ‘Well these are gonna be my three biggest wins for tomorrow’. So, I would go to bed feeling good about the day, excited about the next day, and I would get up the next morning excited. So, then I would go out that day and try to have to three wins, but often times what happened is that I had wins that were bigger than the three I imagined the night before.”

The feeling of accomplishment is addictive. Not only does it feel great to get work done and accomplish our goals, but it encourages us to keep working hard in life. We work hard to grow our business, to maintain a healthy marriage, and to give our clients our best. By focusing on The 3 Wins, we view each day as a new opportunity to stay motivated and achieve something great.

How to Succeed in Becoming a Life Coach

Along with these life-changing ideas, here are some other great tips for anyone who is thinking of becoming a life coach.

1. Rapport is Essential

When you are becoming a life coach, you learn that your ability to have a rapport with your clients is just as important as the chemistry you felt with your spouse when you first started dating. Are you good at striking up a conversation? Do you have a knack for getting people to trust you or open up about their problems? If so, then you will be a natural at building your entrepreneurial business because your ability to connect with your clients is important.

2. Ask the Important Questions

As a life coach, it’s your job to ask the hard questions. This means that you must be intuitive about your client and really get to know and understand their thoughts and intentions. Only then can you help them reach their life goals.

3. Get Comfortable with Silence

Silence between two people can be the most uncomfortable, awkward, cringe-worthy experience, but as a life coach, it’s your job to let it happen anyway. When there is silence, your client will be eager to fill the void, which often leads them to show vulnerability and really work through their issues.

4. Don’t Take Things Personally

Your clients are not always going to gel with you. This may cause them to leave your services. Don’t take it personally. Alternatively, you may have a great rapport with your client, but that doesn’t always mean that they will take your advice. This can be frustrating for you, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to continue building trust between you and your client.

You can make becoming a life coach a reality. Stay motivated by selling yourself on new ideas and strategies every day. It’s also beneficial to remind yourself of your three wins and always strive to keep growing and getting better. By becoming a life coach, you show people that you care, have an excellent rapport, and aren’t afraid of the hard questions – or the silence!

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Success Advice

Consistency Is the Hidden Power to Your Success

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It’s often difficult to start a new habit or change an old behavior. There are enough books and courses online that will teach you about planning your day, planning your night, organizing your home, filtering through paperwork, and on and on it goes.

In the midst of a lot of busywork, though, there lies what I believe is a hidden secret to anyone’s success. Getting into detail about this secret, though, calls for a little reflection on your part. Look at the people you admire, whether alive or dead. Reading about their successes and failures teaches powerful lessons for life.

People will talk about “getting into a groove” and how it feels good. Writing, for me, comes a lot better when I am in a groove or in the flow. Words and phrases come quite easily because I’m sitting down to have a written conversation with you. By the way, it also helps to have a lot of experience as a writer in the back pocket too.

The Answer Lies Within The Question

What’s the secret?” you keep asking. Look at what you are doing in your life today. In business, are you moving forward or stagnant? Connecting with new leads or looking to keep the wolves at bay by taking anything offered? Are you making time to actually do the work while also having some fun?

When you look at the values and practices of successful businesses and entrepreneurs, the one thing that is obvious is that they have developed a level of consistency in their actions. Did it happen overnight after having an awakening experience? Probably not. It was a lot of little things, done over a period of time, and it produced success.

Consistency in business, relationships, friendships, health, wellness, spirituality…you name it. Staying consistent with your actions will lead to results. Here’s a quick caveat: Make sure these consistent habits and behaviors are healthy and nurturing. It does matter in business that you develop a pattern of consistency which reflects a deep level of appreciation for people in your business or on your team.

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne The Rock Johnson

Time and time again, studies have shown how actually being consistent in showing employees appreciation and gratitude can raise the level of work much higher. If you consistently show up as a little tyrant and liar, then you’re going to get burned. If you consistently show up as someone who reflects humility, gratitude and thankfulness for what is going on in your business and life, then you’ll get more of it.

Like attracts like. It’s just that simple. Consistency is one of the most powerful practices and forces that you can add into your business and life.

Here are three specific suggestions that can help you develop a strong core of consistency today:

1. Start out small

Let’s use a restaurant analogy real quick. You walk into a place and you’re hungry. You look at the menu and see a full-course meal that has everything you love in it. Therefore, you order it. The platter comes and you go, “Oh man, that’s a lot of food.” Eat the whole platter in one sitting and you might have a bellyache later on.

If you looked at the platter, took a little bit and ate that, then you’d have some leftovers. You start out small on the meal, not stuff your face with all the food at once. Same concept with consistency. Start out small on what you want to achieve. Just make a little beginning and follow that path.

2. Take your time

What’s the hurry here? Consistency doesn’t pick up right away if you do a total deep dive into it. You have to take your time and go at your own pace. Look, peeking at what Mr. X or Mrs. L is doing will not help you one bit. Patience and persistence are two little powerful motors to help consistency become a part of your life. Even then, though, you have to take your time. Your time, not someone else’s.

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, it’s what we do consistently.” – Tony Robbins

3. Appreciate the journey

While you are on the road to consistency, there are going to be bumps along the way. Just know that going forward. There are two ways to look at this: get frustrated and angry and simply say “nope, this consistency thing isn’t worth it”; or, just continue on the path and appreciate all the stops along the way. Developing a practice of appreciation and gratitude can also play roles in you trusting that level of consistency to appear in your life.

Consistency does equal success. How you define success might be as simple as getting up in the morning and feeling grateful you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. It might be closing the biggest business deal in your life. It might be looking at your children and knowing they are healthy, well, and happy. It also might be that you survived going through hell in life and made it through just fine.

All it takes is a few consistent actions to change the way you show up in this world. We all need people and examples that remind us about the little secret of consistency. Take your mind off of your phone and out of your laptop sometimes. Look around. You can find these types of success stories all around. They reflect their own results of the power of consistency. Tap into this power today and change your world, along with others too.

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Success Advice

4 Ways You Can Develop Indispensable People as a Business Owner

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In a world where more artificial intelligence, robots and automation are taking over, good employees are beginning to feel less and less indispensable. However, they don’t need to be because robots and AI cannot replace human common sense and authentic, heartfelt engagement. That being said, more and more employers are looking for good employees who want to become great leaders within the organization and are willing to make the investment.

Here are 4 ways organizations can develop indispensable employees:

1. Invest in training & personal development

Personal development is definitely the responsibility of an employee and their own willingness to improve themselves overall. But when you combine that with an employer who is looking to keep quality talent and who sees the tremendous value in assisting their employees growth, the results are incredible.

Statistics show as one of the top three non-financial motivators, 76% of employees want opportunities for career growth. They also show that corporate training has grown to over $70 billion in the United States alone. Companies that do make the investment in their employee’s learning and development tend to lead the way and sustain longevity.

They also become the most sought after places to work for. When you help grow your employees, your employees will help grow your business.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard Branson

2. Empower them with decision-making abilities

You will find that many companies try to create a “think like an owner” mentality throughout their organizations. While this is a great strategy to implement, it cannot be fully accomplished when an employee does not have the appropriate decision making capabilities.

Companies that empower their employees to make the proper decisions (within reason and to a certain extent), become more effective and efficient as a whole. They are able to provide support to both their internal and external customers without having to wait for longer than needed timeframes to get responses.

Empowering employees through training and mentoring is one of the best practices a company can make. The more power an employee has to make certain decisions, the more sense of ownership is displayed and taken, making it a win-win for everyone.

3. Keep them informed and up to date

A wise man once said, “knowledge is power” so if you want your organization to be a powerful force in your industry, your employees need to be informed. Companies that have an effective system in place to keep employees informed and up to date usually have a higher rate of productivity and success.

Most communication within organizations is only shared within their respective departments where the information is pertinent. But imagine how much more would be able to get done if everyone was aware of what was going on company wide (again to a certain extent). That’s why interdepartmental communication is vital and in order for that to happen, employees need to be kept abreast.

For example, have you ever spoken to different people at a company and have gotten different information? That’ because they are not on the same page or haven’t been informed properly.

If an employee knew “generally speaking” about the happenings in other departments, they may be able to assist the customer base more effectively and avoid unnecessary transfers.

A good way to start this practice of being informed would be to share the company’s wins and losses, successes and failures, and any other significant changes the company may have made. When this happens, everyone is made aware and everyone is on the same page.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

4. Develop a true culture of open communication

Honest and open communication is important in the workplace because it affects the ability of everyone being able to work together (as a team). Many employees don’t engage more frequently when asked to because of fear of being ridiculed and even losing their jobs. Why is it that most employees feel more comfortable expressing themselves during normal team meetings but are more reserved in meetings where upper leaders are present?

Could it be that clear lines of open communication have not been established? Studies show that companies who operate in an open forum style atmosphere have higher levels of employee engagement. Engaged employees are more likely to stay with an organization and in return you have less turnovers.

Creating a culture of true and honest communication also develops confidence in the upper leadership team amongst employees. When the leaders of an organization displays proper and safe two-way communication, it also helps the employees feel like their making a difference and their opinions matter.

Implementing these tips will not only help you to develop indispensable employees but will also increase engagement and sustainability. It will also help you to develop an indispensable team to help take your organization to the next level.

How does your boss encourage you to become better? If you’re the boss, how do you encourage your employees to be more productive? Share your thoughts below!

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