Posts tagged business
Well it’s Father’s Day once again. Time for reminiscing about fathers and the past. As you may know, my own father passed away shortly over a year ago. Father’s day was always a big day for us. A chance to thank my parents for everything they did for us (Mom got her own day but you know how things go).
But my daughter’s birthday and Father’s day are typically celebrated on the same day. So in my own home, Father’s day has been little more than a hurried “Happy Father’s day” as we rushed to arrange parties and fixin’s.
This year is different. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday last weekend and this weekend she’s off to go shopping with her aunt. So I’m sitting here, relaxing and thinking about Fathers and everything they give to us.
My own Father was an entrepreneur. As was his Father and his Father before that. All the way back to Thomas (great-great-) who left Wales (and maybe Ireland) behind to take his business to the new world. Maybe even before that. I’ve spoken before of how I learned to be an entrepreneur at my great-grandfather’s knee. And it seems to be something that is absorbed. (My brother and one sister are both entrepreneurs as am I).
My Father (and grandfather and great-grandfather) taught me to think and be an entrepreneur. My university taught me to be a businessman. The two together gave me a good base for all my entrepreneurial endeavours including freelance writing and training. And as frustrated as I get with the life, I hope my children will become entrepreneurs as they grow.
The sad reality is that we can no longer rely on a job. The big corporations have walked away from their responsibilities. Mutual respect and loyalty is a thing of the past. Just when wisdom is earned, and the joy of sharing is realized, the new corporation decides that they can no longer afford you. The current economic reality makes that trend even worse. Companies no longer dumbsize — now they disintegrate, all in the name of pleasing analysts who have no stake in the company.
The age of the entrepreneur is on us. Unfortunately, even entrepreneurship has its difficulties.
Last night, I published the Kindle version of Paul and my first book as an entrepreneur and publisher. “101 Limericks about Public Speaking” has been available for some time now. At first in PDF eBook form on our TrainingNOW.ca site and then in print. But now, it’s available in Kindle eBook. And in many ways, it represents the changes that are occurring in the writing business.
When I first started, marketers created systems and wrote them up as eBooks. These sold for highly inflated prices. After all, you were selling a system not a book. And the traditional publishers owned the print book market. You sold an agent who in turn sold the publisher who deigned to print and distribute your book. If you wanted to self-publish, you dealt with a vanity publisher.
Today, all that has changed.
Self-publishing is the rule not the exception. And while print books do sell still and will for some time, the eBook is the way of the future. Booksellers such as Amazon now set the tone and the price. And the big publisher is being squeezed out as the author’s realize they don’t get much from them in the new reality. On the other hand, other Booksellers (such as Apple and its iBookstore) have yet to recognize the changes and still give the publisher the power.
It may seem that I’m pro-Amazon’s and anti-Apple/Kobo/Nook’s stances. But the truth is both are valid. Amazon has recognized the new reality in the writer’s market. And they’ve taken advantage of their size to force their opinions on the publishing world. The Apple/Kobo/Nook camp has been slow to recognize the changes. And they’ve been slow to react. They’ve chosen to give up control to the big publishers.
The truth is in between. There are situations where the price of a book should include the price of the system. And there are situations where the price of the book should be low. The truth is that all four groups need to have input into the price of an eBook — the customer, the bookseller, the publisher and the author. No one group can dominate or the price will shift in their favour at the expense of the others.
Right now, the writing and freelance writing market is on the cusp of change. Where will we be tomorrow? Who knows?
Isn’t being an entrepreneur fun?
When I first entered the eBook business, you HAD to publish your own books. (Unless you wanted to go the Clickbank route. ) Prices were high (compared to print books) and learning content providers were known to misrepresent their reports as eBooks. And the major publishers toyed with eBooks but basically considered them as irrelevant.
Then came the Kindle from Amazon and other similar products.
Last year, Amazon tried to force the major publishers to sell their eBooks at much reduced prices. Ultimately, Amazon had to back down. However, they did succeed by introducing the 70% royalty for books under $9.95. Self-publishers and the market did what force, threats and banning couldn’t do.
Unfortunately, other sales outlets aren’t as open-minded as Amazon. Getting Apple, Kobo or Barnes & Noble (the Nook) to carry self-published eBooks is an exercise in frustration — especially if you are from outside the U.S.A. (like TrainingNOW). Simply put, most of the booksellers haven’t gotten the new business model yet.
In any case, the U.S. Justice department has announced that it will investigate the “Cartel” practices of Apple and the big publishers. You can read more about this on ZDNet (part of CBS Interactive) Justice Dept. to sue Apple, other publishers over e-book ‘cartel’ . The European (antitrust) Commission began a similar investigation about three months ago.
It will be interesting to see what the fallout will be.
I’m ticked …
Notice my site … changed a bit hasn’t it.
Used to look consistent. Now … not so much. Used to be a mix-mash of traditional html, WordPress blog and forum. But at least it looked consistent.
Now not so much.
That’s not the least of it. I use WordPress to drive a number of sites that are part of the TrainingNOW family and a number of other companies (e.g. VProz) that I’m either involved in or otherwise have a relationship with (i.e. maintain). The problem is that WordPress broke all my sites in the last update.
Yes, I said broke my sites.
As a “former” techie, this ticks me off. But then again, I come from a platform that doesn’t EVER have legacy code in the way PCs do. Upgrade? Cool. But it had better not break what went before or it’s back to the drawing board. Which means there’s always new stuff to learn without unlearning the old. But that’s a heck of a lot easier than rewriting a million dollars in application code. (For the techies in the group, any html in pages was lost, workarounds around the menu stopped working around, and plugin options suddenly stopped the plugin from working. And oh yes, the theme I was using is no longer maintained so I couldn’t even keep the look consistent.)
But, since we’re all internet marketers here, I’m going to ignore the details and focus on the business effects.
Yesterday, was supposed to be a day of writing a new course. This week is turning into a write-off as appointments get in the way of producing. What was supposed to be a day of squeezing production between the appointments ended up being a day of fixing webpages. Including one that allowed my customers to download a product they had paid for. (At least it didn’t affect LearningCreators!). What really hurt was that this download was actually hit three times by the “changes”. No sooner did I fix one problem but another further down the stream appeared.
So what can we learn from this?
- Being able to download product is critical. (That means test it in full and fix it immediately).
- Don’t upgrade WordPress (or its plugins and theme’s) unless you have time to verify it hasn’t broken anything.
- If the pages need to appear consistent, then use WordPress for the whole site (not just the blog). Replacing a theme is easy. Replacing a theme and customizing it to look like your brand is not that hard. Replacing a theme and then customizing it to look identical to the html version is a major pain. (Technically, you can use a common CSS. But since WordPress has added improved Page handling, it isn’t necessary).
- Identify your critical processes (such as product delivery). Always have a backup ready to go at a moment’s notice. The backup should appear as transparent to the user as possible.
- Be flexible with release dates for product. Build in lots of time between completion and release. Then hope and work toward not needing that time.
- Watch the upgrade sequence. All themes and plugins should be upgraded shortly after a major WordPress release. If not, you need to check that they aren’t obsolete. If they are then you need to start the process of replacing them.
- Be flexible. Stuff happens. And always at the worst possible time.
- Don’t overcommit. You’re running a business (and have a life). That means you need to make appointments. But don’t let the number of appointments overload your ability to work on the business.
- Balance is needed in your business. Too much production and not enough marketing and you won’t sell. Too much marketing and not enough production and you won’t have enough product to sell. Too much production and/or marketing, at the expense of not enough administration and you could find yourself not being able to deliver what you sell. Or know what has sold and what you should produce. (Okay, I’m cheating here. This is actually something I’ve learned over the last six months. I just had it reinforced.)
- Project management rules are really business rules. The good habits that I’ve learned as a project manager are the same habits I need to remember as a business manager and entrepreneur. (Or vice versa)
Good luck with your business!
One of the biggest problems that writers face is having to sell their book after they’ve written it.
In fact, selling your book afterward is probably one of the worst things you can try to do.
What? Am I crazy … what in heaven’s name am I trying to spout here. After all, the whole point of writing is to be read and without selling your book you won’t be read!
No I’m not crazy. In fact, you do need to sell your book. But you need to start the process before you even begin to write. In fact the first thing you should be doing is to identify who is going to read your book and why.
Once you’ve written your book (and incorporated your reader’s hot buttons), edited and refomatted your book it’s time to actually get out there and sell it.
Selling on the internet is actually pretty simple in theory. You drive traffic, give them something in return for their email, use emails to build a relationship and then along the way sell your book (or other product including audio, video, CD, DVD, webinars etc.).
In practice, however, building that initial list is a lot more difficult than it seems.
Now I’m the last person to claim that I’m an expert marketer. And while I can speak to it and teach people about it — I think you can do much better than myself (even if you can at least trust what I have to say). Unfortunately, to build my own business I’m sort of forced to become an expert marketer.
So how did I become an expert (internet) marketer?
Well, I started out by taking a number of courses. But eventually I reached a point where I realized I needed a coach. Someone who could help me get ahead using this distribution channel. After a fair amount of research I settled on a chap by the name of Sean Mize. Sean came with three key ingredients … he actually was able to build a business on the internet from scratch (most started from web design companies), he produced his own training materials (most outsource both coaching and course development) and he told the truth (press a button and get tons of traffic isn’t his style). And to boot he was the number 1 author on EzineArticles.com.
So why am I telling you all this?
I’ve arranged with Sean to make his courses on internet marketing available to you my loyal subscriber. The first of these is his List Building MP3 Series. This is a 10 MP3 training course that will turn you into a list building machine. Plus there are bonuses!
If this sounds like something you might need check it out here!
I’m writing this around midnight. In fact, I even had to reschedule some posts to squeeze this post in. But it was such a day that I just had to write about it.
Up here in the frozen north we’re supposed be cold and living in igloos year round.
Well, it just ain’t so folks!
It’s midnight and the temperature is still at 28°C (that’s 83°F for you southern folks)! 66% Humidity makes the temp feel 10° higher (meaning it feels like it’s 38°C/100°F). That’s at midnight! This afternoon it hit 38°C/100°F officially (hottest spot in the area was 40°C/104°F and it felt like 50°C/122°F). It’s been like this all week and in fact it’s supposed to get worse!
So much for it being cold up here!
My poor son has been in summer school this month … and the school administration in its wisdom has decided to turn off the air conditioning. As a result he ended up home today with heat stroke (amongst other issues).
Now theoretically, I’ve got the perfect solution to the heat. I’ve got air conditioning in the house. I’ve got air conditioning in the car. And I’ve got a pool! You’d think I’d be all set.
But noooooo …
Fortunately, A/C in the house is still working — touch wood and whistle. But the A/C in the car has died … (actually I think it’s overloaded and can’t handle the heat. It was working last week).
And the dang-blasted, pain in the butt, pool has turned green from the heat! The scary thing is that I’ve been feeding it double the usual amount of chlorine. And it’s been shocked to the point where it’s shooting off electricity!
So since I really would like to get some use out of this money sink, I decided to shock it once again.
I’m now down one more pair of pants and a nice shirt. Damn chlorine! And it wasn’t even done when I was adding it … I got chlorine on them when I was carrying the empty containers!
Okay, so what’s the point to all this ? I mean other than the fact I wanted to bitch about the fact that I’m running out of clothes! And yes, I did want to blow off steam! (I’m so ticked I can’t even type!)
There is this tendency for the “gurus” in internet marketing to blow smoke. You know what I’m talking about. The promises of easy wealth and fast returns. All promised of course, in front of their multi-million dollar homes and $500,000 dollar cars! Just send them $5.097 and they’ll show you how in three easy lessons!
Okay, folks let’s get a couple of things straight here. I’m going to throw my credit counselor’s hat on here (I have an insolvency councilor’s diploma on my wall — along with a bunch of other sheepskins) and try to give you some straight talk.
First, creating an internet business is no different than creating any business. It’s a lot of hard work and it takes time. It also takes knowledge! It doesn’t happen with the snap of your fingers. And it involves a heck of a lot more than 1 hour a day. As for the knowledge, I’ve made arrangements with my own coach to make available a number of courses that will give you all the knowledge you need to sell over the internet. And over the next few months, we’ll be releasing a number of our own courses that will teach you everything you need to know about producing your own products (audio, video, live and book). And along the way we’ll even talk about administration and running your business.
Second. spending your income on big houses and big cars is just plain dumb. Okay, yes, I know many of you have convinced yourself that’s what you want. You’ve used that dream to motivate yourself. But the reality is a little different.
The truth is the big advantage of a successful, advice/learning business is freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from threat. Freedom from the worry about your next paycheck or where the money is going to be to pay the next bill.
Warren Buffett is one of the five richest people in the world (actually he and Bill Gates trade the top 2 spots). Yet he lives in a modest two story home and drives a Cadillac DTS. Why? ‘Cause that’s all he needs.
And that should be your own philosophy. Cars and homes are money sinks — they cost, they don’t earn. So don’t spend any more on them than you have to. Certainly, you should buy what you need. But conspicuous consumption for the sake of consumption is not a path you really want to go down. Trust me … ask the people I refer and the trustrees that I refer them to! Not a good habit to get into. You don’t have to be poor to be bankrupt. And you don’t have to have money to put on a show.
The point I’m making here is that when an internet guru goes “Look, here’s my multi-million dollar mansion. Look, here’s my $400,000 Ferrari.” then you should be putting on your hip waders.
After all, just because there’s a luxury car rental down the street from him, doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to buy that Koenigsegg Trevita you’ve had your eye on.
Me, I’ve got five kids, my wife and I to squeeze into my Caravan tomorrow! And the blasted air conditioner is still going to be broken, ’cause I ain’t got the time to get it fixed. Try that with a Bugatti Veyron.
Are you as strong willed as this mouse? If not, why not?
Being an entrepreneur (and that includes being a writer) involves ups and downs … are you like this mouse? Or are you cat food?
Welcome back folks!
Yup, it’s that terrible time of the year … the worst possible … the return to work after New Years! SCARY !!!!! ;)
Okay, I exagerate. It is that time tho … Time to get your resolutions in place. Time to get your plans in place. Time to get off your duff and get moving! Time to get the year off with a BANG!
So that’s what I’m going to do …
One of the questions I keep being asked goes something like “I’m not writing a how to book. I’m writing a xyz book. Can your system work for me?”. So far, with one exception, the answer has been YES! :cool:
But it’s obvious I’m scaring people off with the emphasis on fact based writing (aka how to books and similar non-fiction).
So, I’ve decided to write a short Youtube course on “How to Select A Writing System” …. Only it turned out to be longer and containing more information than I envisioned. (So what else is new). As of now, it’s four videos of about 10 minutes each! For Free?????? Am I NUTS ????? Well, yeah, but I’m also into giving lots of stuff for free (in the hopes you’ll buy something of course ;) maybe even this!!!!).
Anyway, that’s going to be my blog for the next two weeks; How do you choose a writing system? After all, there’s a lot of us competing out there and getting us all sorted into order is not a fun thing. So my blog is going to consist of the video and some comments to expand on the video.
First video blog is Wednesday … but check up on Youtube … you never know I may be faster there!
(4/6 does not go evenly … so what am I going to do with the other 2 days? This is one of them … The other I’ll devote to planning and the usual year end stuff! Or maybe I’ll have a special announcement … you never know! … meaning if I get my blasted todo list done!)
This blog — and the forum — is meant to give YOU a place to ask questions and get answers. So … PLEASE let me know what you would like me to cover!
Up until lately, I had thought that the sense of entitlement was limited to those who were younger than me. That my generation had created this sense as part of our growing up.
I was wrong.
My wife’s aunt demonstrated that very clearly. Because that was what was at the basis of her actions. She felt that she was entitled to anything Gerry had left behind.
As entrepreneurs we need to guard ourselves against this attitude … in ourselves, in our employees and in our clients. And learn to use it ethically.
So what is the sense of entitlement? It is a belief that for whatever reason, a person is entitled to something. That they have earned it, and they deserve it. That they should have it.
The truth, of course, is different. Yes, we may have worked for something. Yes, we may have, in the eyes of a rational God have earned it. But that is no guarantee that we actually will or should have it.
An entrepreneur sees this in their own actions. After all, we all work hard to build a business. We give up our time, energy and sweat. For those foolish enough we may even give up our family and health. But that is no guarantee of success. If it were far more people would be successful. And far fewer of the people who are, would be.
Life isn’t fair.
As entrepreneurs we need to leave the sense of entitlement behind. We need to try and try and try again. Sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. Sometimes failing through our own faults and sometimes suceeding despite them.
But never letting our sense of entitlement fool us into believing that we should stop or that we’ve earned our position. Because we haven’t. We may have paid for it, but we haven’t earned it.
We see it in our treatment of our suppliers. How many times have you said to a supplier … that’s too expensive, I can’t afford it. You should work for this amount. As if it’s their problem that you haven’t earned enough to pay the price. As Dan Kennedy recently remarked, “It’s not that the price is too high, it’s that your earnings are too low for it.”
We see it in our employees (or ourselves in that role). We see it in how they treat customers. Do the customers owe us their custom just for having the products? Do they have to buy just because we’ve gone out of our way? We’ve all seen this sense of entitlement in the poor treatment we’ve had in major department stores. Clerks who were more interested in discussing their latest date than in serving the customer.
We see it in our customers. We see them believing that we should give them free information just because we did so in the past. We see them wanting to pay rates well below fair market. We see them chasing the cheapest price without regard for the quality of the product.
This sense of entitlement is a failing we all need to fight against. Both in ourselves and in others. The truth is much less pleasant but at least we deserve the result.
It was James M Barrie through his character Peter Pan that said “I’ll never grow up”. (Well, actually I believe it was Disney that first paraphrased him).
But there comes a time when everyone needs to grow up. And a time when everyone needs to not grow up!
From an entrepreneur’s viewpoint growing up is a two edged sword. Well, make that a triple-edged sword!
An entrepreneur must grow up enough to recognize and accept his own mistakes. After all, risk is the name of the game being played. And sometimes the other half of the risk game (impact) is in the negative when the risk bill needs to be paid.
There are two parts to the risk equation. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand the equation. An entrepreneur must understand the equation because he’s going to be playing the risk game.
What’s the equation? Risk times impact equals exposure. In every day English, risk is this bad, bad thing. We expose ourselves to risk. We’re caught by risk. He risked everything!
But risk really only means a probability not equal to one. In short, if it isn’t certain, it’s a risk. Good, bad, doesn’t matter. (Webster’s defines it wrong btw it has a very precise mathematical/probabilistic meaning). The good or bad is part of the risk impact (which can be good or bad). So winning the lottery has a risk associated with it (about the same as being hit by lightning) plus a good impact. So it has a net good exposure … if nearing zero can be called good! Until you buy the ticket … then it has a bad net exposure. Why? The cost of the ticket is usually higher than the exposure.
The point is that if you are going to play the game, you better grow up quick and realize you aren’t going to win all the time! That’s the other half of the game, you see. Sometimes when the impact is good (or even great) the risk just doesn’t come through. And sometimes, when the impact is bad it does. The key is to learn how to manipulate the risk so that it happens more often when the impact is good and less often when the impact is bad.
And that just because you’ve failed doesn’t mean that you did it wrong, or you’re wrong or anything else. It just means you weren’t lucky this time.
Of course, you also need to learn from what you’ve done. Which takes maturity.
The other cutting edge is emotional maturity. Learning to accept others’ failings. Learning to accept your own failings. In short, growing up emotionally.
The final cutting edge is the back edge.
Learning to NOT grow up.
Keeping that sense of wonder that opens your mind to new experiences.
Keeping that sense of exploration that what happens if … that opens your mind to constant learning.
Keeping that sense of fun, that is its own reward.
It’s this last blade that is the true cutting edge of entrepreneurial thought. The edge that cuts through the calcification that seeks to stratify those who do not understand the true entrepreneurial spirit.
So over the last two weeks I’ve talked about the four types of books and why the Content Mapping System works for them – or doesn’t.
While the system isn’t a panacea and it doesn’t work for all books, it does work in most cases for how to books and why to books. In short, most non-fiction.
This is true because most non-fiction books are fact based regardless of their organization. Even if they are a simple collection, they still need to be organized. If they are a how to, they still need to be organized. So it doesn’t matter if they are sequential, fact-based or collections, they are still a set of facts that need to be organized. And the best system to do that is the Content Mapping System you can find here in video form (for free) or here in book form (not free).
A minor exception to the above rule is sequential based books. With sequential or process based books you need to add pretty pictures. In other words, flow or process diagrams. But the basic Content Map system works quite well and does allow for adding this type of information. (Yes, believe it or not it is a function of the tool. We don’t talk about it very much but it is part of the proper use of the tool.)
The major exception to the above are time based books. These are histories, (auto-)biographies and fiction. Because they are time based they need a tool which is time based … in other words a time chart based system. Sorry but the Content Mapping system just isn’t the right system for those books.
A couple of final comments.
First, an historical analysis is not a time based book. It is primarily a fact based book. Having said that you may want to use a time chart to help document the occurence of the actions which you are analysing. This leads to the second comment.
The system allows you to use pictures and diagrams when they communicate the information better than words. Don’t be afraid to use them! After all a picture is worth a thousand words. This also applies within your book. Sometimes words are not the best tools to communicate with. Sometimes pictures are. Never be afraid of diagrams. And don’t forget to use boxes … those little quick fact summary boxes you see in some books or at the side of articles. They help to seperate the book and to emphasize key facts.
So enjoy the Content Mapping System and learn to write books in less than 24 hours. Just remember that the system doesn’t work for all books, just non-fiction. It works great for how to books!
Enjoy, learn & get earning.
& the LearningCreators team