how to start a small business

How to Start a Small Business & Grow Rapidly

Learning how to start a small business is an exciting stage in your entrepreneurial journey.

You’ve reached the point where you’re ready to stop dreaming and start doing. You’re ready to make your idea happen.

But how exactly is it done? On the one hand, you can’t afford to rush into starting your business blindly. The stakes are too high to risk making a mistake. On the other, you can’t take too long researching and planning. It’s better to get just enough information to act on, then start making it happen.

We’ve gathered together everything you need to know about making your small business a reality.  By following this guide, you can start your business safe in the knowledge that you’re following a proven process. 

But first, I’d like to share a little secret with you…

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

Your Secret Competitive Advantage for Starting a Successful Small Business

It might sound strange, but publishing a book is one of the best ways to go about preparing to start a small business.

Having a book related to my business has been massively successful for the growth of Self-Publishing School, taking it from $0 – $16 million in only 5 years.

You can either do this before following the main steps in this article or in conjunction with them. 

Why exactly should you invest your time in book creation?

  • Deep consideration. By writing a book around your business idea, you think it over carefully and thoroughly. This can unearth hidden gems or eureka moments you might have otherwise missed.
  • Authority. Having your name on the cover of a book establishes authority and credibility. This can give your business idea a much better chance of taking off in its early stages.
  • Book leverage loop. I’ve seen the book leverage loop work time and time again. It refers to the concept of releasing a book that brings you leads, sales, and referrals.

Let me leave you with one last thing to think about before we get to the main process of starting your small business. 

If your business idea is a solid one, plenty of other people are probably thinking about starting something similar.

Of those people, how many are also thinking about writing a book? Probably not many, right?

Why not give yourself that competitive advantage from the very start and learn more about how we help authors write, market, and publish a book successfully in as little as 90 days.

With that in mind, let’s check out the process of starting a small business.

  1. Solidify your small business idea
  2. Carry out market research
  3. Get the right feedback
  4. Formalize your business
  5. Finalize your product or service
  6. Determine initial finances
  7. Plan your small business
  8. Launch a minimum viable product
  9. Find the right people
  10. Monitor and scale 

#Step 1 – Solidify your small business idea

While a successful small business requires a lot more than a good idea, without one, you have no chance of success.

The business idea you end up pursuing might have been something you’ve had in the back of your mind for years, or it might come to you in a flash of inspiration.

Whether you have an idea in mind at the moment, or you need to come up with one from scratch, there are a few particular areas that are useful to focus on:

  • Skills. Considering that you want to start a small business, you’ll probably be fairly involved in its early stages. This means that you should ideally seek out a business idea relating to the skills you already have. This allows you to either carry out the work yourself or credibly train others on how it’s done.
  • Growth areas. Your idea should ideally relate to a growth area. Of course, you can’t fully know the future, but you should at least have a gut feeling that your idea has longevity. Ideally, this should stem from a mix of your personal experience mixed with some kind of external reinforcement, such as market research data
  • Your passions. It’s a simple fact that your small business will consume a massive amount of your time and cognitive energy. Accordingly, it should be something you care about. Money and success are only so motivational, so ideally your business should be aligned with your values or passions in some way.
  • Personal problems and pain points. Some of the best small business ideas stem from personal pain points. For example, you might notice there isn’t a certain style of clothes available for people who happen to share your body type, or no books of a certain style are aimed at your particular demographic. Chances are, if you would be served by the creation of a business like this, others would be too.
  • Proven models. You might recognize that a certain idea or model is working for a particular industry, but hasn’t been applied to another. Let’s consider an example. If you thought the subscription box business model was a winner but hadn’t seen it applied to a certain type of product, you might want to see if you could make it succeed in that area.
  • Local need. The internet means your small business doesn’t need to be restricted to your local area, but it still might be a valuable place to find customers. You might want to bring an idea you’ve seen work elsewhere, but isn’t currently available in your community, to your local area. 
  • Improvements. Sometimes, great business ideas simply stem from seeing something out there and envisioning the ways it could be improved. Think of this in terms of evolution rather than revolution. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, you’re just trying to make it a little more durable or attractive. 

Of course, you can never guarantee an idea will work. But, by focusing on the above points of inspiration, you help shift the odds in your favor. 

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#Step 2 – Carry out research

The idea stage of starting your small business is perhaps the most fun part. You have free reign to let your imagination run wild, unrestrained by the mundanities of real life.

However, after coming up with one or more ideas you think have potential, it’s time to validate them through research. 

Market research is something people dedicate entire careers to, but you don’t need to have a high level of experience for it to be useful.

Instead, focusing your initial research on two key areas can help you refine your initial small business idea and have some concrete data on how to proceed. 

Competitor Research

Failing to consider the competition you will face is one of the key mistakes made by aspiring small-business creators.

Even the best idea is doomed to fail if you don’t have an accurate idea of the competition. Seeking competitive advantage is a complex area of market research, but as a starting point, consider the following ideas. 

Unique Selling Point/Proposition

It’s highly unlikely your business idea is something brand new or completely different to anything else out there.

Instead, it’s likely to be something that already works, but with a point of differentiation. 

This is often known as your unique selling point/proposition, or USP for short.

At its heart, USP is about figuring out why someone would choose your offering over something similar.

It’s important to note that it’s not enough to be unique, it’s also essential your intended customer values the uniqueness of what you are bringing to the table.

For example, Death Wish Coffee has the USP of being the world’s strongest coffee.

This is something that is not only unique, as by definition only one coffee can be the strongest, but also valued, as many coffee drinkers are reliant on its stimulant properties.

By thinking about what will be both unique and valued about your small business, you give it a better chance of succeeding.

Pricing

Without revenue, your business will die. Finding the right price point for your products and services is crucial to making your idea work.

Although you’ll need to consider your costs, it’s worth researching what your competitors are charging.

Will you be able to realistically charge a comparable price and still be profitable? Will you aim to compete by offering a lower price? Or offering a better product at a higher price

Different approaches to pricing can work, but failing to take the time to consider pricing from a competitive standpoint is a quick route to failure. 

Longevity

How long have your competitors been in business?

Of course, the longevity of your own business won’t exactly match that of your competitors.

But, by finding out if businesses in your area tend to experience longevity or not, you can make your expectations realistic.

For example, about 60% of restaurants tend to fail within their first 3 years. Seek out this information for your intended area of business. By knowing it, you are accepting risk consciously and deliberately, rather than taking a leap of faith. 

Customer Research

As well as considering your competitors, you need to think about your customers. 

Trying to be all things to all people is not a smart approach. 

Instead, it’s better to think about a specific group of people, the problems they have, how you will be able to solve them, and how you will reach these people.

As a starting point, consider the following.

– Demographics and Psychographics

You can think of demographics as the ‘what’ of a group of people, and psychographics as the ‘why’.

For example, knowing age and gender is an example of demographics. Knowing people’s attitudes and hopes is an example of psychographics.

Demographics can form a good starting point for your research, but going beyond this basic information, and seeking out not only who people are, but why they do what they do, is a lot more effective. 

– Location

Considering whether you will be focusing on local people, people reached through the internet, or a mixture of both is worthwhile.

Of course, you’re not setting anything in stone. You can adjust your ideal customers as time goes on. But having an idea when you start out can help you make better subsequent decisions.

– How To Reach

How will you reach your intended audience?

For example, if you are intending to serve local people who read their regional paper, print advertising might be effective.

If you want to reach international millennials, targeted advertising on a social media platform might be a better choice.

#Step 3 – Get the right feedback

At this point in the process, you should have not only an idea of the small business you want to start but also the businesses you will compete against and the people you want to serve.

Next, it’s time to get some feedback on these initial points. This can be as informal as asking people you trust, or as complex as carrying out strict research.

Here are some possible ideas on how to proceed.

  • Surveys. It’s fairly straightforward to conduct surveys either online or offline. The key is to design survey questions in the right way and to issue the survey to the right mix of people.
  • Focus groups. It’s well-known that people are more likely to answer survey questions in a way that might not reflect their true opinion. Conducting a focus group is often a way to get a richer set of qualitative data than a simple survey can provide. 
  • Targeted advertising for feedback. Through Google and Facebook targeting, it’s easier than ever before to directly reach the specific people you want to hear from. Seeing how your intended customers respond to targeted ads can give you a real world view of how your idea will be received.
  • A/B testing services like PickFu. Split testing helps you get tangible feedback on whether to pursue one route or another. For example, Tim Ferriss used this method to help choose the titles and covers of his bestselling books. 

Often, the ideas that seem excellent in our minds end up failing in the real world. Give your business idea the invaluable benefit of scrutiny before you invest too much time or money into it. 

#Step 4 – Formalize your business

After finding and testing an idea you’re happy with, it’s time to take the next step and formalize your business, allowing you to legally operate. 

It’s important to note that this isn’t legal advice or financial advice. Seek out professional guidance for any questions you may have. 

So what do you need to consider?

  • Structure. Depending on your location, the type of business you want to run, and the relative level of bureaucracy you want to deal with, different business structures are available to you. It’s worth starting with a long list of every possible option, such as sole proprietor and limited liability, and breaking them down in terms of tax rates, legal requirements, and overall pros and cons. This will help you find the best fit for your small business. 
  • Location. Which country or state do you want to register in? Is offshore an option for you? Be open-minded about this at an early stage to avoid the costly process of changing course further down the line. 
  • Name. What will your business be called? Is it unique? Does it comply with local business naming laws? Is your intended brand name available? Ask these questions before getting too attached to any particular name you have in mind.
  • Taxes. What are the recording and reporting requirements for your particular business? Will you need to enlist the services of an accountant? Is this something you’re capable of handling yourself with a software or app solution?
  • Trademarks/Patents/Other Formalities. Are there any licenses or other formalities you will need to do business? Ensuring compliance at an early stage will avoid costly penalties down the line.
  • Renewal. Once you’re in the day to day reality of running your business, it’s easy to overlook or not budget for renewing essential services. Plan ahead and make sure you have set aside the time and money for everything you need at least a year in advance. 

Although the formalities of business are a lot less fun than the idea stage, you can’t afford to overlook them. Don’t let your dream die by ignoring a technicality. 

#Step 5 – Finalize your product or service

Now that you have a formal business that’s ready to operate, it’s time to translate your idea into a concrete product, service, or mixture of both.

Consider these points to find the right option for you: 

  • Product or Service. Following your ideation and research process, you might have a good idea of whether you want to pursue a product, service, or mixture of both, but it’s time to solidify this choice ahead of launch.
  • Physical or information product. If you’re offering a product as part of your small business, will it be a physical or information product? Think about the logistics and practicalities of each option before making your final choice. 
  • Scale. How easy will it be to scale up your offering should demand increase? For example, in the case of a physical product, can you make/buy/store greater amounts if needed? For information products or services, can you produce more or train others to do so should demand increase? 
  • SOPs. Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, are the best way to ensure things are consistently done the right way in your business. Creating them from the get-go is one of the best ways to ensure your customers enjoy a consistent experience. 
  • 4 Ps. One of the oldest concepts in marketing is the 4 Ps, or ‘marketing mix’. They are price, product, promotion, and place. If you’ve carried out the earlier steps in this article, you probably have some initial ideas about these aspects. Now is the time to drill down and formalize them. 

By getting clear on the initial mix of products and services you will offer, you enable your business to be at the point where it’s ready to launch. 

#Step 6 – Determine initial finances

What’s the initial financial requirement of your business, and how will you meet it?

Every business has a unique financial picture, but there are some common things to consider when you’re approaching the time of your initial launch.

  • Fixed costs. What are the fixed costs you will need to establish before launching your initial product or service? At the start, it’s important to keep these as low as possible.
  • Launch costs. What will you need to spend to be in a position to launch? Factor in initial marketing, customer support, and related costs.
  • Finance sources. Where will you source this money from? Options include your own money, a bank loan, investment from family and friends, and crowdfunding.

The longer-term financial planning for your business comes next. However, you have to ensure everything is in order before getting your first offering out into the world. 

#Step 7 – Plan your small business

After making sure a solid plan is in place for your initial launch, you might want to take the time to look further ahead. 

starting-a-business

Having a vision for how your business will progress can help you stay focused on a day to day basis. Some things to consider planning for include:

  • Quarterly goals. How much revenue do you need to generate each quarter? In which areas are you looking to grow, and by how much? 
  • Break-even point. When do you expect your business to break even? How will you monitor progress toward this point to ensure it’s on track?
  • Cash flow. Failing to consider cash flow is one of the quickest ways to sink a new business, even if everything else seems to be running well. Having a cash flow plan is something you can’t afford to overlook.
  • Threats. Which threats do you anticipate for your new small business, and how will you protect against them? Using a framework such as SWOT can help achieve this. 

You can, of course, adjust your plan along the way. But as the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. 

#Step 8 – Launch a minimum viable product

Now that you’ve planned both the initial and longer-term vision for your new small business, it’s time to launch your first product.

For a lot of businesses, the concept of minimum viable product will be the way to go.

This essentially involves getting the smallest possible manifestation of your idea to market as quickly as possible to test its viability, get feedback, and put you in a position to pivot if needed.

  • Target. Having a realistic sales target in place will allow you to invest the right amount in marketing and have a benchmark for your success.
  • Feedback. A massive part of the purpose of your minimum viable product launch is to get feedback on your idea. Make sure you know the type of feedback you will seek in advance and how you will solicit it.
  • Future implications. Have an idea ahead of time of what type of feedback will lead you to change something about your offering as opposed to what level of feedback would cause you to go in a different direction entirely. 

It’s really important to adopt a growth mindset around the time of your initial launch. Most businesses fail many times before they succeed, and you need to see this as part of the process, rather than something to get dispirited about. 

#Step 9 – Find the right people

After learning lessons from your minimum viable product launch, you might decide to expand your small business by hiring others. 

If you decide to take this step, keep the following points in mind.

  • Organizational core values. What are the values and principles your organization is based on? Having these clearly defined will allow you to find people with the right character and cultural fit for what you’re trying to build.
  • Employee type. Consider the pros and cons of hiring people on a contract VS permanent basis. There are pros and cons for each option in terms of the amount you will pay, what you can ask of them in return, and other practical factors.
  • Pay structure. How will you structure pay? Consider how much to pay as a base salary and how much as a bonus. 
  • Hiring criteria. How will you evaluate the people you are considering hiring? Which traits will be desirable as opposed to essential? How will you make the final decision?

Like any other aspect of starting a small business, hiring people is something you will get better at as time goes on. But, by keeping the above points in mind, you stand a better chance of not making an initial error.

#Step 10 – Monitor and scale 

The final step in starting your small business is monitoring its performance according to your business plan and making adjustments along the way as you scale up. 

Here are some points to keep in mind as you monitor performance in the early days:

  • Revenue. Are you experiencing growth or decline? If you have multiple revenue sources, which are performing highly? Should you allocate more resources to one area or decrease them in another? 
  • Marketing. Which marketing channels are performing well? Which represents the 80/20 for driving customers to your business? Where should you invest more time and money, and where should you be allocating fewer resources? New products and services. Don’t assume that your current revenue sources will always perform well. Listen to your customers’ needs, and keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Always be open to the possibility of pivoting or launching something entirely new. 
  • Sustainability. Make sure that your growth is sustainable in terms of cash flow and other resources. Be wary of overly aggressive expansion. In the words of Aesop, slow and steady wins the race. 

As the focus of today’s article is starting a small business, I won’t dwell on expansion too much. 

However, it’s nice to keep your mind open to the infinite possibility for future business growth and success that exists with even the smallest of starts.

I hope you now feel more equipped with the information and ideas you need to make your small business a reality. I wish you every success as you learn and grow along the way. 

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

ghostwriter

Ghostwriting: What is a Ghostwriter & Should You Hire One?

You know there are several writing and publishing options available nowadays.

And for most of you busy folk, ghostwriting may seem like the way to go. After all, if someone else writes the book then you don’t have to spend the time doing it…but here’s the thing…

Ghostwriting isn’t usually the best idea and we’ll cover exactly why in this post.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

Here’s what we’ll cover about ghostwriters and ghostwriting:

  1. What is ghostwriting
  2. What do ghostwriters write
  3. Why using a ghostwriter is a bad idea
  4. How to hire a ghostwriter
  5. How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter
  6. Pros of using a ghostwriter
  7. Cons of using a ghostwriter
  8. Is a ghostwriter worth it

What is a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriting is writing material for someone else who becomes the named author. In other words, you write the content for someone else, but it’s published under their own name.

Often, there’s a contract specifying that the author will not have any legal right to the work after it’s published to guarantee the ghost writer’s anonymity. 

What do ghostwriters write? 

Ghost writers are hired for a huge array of projects in all different sorts of mediums and genres.

You may have heard of ghostwriters taking on books, political speeches, or seen job postings for technical manuals, academic essays, fictional novels, or even captions on a brand’s social media posts. 

Ghostwriters often use freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr to find work. Sometimes, ghostwriters are contracted by a company to write fiction for a set period of time.

A ghostwriter might be hired to write political speeches for one particular person. Or, a ghostwriter might be hired for a single small assignment, like writing one technical manual or specific post on a website, as well as larger projects like writing a book

The bottom line is that ghostwriting is writing someone does for you, and you get full credit as the author and people don’t even need to know a ghostwriter wrote it.

Why using a ghostwriter is NOT a good idea for a book

We’ll get into some pros and cons of ghostwriters a little bit later but I wanted to cover just why using a ghostwriter to write a book is a poor idea.

When it comes to memoirs or other nonfiction books (and even fiction!), using a ghostwriter can seem like a great idea.

But in reality, it usually causes far more problems than anything else.

For one, they’re very expensive. Good ones are, at least. Which means you’ll dump a bunch of money into a book that’s not really yours. They can write on the information you give them and that’s yours, but you’ll know deep down you didn’t do it. And the emotional impact of that alone is worth doing it yourself.

Another reason ghostwriters aren’t the best idea for a book is the fact that they won’t get it right. They don’t know the details of what you want to write about and that means they’ll get a lot of it wrong.

Only you can tell the story inside of you. Ghostwriters can’t bring your level of passion and knowledge into the pages no matter how much information you share with them.

Plus, you think it might save you time when the reality is that you’ll have to spend even more time giving them information, reading over their work, providing feedback and changes, only to be left with something that still isn’t what you fully want. Because what you want is in your own mind.

Our recommendation is always to write it yourself. And that’s why we developed a system to write and publish a book in only 90 days.

You can learn more about that entire process right here.

How to Hire a Ghostwriter

Now, if you still decide a ghostwriter is what you want (despite the above information), we’ve got some information that can make the process easier.

Because ghostwriters are often hired for one project or a small set of projects, the most important thing to look for is experience. Potential clients will be looking for your ability to deliver work in whatever they’re looking for. When you use a freelance site like Upwork, this often means having lots of experience and positive reviews on the site itself. 

As you do more jobs on the website, more clients will rate your performance, and your on-site portfolio will grow. The more experience you have, the more desirable you are to potential clients, and the better and more high-paying jobs you’ll be able to get. Often, these websites will offer a place for you to submit your resume and some writing samples, so that employers can get a sense for your job range. 

Once you’ve got an account, the best way to get jobs is to apply for lots of different gigs! As with finding any other job, the key is to cast a wide net. The wider your skillset and the more experience you have, the wider a net you can cast. 

Now that we’ve discussed what ghostwriting is, what ghostwriters do, and how ghostwriters get work, we’re ready to talk about some pros and cons. 

How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?

While prices vary, you can expect to pay a quality ghostwriter anywhere from $25 – $100+ an hour. Meaning a project the size of a book at a 250-page average can span upwards of $20,000 – $100,000 in some cases, depending on how many words are in your book and the scope of related services provided.

For example, if you were to use a ghostwriter from a service like ScribeWriting, you will pay $36,000 – $100,000+ for their ghostwriting packages (disclaimer: they include more than just ghostwriting services within each package which is why their prices are higher than what’s mentioned above, but you get the idea).

ScribeWriting Service Costs

You can also see these prices from a company specializing in ghostwriting services called Kevin Anderson & Associates in the image below.

Kevin Anderson & Associates Service Costs

A high-quality ghost-written book is very expensive and often not worth the price when you can be taught how to write it yourself, and quickly.

You can learn more about how we do that for thousands of bestselling authors right here.

Since the writer can’t actually take credit for their work, they charge a lot more than they would if their name was on the piece of content, whatever that may be.

What are the pros of using a ghostwriter? 

You can find both pros and cons in everything, including using a ghostwriter. Here’s a breakdown of what you can gain and what you’ll lose if you go this route to finish your book.

#1 – You don’t have to spend the time to write it

Someone else takes care of that. So you don’t have to sit at a computer or notepad and write. But you still will have to take a ton of time to give the writer adequate notes, review their writing, make your own suggestions and feedback, then wait for changes.

So while you don’t have to spend the time actually writing, don’t mistake that for it saving you time (which I’ll cover below).

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#2 – The writing quality might be higher

Note the “might” in this. Reason being is that even if you wrote it, it would go through a professional editor and the quality would increase significantly already.

However, many ghostwriters are “natural” writers; it comes easier to them. So if you’re worried about the quality, a ghostwriter can ensure a higher level of writing competence.

But keep in mind that a book isn’t good solely because of the writing.

#3 – Non-native speakers can benefit from native writers

Depending on the language you want to write your book in, a ghostwriter can be a great option. This is particularly true for non-native speakers looking to write a book in English.

You can hire a ghostwriter to take your writing that might be wrought with grammatical errors due to the language barrier and have them rewrite it to make sense.

#4 – Those unable to type or write can complete something written

There are a number of disabilities that can bar someone from writing a book, or writing at all. Hiring a ghostwriter can help you accomplish a huge goal or dream if you’re not able to physically perform the work necessary to write.

Now that we’ve covered the pros, let’s consider the downsides to hiring a ghostwriter to write your book. 

Cons of Hiring a Ghostwriter

If you’re considering hiring a ghostwriter, you may want to consider some of these major cons first.

#1 – It won’t be your work

This is an especially bad con when it comes to writing a book. One of the biggest joys authors have when finishing a book is that they did it themselves.

It’s a major feat, one that a very small percentage of the population will ever accomplish and by hiring a ghostwriter, you’re taking that away from yourself. You’re robbing yourself of the experience of accomplishing something as major as writing a book!

#2 – It’s quite expensive for good work

Now, you can find ghostwriters online who are willing to work for cheap. But when it comes to writing…you get what you pay for.

If you’re looking to publish a book that you’ve paid a ghostwriter to write, you want it to be of the highest quality. Your name’s on it, after all.

But that also means you’ll have to pay a healthy sum for a book.

I listed some prices for services above, but just a reminder that a quality ghostwriter can go from $20,000 – $100,000 for your average book.

#3 – It takes a ton of time

Contrary to why most people go with a ghostwriter (to save time), it can actually take much longer. There’s a ton of communication involved in order for them to write the book even semi-close to what you’re imagining.

And that’s not to mention all the reviewing, feedback, and process of revisions.

Instead of waiting months and months to get your book completed by a ghostwriter, we can teach you how to write, market, and publish your book in as little as 90 days—proven!

#4 – Communication has to be SUPER clear

One of the hardest parts about having someone else write for you is that you need to be really, really clear in your communication…or you suffer wasting even more time.

Imagine this: you send a thorough document listing what you’d like them to write about, cover, and include only to get the writing back full of misinterpretations of what you really mean.

You then have to spend the time explaining, they have to write it again…and just so you know, they’ll charge you for this time all the while.

Some ghostwriters do work over the phone and conduct interviews, which makes less room for error while they write for you. Overall, though, communication is a big issue when it comes to using a ghostwriter.

#5 – You still have to pay for other services

If you’re self-publishing, there are other costs involved in this process. Everything from the cover design to editing still needs to be paid for in addition to the cost of the ghostwriter.

Now, some ghostwriting services have packages, which include this.

But if you choose to go with a freelance ghostwriter because they’re cheaper, you still have to pay for the cover, editing, and any other incurred expenses.

Unless you’re someone who has a significant amount of money to spend, it’s not easy to pay for a ghostwriter plus other expenses.

#6 – You can’t say “I wrote a book”

Let’s be real: sometimes the best part of writing a book is saying that you wrote a book. It directly relates back to the first con on this list.

And even though you might be able to tell people you’re an author because your name’s on the book…you can’t really tell them you wrote it. It’s still your content and your stories but you didn’t do the work of putting it together.

#7 – Nobody else will care about this as much as you

You can’t expect someone else, even someone who is being paid, to care about this book or project as much as you do.

There’s a level of passion in writing that you can’t fake. When you’re the one writing, the piece means more and comes across as far more authentic. This also means that nobody will put forth the care and effort you will to complete the writing project.

So… is hiring a ghostwriter worth it? 

That depends! If you’re looking to spend a really big chunk of change and are okay with the cons listed above, it’s probably for you!

But if you want to take pride in writing something like a book yourself, with your own stories and voice and style, writing it yourself is the way to go.

Let us teach you how by clicking right here to learn more about how we help thousands of students write and publish their book—from blank page to bestselling author—in as little as 90 days.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

sps author success journal

How to Use The Author Success Journal to Write & Publish Your Book

Humph… That’s the sound you just made as you heaved another big sigh.

You’re frustrated. You’ve been trying to write your book for months.

You’ve got the best intentions. But every time you sit down to start writing, you get interrupted…

Someone needs YOU to review that important report before it goes out (it’s 6:30am, how is anyone else at work?!).

Your husband gets home early and suggests that you go out for dinner (you can’t say no, you haven’t spent much time with him this week.).

A friend calls you in distress. She has broken up with another guy and needs a shoulder to cry on (you rush out to meet her at your local cafe, which is packed because it’s Saturday.).

It feels like the Universe doesn’t want you to write this book!

But this book is important to you. You want to make an impact. Share your knowledge. Eventually transition into writing more books and serving more people.

If only there was a system that would keep you on track and allow you to see what was coming up so you could be proactive.

Enter the Author Success Journal.

Get your Author Success Journal TODAY! Put your goals at the forefront with our Author Success Journal and plan the success of your author journey. Make smart goals, stay accountable, and get more done! Get Your Author Success Journal Here! <https://www.selfpublishingschool.net/author-success-journal data-lazy-src=

It’s time to ditch the overwhelm and get focused on your goals.

Because once you know the steps you need to take to stay focused and what actions to take and when, the sooner you can finish your book and get it out into the world.

Ready to be a successful published author?

Let’s get started.

What is the Author Success Journal?

The 90-Day Author Success Journal was created to help you achieve your most important author goals over the next 90 days by providing you with space to record your goals, the action steps you need to take, with reflection and suggestions for adjustment along the way.

Why 90 days? 

An entire quarter is a good amount of time for you to stay focused and get work done. It’s also a short amount of time that if you need to pivot, you haven’t lost much in the process.

Your success as an author largely depends on the actions you take.

The Author Success Journal brings focus and clarity so you can move forward in your author journey.

Let’s break down the entire Author Success Journal process so you can see how it helps you write and publish your book.

Mind Map Your Way to Clarity with the Author Success Journal

One of the first things you’ll do in your writing process is mind map your book idea.

Because this is such a successful way to get all your ideas down in one spot, it’s also the first thing you’ll do inside your Author Success Journal.

The mind mapping process isn’t just for your book.

I use it to get clarity on lots of things, like what book to write next, how my book fits into my overall business, and how to transition my book into a course.

I find that when I’m stuck, mind mapping is the key to unlocking and unsticking my mind.

This is why it’s the first part of the journal. You have three pages to do a complete brain dump before you start mapping out your author success journey.

Before you can get clear on your goals, you need to get everything out of your head.

author success journal

Once you’ve created your mind map or brain dump (it’s up to you how you use those first few pages!) it’s time to move onto the next stage — setting S.M.A.R.T goals.

Grab your journal now, before they’re out of stock!

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals For Success

I’d wager that a lot of the issues you’re having right now when it comes to writing and publishing your book, is that you haven’t set clear goals for success.

Sure, you’ve set goals. But have you set S.M.A.R.T goals?  

If you’re not familiar with this concept, here’s a brief rundown on this process.

S.M.A.R.T stands for: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Bound.

So for example, a S.M.A.R.T goal you might set would be Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday for 4 weeks.

Choosing S.M.A.R.T goals like that gives you a very clear plan of what you’re trying to achieve and a way to keep track of it.

Ideally, you’ll choose 3-5 S.M.A.R.T goals for the next 90 days and outline these in your Author Success Journal.

I’d recommend taking it a step further and writing these down on a piece of paper and putting it above your computer (or wherever you are writing) so that you see them every day.

The key is to choose goals that make you stretch a little… that give you butterflies in your tummy when you think about them.

BUT… don’t set yourself up for failure either. Avoid choosing goals that make you start thinking that you can’t achieve them, that they’re impossible.

What’s next? Your 90 Day Goals.

Your 90-Day Plan

This next step in the Author Success Journal is about taking your S.M.A.R.T goals and deciding on what you want to achieve within the next 12 months (like write and publish your book!) and then breaking them down into 90 day achievable steps.

Here’s an example from the journal:

author success journal

You’ll notice that in the example, there are dates attached to each goal.

This is so that you’ve got a deadline to work towards.

If you use a digital calendar like Google Calendar, go ahead and add those dates to your schedule. Set yourself a reminder each week to check your progress… or better yet, use the journal to track and map out where you’re at.

To ensure that you don’t miss your goals, let’s take it a step further and break it down into 30 day goals.

30-Day Plan & Overview

This is about taking those main goals and breaking them down into all the nitty gritty tasks that allow you to achieve your end goal.

This is about being intentional and getting clear on what you actually NEED to do to reach your goals.

This is where a lot of brand new authors fail.

They fail to set S.M.A.R.T goals and they fail to then break those down into the tasks that will get them there.

But that’s not you anymore! You’re going to work backwards from your goals and write down all the action steps needed to achieve them.

What would that look like?

Let’s take the example from above. Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday, for the next 4 weeks.

The 90-Day goal for that would be to have a rough draft written in 30 days.

Our 30 day plan might look something like this:

author success journal

The key is to also map out anything that might impact or stop you from completing those goals.

It’s about being schedule aware. It’s about being proactive with your time and problem-solving BEFORE overwhelm hits.

Before you dive into using the Author Success Journal system, let’s get even clearer on your top goals and the action steps you need to take for the month ahead.

List Your Top Goals & Associated Action Steps

This is all about outlining your top 3-5 goals for the next 30 days (if you have that many, you might only have one if you’re in the writing phase).

It’s about setting your intentions and making a plan to achieve them.

Once you’re clear on what those are, you’ll outline the action steps you need to take to meet your goals. This is where you’re going to write down specific, time-driven tasks based on what you’re trying to achieve over the next 30, 60 and 90 days.

All clear on what you’re doing? 

Now we’re ready to dive into the heart of the journal… your weekly and daily pages.

Reflect on The Week Ahead

As you head into the week ahead, it’s time to bring clarity and awareness to what you’re trying to achieve.

Why?

Because we want to make sure that you’re set up for success. That there are going to be no surprises when you sit down to write, or when you map out your marketing plan.

You’ll see two pages that will ask you to write down what the week ahead looks like at a high level… what meetings do you have planned? Any work trips that will take you away? Social outings? School committments?

This is the area to record all of that information.

Then, you’ll have space to reflect on the last week. What wins did you have and what did you learn?

You’ll also look ahead and have space to record any thoughts or ideas that come to mind as you think about what you’ve got on your schedule.

Doing all of this allows you to do a mini brain dump. It frees your mind from having to remember #allthethings and allows you to get laser focused when you are writing.

Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to do this. It’s a great way to ensure that you always have clarity and awareness of what’s going on around you and how you can ensure you meet your author goals.

Next up — Daily pages.

Get Focused Daily

This is the magic of the Author Success Journal process.

The daily pages are designed to help you get extremely clear on what you’re doing and also provide insight into what you might want to STOP doing…

In the example below, you’ll notice that the day is spread across two pages. This is so that you have plenty of space to record your thoughts and map out your day.

You’ll choose a focus area. This is how you can set your intention for an individual day. 

You’ll also list out the three main actions you’ll take towards ACHIEVING your goals. These are your most important items and must get done that day.

Then you can plan out the rest of your day.

You’ll then have space for reflection at the end of the day. This is a nice addition to your evening routine and allows you to get clear on your progress.

You’ll also set yourself up for success by stating your IMMEDIATE next step for the next day. 

This entire layout is designed to bring clarity and intention to your author success journey.

author success journal

You’re setting yourself up for success when you use this journal.

By now, you should be able to see why the Author Success Journal process will allow you to succeed where you might have been failing right now.

By writing down what you’re focusing on each day and mapping out your action steps, how can you not achieve writing and publishing your book?

The other key components of the Author Success Journal include:

  • Rewrite Top Goals & Action Steps. At the beginning of each new week, you’ll write down your top goals and action steps. This is to bring visibility to what you’re working on.
  • Monthly Reflections. This is where you’ll review the previous month and track your progress on your 90-day and 30-day goals. If you need to pivot, this will make it obvious where you need to make changes.
  • 90-Day Review. Once you finish your first Author Success Journal, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect and review the last 90 days. This will provide you with clarity on what worked well and what didn’t. You’ll be able to see patterns, figure out where you need to make changes, and also see where you succeeded!

Your author success journey largely depends on the action steps you take, remember?

Using something like the Author Success Journal brings visibility and awareness to your goals in a way that allows you to track and measure your progress.

What isn’t tracked, doesn’t get measured.

Get your Author Success Journal TODAY! Put your goals at the forefront with our Author Success Journal and plan the success of your author journey. Make smart goals, stay accountable, and get more done! Get Your Author Success Journal Here! <https://www.selfpublishingschool.net/author-success-journal data-lazy-src=