What every entrepreneur needs more than anything else, after they have built an innovative new product or service, is visibility, credibility, and trust by customers, potential employees, and future business partners. In my experience as a business advisor, one of the best ways to get all of these, is to publish a book on the technology, the journey, or some relevant lessons learned.
Your book need not be a best-seller, and it probably won’t make you any money directly, but it’s the best business card you could ever imagine. In addition, the discipline of producing it, like writing a business plan, will help you immensely in understanding the key elements that drive you and your business. Yet, most good business people I know agree, but don’t know where to start.
I had the same problem before my first book, but I find that all the information you need these days is easily found on the Internet, or in a good book on the subject, like the new one I just finished, “How to Self-Publish Your Book,” by Dr. Jan Yager. Whether you choose to self-publish (my favorite approach), or work with a publisher, all the guidance you need is in this book.
I often hear the excuse that writing a book takes precious time away from building and running your business, which you cannot afford. In fact, it does take time, but in my view brings far more value than many of the things you might otherwise be doing, including expensive advertising, extensive networking, or email blasts. Key value elements of a good book include the following:
- Publishing a book defines you as an influencer and authority. Everyone realizes that writing a book is not easy, and shows you have made a real commitment, can get things done, and are willing to take a position. Customers pay extra, and inherently gravitate to people they view as leaders, rather than others just pushing advertising and web content.
I can tell you from my own experience as an advisor to new entrepreneurs, that my first book, “Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur,” did more for my credibility and leads as an advisor than all the marketing and networking I had done previously.
- The book itself raises your visibility through media coverage.Once you have a book, media coverage can come from book reviews and academic discussions, as well as from you and your customers. The book can also give you access to speaking engagements, television interviews, special events, lecture halls, and people’s minds.
Even for self-published books, you get visibility through the Amazon website worldwide, Google searches for related topics, book reviews, and various online catalogs. If you use a publisher, they may add more visibility with press releases and book-signing events.
- Having a book gives you instant credibility with clients. People who hire consultants and coaches look for evidence of external credibility, such as reviews and referrals, to back up their own judgement of your marketing interactions with them. If you sell to other business organizations, a book is a huge asset in reducing their perceived selection risk.
For high-potential clients, it’s well worth your investment in handing out a personally signed copy of your book, in lieu of the standard business card. It makes customers feel special, and gives you the opportunity to highlight your broad experience and credentials.
- Being an author will attract top-notch talent to your business. Potential team members and partners who excel are attracted to leaders and influencers. Successful businesses require the best people to deliver your vision and services one step better than the competition. They see you as a role model for their own career development.
A good example of this impact is Tony Hsieh, who wrote his own book, as well as one about the culture he was building at Zappos. These books became one of his best recruiting tools, and still are a great lead generation source for his businesses.
- A book can provide the bridge to an enhanced career. Writing a book and debating it with key people may give you the confidence and desire to become a conference speaker, business school professor, or executive in another field. In that fashion, it also serves as an enhanced resume, highlighting your skills, expertise, and vision.
Another good reason for writing your book today, using self-publishing, is that it is consistent with the entrepreneur lifestyle. No more struggling with big publishers to meet their expectations and long production cycles—you can make your book innovative and get it done on your terms and timeline. That means you can integrate the work with your own business schedule and objectives.
In fact, a few smart entrepreneurs publish their book first to test the waters for their business idea to follow, and build an early following of potential customers. That’s just another innovative business model worth considering. What’s holding you back from starting today?