Why the book of your business is the start of your success

Mum always furrowed her brow asking me what I did. It was a furrow riven by concern rather than confusion; or at least, that’s what I led myself to believe.

Concern over my wellbeing hammering out the hours building a business. Concern the world had overtaken logic and now us marketing types were locking horns in a battle for digital supremacy rather than advancing our cause.

That’s in part why I wrote Sharing Superheroes. I like her was concerned what I was doing wasn’t taking me down the right path, or I wasn’t doing the things my customers needed.

Self-doubt is one of the biggest triggers of night tremors among us entrepreneurs. Happily the book played out the right way; hundreds of people in my audiences during the launch tour responded positively to the messages and support inside it proving conclusively that with elbow grease and the luxury of time, anyone with the passion for anything and the tenacity to share it with others and generate 1,000 true fans could make their dreams come true.

I called Sharing Superheroes a playbook. What wasn’t widely known in its launch year of 2012 was it was largely hewn to inspire me, and not the thousands of people who bought it looking for a silver bullet.

But I’m glad it changed people’s lives. In a hundred different ways.

Dear Dave

A couple of months ago I received an email from a reader.

You helped me figure out the many different ways I could reach my customers. But as importantly, you showed me how to see my business as a customer. I started evaluating how I marketed what I did. And I realised a lot of the messages I used were less than clear to people who didn’t know me or understand what I did. So I started writing my own book. The book of my business.

That’s the email inspiring this article. It felt like I was looking into a mirror; Sharing Superheroes was very much the story of my own commercial efforts.

But equally that defining email validated my theory that interpretation is unique to the interpreter.

In much the same way as the TV pundit will have her own impression of the matter in hand, so every single situation is viewed seven billion different ways, through our lenses which have been influenced and affected by our life experiences.

We should all write the book of our business, in much the same way as we write the diary of our lives.

What should I write?

Authors some of the time know the plot, they know the outcome, and they weave the two together so the first begets the second.

The story of your business should follow similar lines.

You can’t start a sustainable organisation without knowing your mission. If you’re selling t-shirts, don’t think simply of why people should buy them; think about what’s coming next. The well-thumbed story of the IBM business tells that the founders had a vision for what they would accomplish, and simply worked backwards from there. This is a great story and ideal fodder for the book of their business.

When I created Word And Mouth I wanted to throw every single client of today and tomorrow a marketing lifeline. I was among the first to coin the phrase ‘helpful marketing’ and I’ve been dishing out free marketing tips and strategies to charities and microbusinesses ever since.

I’ve never turned down anyone. If I can’t devote hours to the cause, I’ll find a way for entrepreneurs in need to find inexpensive solutions.

I’m a wannabe coach and teacher, minus the patience to write courseware.

My mission at Word And Mouth was to turn websites into goldmines. Through my passion for content marketing, allied to some inherent guile and perseverance, I was and continue to be able to accomplish that goal. And people know me for that cornerstone of my commercial existence.

Sharing Superheroes tells the rest of the story. But let’s talk about yours.

The book of your business spans every genre

There isn’t a single fictional book classification that yours will defy. Only yours will be a book written entirely based on fact. The facts that you hallucinate right now will play out as you start to write for real tomorrow’s history of your business.

Thriller. Let’s face it, business is a nailbiting occupation. Around every corner are dramatic moments guaranteed to keep anyone on the edge of their seat. Being in business is thrilling in itself. Winning customers is thrilling. Being in business next year, will be thrilling. Harrison Ford doesn’t have the exclusive rights to thrillers. So enjoy yours.

Comedy. One day you’ll wake up in fits of laughter wondering what it’s all about and why. In my case, it happens several times a day. If I or someone else isn’t laughing I’m not doing it right. Radio is for entertainment and education; I need to combine the two if I’m to sustain a tuned-in audience. We all need comedy in our lives. It’s what drives the truck that takes our business from A to B.

Drama. Every meeting with your bank manager will fit this category. If you’ve chosen the right financial institution catering to your small business’ needs you’ll arrive with a banquet of problems and be given in ideas the cutlery to finish them off. This is the canvas that lets you paint a rosy picture for the future. If you hallucinate every business or bank meeting to play a cameo in your favourite episode of CSI, with you the hero solving the conundrum, you’ll enjoy the process a whole lot more.

Horror. Invariably there will be failures that will make you jump. You’ll be cowering behind your sofa on more than a few occasions, and a stiff drink may be required to steady your nerves. But unless you’re a lumberjack you’ll definitely have a shortage of chainsaws and I’m not seeing a zombie apocalypse in your future. So rest easy, safe in the knowledge that Frankenstein’s monster is nothing but the stuff of imagination of your enterprise.

Road trip. Getting around those customers ain’t just about clicking that mouse. You need to wear out a serious amount of boot leather getting your business on the march. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited ports and cruise lines and travel agents in previous and current lives. Making people feel wanted, valued and important is a critical part of your business’ future. Which leads me on to the next genre…

Romance. I’ve said many times that courting your customer is a full-blown love story. We’re not just talking engagement in getting them transfixed — you have to lay all the foundational elements of a solid relationship to ensure you seal the deal with your prospective client; trust, devotion, loyalty, and looking out for their needs above yours. Seriously, this is critical: you have to care beyond what’s right for you to prove to your customer you know what’s right for them.

Caveat

Of course as a writer I’m predisposed to the art of writing as a way to deliver results. But if words scare you, why stick to strokes? The book of your business can comprise photos, audio, video — anything. “Book” in this context only refers to the art of collecting enough material that will inspire you to succeed and share with your prospective customers and evangelists why they’ll do business with you.

And it’ll make you feel really good. That book is the beating heart of who you are and what you do. So make it colourful. Make it real.

And make it happen.