Lesson #10 - Getting yourself in motion
A WebKEW reader, age 23, wrote me a letter this week to say, approximately, "I have book ideas and I am having trouble getting started. I have business ideas, but they need money to get started or they seem too big for me to start with. What can I do to get moving?" It was a very good letter actually, so I wrote back and asked him to call me.
If you have read How to make a million dollars, you know that "getting in motion" is one of the most important keys to success. If you simply think about making a million dollars, nothing will happen. You have to actually do something.
We talked on the phone for about 15 minutes. During the first five minutes we talked about where he is at. Then we talked about several simple, concrete things he can do to get moving. Here are some of the things I suggested:
- As far as the book writing goes, I understand that writing a book can be hard. The problem with writing a book is that you have to write the whole, entire book before you can publish it. It is a year or more of work before you see any results. And there is no guarantee (unless you are someone like J.K. Rowling or Tom Clancy) that anyone will read your book once it is published.
My suggestion: Start writing your book on the web. There are several benefits to doing it this way. First, it is easier. Saying to yourself, "I am going to write a little bit each day or each week" is somehow easier that saying, "I am going to spend a year writing an entire book." Second, you get instant gratification -- what you write is up on the web immediately. Third, you get feedback. You can look at your web statistics and see if anyone cares, and people will write comments or send you email. In that way, you find out what people think. Fourth, you can make adjustments based on the stats and feedback. If there is something people seem to find really interesting, you can focus on it.
What is WebKEW? It is a book that I am writing on the web. I work on it a little bit each day or each week. See The introduction to WebKEW for details.
The knee-jerk reaction to this suggestion by some people is, "but... if I put it on the web then who will read my book?" That is backwards thinking. It is far easier to publish a book if you already have an established audience. See the YarnHarlot case study for an example.
- Find someone to talk to. I suggested that he look for a mentor. In his case, I suggested that he look for someone who has accomplished what he hopes to accomplish or is moving down the path, and ask that person to be his mentor.
How do you ask? You simply ask. You write the person a letter or call the person and you tell the person what you are trying to accomplish. You ask if you can take him/her to lunch (or schedule a call) to learn more about what he/she has accomplished. What you are asking for, initially, is 30 minutes to an hour of the person's time to ask questions.
What is the person going to say? The person will say, "yes" or, "no". If the person says, "no", you look for someone else. If the person says "yes", you create a list of questions and you ask them. The book Never Eat Alone can be very helpful if you follow this path.
After you have lunch, and if it goes well, you ask if you could do it again sometime. The person will say, "yes" or, "no". If you have three or four lunches and they go well, you ask the person if he/she would consider being your "mentor." Or you never ask -- you simply continue getting together every so often. In that case, the person is your de facto mentor.
- As an alternative to finding a mentor, try to find two or three people who are trying to accomplish the same kind of thing you are trying to accomplish. Agree to have lunch or get together once every week to share ideas, compare notes, talk about progress, etc. You will be amazed at what a little peer pressure can do!
- Look in your area and see if there is an "entrepreneurial organization." In my area this organization is called the CED. There you will find a couple hundred like-minded people that you can talk to. An organization like this often also has classes, a helpful staff, etc. (if you find no such organization, consider starting one yourself).
- Take a business-plan-writing class. In a class like this you will be in a room with 10 to 20 other people who are trying to write business plans. While taking the class, you normally write a business plan, and both the instructor and class members will critique it. The "entrepreneurial organization" in your area will normally offer classes like these, but if not try calling the business school at a local college or talking to the chamber of commerce.