Why Authors Should Adopt The Mindset of An Entrepreneur

I’d recently guest posted on The Authorteers and wanted to share with you all here as well. =)

I don’t accept criticism well. Oh sure, I say I can handle less-than-stellar feedback. But then when it comes, I sit with my eyes open wide, nodding my head as the critiques pelt me like icy cold drops during a monsoon-like rainstorm, a tight smile stretching my lips so they won’t quiver… yep, I crumble like a house of sand. Worst poker player ever. You always know what I’m thinking… always.

I think this is attributable to a few different factors. First and foremost, I’m an approval seeker. I crave accolades, and positive reinforcement totally charges me. Second, I have an insane amount of passion for my endeavors, whether it be handbag design, writing, blogging, or my career in general. I work hard and when I really believe wholeheartedly in the quality of my efforts, I want them to be recognized. It’s not enough for me to be satisfied with the end result. And when people I care about are less than starry-eyed over something I’ve done, well, it’s a tough pill for me to swallow.

Such was the case this weekend. My husband and greatest supporter, read a book I’d recently finished. He is not a romance reader, but he loved my other books to the extent he could, as someone who much prefers reading Michael Creighton. I felt certain he’d love this one too and truth be told, I was excited for him to read it because I think it’s my best one yet.

But there were no kudos for this story. Instead, I got a boatload of Post-Its and an overall assessment of “it’s… okay.”

Young crying woman in depression drink drinking alcohol

Heartbreaking is the only word I can use.

So by now you’re probably wondering – why is she telling me all this?

Trust me, there is a point.

I took a chance with my manuscript. Publishing a story with a predictable plot isn’t going to send people flying to Amazon and elicit gasps as the scenes unfold on their e-readers. I chose to push the envelope and navigate outside the norm. Maybe it will be to my detriment but I wanted to give my readers something a little different. I took a risk that may turn people off or make them die-hard fans because I believe in myself and my work.

Criticism is tough to swallow but it’s not always a bad thing if it drives you harder and helps you perfect your end product. Don’t give in to self-doubt. Stay true to yourself. Embrace any feedback that will help you achieve your goals.

My advice? Think like an entrepreneur! Establishing an author platform is similar to launching a new business, so why not adopt the mentality that will help you sharpen your focus and build your brand?

Start Up Business Launch Success Office Desk Concept

Passion Is A MUST! – Trying to gain traction with any new endeavor can be extremely disheartening at times so the more you believe in your offering and your ability to sell it to the masses, the more effective your end product (and outlook) will become.

Listen To The Naysayers! – Don’t delude yourself into thinking your offering is the end-all, be-all.  You need a thick skin if you’re going to succeed as an entrepreneur. People will slam your ideas. Get used to it. Graciously accept criticism and feedback then figure out how to respond to objections. Figure out what your key differentiating points are and highlight those to everyone and anyone.

Never Be Complacent! – You’ll have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to create momentum and then work even harder to KEEP it. I heard a really cool quote this weekend that totally applies. I was at a writing conference and a number of bestselling authors were presenting on sales strategies. They all said market yourself like you’re nobody EVEN IF you’re somebody. This applies to ALL business endeavors.

Be Restless! – Let your creativity flow! Don’t be complacent and accept the status-quo. Dig deep and figure out to disrupt. Take risks! It’s okay to incorporate new ideas into your offering. Make it as compelling as possible and if at first you don’t succeed…. well, you know the rest.

Mark Cuban’s Advice To Entrepreneurs – Risk, Energy, and Funding

According to online dictionaries, an entrepreneur is “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money” or “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”

Well, I get a check for both of those. My past venture into the fashion industry was fraught with risk and cost me plenty. Now, I have little to show for it, save for a closet full of the most amazing handbags EVER CREATED.

I’m normally a risk-averse person, but somehow, when I’m on a quest to find the formula for success in some endeavor, I throw tons at it – money, energy, time – hoping to find the magical components. The problem is, when you invest in something you really don’t understand, you come up empty more often than not. Knowledge is power, sometimes more so than money, and that’s what struck me with this video from Mark Cuban.

The big takeaways?

Seeking funding for a new business venture is failure. It’s an admission that you can’t hack it on your own, can’t find success with the resources you already have, and need to sell-out in order to plunge forth. The question is, how successful will you really be when you are on the hook for millions of dollars to others who believed enough in your idea that you probably could have rocketed on your own first, albeit a little slower??

I never thought of it that way…

My latest venture is challenging, to say the least. And while I’ve researched the concept itself, I’ve thought many times about how I’ll pitch the idea to investors, how I can get into an accelerator, how I can get the attention of venture capitalists…all so I can command funding and leverage expertise from those who have already found success.

But after watching this video, I realize my mindset needs some fine-tuning. Funding is not necessarily the answer. Preparation is the missing element in my formula. It’s where I fell short with my first business. Not taking enough time to learn about the industry before jumping in, spreading myself and my resources too thin to be even slightly effective, not doing enough research in the form of focus groups prior to designing my products. It was a totally ad hoc, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, throw-lots-of-crap-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks process, with no tried-and-tested repeatable elements. I had no blueprint, no measurable metrics, and no plans for future execution. So, what did I do? Hired a new, more expensive PR firm (which did squat, btw), designed even more products without customer input, spent more money than I could afford…only to land flat on my face with no answers and lots of anguish.

I never acquired the knowledge, though I did amass mountains (now they’re more like hills) of debt as a result. I could have mitigated the risk with a deep understanding of the business landscape, including potential pitfalls and competition elements. But not me! I’m an instant gratification whore, way too impulsive and impatient to waste time on LEARNING, of all things.

To my own peril. I’ve raised many a glass to that toast, regrettably…

So, Mark. Thanks for the advice. Knowledge is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. The more ammo you have, the more prepared you are for battle. And yes, it IS a battle. But winnable if your head is in the right place.

What Does Success Look Like???

Let’s face it – the unknown is daunting.  Even extensive planning can’t always prepare you for challenges you may face in your entrepreneurial endeavors – whether you’re a startup CEO, a handbag designer or an aspiring indie author. Sometimes you just need to trust in yourself and be confident in your abilities. Obstacles may seem insurmountable at first glance but if you are dedicated to your efforts and you do the proper research, you WILL work through them.

You can’t crush true entrepreneurial spirit. If you have it, it’s only a matter of time before you find your niche. Each “failed” attempt has to be viewed as a lesson learned. The real failure comes about when you don’t take anything away from the experience, when you don’t apply any of your newfound knowledge to your next endeavor.

My advice is simple. Embrace the unfamiliar and power through. You’ll never know the full extent of your capabilities if you don’t navigate outside your comfort zone. We can’t always be the best at everything but we should always strive to be. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Sure, you may accumulate a mound of debt in the process (something your husband won’t ever let you forget) but you will have taken control of your future.

Clear strategy concept as a straight road going over confused paths for achieving success in the future as a symbol of business vision and planning to solve the maze.

Be passionate! If you aren’t, find a new goal. You’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. It takes too much time and effort to launch a new business and if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll never get it off the ground. If you’re not willing to work harder than you’ve ever worked before, preserve your sanity and come up with a new game plan.

Take a risk. You’ll never have all the answers or the insight you need to feel comfortable in EVERY situation.  But that’s okay, because you have faith, drive and ideas to propel you toward your goal.  Sometimes, that’s all you need to achieve success.

Believe in yourself and what you can do. SEE yourself creating, developing, designing, writing, and selling. The powers of the subconscious mind are astounding. Envisioning success is just more positive reinforcement you can apply to your effort. Never let negative thoughts permeate your mind – they will only hamper your efforts. See yourself hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, see a Hollywood A-lister clutching one of your evening bags as she graces the red carpet at the Oscars, see your gadget in the hand of Mark Zuckerberg as he sings its praises to the press. See it, believe it, and make it a reality.

Don’t be afraid to fail.  That only really happens when you give up on your dreams. Outcomes that don’t match your expectations aren’t an indication of defeat. Think of them as lessons learned, pearls of wisdom to draw upon at a later time, things that need to be tweaked as you progress toward meeting your goals.

Try new things. Be creative. Think outside the box. Do something nobody has thought of before. Find the whitespace and clutter it up with your ideas. Don’t try to create demand; figure out what people need and give it to them. Why waste precious resources building something that nobody wants?

Life is all about taking chances. If you play it safe ALL the time, you’ll never uncover your true potential and untapped talents.

LEAP. Nothing worth having ever comes easily. Even if you crash-land, you can still say you tried.

And finally, never give up… on your dreams or on yourself.

Business woman celebrates successful deal at office. Business People

So You Wanna Be A Blogger?

Blogging is a great way to connect with a target audience on a somewhat personal level on one condition… you actually BLOG. It sounds great in theory – start a blog, write about a cool topic, get a bunch of readers to follow you, and BOOM! All of a sudden you’ve graduated to Perez Hilton status, with 14,500,000 estimated monthly users. Who wouldn’t want THAT????

But you need compelling content that people crave. It doesn’t happen overnight and it definitely won’t happen unless you do a few key things right up front.

Your first step is to figure out your topic and blog name. It can be your name or something that is related to the type of content you want to write about. When I created my blog, I knew I wanted to write about innovation, entrepreneurship and startups. So I agonized for DAYS and finally came up with The Idea Mama. It’s catchy, right??? =)

Once you have a name, you’re ready to roll! So here it is… my top 10 list for starting a new blog! These steps come way before your fingers hover over the keyboard, itching to type that first entry. There’s a lot of prep that goes into the setup. Don’t rush the process. Take your time, think long and hard about your goals with the blog. These tips will help you get started.

Group of BLOG related 3D words. Part of a series.

  1. Buy the domain. You can’t have a website without a domain name. It’s your home address… on the web. Go to http://www.godaddy.com and find out if it’s available. If it is, GRAB IT! If you want to test the waters, buy it for one year instead of three.
  2. Select a blogging platform. I use WordPress and I like it. I’m not wild about TypePad. I’ve used that in the past and found it to be extremely frustrating. One of my other sites, Author Navigation, was built with Weebly. They have a free trial available. Weekly is very intuitive. You can drag and drop components onto your page according to the theme you select. Easy to use and very reasonably priced.
  3. Get a logo for your website. Fiverr is THE place to go for a cost-effective graphic. It’s one of my favorite places on the web. It’s a community of freelancers who offer gigs for graphic design, online marketing, advertising, music and audio, writing and translation – all starting at $5. You can always beef up your gig for an additional amount but let me tell you, I’ve gotten kick ass results with only $5. Go. NOW! If you need a recommendation, I’ve got a guy… =)
  4. Create a Twitter handle…I have a couple… @kristen_luciani, @theideamama. Use your new blog name and if it isn’t available, come up with some variation. Then, HAPPY TWEETING! You’ll share your own content, as well as content you come across on the web and with your fellow tweeps. We’ll get to that in the next tip…
  5. Create a CrowdFire account. This will help you find the right target audience to follow on Twitter. It helps to grow your following, which you NEED to grow. You’ll also be able to find INFLUENCERS using this tool. Influencers are people who are subject matter experts in your topic and have a large following, which represents a large opportunity for consumption of quality content. Establish relationships with a few key influencers. Retweet and comment on their content and hopefully, they will eventually return the favor.
  6. Create a Facebook page for your blog and start to get likes. Make sure you post to it several times daily. You can post images, links to articles or anything else that is relevant to your blog. The purpose is to engage with your fan base and sharing compelling content is the best way to engage. Videos are cool too. People really appreciate the personal interaction, so get out of your comfort zone.
  7. Set up an Instagram account. You can post images or 15 second-long videos. AND you can link your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter, so any of your images will post to all three locations.
  8. Establish a Hootsuite account. This is a tool that allows you to consolidate all your social networks and post to all at once. TIME SAVER!!!!!!
  9. Register an account on Quora. This is a great way to get exposure to a new audience. Establish yourself as a subject mater expert on your topic by answering questions in that category. It really helps get your voice heard and people will start to become familiar with the value you bring to the table. AND, you can always use those questions/responses as blog posts!
  10. Subscribe to a photo site. I belong to Dollar Photo Club. It has great images and is extremely cost-effective. $99 per year entitled you to 99 images. Each additional one will cost only $1. There are plenty of other sites, but this is my preference. You can’t post random Google images on your blog, even if you credit the website. If you get caught, you’ll get a nasty letter warning  you to take the image down or else legal action will be taken and you’ll most likely be threatened with a fine.

There are also a ton of informative books on blogging. Here are a few of my faves:

Feel free to browse other titles…just be careful that the book wasn’t published too long ago otherwise the industry will have changed too much for the information to be really relevant. Sometimes, though, you can find diamonds in the rough.

Okay, I’ve gotten you started. Next steps?

WRITE, then SHARE!!!!

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Play Safe, Play Smart With Brimsuits For Toddlers

It’s always so exciting when you come up with “THE BIG IDEA” – the one that you’re passionate about, the one you receive great feedback about, and the one which you believe will make your life easier. You just know it’ll explode, but you need financing to bring the product to the masses.

A fellow idea mama, Dominique Parrish, is doing just that. She came up with an inventive design for brimsuits, which are hats for toddlers…hats they actually will wear because they are cleverly attached to a matching shirt! Theses suits are made of UPF 50 materials and are effective in protecting against the sun’s damaging rays without compromising the “cute.”

The product has significant competitive advantages, such as:

1) Superior sun protection. All of the fabrics are made with UPF 50+ materials and the company has a patent pending on the attached brimmed hood – protecting the child’s body, neck, ears and face from sun’s harmful UV rays.

 2) The hat is attached to the shirt, so it makes pulling the hat off over the face impossible. There is a tie closure under the chin, adjustable draw string head size, and a wide brim for optimal sun protection.

3) Even if the hat is removed it will be conveniently attached and ready to put back on in seconds. No more worrying about losing hats, having them blow off in the wind, or sink to the bottom of the pool/ocean.

But, aside from the benefits, there are expenses…LOTS of expenses to bring this product to market. So, Dominique created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the costs of making this product a reality.

Join Dominique in her quest to protect kids without sacrificing outdoor fun! You can read more about the project and support the Kickstarter campaign for brimsuits by clicking here.

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Startup Spotlight: Geek Mom Media

One of the challenges startups often face is finding time to establish a robust online presence that fully represents their business, value proposition and scope of services. Understandably, preliminary efforts are concentrated more on the service offerings themselves but even if a company offers products and services that are in high demand, if nobody can find the company, it won’t be able to make a sale.

I recently connected with the owner of Geek Mom Media, Julie Jimenez, who formed a company specifically to help startups navigate the technology required to create their online homes,’ doing the geek stuff’ so they don’t have to. Building a business is challenging enough without having to dedicate resources to marketing when operating on a shoestring budget.

GMM Image 2Julie, you have an extensive background in Information Technology, with an impressive and diversified resume. What made you decide to leave a successful career and delve into the world of entrepreneurship?

It wasn’t a planned career move.  In 2012, my daughter who lived in California was poisoned, using her malfunctioning 1940’s oven, by carbon monoxide. After several months of major health issues, I tried to transfer from Texas to California so I could help her.  My aging mother, who also lives with me, had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, another reason I needed to be closer to family.  I continued to work remotely in CA for a about 6 months, but a transfer never materialized so I ended up taking early retirement and started looking at things I could do from home to supplement my income.

The number of aspiring entrepreneurs is rapidly growing and everyone is looking or a way to click with their online target audience(s). How can Geek Mom Media help?

I have a lot of experience in designing websites, either from scratch or on various website builder platforms, including blogs like WordPress and Tumblr.  I can help new startups get on-line reasonably fast with a professional presence, then can train them to maintain their own site or sub-contract to do it for them at reasonable cost.

What are your top three tips for people looking to establish an online presence?

Start with something simple, that can easily be updated or maintained themselves if cost is an issue. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional – there is a steep learning curve with even the easiest website builder programs available. Your time is valuable, spend it doing what you know how to do. Look for a company that can offer you solutions to need, time & budget constraints, someone that will take the time to understand what your needs are and provide guidance and options to help you get where you desire to be.

What is your favorite part about running your own business? 

The ability to schedule my work around the needs of my family and personal life.

Did you have any big aha! moments as you launched Geek Mom Media?

Yes!  Over the past several years, since retiring in 2013, I have tried a couple of different things.  In the end, the most fun and success I’ve had has been doing what I love and knew how to do well already.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Be willing to stretch outside your comfort zone. Set goals for yourself; daily, monthly, annually and have a overall 5 year plan. Believe in your own abilities and have the patience or fortitude to stick with it. I love this quote – “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” Napoleon Hill.

What have been some of your failures since launching Geek Mom Media, and what have you learned from them?

Incorrect branding:  I initially started out with another name and website url.  It didn’t fly at all.  It really didn’t describe the essence of who I am.  Geek Mom Media fits who I am as a individual much better.

I also did not have a set of cohesive long term goals, so like a GPS without a address programmed, I had no idea where I was going and when if ever I would actually arrive. It wasn’t until I had a plan and destination that I started seeing progress.

As a momtrepreneur, what advice can you offer other moms who are trying to launch a brand-new business?

First of all believe in yourself, you’re a mom, one of the most valuable individuals on earth!  Include your family in your planning, brainstorm with them & friends to ensure you are on the correct path and embarking on the right journey.  Create some form of business plan, that will help you understand the costs of everything involved, from baby-sitters to inventory.  Then research the various products, companies or ideas you are considering to determine which resonates most with your values.  In the end, if what you want to do is not you, does not fit within your lifestyle or your belief system it’s the wrong vehicle to get you where you want to go.  Don’t be afraid to take the time to do it right the first time, if you don’t have time now you may never find or have time later, to do it again.

If you had the chance to begin your career again, what would you do differently?

Start planning for retirement immediately.  I had a retirement plan, allbeit not a good one.  The challenges I’ve met, the past several years, have mostly depleted any savings outside of my normal retirement benefits. Have multiple streams of income where possible, find a opportunity you can get involved with in some way, that will give you residual income, then don’t give up to quickly.

What motivates you?

My faith in God and the knowledge that whatever happens in my life, He is always in control.  No matter how low I may feel, I always have something I can offer someone else to make a difference in their life.  I can always find something I love doing to keep going the next mile.

Connect With Julie at Geek Mom Media:

Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Pinterest  LinkedIn

 

 

What Happens In Vegas…Is Up To YOU!

Las Vegas. Ah yes, it’s America’s playground. I mean, where else can you take a gondola ride, watch a volcano erupt, visit the Eiffel Tower, prepare for a zombie attack, get married in a Denny’s and tour a gold mine? So many wildly insane possibilities…but doing them alone? Not so much fun.

I recently caught up with Jamie Brewster, founder of The Vegas Hookup, a social networking site where singles and couples can connect with like-minded people who want to share a fabulous time in Sin City. Signing up is easy and once you become a member, you enter your itinerary and search for cohorts! And then you roll the dice!!

TheVegasHookup

Jamie, how did you come up with the idea for The Vegas Hookup? How long have you been in business?

I’ve always loved connecting people in all aspects of life.  Online dating has become one of the most popular ways to connect nowadays. Las Vegas is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the world! I wondered what would happen if I connected the two, so that shy people could make a meaningful connection BEFORE they arrived in Sin City. It was literally that simple. My goal is to enhance the Vegas-bound travelers’ experiences so they can have the time of their lives! We’ve been “live” since April of 2014.

In your own words, why use The Vegas Hookup? What’s the benefit to a prospective client? What sets it apart from a hotel concierge, Twitter or a Facebook group for Vegas lovers?

Our site was created to help people connect with each other before they arrive.  Not everyone is brave enough or confident enough to approach someone they don’t know. We break the ice for them. What sets us apart from using a hotel concierge, for example, would be the opportunity to screen your prospective date and get to know him/her a bit before committing to meet them in Las Vegas. Not to mention that a concierge can only supply escorts. Las Vegas is a large city with many people coming and going daily. Let us introduce you to prospective connections who are traveling when you are!

What value-adds do you offer that would convert one-time users into repeat clients?

As a member of The Vegas Hookup, you have access to exclusive deals found within our site. To encourage repeat business, we will continue to offer the best entertainment deals we possibly can. Not only that, after using our services, you will see for yourself that having the ability to “pick your partner-in-crime” before arriving saves a lot of time and hassle. Hoping to meet someone while walking down the Strip is always a gamble. Pun intended.

What made you decide to delve into the world of entrepreneurship?

I’ve always had the desire to be my own boss. Coming up with an idea and bringing it to fruition is the American dream, right?

How do you define success?

In life, I define success as being happy, having a healthy family and experiencing little to no stress in paying my bills. Extreme success would mean I get to quit my day job. LOL! As an entrepreneur, I define success as creating a self-sufficient web-based business that enjoys daily growth and a establishing client base that has had a blast because of what I’ve created!

What is your favorite part about running your own business?

I embraced the opportunity to make my idea a reality and then watched it catch on with Vegas-bound travelers from literally all over the world! We have registered users in more than 35 different countries to date, and all of them have one thing in common: They want to have the time of their lives in Las Vegas and they come to us to help make that happen!

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced to date with The Vegas Hookup and how have you addressed them?

The biggest challenge is growing our site organically. We have zero advertising budget, but have still been able to grow to over 2,300 users in over 35 countries! Like most startups, we are located in the Bay Area, so we are not physically present in Las Vegas. With that being said, we know exactly what is going on in Las Vegas daily and pass that knowledge on to our users.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur?

Hustle, effective communication skills and a thick skin. There will always be doubters who will attempt to dissuade you. You must believe in your idea and go to any lengths to achieve your goals.

Where do you see The Vegas Hookup in 5 years, 10 years?

We have big plans for The Vegas Hookup in the coming years… An app is the next big project on deck.. The other ideas I have to keep secret so we don’t get “scooped”! Suffice to say that we will be the “Go To” app to “hookup” all aspects of your social lives!

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Well, I’m not sure I’d consider myself a “successful entrepreneur” yet. As far as sacrifices go, I’ve spent a lot of money on this business to date and I’m just your normal, average Joe – a social worker that lives pay check to pay check. I’m married with 2 kids living in the Bay Area where the cost of living is ridiculous, so I guess, I’d have to say cutting corners in other areas of our lives is the sacrifice that allows me to pursue this dream of self-sufficiency. I’m a firm believer that nothing worth having comes easy.

Check out The Vegas Hookup: