Tips for Writing a Business Book

Business books serve a specific purpose that must be clarified before the writing begins. A business book can be a helpful aid in marketing a business by illustrating the expertise and potential benefits to customers. Some business books are written as “How to” guides designed to help other business leaders to implement best-in-class processes or systems. Many of the more famous business books tend to be based on a unique perspective about some aspect of business or leadership. Yet another group of books is the business memoir, the story of a business or business leader as he/she rose climbed the ladder to success.

If you are running a business and believe that a book can help to promote your business, plan the work carefully and be prepared to dedicate time and effort to the project. If time is a serious constraint, consider hiring a ghostwriter to reduce the burden on you. If you have a service-oriented business, you may find that much of the content already exists in presentations, proposals, blog articles, workshop outlines, procedure manuals and other materials commonly used in the business.

Don’t be tempted to simply throw together ready-to-use content like a batch of blog articles and publish that as a book. As a series of blog articles, each one is potentially useful and interesting to a group of readers. A book serves a bigger purpose and it is crucial to make sure that the content delivers on that purpose. Using existing content in a book requires that you transform and even rewrite the content along with additional information not previously provided. A published compendium of blog articles will make a poorly received business book.

Research other books in your category to make sure you are not about to invest a lot of time and effort only to duplicate what already exists. Finding other books in your category doesn’t mean that you should not proceed with your book. What it means is that you must ensure that your book has a unique perspective or different method for accomplishing something, other than the norm as described in other books or as experienced in business practice. You may have unique intellectual property that you are sharing with others, or an improved method based on your experience.

Essentially, your must find a compelling reason for someone to buy the book. Clarify for them how their business will improve, grow, or become more profitable after learning what you have to share. Before you begin writing, develop a simple summary to help clarify your book’s value proposition. Start with the subject of the book – what is the book about? Clarify the purpose and outcomes that a reader should expect from reading it. These benefits will be the primary reason for someone to buy the book. Finally, identify your target market – who is the specific audience for the book?

Armed with this information, your writing efforts will be focused correctly and you can easily determine the appropriate content and the optimal approach and writing style for communicating it. The book will help you to share a lot more of your true value to potential customers. Make sure that it represents your business with the highest quality and integrity to protect and promote your brand. You already know your business value, now make a plan for your book and write on!

Twelve Tips on How to Structure Your Self-Help Business Book

A popular (meaning non-scholarly, non-MBA program) book that is aimed at business professionals must satisfy a few very basic requirements. Here is an outline of what you must accomplish with any business book, regardless of length or complexity.

1. As you create your book, the number one concept to keep at the forefront is that your readers are totally self-centered. They care only about how you can help them to solve their immediate problem. If you cannot provide practical, accessible solutions, they’ll toss your book out the window.

2. Therefore, your first task is to clearly state the problem that you can help the reader solve. For any business owner, the number one problem is how to make more money. Period. This goal can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including winning a big contract, increasing market share, increasing profit margins, cutting expenses, or introducing a new product or service. Regardless of the strategy or combination of strategies, the goal is always to make more money. If you are writing a fable you may, if you wish, use a metaphor for making money, like finding out who moved the cheese.

3. The specific problem that you say you can solve must resonate and be clearly defined. It may include increasing team effectiveness, lowering employee turnover, taking advantage of the internet for marketing, or strategic succession planning. Whatever the area of your expertise, you need to define the problem and show the consequences of allowing the problem to continue. This is the fear factor. You must say, “In today’s competitive business environment, if you’re doing it the old way, you’re going to be outperformed by your competitors.”

4. You must then assert the benefits of your solution. Regardless of the short-term benefits your solution can provide, the long-term benefit is always the same: increased profits. Period.

5. Then you need to describe your solution in plain English. Provide examples or tell stories to make your solution come alive. The reader must be able to say, “Yeah – this book describes my problem and I can see how to fix it!”

6. You are the expert. The reader does not care where your ideas come from. Do not tell the reader to go elsewhere for a solution. Please do not load your book with quotes by Jack Welch, Donald Trump, or Lao Tzu. I guarantee you that these same quotes are reproduced in thousands of boring business books. Your job is to stand out from the herd, not to be a part of the herd.

7. Don’t try to sell the reader. They’ve already bought your book, so you’ve got their attention and loyalty. Just tell them at the end of the book that if they need more information you invite them to contact you.

8. Don’t make the reader do an activity, like fill out a chart or make a list. No one has time for that kind of stuff, and most business people think it’s beneath their dignity. Plus, if they’re reading your book on a Kindle or Nook, they can’t fill out a form anyway. Remember that your reader is totally self-centered. They have paid their money for your book and they want you to do the work.

9. If you must use graphics, make sure they are incredibly simple. One corporate client of mine drew his own little circles and graphs with a pen. The images looked like a fifth-grader had drawn them, and they were incredibly effective. You could see at a glance exactly what he wanted you to understand.

10. Never ever use clip art. Never insert an image that is not unique to your book. The reader does not need to see a generic image of dollar bills in order to understand that you’re talking about money. Your book is not a PowerPoint presentation; it is a personal communication between you and your reader.

11. Do not use footnotes. Busy businesspeople do not care about your sources and do not want to interrupt their reading by going to the bottom of the page and squinting at a footnote. If you quote a source, say in your text, “According to the New York Times, fifty percent of all homeowners… ” If you wish, provide a list of resources at the end of the book.

12. This is your goal: to get the reader to read your book and then hand it to a colleague and say, “You gotta read this book. It’s a fast read and it’s got some great ideas. We can discuss them at the next meeting.” Bingo! Your book has just sold itself. And chances are good that your phone will ring and the company will want to hire you for a consultation.

That’s it. Keep it simple. Describe the problem and offer your solution. Give your reader value and they’ll come back for more.

7 Business Books Worth Reading

As a photographer, I am often looking to continue my education, and one of the ways I choose to do that is through reading. There are a slew of great business and photography books out there so today I thought I’d share several books that have been incredibly beneficial to me and my business.

Purple Cow
Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow, is considered by many to be THE business guru. This book was one of my first business book purchases. It was great starting point when I first opened my business because it got me to begin thinking about different ways to run my business and set myself apart from my peers. I would highly recommend this book to any new business owner, though I’m not sure it would be as beneficial to a long-standing business owner.

The Complete Artist’s Way
A few years ago I was feeling stifled… uninspired. I was looking for something to help me reconnect with my inner creative, which led me to purchasing this book. It gets you thinking about yourself, who you are, and who you want to be. There are journal writings and all kinds of things to encourage and stimulate your creative process.

Fast Track Photographer
This book was my first photography book purchase. Dane Sanders is a wonderful teacher, photographer, and man. I have a great deal of respect for him and I found his book to be very helpful. This book really got me thinking about the bigger picture. Not just my business but my whole life. I realized that as a woman who wants to be a mother I want to know that I run my business and that my business doesn’t run me. This book helped me to evaluate exactly what I want to do with my photography and how I want to run my business. I have found it to be an incredibly helpful resource.

Luminous Portrait
I adore this book! Elizabeth Messina is easily one my photography idols. I adore her style, spirit, and shooting methods. Elizabeth is also a natural light and lifestyle photographer who believes in capturing the light within her subjects, which is my method of shooting as well. I loved reading about her philosophies, method, and technique for shooting and creating beautiful and emotive imagery.

Word of Mouth Marketing
As a small business owner, one of your biggest forms of business is through word of mouth. Andy Sernovitz talks about companies like Apple and TiVo, companies that are incredibly well known and get most of their business due to buzz and the praise from their consumer base. The author discusses reasons people talk about you as well as ways to get the kind of word of mouth marketing you need for your business to thrive.

The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography
Tamara Lackey is not only one of my favorite photographers, she is also one of my favorite people. I had the insane pleasure of meeting Tamara in person and she is truly a wonderful individual and incredibly skilled at family and children portraiture. When Tamara has books or courses for sale, I tend to purchase them because I always find something beneficial to learn from her. The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography was incredibly insightful for me as I was learning how to interact with children to get the types of portraits I wanted to create. This book really helped me to understand the different types of personalities in kids and how to work with them in my job.

Worth Every Penny
I was a member of The Joy of Marketing for several years, and as a member I was lucky enough to get a first look at this book by Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck. Worth Every Penny is brilliant for any boutique business owner. It gives great insights into how to build a strong brand and marketing campaign, as well as pricing structures that would best benefit a boutique business model. There is a variety of information in this book that has helped me build my business into what it is today.

I hope that you have found some books here that you might want to add to your reading list. Education is key to staying on your A game and to keep your business moving forward. Each of these books has played a huge role in developing my business into what it is today, and I highly recommend each of them to any entrepreneur.