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How to Succeed in Business: Tips From a Superstar Writer, Marketer and Book-Publishing Consultant

We talk to a lot of people here involved in interesting businesses, but not everyone works in one that is flat out fun. Enter Jennifer Wilkov. She owns a company that helps people write, publish, and promote a book that will help their dreams come true…whatever they may be.

I have known Jennifer for nearly a decade, and our paths began to intersect frequently as both of our companies help people grow their own businesses.

Jennifer, like other successful entrepreneurs, understands what opportunity looks like. She knows how to leverage a strength to fill a market need, and her knowledge about using precious resources is invaluable for any small business leader.

I’m privileged to interview her today.

David: How did you arrive on your current path?

Jennifer: I became a best-selling, award-winning author with my first book in 2006 called Dating Your Money: How to Build a Long-Lasting Relationship with Your Money in 8 Easy Steps. The book was such a wild ride, going from thought to sales in 90 days including writing and editing the manuscript, making a decision to self-publish when it wasn’t so easy to do before Amazon’s CreateSpace and other companies existed, printing of the hardcover full color books by the same printer the big publishing houses used, a national publicity campaign, and distribution to the shelf of Barnes & Noble in 2006 – all in 90 days while owning and running my own company.

After I succeeded with my own book endeavor and continued to write more books, people starting inquiring with me about how they could be me. They saw me doing television interviews and heard me on the radio during prime driving times in different cities, and they saw me being quoted in newspapers and magazines. Each person said, “I want to be you!”

I realized that it had been such a smooth and easy experience for me to become a top author and that other people were not having the same type of joy and success with their experiences in publishing.

I responded to them by saying, “First of all, why don’t you be you and tell me what your project is about? Then I’ll let you know if I can help you.” From this simple approach, my whole book consulting practice was born.

Since then, my practice has grown to help people with writing, marketing, and getting their books published using either the traditional method and working with a literary agent, self-publishing, or e-publishing. I also help thought leaders build a robust platform and engine to promulgate their message and ideas to their audiences beyond just their books, and I help other writers take their creative ideas to Hollywood film and television and Broadway theater as well.

My own writing career has also grown. I get asked to contribute chapters to industry books and other projects, and I have a literary agent of my own. I teach at writers’ conferences, write columns, and provide instruction for top writer resources such as The Writers Store and Writers Digest. To many, I have become the nexus of the publishing industry.

All this because I said yes to people who said, “I want to be you,” and agreed to review what they had and help them as much as I could.

I use the same tried and true rule: Be the solution to the problem people have. That’s what I do. I solve book publishing and writing questions and quandaries people have, whether they are a first-time book writer or a seasoned author, screenwriter, or playwright.

Most of all, I love what I do!

David: What traits do the most successful people share?

Jennifer: Persistence, a positive attitude, and the ability to persevere in the face of the unexpected. The most important traits: clarity and listening. Clarity of purpose, path and project outcome, and the ability and patience to listen to others. Be clear about not only what you do, but why you do it. Have the courage to ask questions in order to get the clarity you need to make solid decisions that are in alignment with your goals, objectives and dreams.

It’s incredibly essential to be able to isolate that which really needs your attention right now and other items that can become distractions. Keep in mind the old cliché: “Be wary of butterflies that may distract you from your current objective” as an entrepreneur.

Successful people spend their time like it is their most valuable currency. They listen to others and their perspectives. They weigh their own perspectives and thoughts in any situation, and find the win-win for each situation. If they are not clear, they ask more questions until they have clarity. They don’t make decisions when their emotions are high, and they keep their eyes on what they said they wanted so they can accomplish their goals while helping others accomplish theirs.

David: What are the most common issues you notice that keep entrepreneurs and small businesspeople from reaching their full potential?

Jennifer: They lack clarity of either what their objectives are and/or they lack clarity about how to accomplish and achieve them. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, then you are not able to forge a path to get to it. It’s impossible. The first step is always clarity about the ultimate outcome you want. If you don’t know what to do, then it is important to ask someone who is familiar with what you want to do for advice and guidance. If you need a consultant to walk you through the steps, pay one.

Too often I see people who want to find the answers for free. They often end up more confused about how to do what they said they wanted to do because they don’t know how to apply generic information they can get for free to their own personal, individual situations. They also sometimes waste their money attempting to solve their situations on their own, only to find that if they had just spent the money on an expert upfront, they would have saved time, energy and money, and avoided some common mistakes.

The other thing I see people do that keeps them from their full potential is they waste time doing things they either don’t enjoy doing or that they are not an expert at. These pieces, while they may save you money in the short run, sink your ability to grow your own skills, knowledge and business.

You are the leader of your business. Act like it. As a business owner, find ways to get the tasks done that leverage your strengths. Enroll and engage others to do the tasks you are either weak at or don’t really enjoy. This will spark growth in your business and in your own business spirit.

Be true to the cliché – love what you do – in all aspects.

David: If you could advise business owners to take one action to improve profitability, what would it be?

Jennifer: Write down what you love to do on a sheet of paper and then write down what you don’t enjoy doing on another. Find resources and other ways to have the tasks you don’t like to do or don’t want or need to learn to do done by someone else.

This will free you up to do what you do best – for your clients and your employees – and drive your company’s success.

David: What’s your favorite productivity trick?

Jennifer: Each morning, start your day with a meeting – with yourself. Make a list of the top 5 things you absolutely intend to get done. Do these as early in your day as you can and when your energy is high. If it is not you actually doing the task, send a check-in or follow-up email early in the day to provide the person who is actually doing the task with a gentle reminder that the task needs to be completed that day and ask for a status. This will provide a simple tool to focus your attention on what needs to be done each day. It will also foster progress on projects so they move forward and get done.

For more information about Jennifer S. Wilkov, you can visit her website, LinkedIn profile, or send her a tweet at @urbookisurhook. Learn more about her book, Your Book Is Your Hook here.

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About the author, David Shriner-Cahn

David is the podcast host and community builder behind Smashing the Plateau, an online platform offering resources, accountability, and camaraderie to high-performing professionals who are making the leap from the corporate career track to entrepreneurial business ownership.

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