Shirley Mansfield contacted me on 6 November 2013, saying “I hope you can help me…” and that she wanted to write a book. The Grown-Up Business was released on 4 November 2014. From starting point to release for a full-length high-quality published book in just under a year – now that’s superb! Read more to find out how Shirley did it and what she can teach you from her experience.
Most businesses are run by owners who love what they do; only to find it soon becomes a millstone around their neck. They’re desperate to get out of the rut, increase sales to customers, grow profits, reduce their stress levels and get their life back.
The Grown Up Business book is a step by step program for business owners to help them build rhythm, consistency and momentum in their company. It introduces the reader to the Grown Up Business Model; a route map to prosperous and sustainable growth. The chapters describes what needs to be done at each stage of growth. It details the What and Why, shows through case studies and examples the Why and concludes with detailed, structured and tested How to’s.
There are multiple rewards for becoming a Grown Up business; making more money, having more free time, less stress, delighted customers, and plenty of fun too!
Shirley is a superb example of what happens when you have the expertise, you commit to the plan, you get the help, and you do the work! But before you get too intimidated, remember: you don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides, and you don’t compare your first draft to someone else’s finished book. Shirley knows her stuff and put in the work: she wrote the first drafts, and the second drafts, and where necessary the third drafts, and went through a fantastic learning curve. So here’s what we did together and Shirley’s experience.
From Shirley’s initial email, we had a Skype chat to discuss her book plans, and I sent her the Find Your Book pack. Two weeks later, we started the 12-week Springboard Your Book programme, to take her through writing her first draft. After the initial month of mapping out the structure, we shifted our coaching to fortnightly, to allow her the writing time. I was consistently impressed that even when her business and personal life were very demanding, she kept on putting in the work and doing her writing assignments, without fail. Her sense of overall structure and the reader‘s flow was already well-honed by years of workshopping and coaching; our work together focused on writing in her natural voice and on the interior structure for each chapter.
Once Shirley had finished her first draft, we took a month off for our respective holidays (and some valuable resting time for the project!) and then did 5 more weeks of coaching, to work on the second draft. I then edited the final draft while Shirley took charge of her publishing arrangements.
The four pillars of Shirley Mansfield’s book, The Grown-Up Business
SHIRLEY’S Area of expertise
Coaching, mentoring, facilitating and training owner managed businesses that have great potential to grow but are a little frightened of the prospect.
The book’s role in SHIRLEY’S business
A credentials check, a springboard to help attract a better type of client, a supplementary revenue stream with courses and seminars, and an opportunity to speak to lots more people.
- Business owners who are looking for help and quick fix
- Business students of all ages who have a thirst for knowledge and continuous improvement
- People who might be thinking about launching their own business
SHIRLEY’S Personal & business values
‘Been there and done it’ expertise, with case studies based on true stories; concise and to the point; firm but fair; entertaining but educational too; adult-to-adult in conversation… “It’s what I do every day and I love doing it,” says Shirley. “I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t get a kick out of helping others (cliché but true!). I feel like I work for a dozen successfully, vibrant and exciting companies at the same time.”
Shirley’s experience of writing her book
The easiest aspect was the content, but in some ways that was a hindrance too. The writing was easy, once Megan told me to write just as I do in my blogs and not a formal style. The most natural was to hand write – that’s time consuming but more enjoyable. It’s always much easier to write when I knew I had to get the work to Megan – a deadline works wonders!
The steepest learning curve was working on the structure and really taking time to do that. I had to keep remembering what my audience wanted rather than what I wanted to share. The discipline of writing was also a learning curve, especially when Mum had her accident – getting into the zone was tricky.
What it’s taught me most is to be much more thoughtful about what my readers want, especially when I blog or wrote articles. It’s helped me to refine my offering to clients, to be able to package up modules for training courses, seminars, and facilitation. My publisher suggested recording every speech or seminar I give and having it transcribed. I’m amazed at how much great stuff I say. I think I’ll arrange to be interviewed on a topic, record and transcribe it to give me my next book!!
To anyone else planning to write a book on their expertise, I’d give this advice:
- Decide who you are writing it for and stick to it. When I showed my mentor the book, he said that he didn’t like the title – but I had to point out that he wasn’t the target audience!
- Spend time on structure and planning before you start to write.
- Record what you say in everyday situations and use that content to help inform the book.
- Ask your typical audience what they want to know.
- And, of course work with Megan the brilliant writing coach!