Interview with Ian Coburn, two-time author and public speaker.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
My business is promoting my book, "Choice – The Meaning of Life: How to Have More and Better Choices in Business, Relationships, Government and Life". I wrote the book and started giving presentations because I want to help others achieve their goals. For the first time, a tangible decision-making system is provided for making good choices. The system is universally applicable. I speak about it and offer all my knowledge in the book, temporarily free at www.bestpossiblechoice.com. It is key to both an individual's or business' success to make good decisions. When it comes down to it, your level of success is simply a result of the choices you make.
When did you start the business?
The early release of the book debuted in January 2010, along with the site and the beginning of my speaking engagements.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
This is my second book. My first, "God is a Woman: Dating Disasters", was a bestseller and was officially released on Valentine's Day, 2007. From 2000 to 2007 I worked in education for-profit businesses in Chicago, where I helped students achieve their goals and achieved exceptional results using my system. I increased sales by over 400% while cutting costs by 56% for one school, and so forth. Prior to that, I was a touring comedian and professional speaker for ten years.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Many people seek out advice to be more successful, both in their lives and in their business. The current economic crisis demonstrates a clear need for a universally applicable decision-making system.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
I used my decision-making system, which is far more effective than a business plan. It keeps everything to one page and finds solutions quickly. It allowed me to jot down a clear plan and implement it easily.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Do all web design yourself. It's easy to download blog applications like wordpress or to learn web design software, as well as how to set up hosting, register a domain, etc. This saved me a ton, especially since I have many sites now.
Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?
I have outsourced in that I have used agents both for the book, speaking engagements, and comedy gigs. It hasn't worked well for me for one simple reason: No one works as hard for you as you do. Originally, when I put my first site up, www.iancoburn.com. I outsourced the web management. Any time I needed a change, it took too long and the manager selected a host whose server often went down, meaning my site was down a lot.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
Absolutely. The key to social marketing is to be sincere. Sincerity sells. My first book became a bestseller because of all the word of mouth it got on blogs.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Have something tangible to point to and release everything at once! The book gives me credibility to get speaking engagements. Speaking engagements give me a place to mention the book. A vlog/blog gives people a place to visit and learn more. And so forth.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Have a tangible system in a tangible form. There are many professionals who want to help people and companies achieve their goals but a lot of their methods involve philosophy only. They don't provide a clear cut way to define and achieve goals. To get the word out, you want media. If you don't have a tangible product, it is much harder to get media. I have already booked a TV and several radio appearances simply because I have a book that the media can point its audiences to.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ian. I look forward to seeing more of you in the future.