Think Like an Entrepreneur: Solid Advice For Writers Who Want to Fast Track Their Success

Todd Harrison

Have you ever wanted to talk to a serial entrepreneur and pick his brain?

I have.

If you’re a writer, artist, or other creative, you probably long for the chance to make a living from your art. But maybe you shy away from self-promotion. Maybe the whole idea of going out on your own scares you a little … or a lot. That’s okay. The problem isn’t that you can’t do it – you just don’t know how to do it.

Today is your lucky day.

I spoke with Todd Harrison, serial entrepreneur. He’s owned a variety of businesses over the years. Right now he has 8 different ones – all successful and thriving. So you know you can trust what he says! If you want to succeed as a creative, you can’t afford to miss this.

You’ve run a variety of businesses. What do they all have in common?

Wow, what a question. Not sure they really have much in common except that they were all pretty common! Product and service oriented businesses that are traditional in nature, no big internet sensations! Car washes, child care, building and remodeling, food distribution, used books, organic produce….If I had to think of one commonality it would be that they all required really intense levels of customer service and interaction to be successful, like most businesses.

What’s the key to getting your first sale?

Not being afraid to ask for the sale. I see too many folks that can’t get to the point – not sure if it’s because they don’t really believe in what they are selling or not. You have to believe that you really have a better solution for the issue or problem that your potential customer is facing.

Don't be afraid to ask for the sale. Click To Tweet
What makes a product or service profitable?

Meeting a real need. If your customer can really do without what you are selling then all you are doing is playing a price game. And those that play only in price are playing a losing game, a race to the bottom. There is a great book out recently called “A Million Markets of One” – the idea being that people will pay for unique, quality, firsts, special treatment, etc. Not everybody shops at Walmart – who is playing the “race to the bottom” game, by the way!

How do you discover what your prospective customers want?

Ask them. Put yourself where they are to feel pain or pressure or opportunity points. Just because you think something is awesome does not mean anyone else does, or that others are wiling to pay for it!

What are some effective ways to build relationships with customers?
  • Personal, heart felt, real interactions. Go beyond business. I always say people like to do business with friends. Be a friend – in a real way, not a fake way.
  • Handwritten notes, in this electronic day, really speak volumes – that you take time to write, address and mail.
  • Over deliver on your promises and service level.
Meet a real need and your business will be profitable. Click To Tweet
How do you focus on selling without being annoying?

You aren’t selling – you are helping them be better, solve a problem, keep more money in their pockets, feel better about themselves. Again – if you don’t believe you are doing these things then you should probably quit selling!

How much planning should you do before you launch a new product or business?

Lots of planning! I have a rule, thinking about writing a book about it. It’s called Todd’s Rule of 2 in Business. Here it is – you can write the book!
1. Take all your projections and proformas and divide by 2.
2. Take all the cash you think it will cost to get the business to break even and multiply by 2.
3. Then, if you still like what you see, proceed with caution!
3.5. And it will probably take twice the time you think too!

What is the most important activity for a business person to focus on?

1. Selling.
2. Watching the numbers. I have a CPA friend whose advice is: “know your costs, know your costs, know your costs.” I’ve seen too many people in business that aren’t numbers people. Analyze your financial statements, or get someone who can.

Selling is the most important activity for writers who want to succeed. Click To Tweet
What should a new business owner do himself and what should he hire someone else to do?

Most of the times a new business owner has to do everything himself, none of it very good. First hire should be someone who can sell, and sell well. Hire for the routine tasks that others can do so you can work “on” your business, not “in” your business all the time.

John Maxwell says leaders are readers. What book influenced you most as a business man?

Two – Good to Great by Collins and God Owns my Business by Stanley Tam.


You now know what it takes for you to succeed in business as a writer, an artist, or whatever creative work you’re doing. You need an entrepreneurial mindset. And you’ve just seen inside the brain of one who is out there doing everything he just shared with you.

You’ll notice that none of this is rocket science. It’s just doing simple things that matter – again and again. You can do this. The question is, will you?

Do This Now

  • If you haven’t done this already, write down the exact need you fill for your readers – your customers!
  • Inject more selling into your emails, your social media posts, and your website.
  • Write a plan detailing how you’ll succeed as a writer – and when.

I hope you enjoyed this interview! Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and tell your story below. I’ll do my best to respond to them all!

Posted in writing.

I'm a Writing Coach, a Promotion Strategist, and an Entrepreneur. I help writers engage readers, sell their ideas, and build their tribes. I design non-sleazy promotion plans for artists, writers, and other creatives. When I'm not writing, I love coffee and conversation.


  1. Great and very helpful article, reminding me again how important it is to focus on your readers and BELIEVE that what you sell will actually help them! This makes marketing so much easier!

  2. This is all great advice. I know these things deep down but I always have that reluctance about me that doesn’t want to self-promote or sell. I write fiction so I am always telling myself that it isn’t meeting anyone’s needs. Maybe meeting their need to be entertained? I’ll work towards that.. 😀 Thanks for a great blog post and pleased to meet you!

    • Lisa, stories do serve our needs. Sure, we want to be entertained; but we are visual people, too. We want to travel to new places and experience new things. Stories do that for us. Told well, they allow us to be observers at the scene. They invite us to become emotionally involved and to care about the characters and what happens to them. And maybe a story can inspire us to do something we previously thought we couldn’t. Let me know how I can help. It’s great to meet you, too!

  3. Pingback: Monday Inspiration: disconnect – Story Artist

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