"One day, I'm gonna write a book about my company..."

Whenever I hear an entrepreneur say this, I want to shake them by the shoulders and say, "why not now?"

If a book does one thing for its author, it's that it allows them to stand out from the crowd. Entrepreneurs who won't write a book until they've sold their first $50 million company are missing out on something that could prove crucial in getting them there.

As someone who works in close collaboration with authors, I've seen first-hand what publishing can accomplish in the startup world, and I can tell you why savvy entrepreneurs don't sleep on books.

1. Give yourself instant authority, and by extension, your company

Customers don't care if you have a Harvard MBA. In fact, your fancy business diploma will often incur disfavor amongst a skeptical public. Prospects will, however, pay attention if you "wrote the book" on something that matters to them. I've met and worked with plenty of professionals who wrote books and don't even care about sales; their book is just a tool to demonstrate their authority.

If you haven't read Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever, add it to your list now. Jason Fried and David Hansson's popular manifesto established the Basecamp co-founders as thought leaders in business management. Since the book's release, Basecamp has seen its user base grow from 544k to over 2.5 million registered accounts. Nobody can say for sure if it's causation or correlation. What is easy to see, however, is the massive overlap between "readers of ReWork" and "target users of Basecamp."

2. Grow and convert your customer base

Books (and ebooks, in particular) are fantastic lead magnets. If you write something of interest to your prospective client, they will be more than happy to hand over their contact details in exchange for a free copy of your book. From there, the opportunities are incredible.

Thanks to the almighty power of reciprocity, you will find them easier to convert. After all, you gave them a book and, subconsciously, most of them will be compelled to pay you back. Even if they don't convert, their details can still help you create lookalike audiences on Facebook Ads.

When I was developing the customer-facing side of Reedsy, I had almost a dozen customer support and marketing tools from which to choose. One of the reasons we ended up going with Intercom.io was because I'd read Des Traynor's books on Customer Support and Onboarding, which had familiarized me with their brand. Don't underestimate the value of your lead magnet.

3. Open up a world of speaking opportunities

Sheryl Sandberg was a Google VP and Facebook's COO even before she hit 40, but it wasn't until she published Lean In that she became a leading voice of Silicon Valley's feminist movement, whose speaking fee, incidentally, is over $100k.

When Guy Kawasaki left Apple in the late 80s, he had spent four years helping to grow Macintosh. It was a good place to be, career-wise, but he was hardly Steve Jobs' right-hand man. Working on his own business, he also started focusing on his writing, publishing books on tech, marketing, databases: you name it. These books became the foundation for the next phase of his career as a brand ambassador, tech evangelist, VC, and, yes, keynote speaker.

This is one of the most popular reasons for writing a business book. If you want to be paid to attend conferences and speak in front thousands of potential connections, a book will allow you to present a strong "narrative," sending you straight to the front of the queue.

4. Recruit more effectively

The need to find the right talent at the right price is something that almost all startups have to deal with. But just as it will sell your product to customers, your book will demonstrate your value to recruits. Even if they don't read the damn thing, the very fact there is a book will validate you and your organization.

Most of the points above rely on one thing: your book has to be good. But here's an open secret I'll share with you: over 90 percent of business books are written with the help of ghostwriters. Entrepreneurs and CEOs don't have the time to learn how to craft a book: they hire people who know how to take their ideas and turn them into a compelling read. I've written a post about what it's like to work with a ghost -- and it's something I would recommend most authors considering at the very least.

If you're still not sure whether you have the experience to become an author, remember this: nobody is qualified to write a business book until they've done it. So don't wait for a big break before you put pen to paper or you could be missing out on an important stepping stone to success.

Published on: Mar 28, 2017