Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cami Ostman, Founder of The Narrative Project, located in Shoreline, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Narrative Project is a program that gives writers everything they need to get their books done. We support people who have transformational stories (told in memoir, fiction, or self-help/how-to) that they know they need to get onto the page so they can change the larger cultural narrative.
Tell us about yourself
I've worked as an educator, a psychotherapist, and a professional writer over the years, but I'm also a (slowpoke) marathon runner, which requires incredible self-discipline. I realized about seven years ago that I have a special set of skills when it comes to helping other people set goals, create incremental steps to reach their goals, and stay accountable to their own dreams. Because writing has been my passion since I was young, and because I was putting in a lot of hours supporting writers in an informal way, I made the decision to put everything I know about FINISHING things into a program.
I teach my writers the "Four Pillars of Successful Completion" and show them seven stages they must pass through to turn themselves from would-be writers to published authors. Seeing people write books they have had in their hearts to write for (sometimes) decades and get those books published is tremendously gratifying. Additionally, I believe with my whole heart that the DESIRE to write a book is the CALLING to write that book. The writers I work with have something to say—something to take a stand for. I believe if they can get their books written, they will contribute positively to the collective consciousness. We have a big mission with a practical application.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment in terms of the business is that I've created an effective structure that genuinely helps people get their books done. But additionally, I've built a fantastic team of writing coaches who are 100% on board with our mission to support our authors. That said, the thing I'm most astounded by is that I've turned myself into a kick-ass marketer and that I actually enjoy the marketing journey. For me, marketing is just letting people know HOW they can make their own dreams come true.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The responsibility. Especially in the early years, when you are implementing a business idea, you do almost everything. So you are responsible for all administrative tasks, enrolling (or sales), managing the money, and all of the marketing. All of that comes alongside the responsibility of delivering your services to your clients with integrity. If your business is your only source of income, as it was for me, you also have the responsibility of hustling enough to make ends meet. Later, when you have a team, you have the responsibility to your team, to make sure they get their professional and financial needs met. All of this is what you agree to when you start your own business, and it can feel quite daunting—or at least, it has felt that way to me at times.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Hire a good coach. We say, "Writers don't let writers write alone." Well, the sentiment is true for building a business, as well. You must have support, guidance, and collaboration. Find a business-building program or a business coach who has been genuinely effective in helping other people with businesses like yours. You can't afford NOT to get good coaching.
- Work on your mindset. Challenge your beliefs about money, work, your own value, and what is possible. What we believe about what we can build is the foundation for the choices we make in the business.
- Build generous funnels. The more you give freely, the more people will be drawn to you, but you have to make sure that what you give away leads to your ideal clients getting EVEN BETTER support when they hire you. So as you build your marketing and enrollment structures, make sure you give a lot away and that you're very clear about how people can jump from the free offerings to hiring you for the services you provide. Warm, cuddly funnels work.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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