I know David mostly through my work with Ann Smarty. His reputation is top-class and he is a role model that anyone could look up to, an honest guy who has great ideas and is always willing to help.
An entrepreneur is always ready to grasp any opportunity that comes along. My own path has changed several times and David’s has changed direction as new opportunities came along.
David Leonhardt, Entrepreneur
Who are you? (Name, location, a bit of background)
I’m David Leonhardt and I live between the sheep and the cows (well, the cows actually moved away, but the barn is still there) in eastern Ontario. I am a former consumer advocate, with two daughters and a wife, as well as two cats. I have a bio at http://thgmwriters.com/contact/david-leonhardt-biography/
Where are you on the road to earning a full-time income as an entrepreneur?
It’s been 13 years since I made the leap, and ever since I have been riding the surf, through feast and famine. My path was never clear, nor was it straight. I set out to become a motivational speaker; I had written my book and gotten trained as a speaker, all the way up to “Distinguished Toastmaster”. Then I ended up doing SEO, because opportunity knocked.
What do you do?
I am back at my roots, so to speak. I do writing and content marketing, which is both writing and promotion.
I just finished ghostwriting a book on how homemakers can make a good income on the stock market, and I am almost finished writing a book on pre-marital and post-marital strategies for a client. I am just starting a book on a race-related business sabotage story, and I am about to start editing a spiritual allegory manuscript.
Meanwhile, I have a team of ghost writers at THGMwriters working on other books, including some exciting fiction, several biographies and a screenplay; I don’t write most of the manuscripts myself.
As I write, I have also just completed a landing page for a 3-day seminar and been one member of a team promoting a webinar. Last week I published and promoted blog posts for two clients, as well.
How, why did you choose the area you work in? Is it related to any previous paid employment?
It grew organically based partly on opportunities that have come up and partly on my own skills that, yes, I honed in paid employment. I have always loved to write, originally wanting to become a journalist, then putting those writing skills to use for a member of Parliament, and of course doing PR as a consumer advocate. And I honed my promotional skills working on Parliament Hill and then as a consumer advocate, working the media, lobbying government and framing complex issues to be easier understood.
What are your motivational factors?
I thrive on freedom, yet I thrive also working with a team. Most of all, I strive to create, to build…and that’s what I mostly do.
How important are your contacts? Can you give examples?
I have always been a strong networker. I am a natural introvert, but within a structure, even an exceedingly loose one such as I am in now, I become an extrovert. So I have made my network a key pillar of my business. As I look at my whiteboard where I have all my current clients, as well as recent clients that still [ahem] owe me for work completed, 8 came through my website, 7 through my network and 2 from prospecting. Meanwhile, I have a few other contracts for manuscripts farmed out to my team, all of which came through my website.
I mentioned being one member of a team promoting a webinar, and that is a great example of working with some of the most amazing people I know online, Gail Gardner, Ann Smarty, Kristi Hines, Brian Hughes, Eric Emanuelli, Gabriella Sannino and Deborah Anderson.
How did you develop your contacts?
Just being social – blog commenting, sharing on social media, inviting people into groups. Nothing special and no plan.
What obstacles have you overcome in your entrepreneur journey?
Mostly the feast and famine cycles. Well, OK, mostly the famine cycle. Six months ago, I was still in panic a panic stage, staring at an almost white whiteboard. But the wolf hasn’t repossessed our house yet, and as my brother puts it, “You’ve kept yourself out of the cubicles for over a decade”, so I would say it is at least a reasonably successful venture.
I have also come across some people with severe ethical lapses, both clients and subcontractors. In two cases, I had writers on their first job – good writers, in fact superb writers – try to extort money from clients, and in both cases the clients loved their work so much that they would not let me kick the writers’ butts to Antarctica. And in a couple cases, I had clients who wanted their money back so that they would have freebies. In one case I found out through the Better Business Bureau that she wanted to be reimbursed for two missing punctuation marks and a run-on sentence (which actually read better than any shortening we could come up with); she still wanted her money back after we found her misplaced punctuation and split the sentence in two. Those tend to be major distractions, and major distractions mean that one’s attention is taken away from serving clients and building the business. Plus it has probably shaved a few decades off my life.
How do you use social media?
For me, social media does two things. First, it is how I network, although Skype has grown to overshadow Twitter and FaceBook for me these days. Second, I use social media to get reach for my content marketing, both for myself and for my clients. I love using amplifiers, like Viral Content Buzz, Triberr and Just Retweet, to extend my reach.
My Thoughts on David Leonhardt’s Entrepreneur Journey
David is doing everything right. He spent a lot of time growing his knowledge as a writer, grew his reputation while working in paid employment. David’s contacts think highly of him and 7 out of 17 current contracts are from personal contacts, proving how important reputation and contacts are to entrepreneurial success.
Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts regarding David’s journey as an entrepreneur. Could you see yourself following a similar path to independence?