Tim Jacobs, a native to the shoreline area of Connecticut, now resides in southwest Florida. He has published seven books, over 400 articles published in various newspapers and magazines, taught classes on writing and self publishing, and currently is the owner of Jacobs Writing Consultants, LLC and co-owner of the Gulf Coast Bookstore; a unique bookstore located at the Butterfly Estates and is tailored to local authors. He regularly contributes to Santiva Chronicle and The Island Sand Paper.
Tim is the founder and former editor for Patriots of the American Revolution magazine and has been a freelance writer for over 30 years. His latest book, The 1864 Diary of Civil War Union Soldier Sergeant Samuel E. Grosvenor: A first-hand account of the horrors at Andersonville Prison is a biography of Grosvenor who kept a small diary while in the Andersonville Prison.
Appended to the book is Civil War Soldiers, Guilford, Connecticut by Tracy Tomaselli. This title was featured on C-SPAN2 TV.
In this interview, Tim shares how his passion for writing evolved into a great business idea. From finding an experienced mentor to generating new ideas, you'll have some awesome take-aways!
His top advice to anyone starting a business:
My advice to anyone starting a business, is to first come up with a business plan and find someone that perhaps is doing the business you wish to do and reach out to them and pick their brain.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Timothy and how you got the idea for Jacobs Writing Consultants, LLC?
I’ve been writing since I can remember. When I was a child I use to write and illustrate what I called “The Funniest Newspaper In America.” I did this using paper from a spiral notebook and would tear the pages out and staple them together. Then I would send it to my grandmother.
Later in life, I did in fact become a journalist for a short period of time. The actual idea for Jacobs Writing Consultants came to me when I received a Kindle one year for Christmas. For the longest time, I was against e-readers, but I quickly saw a lot of benefits with a Kindle. It’s back lit so no need to turn on a light, you can carry hundreds of books, it’s light weight, and there is a wealth of new writers to read, etc.
But I also learned anyone can “write” a book and push it Kindle and start selling. A majority of these “authors” skipped editing and getting a professional book cover. I wanted to provide the gap from the last draft stage of writing a book to being published, so I reached out to some friends of mine that are editors and formed a consulting group.
When did you know that you had a business on your hands and not just a ‘good idea’? (The ‘Aha!’ moment)
From the start, I always planned this as a business. It was not a hobby that turned into something bigger. I presented my business plan to a friend (editor) and he not only encouraged me to pursue it, he wanted to be on the team of editors I was putting together. That’s when I knew I had something worthwhile.
As an author yourself, how do you find concepts and ideas for writing? Do you have a brain technique that our readers can learn from?
Ideas for stories and books come to me all the time. It can be a line from a movie or just eating out and observing people who are around me.
I have a lot of mini outlines on my computer. I hope one day to expand and explore and get the full story out. I also have two books fully researched, just need to schedule time to do the writing part.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business? What was the biggest thing you did you get there?
Getting recognition. Networking is a huge part of business to get the word out about what we do. One of the biggest milestones we’ve had is we got to proofread a book for a New York Times best seller.
One of the things we do to constantly reach our next milestones is to have a list of goals written out, and we have them hanging on our wall in the office so that we see them every day.
Most businesses evolve over time. Is there a way that you slowly evolved the mission of Jacobs Writing Consultants, LLC to serve your customers better?
There are a few things we do to always better serve our clients. When we complete a project of theirs, we follow up with a 15 to 20-minute phone call, we also send them a hand written thank you note, and we also send them a brief survey.
It is from those surveys we learn a lot about ourselves and our clients and how to tweak certain things as we move forward with our business.
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape Jacobs Writing Consultants, LLC?
As I began to plan and start my business, I set up an appointment with SCORE. The counselor that was assigned to me is Bruce Lawson, and he has been a vital part of growing my business.
He is able to have me reach goals that I thought I would never be able to reach, and he always gets me out of my comfort zone. Having a business mentor is extremely important to any business. It’s important to get feedback and some sound advice.
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as a business owner? Do you have any advice for how future entrepreneurs can overcome it?
I think like many business owners, one struggle very often is when there are not enough hours in the day. I think another struggle is coming up with ways to get in front of the audience we need to be in front of where potential clients would be.
How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?
My family is very encouraging of me being an entrepreneur and following my dreams. Most all of my friends are entrepreneurs and business owners, and I see them very regularly during networking events and during other meetings.
You have a new book that is available on Amazon. Can you tell a little bit about what this book is all about?
One of my latest books is “The 1864 Diary of Union Civil War Soldiers Samuel E. Grosvenor.” This came about as I was doing my genealogy and came across my great-great-grandfather who served in the Civil War.
He was in the same regiment as Grosvenor who happened to leave behind a diary. It was my hope that Grosvenor might have mentioned my ancestor in his diary. Although they never crossed paths, I was amazed at what Grosvenor went through being in the war and being a prisoner at Andersonville.
One of the greatest compliments about this particular book is that it was featured on C-SPAN: (Watch this video) What I personally like about this book is that it is told through the eyes and through the words of Grosvenor because he wrote this diary while in prison.
If you want to grab a copy of this book, it's now available on Amazon.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in Florida? Where should they start?
My advice to anyone starting a business, is to first come up with a business plan and find someone that perhaps is doing the business you wish to do and reach out to them and pick their brain. You can never have too much information.
A great starting place would be the program SCORE which is made up of retired CEOs and business owners that can give you a wealth of guidance.