Writing with Purpose and Making an Impact
“If you want to grow community, really when you think about it, you really need only about a hundred people to love you in today’s world to become an influencer.” —Swish Goswami
In 2017, I became curious about why Gen Z was choosing entrepreneurship and what their attributes for success were. Did they have a mentor? Did they have a vision for why they wanted entrepreneurship in their lives? I started interviewing people under the age of twenty who had already started businesses or were on their way to starting businesses.
This is when I first met Swish Goswami. At the time, he was just a senior in high school and had many questions for me about writing a book. Now at age twenty-five, he has published his first book and is the CEO of a company called Surf.
In this episode of “Authors Who Lead,” I talk with Swish about his journey while writing his book, The Young Entrepreneur: How to Start a Business While You’re Still a Student, and what he has learned as a CEO.
How to Start a Business as a Student
Although Swish didn’t finish his college education, he still values the opportunities and experiences that traditional education offers, and it was in that environment that he realized he could start a business while he was still a student. He found that young people have the ability to not only take action quickly but also recognize small wins as they go.
Three Things to Remember about Writing a Book
Every new author has questions and concerns as they start putting their ideas onto the page. The first piece of advice I talk about in this interview is that you’re never too old or too young. Swish was in high school when he started his book journey alongside his entrepreneurial journey. He didn’t let his age discourage him from chasing his dreams. Although it’s hard at times to write, it’s important to continue to take massive action.
Second, when you think about writing your book, make sure you have a deeper purpose. You can write a book for any reason, even solely for making money, but if it has a deeper purpose, it will succeed.
And finally, the key to growing your audience and gaining readers is to engage with your community. I advise that even if you have only two followers or email subscribers, you should still respond to any posts, comments, or likes they make.
Why Write a Book for Young Entrepreneurs
There are already so many books on the shelves about how to start a business. I asked Swish why he chose to write a book for young entrepreneurs even with all the resources already out there. He told me that he thought a lot of the books on entrepreneurship felt “more like a textbook.” The problem with this is that with entrepreneurship we need to get out and take action, and doing the action firsthand rather than following steps in a textbook is far more effective.
Swish and his coauthor view their book as more of a guide than a textbook. In it, they familiarize the reader with ideas and information so that when they do take the plunge into entrepreneurship, they won’t feel lost.
How to Decide What to Include in a Book
When you write a book, you need to know who it is for. Swish and his coauthor, Quinn Underwood, knew they were writing for young entrepreneurs between eighteen and twenty-four. Swish feels that this generation suffers from mental illness far more than previous generations because of the vast amount of information, influence, and pressure from the internet and social media. It has become too easy to compare our lives with others, which can have massive ramifications on people’s self-esteem.
With this in mind, Swish and Quinn wanted to include strategies for managing mental health in their book so that the young entrepreneurs could work longer or faster without burning out.
Along with good mental health, Swish and Quinn wanted to make sure the readers knew how to do more than just the everyday business activities that are needed. “I not only want to tell people how to create a business, but I really want to give them the right mindset for outside of building a good business,” says Swish. This includes knowing how to build out a personal brand on social media, how to network properly, and how to manage the financial and setup details.
How to Write with a Coauthor
Swish met his coauthor, Quinn Underwood, in high school, and then they became good friends in college. They were like-minded, they both loved reading, and they both wanted to write something about entrepreneurship, mental health, and personal branding. Since they were so connected on a personal level, they knew they could write a book together.
They first started by writing down all of their ideas and putting them into a framework. Then they looked at this outline and asked themselves who had strengths in the different areas they were writing about. They then decided who would write the different chapters of the book.
The Challenges of Coauthoring
One of the challenges that Swish and Quinn faced was that their writing tones were very different. In the editing process, they had to mix their styles together so that it wasn’t so different from one chapter to the next.
Another challenge they had was a type of writer’s block. Sometimes Swish had so many ideas in his head he had trouble limiting himself to a topic or length of a chapter. He had to balance his excitement for each chapter and focus on one topic at a time.
The biggest challenge they had was writing the book during the pandemic. Originally, it was supposed to be published in 2020. But because some of the ideas in the book had to do with working from home and different predictions about business, they had to go back and edit the book, including a whole section on working in a pandemic.
Your Personal Brand
Most young people these days want to become some type of influencer. They’ve grown up on the internet and have learned how to do everyday things from YouTube. If someone searches your name online, they’ll find both professional and personal information about you. This is, for better or worse, your personal brand. Swish tells us this is why, whether or not you want a personal brand or not, you have one.
Swish believes that your personal brand can be an “unbelievable safety net.” For instance, if you grow a following on Instagram or LinkedIn, you will meet an incredible number of people. If your startup doesn’t work out, you still have a personal brand and connections, so you can start up something new.
Five Cs for Growth
In his book, Swish talks about the “Five Cs” for personal brand growth on any social media platform. The “Five Cs” are community, collaboration, context, content, and consistency. It comes down to engaging with people online with your content. When people see you as a human who talks to them and replies to them, they see you as someone they can trust and interact with.
Making an Impact
According to Swish, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when building a business or personal brand is having a perfectionist attitude. It is more important to be authentic than to get caught up in choosing the right filter for your photos or writing the perfect blog post. When it comes to content, Swish prefers putting it out there to get feedback and learning from it rather than taking a long time to make it “perfect.”
The other way to make the biggest impact is to engage in your community. Not only post as often as you can, but also take time to reply to comments. When you engage with your audience, they’ll get to know you and start to trust you more. Swish urges us to “find a hundred people to love you, whether it’s for a product or whether it’s for your personal brand.” This builds community.
How to Prevent Burnout
Even if we love being entrepreneurs, burnout can happen at any time. Swish learned the hard way to avoid burnout and admits he’s learned a lot from Quinn about work-life balance. The first thing Swish does is go for a walk or run every day. This is a great way to disconnect and focus on something other than work.
The second way Swish prevents burnout is by doing reflections every week. He thinks about what made him happy or unhappy that week. He realized that burnout isn’t just about being overloaded with work; it’s more a feeling of not being in control, which then leads to a spiral of burnout and stress.
We don’t need to buy into the hustle culture mindset to be successful. As entrepreneurs and authors, when we find what makes us happy, we can design our life around that. In my business, I try to only work Tuesday through Thursday, making sure I have four-day weekends every week. This makes it so I have to engage the workdays precisely, but the long weekends make it worth it. I’ve found my own work-life boundaries, and I encourage my team to do the same.
What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Are you ready to make an impact as an author and entrepreneur? What can you do today to build your community? Share in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. If you have a message inside of you that needs to be written, today is the day to start. Don’t delay—take action.
Get a copy of Swish’s book here:
The Young Entrepreneur: How to Start a Business While You’re Still a Student