Small Business Success Q&A #8:

Shel Horowitz

I first met Shel Horowitz through the National Writers Union, where I saw him present at the writers conference the NWU used to sponsor here in Western MA. (That annual event, Write Angles, still continues but with a different sponsor. Check it out at They always have a great line-up of speakers to interest both experienced and newbie writers.) Since Shel’s line of work is similar to mine, we became friends.

Shel has managed to carve out a unique niche for himself in terms of the topics he writes about, which are all designed to help people market their businesses with ethical practices that don’t cost a fortune. He is a truly the small business person’s best friend.

I especially call your attention to his advice about constantly learning and staying head of market shifts. Far too many people fail to do that and end up being the equivalent of a buggy whip maker watching Henry Ford’s cars roll off the assembly line.

Name: Shel Horowitz


Location: Hadley, MA

Website: Directory of all my dozen or so sites and social media profiles:

Twitter handle: shelhorowitz

Founded: 1981

No. of employees: solo practitioner (with help form a virtual assistant in Alaska)

Business description:

1. Marketing consulting, strategic planning, social media, and copywriting for authors and publishers, small/micro businesses, solopreneurs, and nonprofits—emphasizing those who’d like to reach the Green and ethical consumer.

2. Walking unpublished writers through the process of becoming published authors, and then helping them market their books.

3. Helping businesses and consumers become more Green, and providing support for Green initiatives already underway.

4. Creating and selling my own information products (books, e-books, audios, membership programs, etc.)

5.  Speaking on all of these areas.

What have been the keys to your business success?

1. A diversified mix of products and services that continues to evolve over time as my skills, interests, and markets shift. (My first two profit centers are no longer even viable businesses: typing term papers, which I abandoned years ago, and writing resumes, which at one point accounted for 40-60 clients per month, now typically 3 to 5. Both times, I had moved to other areas well before those markets disappeared.)

2. Frugality.

3. An insatiable appetite for new skills and knowledge; I’m always in learning mode, and that helps me continue to keep my business fresh and viable.

4. Customer-centric attitude, where I try to over-deliver to the point that clients have to brag about me.

5. Being a self-acknowledged “publicity slut” who actively cultivates a presence in both traditional and new media and who is an expert at marketing at little or no cost (subject of six of my eight books, incidentally).

6. Partnering with others who reach my prospects and whose services/products complement mine (and vice versa).

7. Always keeping I mind that I’m here to make the world better, and that business can be a lever for social/environmental change.

Best business advice you’ve ever been given? Never stop learning; the world does not stand still.

Worst business advice you’ve ever been given? Concentrate on just one thing.

What was the toughest thing you’ve ever had to do as a business owner? Recognize that I was never going to be able to make a decent living by freelancing as a newspaper and magazine article writer, and choosing to develop my business into something that could encompass my passion for writing.

What advice would you give to someone just starting a business? Help others as often as possible, and others will help you.

Favorite all-time business book? Oh, there are so many! For today, I’ll pick The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey—and thank Stephen publicly once again for writing the foreword to my own latest book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson)

Favorite business book read in the past year? The Responsibility Revolution by Jeffrey Hollander. In some ways similar to Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, but Hollander approaches the issue from an operations viewpoint, rather than a marketing lens.

1 comment

  1. Thanks, Jeanne and Shel for this collaboration! I love the idea of interviewing one another. Jeanne, if you would like me to interview YOU (kind of like the photographer getting her picture taken!) I would be happy to. I used to have an internet radio show in L.A. called It's Not About Your Stuff.

    Great job!

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