Category Archives: How to

8 Tips to Prepare Your Business for the New Year.


Your small business is like your car. It needs regular servicing to keep it running smoothly.

With the year rapidly drawing to a close, now’s the time to give your business a tune -up.

Here are 8 tips that’ll have your company running like a Rolls Royce in 2013.

1. Evaluate

Take a hard look at what’s  not working in your business and drop it.  It might be a marketing approach that has failed to generate leads. Or it might be fees that are too low to sustain your business.

Similarly, look at what’s working. How can you do more or improve on your success?  Maybe your  speaking engagements have been a great way of getting new clients. Consider offering more.

2. Declutter

Finding it hard to find the surface of your desk? Are there file folders and books stacked on the floor? Actually, it’s beginning to sound a lot like my office. ;-)

You’ll feel more organized and on top of things once you get rid of extraneous stuff. You don’t have to be a fanatic about it. A little order and spaciousness can go a long way.  Set aside a few minutes  a day and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.

Just to let you know I’ve started my own decluttering. I do have a desk!

3. Bookkeeping

If you keep your receipts in a shoe box, it’s time to consider a bookkeeper or an accounting software program.

It’s critical that you have a clear picture of income, expenses, and profit. Without an ongoing snapshot of your financials you’ll never be able to accurately assess your company’s health.

4. Learn

Being a successful small business owner requires constantly upgrading  and learning new skills. Look for webinars, tutorials, expert speakers, and courses that will make a difference to your performance  in 2013.

For some great online training sites of interest to personal historians click here.

5. Connect

There’s a wealth of information and support to be found in professional  and small business associations.  For example, if you’re a personal historian and haven’t yet joined the Association of Personal Historians, make sure to join today.

6. Plan

Without a road map you’ll never know where you’re going.   Look ahead at the coming year and write down your goals. Keep them realistic. Grandiose plans are sure to fail and will leave you discouraged.

Check out Really Simple Goal Setting   for some excellent help.

7. Website

If you don’t have a website or blog, get one. If you have one, it’s time to take a critical look at it. How fresh is the content? How easy is it to navigate around the site? What’s missing? What can be discarded? How professional does it look?

You can find more on building a successful blog here.

8. Self-care

A healthy business needs a healthy owner. It’s easy to neglect your own care  when working hard to make a success of your business.

Make certain to schedule time for you in your day planner.  Whether it’s going to the gym or for a walk, meditating or reading a book, you need to give yourself permission to relax and recharge.

For more articles on taking care of yourself check these out:

What are the things you do to get yourself and your business ready for a new year?

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How Can a Labyrinth Lead You to Success?

If you don’t know where you’re going…you might not get there. ~ Yogi Berra

Recently I walked a labyrinth. I don’t do this regularly. But I was attending a silent weekend  Buddhist retreat and outside the retreat center was a large labyrinth.

You can find business lessons almost anywhere.

I became aware that walking the labyrinth was akin to establishing and running a successful personal history business. There is a beginning with all the anticipation of the journey ahead. And there’s an end goal of a flourishing business.  And the distance between these two points  is not a straight line but a series of intricate interconnecting paths.

What does a labyrinth  have to teach us about running a successful personal history business?

Have a plan

You need to know where you’re going and how to get there.

In a labyrinth, just as you’re about to reach your destination,  the path veers off and you find yourself moving away.  But you trust if you keep following it, you’ll eventually reach your goal. And you do.

Similarly,  in your personal history business you need to have a clearly marked path. It starts with having in place a workable business plan that will give you confidence to get through through the inevitable twists and turns your business will take.

Don’t give up

Like the twisting path of the  labyrinth, you’ll  encounter setbacks in your business. It’s easy to get discouraged. But if you have a solid business plan and are committed to reaching your goal, then you’ll be encouraged to continue, knowing that success can be yours.

Take time for reflection

Walking a labyrinth is in part an exercise in reflection. The mind is focused on the path, allowing some of the busyness of your life to settle. You can see more clearly.

Running your personal history business can  seem overwhelming at times. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it. But  successful business owners take time to examine where their company has been, where it’s going, and what changes need to be made to keep on track.

Make time to reflect on the health of your business.


Having a sound and wise path to follow in life and in business is the trick to  happiness. There is no one path. You’ll need to determine what’s right for you. Once you’ve chosen your path,  set out with joy, courage, and humbleness.

And remember what Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going…you might not get there.

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Photo by Jim Champion

Encore! What Tony Bennett Can Teach Us About Burnout.

At 86 Tony Bennett is an inspiration. Besides his  latest album Viva Duets and just published memoir Life is a Gift , Bennett continues to tour.  How does he do all this without getting burnt out? The answer comes in an interview he gave Jacob Richler in Zoomer magazine. He said,…Read more.

Encore! Bringing the Dead to Life: Writing a Biography of an Ancestor.

The other day I was asked if I had any ideas about writing the biography of a dead family member. This struck a responsive chord in me. For some time I’ve wanted to write  about my mother’s father, my grandfather. He was only thirty-two when he died in 1920. A Winnipeg fire fighter, he succumbed to the great flu pandemic that was sweeping the world. My mother was only two when he died and she had few stories about him…Read more.

Encore! 9 Great Links to Help With “Pesky” Grammatical Stuff.


I’ve a confession to make. I’ve never been great with  grammar. Maybe that’s why I work primarily in video ;-)   I’m sure some of you more keen- eyed grammarians have spotted the odd blunder or two in my posts. However, when I do write major pieces I always rely on a good editor to polish my work. For those of you who prefer to work on your own, here’s a great list…Read more.

Encore! Personal Historians, Are You LGBT Language Sensitive?

The following article is reprinted with the kind permission of Personal Historian, Sally Goldin.  She is a member of the Association of Personal Historians and can be contacted here. 


As a lesbian mother and personal historian, I’ve been thinking about the issue of LGBT invisibility in regards to preserving life stories.

Even though LGBT issues have become more visible and acceptable in this society, there are still situations where you can be fired, harassed, or physically attacked for being an LGBT person. I was clearly reminded of this because of the harassment and discrimination a teacher friend of mine experienced in the Houston Independent School District. In this YouTube presentation to the Board of the H. I. S. D. he describes the harassment he encountered.  (The picture clears up at 30seconds). This is a person who had previously been named Teacher of the Year twice in 5 years… Read more.

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Encore! 4 Ways to Get Control of a Runaway Interview.

A weakness common to novice interviewers  is their inability to take charge of an interview.  Interviews frequently look  like a runaway train with the interviewer gamely hanging on to the proverbial  little red caboose.

Taking charge doesn’t mean forcing or dictating the direction of the interview. It’s more like riding a horse. Anyone familiar with riding knows that it requires confidence and a gentle hold on the reins. The same  approach applies to interviewing.

Here are four ways to keep control of your interview: … Read more.

Encore! Act Now to Save and Store Your Old Photos.

If you’re like me, you’ve inherited old photo albums with the pictures held down on so called magnetic pages. The trouble with these albums  is that the adhesive used and the plastic liners damage the photos over time. Removing the photos is a priority. I went looking for help and boiled my research down to these seven essential steps…Read more.

Encore! 8 Ways To Make Your Business Stand Out From the Crowd.

In today’s marketplace you’ve got to do more than offer excellent service and product. That’s a given. To separate your small business from all the others offering a similar service you’ve got to be unique and memorable. How do you do that?…Read more.

Encore! How Prepared Are You to Interview Terminally Ill Clients?

Life continually challenges us with the unexpected.  And only a fool would attempt to prepare for the unforeseen. It does help though to go into uncharted territory with our eyes open to potential risks. Interviewing terminally ill people for their life stories is  satisfying, worthwhile, and often moving work. Though it does come with precautions… Read more.