Category Archives: Business

A Tip for Writing for the Web: Avoid the Cliché


An excerpt from Writing for the Web by Crawford Kilian

Avoid clichés like the plague. A cliché is a phrase or expression that was once so new and surprising that everyone repeated it. Like an unspoiled tourist destination ruined by too many tourists, the cliché loses its whole reason for existence when everyone uses it. Continue reading

6 Questions for Event Planning Expert Shannon Lach

1. What ignited the spark in you to start your own business?

I say in the book that at a young age I knew I had a problem with authority! It might be the wrong answer, but it is the honest one. I always felt that my opinions and ideas were never taken seriously because of my age, sex and physical appearance. Being an event planner has been a dream since I was 17 and I always knew I would open my own business. Sometimes tragedy, risk and dreams all come together at the same time to create something beautiful – my beautiful was my business, PEAR.

 2. What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business in the event planning industry?
  1. Have the right answer to… “why do you want to be an event planner”
  2. Get experience in any way you can
  3. Don’t be a gossip – become a leader, not a follower
3. What are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful event planner?
  1. Problem solving skills
  2. Confidence
  3. Kindness/Sincerity
4. How do you generate new ideas?

I just wake up.  I take inspiration from all points of life. I am not a researcher like many business owners.  I pride myself on knowing the caliber of experience and excellence I would expect from an event planner and execute it with my clients. I learn each and every event I do – throughout the entire process.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of it is trial and error, but most ideas work. I find that if I look at what other people are doing, I do just that…what they are doing.  My clients hire me to host an event unlike any other. I may pull ideas from social media or Pinterest 1% of the time, but a collaborative meeting with my team and the client is really what drives my ideas.  It is all about editing. Never do the same thing twice and you will survive in this industry!

5. What are the top trends for 2014 holiday events?

Dinner Parties. Hiring a private chef to come to your house to prepare a 5 course meal for your loved ones and friends. Then you get to host and enjoy at the same time!

6. What precautions do you take at events around the holidays to prevent the spread of germs?

The largest concern for germs is with the food – making sure you hire a capable and respectable caterer to handle and prep the food. I also make sure that all dishes for sharing have proper serving utensils and most often suggest a single serving portion to the client. Our staff is always washing their hands when in contact with various items, including food and cards, or any item possibly carried frequently by other hands. If everyone practices proper etiquette it should not be an issue.

Feeling inspired? For a step-by-step guide on how to build an event planning company that thrives, see Lach’s new book on the subject here published this fall by Self-Counsel Press.  

Jack Borden’s 7 Steps To Sales Success


In the construction industry, tradespeople are selling something that can only be envisioned, specified, drawn, planned or verbally communicated. You can’t buy a plumbing job off the shelf for your new house. So how does a business owner offering a service make the sale? According to Jack Borden, there are seven important things to consider: Continue reading

How to Host a Healthy Holiday Event

With infectious diseases dominating headlines while flu clinics make their annual office rounds, the spread of germs has landed top of mind for many as we enter the bustling holiday season. Below are 5 simple precautions anyone preparing a holiday gathering can take to ensure their events are not gateways for infection.

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From Page to Pixel: Technology and the Author

online-promoThe digital revolution has drastically changed where readers buy books, what books they read and in what format they read them. While these changes initially made engaging with and building loyalty among readers a challenge for authors and publishers, the shift online has come to be seen as an enormous marketing opportunity. Digital platforms offer valuable insight into how characters, plot lines and topics are perceived while presenting an opportunity for publishers and authors to directly engage with readers.

The internet offers authors many ways to market and promote a book. Engaging with readers through dedicated websites, blogs, social media outlets and other content media platforms extends a reader’s experience with a book. It allows them to share their opinion and information about it, thus empowering them to advocate for and promote the book through his or her own online channels. Why does a reader share their thoughts on a book? The simple answer: they enjoyed the book and want to encourage others to read it. A more analyzed answer: an author has helped, informed, delighted and inspired a reader and offered easy to share content.

The key to engaging with readers online is to provide easy-to-find content that people want to comment on and share. According to Debbie Elicksen, author of Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age, “Creating great content is about answering a question people have.”  Is your content educational? Is it providing insight? Is it inspiring change? Making your content discoverable is vital so initially you’ll want to identify and then listen closely to your niche market. Who are they? What do they like to share? What are they talking about? Who are they following and who follows them? The internet is a sticky web and you will find like minded people clumped together. Find your niche, set up camp and then find engaging ways to deliver content.

The takeaway here is that it doesn’t matter if you are a lawyer writing on personal bankruptcy or a sci-fi author with 2 million unit print runs. Your readers are online therefore you should be too.

For more on how to create an online profile, market your book and build your own digital empire see Debbie Elicksen’s new book Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age. You can also check out her website here or chat her up on twitter @bookpublish101.

Should Your Business Keep a Blog?

Blogs are all over the Web. Many businesses maintain a blog on or separate from their business websites. Some of them are written well and worth reading; some of them are written poorly and a waste of time.

Besides keeping your eye on popular and successful blogs to see what others are succeeding (or perhaps failing) at, I believe there are several main things that any business owner should consider before investing time and money into a 2 Continue reading

Should You Declare Bankruptcy in Canada?


Bankruptcy is an involved process in Canada, and though you don’t lose literally everything at the time of declaring it, it can take months of dealing with a bankruptcy trustee, selling things off, and living on the bare minimum to be in the clear and get that fresh start. If you are considering bankruptcy, there are a few things you should bear in mind before signing everything over to cover your debts.

Do Your Research First

Before going straight into bankruptcy, read about your options and learn what bankruptcy would actually entail for you in your area.

Bankruptcy involves signing over your assets in trust to a trustee in bankruptcy or a lawyer, who will help you to value them and then will sell them to pay off your debts. Generally, you will get to keep very few things such as a limited amount of clothing and your wedding rings, but maybe not your car if it’s worth more than a certain amount; it all depends on your province. See what provincial exemptions there are in your province.

Industry Canada’s Superintendent of Bankruptcy sets “Superintendent’s Standards” for how much income a person can live on and how much should be put toward paying off debts in bankruptcy. The Standards for 2014 can be seen on Industry Canada’s website; these are updated annually.

You can speak to a trustee or lawyer before declaring bankruptcy to make sure it is what you want to do before you actually do it. It is also wise to find out how it will affect your spouse or children and how much you will have to live on while going through the process.

For a first-time bankrupt, bankruptcy can mean nine months between declaring bankruptcy and getting out of it, and that can feel like a very long time.

Don’t Ditch Assets to Try to Hide Them

If you are considering bankruptcy, don’t think that putting the house in your spouse’s name will help you. Sometimes, a bankrupt person will have “gifted” something, such as a vehicle, to someone, such as a child, before declaring bankruptcy, thinking that will mean he or she won’t actually have to give up the asset fully. However, if the asset was given away for less than fair market value within a certain amount of time before bankruptcy is declared, creditors can actually go after it and sue to get it back from the child, to sell and cover the debtor’s debts.

A Proposal to Creditors

Sometimes, all it takes to clear off your debt is a proposal to creditors. Essentially, a proposal is just that; you ask creditors if they are willing to work out a payment plan with you so that they will get paid, just not all at once, for example. This can be done informally or formally, with help from a trustee or lawyer.

Sometimes, creditors are willing to work with you, because they know that if you declare bankruptcy, it could become even more complicated for them. A proposal may mean they’ll make their money back, perhaps on a payment schedule instead of in a lump sum.

Talk to a Trustee in Bankruptcy, or a Bankruptcy Lawyer

To work out a proposal to creditors or to declare bankruptcy, you will need to see a trustee in bankruptcy or a bankruptcy lawyer (keep in mind that not all lawyers deal with bankruptcy often, so ask around). He or she can advise you on the steps to take, whichever direction you choose.

For more information on creating a proposal to creditors or the steps into and out of bankruptcy, see the recently released Consumer Bankruptcy: A Practical Guide for Canadians, a book by lawyer Frank Bennett. It explains consumer proposals and bankruptcy in detail, and is a good read before you make any drastic decisions, or while you are going through bankruptcy proceedings.

The future of business marketing – Gamification.

The Internet recently celebrated its 25th birthday and like all things that prove their worth, the staying power badge has been well earned. 

Those in business of every size and in every industry know that an Internet presence is today’s storefront and your company on social media is your voice to the world. Even social media, once a novel marketing tool, is now a mainstay of every venture, business or otherwise. 

So where can businesses look for the next revolution in marketing?

We recently heard about the gamification start-up Insticator when they were the focus of Debbie Elicksen and Cynthia K. Seymour’s Virtual Newsmakers Show.

We were immediately drawn into the site and happily spent way too much time there, so we knew they were on to something very fun.  

What Insticator does is allows users to open a free profile then accumulate rewards by voting on the outcomes of their favourite sports, or key story lines of their favourite TV shows. For example, if you’re a Calgary Flames fan who also watches Game of Thrones, you can predict the outcome of the next Flame match AND predict whether King Joffrey will finally get his due karma this season. The more shows or games you vote on, the more rewards you earn.  

When we reached out to Insticator earlier this year to tell them that they’ve got a cool site, they asked us if we’d be willing to offer up some rewards. We were more than happy to.

Since 1971, we’ve helped visionaries build their businesses from the ground up. Our customers rely on us for the best books on DIY legal advice and for insights and best practice policies for everything from incorporating your company to managing off-site employees. Our books are found at major retailers everywhere and independent book stores near you.  

 At Insticator, you can collect 250 rewards on Insticator to get a major discount on some of our most popular titles; No More Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Self Publishing 101, Getting Grants and Start & Run a Copywriting Business.

We’re thrilled to be a part of the next generation of Internet marketing futurists. Gamification as a marketing tool for business is here to stay, and from what we can see, will ignite the promotion and marketing of your brand in today’s marketplace.  

We have only one warning, Insticator is very addictive. Good luck trying to take a quick peek!

How are you gamifying your brand? Are you taking your marketing into a new world? Tweet us your story at @SelfCounsel. 

Popular Home Baking Business

A few years ago, baker and entrepreneur Mimi Fix was in the middle of major life changes and in need of a new source of income. She turned to something she was good at that she could do from home: Baking.

Ms. Fix isn’t the only one who has discovered that baking can be a boon when you want to start a business but have barely any start-up capital. It is, and perhaps always has been a business with low barriers to entry including low start-up costs, minimal education requirements, and low overhead if done from home. While many people have sold jams and pies out of their homes in the past, in recent years home-based cupcake businesses have become trendy.

Having a home-based food business is “especially helpful for people who are not satisfied in their present job or career, because it can be a way to ease into the food business without leaving the security of a job,” says Fix in her book, Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business.

People with children may also find that it is a business that can be run while caring for kids, as it can be done in their own time, without the need to pay for daycare or babysitters as they work (as long as the kids are safely out of the kitchen and all food safety rules concerning preparation are followed).

After running her own business for several years, and working in bakeries and commercial kitchens and in corporate food research and development, Fix expanded her enterprise and turned to teaching baking classes at several locations, and writing books such as Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business. The book teaches other food entrepreneurs how to start and run successful bakeries (and other food enterprises) from home, while avoiding some of the pitfalls she faced herself when she started.

According to Fix, some of the most important things to consider are local laws concerning food safety and packaging, and what the rules are about home-based food businesses in your area. Research, ask questions, educate yourself through reading and classes, and practice making products until they’re good enough to sell.

Also, learning a bit about running a business never hurts, such as learning how to properly inventory supplies, how to calculate ingredient and recipe costs so that products can be priced appropriately, and how to market and sell wares.

Running a home-based food business is a dream come true for some, like Fix, who said in her book, “For many people, the idea of owning a food business is a fantasy that seems unattainable. But with a few simple steps and very little expense, anyone can start a home-based food business and make money.”

About For more on how to start your own home baking or other food business, see the comprehensive guide for food entrepreneurs: Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business by Mimi Fix. Find it in our store:

in print, or

as an ebook.

Visit Mimi Fix’s website“.

Social Media Essential for Many Small Businesses


Social media is an essential tool for many small businesses, according to San Diego-area authors and marketers Holly Berkley and Amanda Walter. It can be underused, overused, or misused in the wrong hands, and learning what to do and how to do it is essential as it can make or break a business.

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