Thursday, September 30, 2010

Using Your Gift of Writing to Fight Cancer (WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour )

I wrote today's post as part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN (  The book includes Diana's experiences, reflections, poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to express their own personal stories.  A survivor of both breast cancer and multiple myeloma, Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin--in that it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health.

Diana, the author of eight books, spent 25 years as a medical and self-help writer before turning to poetry and memoir.  She teaches creative journaling and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

If you comment on today's post you'll be entered to win a copy of Healing with Words:  A Writer's Cancer Journey.  To read Diana's post about breast cancer and a list of other blogs participating in Diana's Blanket Tour visit The Muffin.

                                       Using Your Gift of Writing to Fight Cancer

We all have God-given gifts and we as writers can use these talents to report, inform, entertain, encourage and spread hope to our readers.  We all know someone who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer and here are some ways you as a writer can take advantage of your profession and use your gifts to fight this disease:

*The gift of time:
Writing is basically a home-based business and with laptop and the use of other technology, or just a pen and tablet we can write anywhere.  Having this flexibility of my time, I have been able to arrange my writing hours to accompany my best friend, my mother, and my husband to doctors’ appointments, and treatments. Depending on the person’s wishes and permission from medical staff, I have accompanied my friends and family members into just about every type of screening test-treatment that exists.  I have worn gowns, lead-shields, ear plugs, shoe coverings, and masks; and slept on couches, chairs, and even a hospital bed so I could be there for my loved ones.

*The gift of listening-interviewing-advocating:
Writers are good at posing questions that others may not have thought to ask.  Persons with cancer are often so overwhelmed with the entire experience, that they cannot remember all that is said or their care instructions.  You can be that extra “pair of ears,” to help your loved one understand the medical jargon; and write a summary of the doctors’ directions for him or her.  You can also be her-his advocate, to ensure medical staff will follow their wishes.

*The gift of research:
As most writers are good at researching facts for their fiction and nonfiction projects, you can help people find the best doctors and treatments for their cancer.  When one surgeon wanted to remove most of my husband’s colon because of possible pre-cancerous polyps, my research found a surgeon with less-invasive methods.

*The gift of writing:
--When two of my closest women-friends died of lung cancer (neither they nor their husbands ever smoked), I interviewed medical researchers and wrote an article on some new research findings.

--I love a “cause,” like my great-grandmother who was a writer-poet and suffragette.  I regularly write “snail mail” letters to politicians, urging them to fund more cancer research.

--We can write press releases for nonprofits' upcoming events or to help them get grants for funding.

--We can help persons with cancer in writing their memoirs; or as with Diana M. Raab, our featured author, we can journal and share our experiences in battling cancer.

How will you use your writing gifts to help us win the battle against cancer?

* * *

                                               What I Never Knew about Cancer…

I never knew…that cancer could strike anyone, at any age or time in his or her lives, no matter what their physical condition.

I never knew…that so many others have also suffered along with their loved ones and friends who have contracted some type of cancer.

I never knew…that cancer is an alien in disguise, fooling one’s body into thinking it is developing friendly cells, when all along it is insidiously robbing the body of its nourishment, its dignity, its very life.

I never knew…we spend billions of dollars on weapons of war, and so very little on
research to develop tests to detect cancer before it gets a death grip that cannot be loosened by any number of medicines or treatments.

I never knew…there were so many compassionate and caring medical professionals and
aides who bring comfort and support to not only their patients with cancers but to their family and friends as well.  And they do this today and every day during both work and after work hours.

I never knew…how many people—friends, relatives, neighbors, church members, and
those who never even met the person with cancer—will visit, call, send letters and cards.  And not just once, but over and over again to let that person know she or he are in their prayers as well as the family members caring for that person.

I never knew…that even in the “dying days” there could be laughter in exchanging
personal anecdotes, watching “chick flicks” and reading “Howard Huge” and “Garfield” comics, eating DQ ice cream and animal crackers at 3 AM in the morning; and sharing the tales of grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s accomplishments and antics.

I never knew…that God could be so close to a person with cancer and to those who
love her.  He eases the pain and suffering and takes her hand as they walk
into Heaven, while laying His other hand on the bowed heads of her loved ones
to comfort them in their grief as they say their “Good-byes.”

I never knew…that cancer really does not “win,” but is soundly defeated by God’s love and by all those who care.  With their courage, and with God’s support, some day… people will be able to say, “I never knew there was something called Cancer!!”
Ó2002 Priscilla Y. Huff in memory of her mother, Helen, thyroid cancer, her mother-in-law, Gladys, colon cancer; Aunt Betty, breast cancer. And dear friends, The Revered Pamela A. Chomitzky, lung cancer; Joan, lung cancer. AND to Caren, my sister-in-law and courageous breast cancer survivor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Business?**

What Business?

Most businesses ideas are either product- or service-based. If you are recognized as an expert in your field, becoming a professional consultant is another entrepreneurial option you might consider. Having work, volunteer, or hobby experiences in the industry of the business idea that interests you increases the chance of your business’ success. Home-ventures are also either performed on-site (your home’s office, garage, basement, or other area); in clients’ homes (like cleaning or professional organizing); or with a combination of these.

Make a list of business ideas that interest you and research information and talk to others in related industries to see if a future market potential exists for your proposed venture(s). Are there enough potential customers ready to hire or purchase from you to justify your starting a particular enterprise? Often businesses that solve a problem or that save or make people money tend to have the best success rates. The good news is that no matter where or what your business is there are common operational tasks that you can fit in between your day job’s work.

Visit libraries for home business idea books, attend business expos and search the Internet for small business forums, and business idea web sites for ideas. Be aware of the rise of work-at-home business scams. Visit for questions to ask before investing in any home business opportunity. See also my book: "101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women, 3rd ed

** Previously published “Sneak a Start-Up!” in the October, 2009, issue of HOME
BUSINESS® Magazine, an international publication for the growing and dynamic home-based business market. Available on newsstands, in bookstores and chainstores, and via subscriptions (U. S.) ($19.00 for 1 year, six issues). Visit
Next: WOW – On Friday, October 1st, for the October Breast Cancer Awareness month, I will write a post as part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for
Healing with Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pros and Cons of Investing in a Franchise and-or Business Opportunity

Turnkey opportunities such as franchises and business opportunities can offer less risk than starting a business from scratch because of their proven operating programs. Here are some additional pros and cons to consider before you invest any money:

--Experience is often not necessary because many companies provide training.
--Name recognition by potential customers.
--Sales, marketing, financial assistance available.
--Proven product and sales record.
--Supplies and equipment available and standardized.

--Financial investment may be substantial.
--Have to follow company procedures.
--Required to purchase company’s supplies.
--If you decide to quit the franchise, you have nothing to show for your years of work—no building, equipment, and other items.

Research all opportunities to ensure they are legitimate and that they fit your abilities and that a potential market exists for you to make the profits you desire.

Suggested Resources:
--From “SBA-Approved Franchises: How do they work and How does the loan application process change?” - “A Consumer Guide to Buying a Franchise.” - The Association of Franchisees and Dealers - The International Franchise Association
Next: Choosing a Business

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do You Have an Entrepreneurial Personality?

Entrepreneurs are a unique group of people. They have a self-confidence and charisma that distinguishes them from others. They are non-conformists and tend to ask many “whys” and “why nots?” and love it when they are told, “it will never work!” or even “You’re crazy!” They enjoy the challenge entrepreneurship provides them and are driven to succeed. Here are some additional entrepreneurial characteristics:

*Risk-Taker – Entrepreneurs are generally non-conformists with courage to try something that they (or others) have never tried before.

*Self-Motivator – Entrepreneurs are self-driven to take the steps necessary to achieve their personal and business goals. They have that “never give-up” determination and high energy to put in the hours they need to succeed.

*Unafraid of Failure – Statistics reveal that it often takes as many as three attempts to start a business before one succeeds. Entrepreneurs know that failure itself is not bad. Instead, they learn from their mistakes and persist until they succeed.

*Willing to Ask Questions – Entrepreneurs are not afraid to ask the questions until they find the necessary answers. They never stop learning!

*Entrepreneurs Love Their Businesses! – Whenever you talk to business owners, there is an enthusiasm and energy that emanates from them. You can hear it in their voices and observe it in their movements.

Every new business faces obstacles and challenges that can be overcome only by long and hard efforts; but for the entrepreneur, the rewards can be plentiful. It is worth a consideration.

Suggested Resources:

“Do You Have What It Takes? (SBA Small Business Planner) -

The Entrepreneurial: A Social Construction by Elisabeth Chell

Next: Pros & Cons of Investing in a Franchise and-or Business Opportunity

Friday, September 17, 2010

Establish Your Business’s Ethics

After listening to some of the present-day television and radio talk show hosts, you may despair that any fair play or ethics in politics or business have become a thing of the past. That is the media. Ethics are still very important in how you conduct yourself in your business, as it relates to your customer relations and also the standards of your industry and-or profession. You may not realize it, but your business will reflect your standards, your philosophy, and your moral values. For example, Ellen, a professional organizer, does not take any gifts from clients. “They will say, ‘Here, you can have this glass vase or dish,’ as we are cleaning out their home,” she says. “Instead, I urge them to get a licensed appraiser to assess their items and then they can either sell them, give them to others (not me), or keep them with their estate.”

Here are some guidelines for establishing your business’s ethics:
*Be honest in your dealings with your customers and business associates. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, make reasonable amends, and then take steps to ensure it will not happen again.

*Be fair and treat all customers, subcontractors, and-or employees with equal respect. *Check to see if your trade industry recommends a code of ethics to follow. It will help legitimize your business. For example, the Direct Selling Association ( has an ethics code for its members.

*Follow your instincts, common sense, and the “Golden Rule.” As one woman entrepreneur says, “If a client or business associate requests I do something with which I am not comfortable, even if it appears to be potentially lucrative, I will not do it.”

*Exchange information freely with others in your industry. You never know what leads they may give back in return. You can also discuss how they have handled ethical problems.

Establish your business principles now to be your guide should you ever face a moral dilemma or problem.

Suggested Resources
*Book: Street-Smart Ethics: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul by Clinton W. McLemore
*Article: U. S. Small Business Administration’s “Business Planner,” article on writing your business’ ethics:

Next: Is your personality entrepreneurial?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

5 Home-Based Business Ideas with Low Start-up Costs

I just completed an assignment for Home Business Magazine,, featuring 25 home-based service business ideas for the December, 2010 issue. As I stated in the article, service-based ventures are generally the most reasonable in terms of cost to launch. Here are five examples:

Related Business Ideas – Training, product creation, boarding or pet-sitting.

*Financial Advising
Related Business Ideas – Home-based accountant; assist people in planning for college, retirement, getting out of debt.

*Business Support Services
Related Business Ideas -Virtual assistants; billing; customer service; market consultant for home-small, and-or e-commerce businesses.

Related Business Ideas – Professional make-up artists, hair stylist, and other beauty matters are in demand by theatre groups, modeling agencies.

*Fitness and Nutrition
Related Business Ideas – Fitness trainers, nutrition counseling for special diets.

More ideas are found in my book, 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women, 3rd ed.

Next: Establish Your Business’ Ethics