Good small biz reads #10: Find your point of difference, raising dough, and doing a good job with your business writing

Flickr photo by rodrigogalindez/CC License

As we launch into May, it’s time for another edition of good small biz reads, in which I share three of the best articles I’ve found in the past month to help guide small business owners along the path to success.

• First up is the topic of finding the point of difference between your business and its competitors. Writing for American Express’s Open Forum (one of my favorite sources for good business information, BTW), Heather Allard, founder of, provides advice on “How to Find Your Point of Difference and Promote It.”

“What makes you different?” is a question that some clients over the years have had a hard time answering when I first met them and am trying to learn about their businesses. Allard offers some excellent suggestions on how to find the answer this all-important question.

• Raising money to move your small business forward is a stress-causing situation. In “The Most Important Word When Raising Money for Your Small Business,” entrepreneur Don Charlton offers simple but highly meaningful advice on how a simple change in vocabulary can make when trying to decide if the offer on the table is good or bad. Instead of thinking about “giving up” equity, he suggests thinking in terms of “trading” equity. Our choice of words does matter, especially in tension-fraught situations; using the right word can put us in a positive frame of mind.

• Finally, from comes a subject near and dear to my heart: “10 Tips for Better Business Writing.” All the advice here is top notch but author Helen Coster managed to hit on one of my pet peeves when she wrote: “No need to write ‘utilize’ when ‘use’ works just as well.” Yes! If I had a quarter for every time I’ve changed “utilize” to “use” in client copy over the last 15 years, I’d have quite a tidy sum. Somehow when the techies began to take over in the mid ‘90s, they brought this useless language with them and now everyone talks about utilizing this and utilizing that. Don’t do it; don’t do it; don’t do it!

There, I’ve done my rant; I feel better now! Happy reading!


  1. Trish says:

    I love the quote about 'use' and 'utilize'. I wonder if that's where 'incentivize' came from.

    • JeanneYocum says:

      I think everything started to get "ized" in the mid to late 1990s. Lots of nouns got turned into verbs. I guess we could say they got verbized! 🙂

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