Entrepreneur Listened to Dad's Advice: 'Publish or Perish'

We’re highlighting small businesses from around the country as nominated by you, our readers. If your favorite small business is using Twitter to communicate with customers, let us know about it @fbsmallbiz with the hashtag #mysbc, and it may be featured as an upcoming Small Business Spotlight.

Small Business Spotlight: Poems To Go

Who: Amy Miller, @poemsandspeech

What: Custom-written poems, speeches and toasts

When: 2001

Where: Rhode Island

How: After working as a greeting card writer, Amy Miller wanted to turn her profession into her own business. She created Poems To Go to offer customers a service that provides personalized speeches, toasts and poems.

When the business launched in Boston, Miller put an advertisement on Craigslist in search of writers. She  says she received hundreds of responses and put the prospective writers to the test, sending them a completed questionnaire that would be used to write a personalized poem. She selected six writers to join her in serving Poems To Go customers, and some remain with the business today.

Miller likened her business as a “small Hallmark.” In addition to writing custom greetings, Poems To Go prints the personalized remarks on stationary.

“It’s fun and a lot of hard work. I became a SEO expert and had the website redesigned,” Miller said with a laugh. “I couldn’t have done it with these wonderful writers.”

Miller explained that her father, who was killed when she was 12 years old, provides the inspiration for her business. He owned a cable assemblies manufacturer in Miller’s native city of Boston. Miller said her father wrote “Publish or Perish” in the back of his yearbook from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, leading her to start a publishing business.

“I looked up to him.  I decided the best way to memorialize him was to create a business,” Miller said of her father. “As I loved to write and was a greeting card writer, I started Poemstogo.tv. It has gone through the mill with different web designers and lots of hard work and love. But I was determined to make it grow and it has. My customers come back year after year for their special occasions. I know that my father would be proud of me and the products that  [we] create.”

Quote from the owner: “A lot of the people who come to us are in a panic about speeches or toasts. We really do provide a wonderful product. As one of my writers would say, we give you a lot of bank for the buck.”