When I first meet with business owners they have many of the same questions about selling their business:

  • What is my business worth?
  • How much will I pay in fees and taxes?
  • How long will it take you to sell my business?
  • How will you find a buyer?

But after all the initial concerns have been addressed, I invariably get asked one last question: “So, how did you get the New York Times gig?”

How I started blogging for the New York Times is kind of a funny story. I’d been receiving news via Email from the Times for years when, in the spring of 2009, a message arrived in my in-box announcing the launch of a new blog for small-business owners called “You’re the Boss.” The Email asked readers to visit the blog often, learn from fellow business owners, and add our own two cents on the Comment boards when we felt so inclined.

And that’s exactly what I did for about four months. In August of 2009 I received the following Email from one of the Times’ editors:

Hi Barbara. Thanks again for your comments on You’re the Boss. You know, you write very well and you certainly have an interesting perspective on small business. I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about writing a blog yourself. Is it something you would ever consider?

I thought he had read my mind. It just so happened that I had recently purchased a copy of “Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read,” by Scott McNulty, and was gearing up to launch a blog on the Synergy web site. Here is a portion of my reply:

Thank you so much for taking the time to send me this Email. The timing couldn’t be better, as I’ve set a deadline for myself to launch a blog by the end of September. I’ve been procrastinating for about a year now. The main reason I’ve hesitated to take the plunge is that I have no illusions about how much time it will take to create and maintain a good blog. (And I certainly don’t want to add another bad one to the blogosphere.) At any rate, this project has been on the back burner for too long; I need to download WordPress and start blogging!

I was just tickled that someone at the New York Times had said something — anything — nice about my writing. His next Email began with these two sentences:

Actually, sorry I didn’t make myself clear. But what I was really wondering was whether you’d be interested in contributing to You’re the Boss.

I just about fell out of my chair after reading those words. How could this be? Writing about small-business for the New York Times: it’s the double whammy for an English Major/M.B.A. Elation then turned to disbelief, as I became momentarily convinced that the entire correspondence had been some kind of Internet hoax. But who could be so cruel? And how could they possibly get an Email address that ended in @nytimes.com?

Ever since the launch of Transaction in October of 2009, I’ve promised myself that I would get back to that blog I had mentioned to the editor: A personal blog about lessons learned from starting a small-business in 2003 and selling it three years later, and from working exclusively with business owners since 2006. My hope is to share stories from the front lines of small business, inform a little, learn a lot, and have fun in the process.

After much encouragement from others, and a two-year delay, I begin my attempt to build a WordPress blog people will want to read. I hope that you will not only read it, but also share your own thoughts by posting comments — writing gig not included.

Author: Barbara Taylor

Barbara is co-founder of Allan Taylor & Co. and a former New York Times blogger. She has been a small-business owner since 2003. Barbara lives with her husband, Chris, and their two sons in Northwest Arkansas.