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An Ocean of Knowledge Two Inches Deep

Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible (1st Edition)You are the CEO of a company, albeit a very small one—maybe even a one-person company run from your basement. No matter what your venture’s size, you are the CEO and, as CEO, you make the decisions that impact every aspect of your business.

If there is one irrefutable truth about business, it is this: business success is the result of making the right decisions. The science of business—if there is such a creature—is the science of making good decisions.

From the start of your business to the very peak of its success, you will be called upon to make very specific, detailed decisions across the entire scope of your business’ activities: planning, strategy, finance, accounting, taxes, marketing, advertising, infrastructure . . . everything. And “everything” includes some of the most mundane, boring, dumb decisions imaginable, like who answers the phone. Just because you’re uninterested in some issue does not exempt you from the responsibility of making a good decision.

An acquaintance of mine spent many years at the pinnacle of the corporate ladder as the President of Worldwide Marketing first at Walt Disney and then at Sony Pictures. I once asked him what it was like to do such “big” jobs. He answered, “You have to have an ocean of knowledge . . . about two inches deep.”

As CEO of your company, good decision-making requires that you have an ocean of knowledge two inches deep.

When some Web developer blasts you an email and tells you that this or that page on your Web site should use Ajax, you shouldn’t be wondering why it should need a good scrubbing. You should know what Ajax is and why anyone would want to use it. Otherwise, how can you decide? How do you know you’re making the right decision? Because some tech guy says so?

When some designer hands you a logo, how do you know it’s the best logo for your company? Because you like it? What if it looks great on your screen but looks like garbage warmed over on a fax sheet or business card? What do you need to know to make sure your logo is right? How do you decide?

That is what this book is about.

We are here to help you with that ocean of knowledge that you need in order to make good decisions. We are not here to cheer you on with the virtues and promises of outsourcing a shoestring venture. We are here to arm you with the knowledge and resources that you can use to build a business through outsourcing . . . on a shoestring budget.

Since this book is about knowledge—the knowledge you need to set up your organization, outsource vital functions, and make all the decisions that land on your desk—we have written it as a reference work. You can always read it from beginning to end. Why you would do that, we can’t imagine, but it’s always an option. Better yet, you could get to know each section as the subject becomes important to your business. You should, however, spend a lot of time in the index. You should definitely mark up the pages. When you’re faced with a decision, just flip through the pages and find what you need. Even if you read it through at one sitting, it’s a book we intend you to use over and over again throughout the life of your venture. Scratch that. We intend you to use this book over and over again throughout the long life of your venture!

As a result, we have repeated some sections. Since obtaining a domain name is vitally important when naming your company, we provide you with domain name resources in the very first chapter on starting up your business. But obtaining a domain name is also key to developing your Web site, so we have repeated this section in our Web site chapter.

Some of the online resources we cite have uses across a variety of business activities, such as SCORE, the free consulting service for small businesses, or Craig’s List, the number one online classified advertising site in the world. So we have repeated these resources in more than one part of the book.
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