Categorized | Introduction

This is the Century for Small Business

Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible

Corporate leviathans appear to have every advantage over small business— big bank accounts, armies of Harvard-educated MBA’s, fleets of lawyers, wallets filled with powerful politicians, and access to the biggest, baddest, priciest media on the planet. And what do you have? A great idea, a laptop, and a stressed-out checking account. What chance do you have?

If every successful start-up venture required MBAs and more cash than can be counted, we would never have things like Web browsers, search engines, or even McDonalds. So even though you can’t fill an oil tanker with your money or wouldn’t know an MBA from a hole in the ground, you might have the next great billion dollar business or product. Your shoestring venture could be the next Google, the next Bratz, or the next McDonalds. Most importantly, you—and all others like you who are starting out with a great idea and a ton of passion—have an advantage that previous generations of entrepreneurs could never even imagine. Information technology allows you to easily start a business and find all the resources, skills, and materials you need simply by firing up your laptop and connecting to the Internet.

Roy Crock had to hire staff and rent a building to make McDonald’s work. Bill Gates had to hire staff and rent a building to turn Microsoft into a going concern.

You just need a computer.

That’s what this book is all about. You have the tools to build a powerful start-up organization, from financing to product development to marketing, without ever really having to walk out your front door. We’re here to give you the tools you need to start your new venture or take your current business several levels higher by exploiting the resources our interconnected world offers you.

Using global communications and data networks, you can staff an entire organization with every human resource and skill you need at rock-bottom prices. Your corporate office can be a room in your home or a table at a coffee bar. All the parts of your business, from bookkeeping to manufacturing, can be done by staff all over the world. Even the physical and technological infrastructure can be distributed all across the globe.

Your phone exchange lives somewhere in Minneapolis while your faxing service sits in Milwaukee. Your phone receptionists work in Manila. Your customer service reps handle all customer concerns from an office in Mumbai. Your Webmaster manages your entire Web site—from development to maintenance—from Moscow, but your site sits on a server in Moline. All your word processing is done by a virtual assistant working from her home in Marietta. And your laptop computer is periodically tuned up by some tech dude in Montreal. People from all over the world shop at your store without ever leaving their kitchen table . . . and a warehouse in Mountain View ships all the orders.

You are, in short, running a virtual organization using only a computer. That’s all you need.

Well, not quite. You also need a very generous helping of business sense, dedication, ideas, planning, organization, and sound decision-making, but that’s the subject for another book and another day.

The advantage communications technology gives you, an advantage entrepreneurs like you never had before the twenty-first century, is outsourcing. Newspapers and politicians all panic and scream that outsourcing means that your job is going somewhere else—India, China, or some other far-flung and foreign place. That could be true. But outsourcing has another face. It also means that you can be a pretty formidable player in the business world; and you don’t need much more than you, a laptop, and an Internet connection. Why? Because outsourcing permits you to focus your energies on what brings real value to your business—what you do best. The rest—you know, the stuff you don’t do well or profitably—that’s what your outsource partners do.

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