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« Fast, Flat and Free: How the internet has changed your business | Main | Choke: Using the secrets of your brain to succeed when it matters most »
Friday
Jul082011

Getting started in Small Business IT

4 out of 5 stars.

Wiley Publishing Australia, 220pp, 2011. Rrp $19.95 

Thank the lord for the Dummies series. You might be embarrassed to be seen buying one in a bookshop, but you’ll know what you are buying and why.

Dummies are one of the strongest brands in publishing. They’re the McDonalds of “How to”.

I’m not a huge fan of McDonalds but when you have a carload of hungry kids, it’s the easiest decision. You know what the product will be like, how much it will cost and how quickly you’ll get it.

It’ll be easy to park and there’ll be a playground. You even know what the staff will say when you approach the counter. If you’re in an even bigger hurry, there’s the window to go.

Ditto for Dummies. You know your most basic questions will be answered and it will be easy to find.

What you need to know has become multidimensional. There is just too much new stuff around and you are unlikely to have covered it all in your education, even if you’ve got a couple of degrees.

That’s why a few Dummies volumes sit on my library shelf – for when people ask me things I am supposed to know like how do trademarks work or how do you register your business in another state, and must you? I don’t want to trawl through pages of website. I just want the answer.

The Dummies in my reference library save me some embarrassment.

We all have holes in our knowledge, especially in IT. So often, it’s because we are self-taught. I made PowerPoint presentations for years before someone showed me the fast way to use cut and paste in the graphics package.

My informant had found out in PowerPoint for Dummies. Ditto for my spreadsheet work, which is now dramatically more efficient thanks to another volume.

So it is with Getting Started in Small Business IT. This is very basic stuff. You probably know a lot of it. I do. But I didn’t know how to shorten my URL to optimise character usage in a tweet.

Yes, I know a lot of you probably do. And there are also a lot of readers who probably say, who cares? But if that sort of information will save you either time or embarrassment, it’s in this book.

So are all the other basic bits of knowledge you will need if you are starting up a business in today’s environment.

That includes useful hints on selecting an IT or digital design partner. Sometimes it seems like web designers are the new tradies. I know a great carpenter. He has great skills working with wood. But now he’s a builder. Now he needs management skills and he hasn’t got them.

There are a lot of web designers and IT advisers out there who are similar to tradies. They know their stuff but they tend to over-promise and under-deliver, not to mention turning up on time. They can get you out there in social media, but getting online traction is another matter altogether.

If you’re starting at ground zero in IT, try going back to scratch with this book.

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