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Making money

Profiting from Business Books: How to Read Books About Business

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If you’ve been to a bookstore or library lately, you’re quite aware that there’s no shortage of business books. However, you probably have a shortage of time for reading them. As an avid reader and freelancer, I’m going to give you some tips on how to read books about business — everything from small business books to advice from Fortune 500 CEOs.

1. My first tip will probably seem like it’s brain-dead obvious, but here it is: Be Selective. There aren’t enough years in your career for reading all of the “important” business books. So, be ruthless about what you add to your shopping basket at the bookstore or online, or even as you browse through the shelves at your local library.

In addition to being ruthless, decide if you want to be a generalist or a specialist in your reading. You may decide, like I just did, that you need to get up to speed on finance in a hurry. Time to become a specialist.

However, this doesn’t rule out becoming a generalist at a later date. After all, there are only so many worthwhile books on any business topic.

2. Keep your book recommendation radar in top condition. One of the best things about the Internet is that it’s a hotbed of readers. That’s right, readers.

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Doubling Your Rate: A Thought Experiment

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What would happen if tomorrow I forced you to double your rate?

If you bill hourly, your rate just doubled. If you bid by the project, you have to bid twice as much as usual. If you sell a product on the side (WordPress theme?), you have to double its price too.

For the sake of exploration, let’s ignore the understandable backlash from existing customers. Instead, let’s focus on the more interesting question:

What would you have to do to justify the rate?

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Keeping In Touch with Remote Collaboration Tools

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Ever since my wife and I started our custom software development business, we’ve been making use of remote collaboration facilities such as VNC and Webex in order to give demonstrations to clients without having to visit their site, or have them come to us, as I described in my blog entry on Demonstrating Software on the Web. This has worked well: the majority of our clients are over 100 miles away, so visits in either direction are quite a lot of hassle. We still do make site visits or have clients come to us where desired or necessary, but the use of remote collaboration tools has certainly cut down on the level of travel we
would otherwise have had to do.

The various remote collaboration tools have various levels of cost and functionality. For example, we usually use TightVNC for demonstrations, as it is completely free to use, and just requires that the client has a web browser with Java support in order to use it. However, it does require that you know your IP address, and may require modification to your firewall to ensure that the incoming request is passed on to the VNC server.

At the other extreme, WebEx is primarily a subscription service (though they do offer a pay-per-use option), and requires that the client download and run a program on
their machine. However, WebEx works seamlessly through firewalls, and just requires knowing the meeting ID information rather than an IP address.

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