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Book Review The Geek S Guide To Internet Business

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Book Details

Title: The Geek�s Guide to Internet Business Success

Author: Bob Schmidt

ISBN: 0-471-28838-1

Publication Date: August 1997

Price: $24.95 on


This is not a technical how-to book. It is a concise, lucidly written guide to business strategies, targeted at the so-called “geeks” who comprise a significant portion of the web development workforce — the programmers, developers, and creative professionals seeking the skills necessary to promote themselves and their work.

Author, Bob Schmidt is an advertising industry veteran, with over two decades experience, who has bridged the gap to online marketing and development. Schmidt crystalises this extensive experience and knowledge into key business skills, including rate setting, sourcing and landing new business opportunities, team building, and other important aspects of successfully creating and growing a new media company.

Rates, Billing and Payment

Determining a suitable rate structure, and arriving at appropriate prices for services is particularly trying, especially for freelancers just entering the industry. This is especially true given the Internet development industry�s relative infancy. Geek's Guide contains an entire chapter on different approaches to this activity.

The print-medium carryover is evident here though, with repeated references to a per-page method of pricing, which is not necessarily the best approach given the statelessness of website pages.

One topic closely related to rate setting is that of raising the issue of fees when talking to clients, and subsequently being paid in a timely manner. While there is an enlightening chapter on Billing and Budgeting (ch.12) that discusses the concept of no-receivables billing, little mention is made of suitable techniques for approaching the topic of payment.

The lone reference to this occurs in a case study on Making the Presentation (ch.9), where Schmidt demonstrates that the developer did not hesitate to bring up the subject of fees. I believe this specific topic warranted greater detail and perhaps some practical tips from the veterans.

Any inexperienced freelancer will attest that this is one of the most difficult topics to broach with new clients, and often some established ones as well.

In contrast to the sparing detail on this topic, several sections of this book stand out for the depth of factual data and analysis.

Valuable Sections

In Chapter 3, Planning Your Business, Schmidt goes beyond the basic characteristics of typical business plans. He expounds on the different types of business entities, covering topics such as taxation, ownership and liability, and how these differ from one type of business to another. Of course, some of the specifics of taxation and law are only applicable to US-based companies. Readers in other countries should consult their lawyers and accountants for key differences. The business plan creation section is complemented by a sample business plan in the appendix.

Another invaluable section within this chapter is the one on real estate — acquiring the right office-space and location for your company. This section is a must-read for inexperienced office-space seekers! Learn about build-out provisions, rent reducing or increasing factors, and more.

Chapter 6 is another gem. Titled What the Client Expects from the Internet and You, it succinctly defines the different types of client, by their perception of how the Internet relates to their business. Knowing whether your client views the Internet as an advertising medium, or a publishing or retail medium gives you a platform for your selling strategy.

Unsurprisingly given the author�s background, a major underlying theme in this book is The Sell. From making the contact, to setting up the first meeting and executing a successful presentation to close the deal, Geek's Guide shares many veteran secrets and tips to successfully selling your skills to the client. The emphasis is on creating a professional who sells, rather than a selling professional.

Worth A Read

This book has been described by some as a repackaging of standard business practices, with no consideration to the unique nature of the Internet. Geek's Guide was published in 1997, so it is somewhat dated. However the sound business principles outlined remain as applicable today as they have been for decades, even before the Internet explosion — a fact often forgotten by many new Internet companies.

In addition to these fundamental principles, Schmidt draws on his advertising knowledge to produce an in depth analysis of this industry�s creative and production processes, and the numerous parallels and analogous situations encountered in the Internet development world.

Written in an informal flowing tone, Geek's Guide will appeal to young, inexperienced freelancers and seasoned professionals alike, providing an easy, informative read that should take no more than a day or three. What�s not to like about that?

Marc Seyon is a web developer from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. During his seven year online experience, Marc has become immune to the question, "Where is Trinidad?". So much so that he has constructed his very own T&T FAQ.

Marc is also an avid photographer with a penchant for capturing the beauty of Carnival, Trini-style on his website

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