Getting Your Business Wired, by William E. Kilmer
AMACOM, 220 pages, $24.95

As a small-business owner, you expect there's a profit waiting for you in computer networks including the Internet. You've heard a lot about them and they sound intriguing.

But you don't understand the technology and you haven't the time to dig into it.

If that's your situation, invest one evening with this book and you'll have a start. You'll get an idea of the basics and discover some of the possibilities. And you'll know in which direction to move to do something about those possibilities.

You probably already have your company books on accounting software, use desktop publishing software, and have a list of your customers that's easy to call up. If you have that much background, this book should be easy for you to understand.

Some Background

You'll start by learning about local area networks, which are two or more computers linked together, often in the same building, so they can share. This means sharing resources (a printer, for example), files, software (for this you need a network license), and information (ranging from e-mail to having a company intranet).

There are many reasons for linking your computers in a network. The most popular one is to cut spending by making it possible for employees to use the same equipment, such as software and printers.

Another reason is to have files that are accessible to all on the network. No more carrying disks back and forth between computers.

A few cautions: Watch which files are made available to everyone. You probably don't want to publicize the salaries of everyone.

Also, organize those files. Having one person responsible for a single folder and numbering the various entries will keep things from getting confused.

Add a Server

A step up from a simple linking of computers is to add a network server. This is a large, fast computer that can be used by all on the network. It holds all of the software and files used in common by those on the network.

An obvious advantage is that the material on the server is available to everyone at all times, while in the simpler network, the computer holding the files for all must be turned on to make them available. Other advantages of this system are security, easy access, and -- possibly -- lower costs.

Web Sites

In steering readers toward use of the Internet, Kilmer offers a clear and broad explanation of the basics. Then he gives excellent advice on selling for both consumer and business-to-business commerce.

Check the list of eleven resources that can help you publicize your site. They range from advice to an e-mail newsletter on this and several others that (for a charge) will publicize your site.

This book is a must-read for those who want to sell on the Web and are doubtful about how to start.

These Sites Will Lead to Valuable Information

Try these sites for valuable business information about many companies: The SEC location for filings of public companies. Find out facts about more than 100,000 firms. Free company annual reports from more than 3,600 corporations. A multitude of corporate news stories. Lots of interest here too in Y2K. A fast-growing site that hands out valuable information as if it weren't interested in making a profit. Here's the place to visit if you want financial information on Japanese companies. As a final entry, this is a place to find addresses of businesses. You can locate them by category, name, or partial address. And that's far from being all there is at this site. You can also discover what businesses are on any street. Or look up people, or discover the best routes for going from any one place to another.

Copyright 1999 Soundview Executive Book Summaries