The New Internet Home Work: How Much Do You Really Need to Know to Get Started?


You? Start your own Internet business? Give me a break! You just don't speak the language, so why even try?

It begins with 'booting up' your computer instead of just turning it on. And you can't simply fill in the necessary information to get something connected: it has to be 'configured.' Also, it's painfully apparent that computer tables and windows bear no resemblance whatsoever to the kind you have in your living room, nor is a browser someone meandering through your local bookstore. And the only directory you know anything about is full of telephone numbers.

Then, of course, there are all those blasted letters: DSL, RAM, ROM, POP, RSS, HTML, FTP, MLM . . . Good grief! How can someone like you even think about starting an online business? Hey, it's for the kids. They understand all this jargon, all this technical stuff. But you . . .

Well, what about you? Okay. So maybe you don't know what most of those letters mean. And it's a safe bet you don't know a tenth of what the average techie does . . . maybe not even as much as today's computer-savvy ten-year-old. But does that mean you can't do this stuff?

At least, before you decide to pass on the exhilaration of creating your own online business (not to mention the extra bucks you might have at the end of the month), let's look at two possibilities.

First of all, the fact that you have no idea how a telephone works (unless you're a Verizon repair person) has never stopped you from making phone calls. And you're not afraid to turn on the television set because you don't know how all those moving pictures get inside that little box.

And speaking of letters, even if you had no idea what 'TV' stood for, you could still watch "American Idol." Nor is it necessary to know what ATM means in order to make a cash withdrawal.

Why, letter combos are positively old hat. RPMs have been around since before Sinatra, and mpg was a Henry Ford staple.

All any of it is, really, is that secretarial staple of yesteryear: shorthand. Only these letter codes are a heck of a lot easier to understand than all those lines and squiggles.

Just to convince yourself it's no big deal, why not invent some code of your own? Certainly you have as much right to do it as any computer techie. So why not tell them to FTL and PHO . . . and be absolutely sure they NLFD. That's Fold The Laundry, Pre-Hear the Oven, and make sure they're Not Late For Dinner. Remember: sticks and stones can break your bones, but letters can never hurt you. Nor should they stop you.

Okay. That's the first possibility: breaking the code may not be as necessary as you think it is, e.g., you don't have to know that NaCl is salt in order to sprinkle some on your tomato.

Even so . . . whether you actually need to know all of it or not, maybe you'd be more comfortable if you did. And, obviously, it would be helpful if you knew at least some of it.

Which brings us to possibility number two. Why not learn a few new things? Actually, that's what makes life an ongoing adventure: no matter how long you've been around and how much you've discovered already, there's always something (in fact, plenty!) left to learn.

And the good news is that, with the Internet, learning just got a whole lot easier. You can't use the excuse that it's too cold to go to school, or too hot to go to the library. There's information enough on the Internet for you to earn a PhD just by clicking on your mouse. So what's your excuse now?

I remember, when I was a kid, looking at a piano, and thinking: "How could anyone ever know what all those keys are for?" Truth is, I was afraid to take piano lessons because I was convinced that I'd look foolish if I tried.

And therein lies the rub: we're so afraid we'll look foolish that we're willing to be foolish instead! And how foolish would it be to refuse to learn new things - - things that could help us in any number of ways, brighten our lives, ease our financial burdens - - just because we're afraid we'll look foolish!

But that's another great thing about the computer. We don't have to walk up to the blackboard with the whole class staring at us. We don't have to worry about tripping, or not knowing the answer, or . . . well, any of the things that seemed to go along with learning back in the good old days.

We can be clumsy and bumbling and slow . . . and nobody will ever know! Even if we do look foolish, it will be for our eyes only. The computer makes us blessedly, mercifully anonymous. It lets us learn and work at our own pace, whatever that pace may be.

And so, if those letter combos have you feeling a bit inadequate, go ahead and look up the definitions. There are plenty of free computer and Internet glossaries available online. My personal favorite is www.Webopedia.com.

Or, if you're not exactly sure-fingered on the computer, check out some tutorials. Get up to speed on Word or Windows or whatever else you'd like to try. It doesn't cost much. In fact, you can do it for free.

And then, you can move on to setting up your own online business. Yes: YOU!

After all, when you think about it, not getting your slice of the Internet pie just because you've let the jargon scare you off is like refusing a cruise to the Bahamas because you don't understand the bar code on the ticket.

So why not hop on board PDQ. (That's Pretty Darn Quick, in case you didn't know.) You've got nothing to lose . . . and who knows what-all to gain?

Bob Brooker's mission is to make home-based Internet business accessible even to Internet beginners. Bob -- himself a devout non-techie -- looks for and personally tests products that are the simplest to understand and use, even if your computer skills are limited to sending an occasional e-mail to your sister. http://www.makingmoneysimplified.com

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