I'm reading the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, partly for historical interest, and partly because of the business lessons in it. Franklin was a serial entrepreneur, regularly seeing huge success implementing ideas which others thought were impossible or pointless.
At one point, an acquaintance asked Franklin's advice about who he should ask for donations for a worthy cause. Franklin replied, "I advise you to apply to all those whom you know will give something; next, to those whom you are uncertain whether they will give any thing or not, and show them the list of those who have given; and, lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give nothing, for in some of them you may be mistaken."
There's quite an array of good advice just under that suggestion's surface.
First, begin with success. The initial step in developing a new idea, selling a new product, or beginning any project, should be one you know you can finish quickly and easily. Get a single success under your belt, and the rest of the process will be less formidable. Fail in that first baby step, though, and you'll be forced to step back and analyze your position, process, and goals.
Next, defuse fear by showing prospects and suspects that others have already taken the plunge. Joining a group of folks we respect or trust or just know is much less risky than being the first to jump into the pool.
Finally, never assume you know who's interested. Ask them all. I remember the story of two boys walking to school. One told the other "Today, I'm going to ask every girl I see for a kiss." His friend replied "You're gonna get slapped a lot."
Walking home, the second boy said "Get slapped a lot today?" to which his friend replied "Yeah—but I got some kisses, too!"
Don't assume. Within the bounds of personal, anticipated and relevant communication, ask 'em all.
What do you get from Franklin's advice?
I don't own a copy of Franklin's autobiography. I'm reading it by email.
DailyLit is a web service which emails you books, from the brand new to classics, in short sections you can read every day. Franklin's autobiography is 75 sections, which I'm getting only on business days. By the time I finish, it will have taken me 15 weeks to read a book I might not have read at all if I wasn't being nudged every day.
There are loads of free books available. Seth Godin's "Bootstrapper's Bible" (http://www.dailylit.com/books/bootstrappers-bible) for instance. You can sign up for this free service, and read all the free books you want. If you prefer something more popular, the prices are about the same as buying a paperback, with the advantage of a simple tool to read in bits and pieces.
What do you think about reading like that? If I serialised my books, would you want to get a free copy, bit by bit, every day or once a week by email, or do you prefer to have the physical book in your hands to read in your comfy chair?