The Bootstrappers Bible (Seth Godin)

This is a book written by marketing author Seth Godin. I’ve recently read the updated November 2004 manifesto. He implores that having no cash is not a valid barrier to prevent a great idea you have being turned into a new business. A noble cause indeed.

Despite being a marketing tome, his thoughts touch on selling as an essential artform. He refers to saleship in three main chunks, which are welcome additions on how to plan to sell anything new.

Your 4 starting questions [p41]

Who’s going to buy?
How much will they pay?
Where will they find you?
What’s the cost of making one sale?

How’s your product easier & more effective? [p68]

Easier to buy?
Easier to use?
Easier to teach people how to use?
More effective at solving the problem?

Success leads to more success [p78]

The more you do, the more you do. Being in front of people will lead to new opportunities, new products, new engagements. Be in motion, because customers like motion.

I love that last line especially.


And a bonus tip opens up the world of recruitment. When referring to interviewing, he likes to set questions that show how people solve problems. Here’s four paragraphs from him that should trigger all sorts of winning ideas for the next interview you run:

When I interview people for jobs, I always ask, “How many gas stations do you think there are in the United States?” Not because I care how many gas stations there are, but because it gives me an insight into how people solve problems.

The vast majority of people who answer this question (I’ve asked it more than 1,000 times over the years) start their answer with, “Let’s see…there are 50 states.” They then go on to analyze their town, figure out how many gas stations there are, and multiply from there.

While this is better than some approaches, it is a ridiculous way to answer the question or to plan a business. North Dakota is not like Michigan! And your life, your neighborhood, your friends, and your needs are not like everyone else’s. The best way to answer the question is to start with a scalable metric—either cars (how many cars lead to how many stations) or, surprisingly, how many big gas companies there are. Either one will get you to a quick and defensible analysis.

The worst answer (and the main reason I ask) is, “I don’t know.” My response is, “I know you don’t know. I want you to make a smart guess.” Nine times out of ten, people refuse, in one way or another, to guess. They don’t want to be wrong. Most people hate to be wrong. They hate to make a statement (or, even worse, to write something down) and then be proved wrong.

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