Home   All Products  |   Support  |   Search  | Home  
  Smallbiz Home  |   Subscribe  |   Find a Technology Consultant  |   How To Buy  |   Year 2000  |   Contact Us  |


Technical Guides

Buyer's Guide

Smallbiz Talk

The Barbara Ling Success Story

I have Oprah Winfrey, Microsoft, the Internet, and my family to thank for becoming a home-based entrepreneur in a company of one.

By 1997 I had been on the Internet for 9 years; from the days when a graphical interface meant more than one command line tool was open! Starting newsgroups, configuring Unix to work with Windows NT®, debugging network connections—I did it all. I could not have guessed then how the Internet and computers would shape my life today!

A company called Megasoft hired me to write its user documentation. I found Microsoft® Word to be invaluable—its clever ways of handling styles and formatting made my creating first publication quite noteworthy. And that achievement etched indelibly in my mind how easy it is to create complete books with a minimal amount of effort.

A year later I was approached by a recruiter-friend of my husband who asked me to find him some NT candidates on the Internet. Because I was already familiar with approaching user groups, professional organizations, and the like, I accomplished the mission with little effort.

And then I noticed something. My skills in Internet sleuthing, something I could do in my sleep, were in demand by Internet recruiters! I started my company, Lingstar, and become a consultant in Internet recruiting.

After some time, I realized that I wanted to spend more time with my family. I looked at the field, and saw that while seminars for Internet recruiting were available, no one had created a sit-at-home workbook and guide to teach the fine points of this trade. "Wow," I said, "a market! Let me write a book and find a publisher!"

Armed with my copy of Office 97, I sat down and began hammering out my product. After writing 40 or so pages, I pitched the idea to 18 publishers—and received 14 rejections and 4 unknowns.

This was depressing. I put the idea on the backburner.

On January 21st, 1998, I was watching the Oprah show discuss the recently released title The Millionaire Next Door. And I realized that my skills were in great demand in this field, and if publishers couldn’t see the market, heck, I sure could! And my flagship site was born.

I was lucky enough to find some great leaders in the industry willing to be my mentor. I continued writing my book until I had over 250 fact-filled pages and software to include. And then I started marketing the product at $149 per copy.

Less than one year later, I sold my 1,000th copy of "The Internet Recruiting Edge" at Although I was the newcomer on the block, it was the only Internet recruiting resource to receive five stars from Inc magazine. And things only went up from there—I was asked to be a columnist for the Boston Herald and for AgentNews.

During this time, my efforts to find a new home led me to write "The Real Estate Pro’s Internet Edge", and my experiences with home remodelers inspired me to write my first consumer guide "Avoiding The Contractor From Hell" I’m currently working on the definitive entrepreneurial guide entitled "The Internet Marketing Edge", which will showcase the sum total of all my hard-won business learning and wisdom.

I think some entrepreneurs miss a very key aspect of doing business. The best product to sell is the solution your customers want to buy! Folks don’t generally buy things because of a product's features—they buy a product because of the great solutions and benefits they’ll receive from it. People don’t buy "Avoiding The Contractor From Hell" to avoid lousy contractors (the feature)—they buy it to save thousands of dollars before they remodel (the benefit). Smart entrepreneurs portray their products in this light.

The Internet began as a place to share ideas and thoughts. Nowadays, entrepreneurs are lucky to have meeting places all over the Internet for the sake of networking, learning, and inspiration, including The Entrepreneur’s Forum and The Friends In Business Board. We now have communities in which to exchange thoughts and assist one another. Technology definitely makes the difference in entrepreneurship.

Finally, I think the most crucial edge an entrepreneur can have is a mentor. I’ve been lucky enough to have three wonderful people who helped me out and are genuinely interested in my success. Many folks love being mentors—you only need to ask. There’s even SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) where small business owners can get free counseling from people who have already experienced success.

The Internet gives individual people like myself the ability to be perceived as solution-providing giants. I simply could not have achieved my success without Microsoft, the Internet, Oprah Winfrey and my family.

Read More Microsoft /smallbiz Success Stories

Small business: Barbara Ling, sole proprietor

Writer: Barbara Ling

Location: : New Jersey

Number of Years in Business: Two

Number of Employees: None

Number of PCs: Three

Microsoft® products that have helped Barbara Ling to succeed:

Windows 98
Word 97
PowerPoint 97
Excel 97
Image Composer


Internet Explorer


  © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Terms Of Use. Privacy Policy.