The Challenge of Establishing A Stand-alone Money Making
Venture On The Internet
If you are a computer enthusiast with even the slightest grain of entrepreneurial spirit & you havenít yet thought about getting involved with e-commerce, sooner or later, you probably will. E-commerce, like the internet itself, is full of uncharted territory that abounds with opportunity for those with the ingenuity to meet the challenge. In terms of the internet, scores of opportunities for small business, large scale commerce & communication, just to name a few, exist or are soon to be introduced. Standing on the edge of something this imposing can be intimidating. But with planning, hard work & maybe just a little good luck, fortune can be yours & you could be the next celebrated success story we see featured in the financial news.
Weighing the Options
As with any investment, large or small, there are risks & costs as well as potential payoffs & profits. For example, a high-end web site with original graphics & art work could cost $10,000 - $50,000. or more! A lower end site, without a lot of original graphics will probably cost from $1000. - $2000. To do it yourself, if you are not already trained, requires a substantial amount of time & a degree of dedication. You can also take the hybrid approach, where you create the web site yourself then have a professional do the fine tuning. The key is to tailor make your initial foray into e-commerce & the creation of your web site, suit your specific abilities, goals, & fiscal position.
On the Edge
Huge potentials in profits exist due to an unlimited market that everyone has the opportunity to tap into. The drawback is that the web is also a virtual abyss. It's vastness dictates that you will have be ready to employ creative tactics to get noticed. Selling products on the internet such as software or access to a site that provides a service such as video games can be weighty. There is an attitude among many surfers that everything on the internet should be free. That thinking logically draws from the fact that most consumers have already laid down a substantial amount of capital just to get into the game. If they have a reasonably equipped computer, monitor, scanner & printer, they have probably invested over $2500. They don't want to be spending more for every site & service they utilize. One solution is to provide the service for free to your customers & sell your siteís popularity to an advertiser. A site that can establish itself as a major draw, instead of charging surfers, can reap the rewards of the advertising dollar. This tactic has a great potential for earnings. Each year, large corporations throughout the world spend billions on advertising. They do it for one reason, it works! Advertising is a growth industry!
Readying For the Big Bang
The internet, by all estimates, currently occupies a very small portion of the retail market. Many analysts agree that the internetís portion of the retail market will steadily grow each year for the foreseeable future. Right now, many very large & profitable corporate retailers have invested millions in their internet marketing systems however, are not turning a profit in this sector. These are leading retailers that have a huge amount of experience & expertise. One can logically conclude that these corporate giants see a huge potential & don't want to be left standing when the train leaves the station. They realize that positioning themselves in the e-commerce trade, is a little like drilling for oil. It requires an extensive up front investment in infrastructure, systems & in their case, advertising in order to successfully get their balloon off the ground. Of course the fly in the ointment is that there has never been a phenomenon quite like the internet or e-commerce. Hard data simply doesnít exist on which sales & revenue projections can be based. This for the moment has a leveling effect. Large companies, because of the global effect of the internet & their preexisting notoriety, are in a situation where they must start out large-scale. The small entrepreneur, on the other hand, can start out in the minor-leagues, always ready for the moment when the time is right to expand. This expansion, in some cases, can be a down right explosion! If your virtual ship comes in, you have to be prepared to board, or start waving good-bye. Your window of opportunity may be of leviathan proportions & will not last long.
Intranet Spells Success
The internet may be an abyss, but in a sense, is alive. It draws itís life from the millions of users that are connected at any one time. Trends, fads & sites orbit the globe like tidal waves moving at the speed of light. Are you ready to position yourself to ride the wave? Due to the sheer immensity of the web, you must find ways to be found! This starts with a premier domain name & proper registration with search engines, but it doesnít end there. Part of the allure of the internet is itís individual, independent nature. This, unfortunately, can be a draw back. The independent nature of the web will continue, however, channels or networks will continue to grow at an ever hurried pace. These networks offer one-stop shopping for many of your internet needs. News, sports, weather & e-commerce among them. A small site, accessing a large network equals limitless growth potential. These Intranet networks are constantly on the lookout for the next boomer. Many feature a site of the week promotion. Being featured can connote success in short order. You can have an phenomenal site or product, but if you arenít being found, you remain awash in the abyss. Traditional marketing techniques will continue to play a major role e-commerce promotion. Having your site featured on the evening news can be a great shot in the arm. Focusing on the future, newspapers, magazines & television will continue to play a significant role in promoting e-commerce.
Bricks & Mortar
If you are already engaged in a traditional business, you may be considering creating a presence on the web. Itís crucial to keep in mind that what made you successful in the past, may not do the job in the future. Donít take for granted your market share. Track your competition closely, where possible, particularly in relation to information technology. They may well be creatively developing markets without your knowledge. You may be saying to yourself, "I know nothing about IT & the internet, where do I begin?" Well, you could begin with a relatively basic site. This will begin your foray onto the web. It can act as your 24/7 customer brochure & resource on the web. For many, this may be sufficient, for others more may be required. For instance, there are ready made information/resource sites available on virtually any topic you can link to at no charge, providing a valuable service to your clients. Once you have a website, new opportunities may appear. Customer driven change can be manageable in that you are responding to demand which, in most instances, translates directly into increased cash flow. This, Customer Driven need can be managed & grown at a rate consistent with sales. Patently, the most complex website can begin with a most austere origin. New functions easily be dovetailed into your existing website. Think of a website not as a bound book, rather a binder, easily opened & able to be added to as required.
Another important consideration is e-mail. Just as in the past, when the telephone & then the fax was an indispensable tool, today in business & even at home, email is quickly becoming an all important tool in communication. Many organizations are able to focus their e-mail traffic to itís intended receiver through their website.
Some Things Never Change
Clearly, the internet will not replace bricks & mortar businesses. Really, what it has become is another version of a yellow pages directory, a mail order catalog, encyclopedia & much more, all rolled into one. Internet access & websites will not supplant sound business practices.
The rules havenít changed, just the way you play game has.
Don MacMillan for FUTURECents.com