E-Business Startup Success Strategies

New Rule of E-Commerce: Go Back to the Old Rules

With the cost of Web-enabling technology now within reach of even the smallest startups, e-businesses are springing up every day. While most are not destined to be the next eBay, many are gaining traction without Premiership advertising or CEO's who earn million-pound bonuses.

Indeed, in today's down economy, entrepreneurs should steer clear of "big ideas" with long-range payoffs, according to Shane Jackson, president of NextStart Capital, a Web business incubator in Atlanta. "Focus on areas of the market that can generate immediate success."

Thinking Big, Spending Small

Paul Purdue, who founded iFulfill.com five years ago, still has the first fax machine his company bought. It cost $50 and used thermal paper. He could have chosen a higher-end model, but bootstrapping was his preferred approach. He extended that philosophy to his company's "headquarters," eventually moving his two children into a single bedroom to make room for merchandise from the orders his firm fills for other e-commerce players.

Hold the Bells and Whistles

Most startups now realize that means keeping the budget lean. Instead of pursuing office space, Latham has set up a home office, using DSL and a wireless network to connect his fellow workers, some of whom have agreed to help out in exchange for a chance to be on board when the company takes off. He has even cut deals with lawyers and accountants to exchange a piece of the future firm for reduced expenses.
"This may not have been possible in the late 1990s when the battle for talent was raging, but there are now a lot of good people on the street looking for opportunities to create some value for themselves while they are looking for income opportunities," Latham said.

After the Thaw

Will the new generation of startups, nurtured in a far harsher climate than their boom-era brethren, succeed? The answer may be a surprisingly resounding yes. Although the atmosphere for new businesses is unquestionably chilly right now, those firms that can adapt and survive could emerge from this Ice Age poised to thrive as the business environment becomes more fertile.
Who knows? Some might even evolve into the next kings of the jungle.