An Introduction to ‘Netrepreneurship’
by Phil Hanson
Traditional entrepreneurs have always been gutsy, forward-thinking individuals who possess vast amounts of courage and self-confidence and more than average amounts of intelligence and ambition. Quick to recognize opportunities or to create them where none previously existed, stouthearted entrepreneurs invest their time, knowledge, skills and money in pursuit of financial gain.
In the last decade, a new breed of entrepreneur has emerged to take advantage of an upstart medium called the Internet. Combining long-proven conventional business practices with experimental business methods that may be applicable only to the Web, Internet entrepreneurs (or ’Netrepreneurs, as many now call themselves), are rewriting the rules of business. Certainly, ‘Netrepreneur is one of the most relevant and appropriate anagrams ever contrived.
Today, as it has always done, current states of technology define and drive the economy, affecting the way people, and companies, do business. Those who transition quickly and smoothly to take advantage of new economic opportunities and methodologies thrive and survive; those who remain chained to old economic models do not.
A preponderance of evidence indicates that opportunities abound for enterprising, energetic, ambitious and creative ‘Netrepreneurs to earn their livings on-line, and that the opportunities will become greater in number, rather than fewer. Although Internet connections aren’t yet as ubiquitous as telephones, given a few more years they will be. For those reasons, the following statistics are more revealing than they are surprising:
- Ipsos-Reid researchers, in December of 2002, saw Internet use climbing in most markets, and suggested that people are becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet.
- According to a Nielsen-Netratings report in February 2003, the global ‘Net population exceeded a half-billion people.
- In February 2003, a report issued by eMarketer and The Wall Street Journal stated that more than 50 million American workers (roughly 40 percent of the workforce) were on-line at work.
- Also in February of 2003, Nielsen-Netratings researchers reported that more than 10 million African Americans were on-line.
- On February 26, 2003, E-commerce Times reported that the U.S. had exceeded $45 billion in on-line sales for 2002.
- Nielsen-Netratings reported, in March of 2003, that leading traditional advertisers embrace on-line ads, and that their share of on-line advertising was up 30 percent at the end of 2002.
- IDC predicted, in March 2003, that the worldwide volume of end-user Internet traffic will approximately double each year, over the next five years.
- On April 1, 2003, eMarketer predicted that worldwide business-to-business e-commerce revenues would, by the end of 2003, exceed $1.4 trillion.
- Research into the California real estate market shows that 58% of potential home buyers now shop for homes on-line, up from 22% in the year 2000.
As the numbers suggest, the future looks bright for creative, talented entrepreneurs who take quick, decisive, but carefully measured steps to act on the opportunities that have suddenly become available to them. The huge numbers of businesses that are already on-line, combined with an even larger number of businesses that have yet to go on-line, represent enormous potential for on-line profits.
Increasingly, consumers are turning to the Internet to locate and purchase the goods and services they need, and businesses are discovering able suppliers, qualified service providers and ready markets. Still, the Internet’s real power for conducting business has yet to be fully exploited.
When the owners of existing off-line businesses discover the many advantages Web sites offer for effectively marketing, advertising, promoting and selling virtually any product or service while reducing overhead expenses, they, too, will begin to exploit the Internet.
Today, few business people can imagine what it’s like to do business without a telephone; tomorrow, few business people will be able to imagine what it’s like to do business without a Web site. Those who don’t adopt new business methods or adapt to new technologies probably won’t stay in business very long.
Where do ‘Netrepreneurs fit into the picture? In many cases, ‘Netrepreneurs are the picture. When individuals or businesses create their own domains to establish an on-line presence for themselves or their companies, they usually require the services of many skilled specialists to create functional, user-friendly Web sites. Because few people possess all of the skills or resources needed to complete the task, they hire services provided by a host of on-line professionals.
Much in demand, Internet service providers, domain name registrars, domain hosting companies, Web site designers and developers, software developers, graphic artists, writers, editors and publishers provide the essential services and creative skills needed to build a basic Web site.
Also in demand, researchers, market analysts, promoters, advertising specialists, content providers, software developers, search engine optimizers, linking strategists, business coaches, Web masters and Web site managers are just some of the on-line professionals who provide skills and services that are essential to growing and maintaining a successful on-line business.
Whether they are individuals, families, small businesses or large corporations, almost everyone is either buying or selling something, and many are finding ready suppliers and/or ready markets on the Internet. This massive shift to e-commerce is changing every area of the economy and, for better or for worse, no one will be unaffected by it.
Are you ready to become a ‘Netrepreneur? For now, the window of opportunity is wide open, but competition is heating up. By acting now, you can assure yourself a seat aboard the Internet gravy train before it leaves the station. The only things you have to lose are your fear of change and the chains that anchor you to the past.