101 Best Dot Coms To Start:

101 Best Dot Coms To Start:

by Lynie Arden, Philip Lief Group

From the authors of the highly successful 101 Best Businesses To Start and 220 Best Franchises To Buy comes a sourcebook of the best ways to create a successful e-business.
"E-business" is the buzzword these days as Internet commerce explodes. With more and more consumers taking their business and their money online to avoid standing inSee more details below


From the authors of the highly successful 101 Best Businesses To Start and 220 Best Franchises To Buy comes a sourcebook of the best ways to create a successful e-business.
"E-business" is the buzzword these days as Internet commerce explodes. With more and more consumers taking their business and their money online to avoid standing in line, the new world of e-tail presents a host of business opportunities for entrepreneurs who once thought their dreams of owning a business would never be realized. Now, owning your own business is only an idea and a click away.
101 Best Dot Coms to Start offers what every entrepreneur is looking for--all the tools needed to take advantage of this rapidly expanding market. Here is a guide to top-notch cyberspace start-ups, profiling a variety of e-commerce categories--from specialty tours to gourmet food, art and antiques to sports memorabilia--illustrating the vast range of opportunities available to the Internet entrepreneur. Covering every aspect of online commerce, such as Web start-up costs, revenues, even staffing needs, this is the ultimate sourcebook when planning online business strategies. Profiles of some of the best Internet businesses showcase the success stories, so that you don't have to learn on the job. Put simply, no Internet business can afford to be without 101 Best Dot Coms to Start.

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Editorial Reviews

This guide to cyberspace start-ups profiles a variety of e-commerce categories, from specialty tours to gourmet food, art and antiques, and sports memorabilia. It covers every aspect of online commerce, such as Web start-up costs, revenues, and staffing needs. It also tells the stories of successful businesses. A glossary is included, but no index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Broadway Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.22(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.47(d)

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Art Posters
Start-up expenses: $100,000
Special requirements: Extensive database and a paid employee who can manage it continually
Best advice: "Have realistic expectations. This business is hard work. The Net is growing and changing so quickly. You have to stay flexible and stay 100 percent involved at all times."
Bare walls are dull. Naturally, then, people plaster their living spaces with artwork of all kinds, including posters. For many of us, posters help us articulate our wishes and desires, our secret lives and alter egos, our tastes and our prejudices. Walls can bear the likenesses of Pearl Bailey or Pearl Harbor, Lisbon Antigua or Liz Taylor, the Rocky Mountains or Rocky Balboa. The subjects are endless, and the styles range from high camp to high art--Andy Warhol in the foyer, Velvet Elvis in the den, Michelangelo's David in the library, and Nine-Inch Nails in the Teen Ghetto. Millions of posters are sold every year in the West, and not all of them come from brick-and-mortar shops. Needless to say, the poster business is well suited to the world of e-commerce. It is therefore no surprise to find plenty of poster addresses in that giant mailbox called cyberspace.
One of the specialty niches in this field is art posters. Ann Reiter and Jane Henley are partners in TimelessTraveler.com, an e-shop whose name sounds like that of a travel bureau but really deals in art posters and prints. "We specialize in the hottest," says Reiter. "That's to differentiate us from others who try to carry every print in the world. A million prints? Who has the time to look at them?" Reiter and Henley list only the newest and most trendyart posters and prints, leaving the problems of massive inventories to other businesses. As a result, they have carved a special niche, one that began as a traditional catalog-sales business.
Originally the partners sold wholesale art prints. Then they ventured into retail sales, marketing through their own print catalogs. Reiter and Henley had always advertised in art magazines, but they soon discovered the limitations of operating in the world of bulk mailings and print-shop deadlines. "We finally decided to forego the paper catalog," says Reiter, "because the mailing costs, printing costs, and fulfillment costs became very expensive." When the partners started their Web site in November 1998, they thought it would just supplement their catalog business. But it didn't take long to realize the Net was "a better economic decision." As Reiter says, "This industry changes a lot, and every time something new comes out, you have to change the inventory and the catalog and the mailing base. That's really expensive and difficult normally. But on the Net, it's a lot easier."
A Tale of Two Cities
Ann was a sales manager for 15 years, working in Chicago, while Jane specialized in graphic design projects in Minneapolis. With the advent of the Net, geographic distance became a small, almost infinitesimal, disadvantage to the art poster partnership. Today, Henly provides Web design service for not only TimelessTraveler.com. but other companies as well. Reiter also does business outside the partnership, serving as art director for a large Chicago corporation. Despite their busy work schedules, the partners have learned a number of skills appropriate to the Web. Both are technically proficient. Henley does the company's Web site design and maintenance, and Reiter also knows her way around a computer keyboard.
Working from separate cities has not been a problem thus far, perhaps because both partners have kept current in technology. But the process was not easy for art specialist Reiter. "When the business started, I knew only what the average user knows," she says. "There's a big learning curve with HTML coding. It isn't as easy as people think." Reiter discovered, along with other small e-business owners, that Web site maintenance was going to be a huge expense. So the partners had to assume that job themselves. "If you paid an outsider to do your Web site maintenance," she says, "I don't think you could stay in business. It's too time-consuming and too expensive. You have to have a strong business in place before you can afford to hire out Web maintenance." She adds that many e-commerce neophytes think they'll become Amazon.com overnight. Not so. In reality, says Reiter, most fledgling businesses are at least a year away from even making a profit.
Keep It Simple, Keep It Friendly, Make It Secure
The TimelessTraveler.com. site is easy to use and doesn't require much time to load. The partners continuously upgrade and modify their site, offering new products and prices on a regular basis--something that was impossible with the paper catalog albatross. "We went out of our way to structure our site for ease of use," says Reiter, "and we get a lot of good feedback on that. If you click on an image you want, it goes into the shopping cart. Then, when you're ready, it's waiting for you at the checkout." It's simple, easy, and--as the partners emphasize--secure.
Security is always an issue in virtual businesses. As Reiter reminds us, the Internet has diverged from its originally intended path. Originally it was designed for academic discourse, not for commerce. Now people are shopping online for birthday gifts and anniversary mementos and paying by credit card. Two years ago, says Reiter, people would say, "I'm not going to put my credit card number out there in space." Indeed, TimelessTraveler.com still receives plenty of phone orders from the cyberphobics, but the ratios are dwindling. More people are feeling comfy about Web purchases with credit cards.
"We had to advertise on the home page that we're secure," says Reiter, "so that people would conquer their fears, so they'd feel comfortable." TimelessTraveler.com also has a policy of sending a confirmation, with a "Thanks" and an estimated arrival time for the print or poster. Reiter says that there's an additional follow-up only if shipping has been delayed beyond the normal two- to three-day interval. The partners don't use buyer names in any other communications and refuse to sell their mailing lists. Says Reiter, "I don't think people appreciate getting e-mail boxes full of monthly specials from other businesses. That builds resentment. We respect their privacy."

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