I look at starting an e-business like a treasure hunter, with an idea as the map and the successful venture the treasure. You have to follow your treasure map before someone else gets a chance to photocopy it and claim the gold for themselves. You have to protect your ideas at all costs because in many cases it can be your only true asset until you have large online following.
Your product or service has to be new, original, witty, and it helps if it is something that the media would have a field day with. That's one thing that many people don't understand about the internet and starting a business on it. The internet was built to share information, so in turn, anything that is new or original on the net has the tendency to spread like wildfire whether it makes financial sense or not. Internet businesses have been won and lost over a single article, but the overall longevity of the venture depends on the effort put forth to keep the site on the top in terms of technology, ease of use and services. The media is a powerful force when it comes to ecommerce but without a concerted effort to stay the first you will find that spotlight will burn out very quickly.
Many skeptics say that the dot com era has financially come and gone but in my opinion it hasn't even started yet. The rise and fall of the dot coms of the late 90's was due to over-hyped overvalued stocks, not because the internet was not a sturdy platform for business. The dot coms came and went because we had the ideas for using the internet to make money but the general population didn't yet have the dependency or trust in the net. This left the startups having to sell the public on why using the internet was better than driving to their local Best Buy. The net still has inherit values which make it perfect for business in the future:
1. Relative low overhead
2. It's always upgradeable
3. Growing dependency of public on the net
Devices (Phones, PDA's, cars, etc) are becoming more and more 'smart' or connected. This in turn is moving us more and more into a wired (and wireless) world. As the world becomes more used to the idea of information at the click of a mouse or the touch of a button, they are also becoming more dependent on these services. Imagine trading your TV in for a radio. Crazy? Of course it is, but with wireless connections on the rise, trading a web enabled smartphone in for an analog cellular would be just as ridiculous.
We are just now physically catching up with all the promises we got about the internet and how it was going to change our lives. The general public is using powerful internet tools to book their flights, sell old junk, and to communicate more and more every day. Trust in the internet is finally growing and with that trust people are spending more money for products and services found solely online.
The idea is the same, have a great idea for a website and become a millionaire, but this time around the stakes are much higher and the reward much greater for those who can succeed in the second E-revolution.