We've all heard the hype: Putting up a good Web site takes only a few hours, and you can start taking orders immediately. It's easy to start generating sales, and you'll begin to achieve ROI right away. You don't need a Web consultant. And don't worry too much about advertising and marketing; if you have a good Web site, your customers will always find you.
Are any of these statements true? Nine times out of 10, no. But they're just the kinds of Internet myths entrepreneurs read about every day, leading many to frantically start e-commerce operations without taking the time to seriously consider the issues--and difficulties--involved.
The growth in the number of small-business Web sites has been significant. According to a recent study by high-tech market research firm International Data Corp., the number of small businesses (defined as businesses with fewer than 100 employees that are neither homebased nor branch offices of larger firms) conducting business on the Internet at the end of 1997 was 150,000; that number had grown to 850,000 by 1999.
We don't have to tell you why these small businesses are going online--a good Web site can build a company's image, provide better customer support, make technical information more easily available to customers, help you develop a prospect list, conduct customer surveys, offer products and take orders. But the actual process of setting up a Web site is not always as easy as it may seem. Following are several prevailing Internet myths that continue to distort the realities of getting into e-commerce:
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org