All Aboard!

Stand Out From The Rest

Though the ease, affordability and available assistance make now the prime time for you to cash in on the Web, remember that this applies to every other prospective Netpreneur as well. "You have to be unique; otherwise, you'll get lost among all the other hundreds of vendors and Web pages," says Thompson. For example, he focuseson buying and selling used Vanson leathers to separate his site from those selling other motorcycle leathers.

Korper points out that the need to distinguish your Internet start-up will become increasingly important. "How many small businesses open up every day? Not only do you have to be different; you have to be better than the others. With e-commerce, you [compete] with the whole world. Of course, the beauty of e-commerce is you only have to do it right once and you become a global leader."

New Enough Motorcycle Leathers has a double-edged approach to ensuring their difference--not only is its product specific, but its service is unique in the industry. "The advantage we have over all the other resellers is our way of handling trade-ins," says Thompson. "No other retailer of motorcycle gear takes trade-ins, so I can sell right alongside them in price but still get the orders."

Thompson's success illustrates just how significantly the Internet is able to bring life to the smallest of start-ups. "When you multiply even a seemingly small idea by the number of people in the United States, it becomes viable," he explains. "Anybody can do it if they can come up with something that fills a small need out there. The type of business I have could easily be duplicated in other areas, whether it's ski clothes or golf clubs."

In other words, it's time to get out and get started online. "The [opportunities] are still there," says Ellis. "Most of the companies that have done extremely well are less than five years old."

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: All Aboard!.

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