The Rules

Every year, hundreds of young entrepreneurs eye the Internet as a place to earn their fortunes. Many fail, but others succeed spectacularly. What differentiates the winners from the also-rans? Successful e-commerce entrepreneurs say there are five key rules:

  • Find a niche market that no one else is exploiting, or differentiate yourself from the others in an established niche.
  • Develop a prototype product. This makes it easier to find your first customer.
  • Get a great reference from your first client and use that to market yourself.
  • Be careful about hiring employees. When you're small, everyone's contribution is magnified, so good hires are critical.
  • Stick with the project through the ups and downs common to all start-ups.

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This article was originally published in the May 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: E-Reality.

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