Building businesses on line

images-1Building a business on line is hard.  Building a business in a brick and mortar location is hard too but there is a different approach.  Building any business is hard.

I am hearing from more people who come out of corporate America who are looking to start a business on line.  Their approach is one that just sends me the message that building a business on line is not as hard as it looks.  Wrong.

What I have learned over the past decade of building businesses on line or even providing capital to these businesses is huge.  I am still learning.  I also realize that many of the things that seem basic to me are not to everyone.   I have also come to realize my value in helping entrepreneurs build their businesses when it comes to anything from hiring a customer acquisition person to making sure there are enough people in the back-end building the site or figuring out the next round of investors.  Because I am not a VC and will never write that $3m check I can be the entrepreneurs best ally.  I get involved like a VC but am not one.  My biggest concern is success for that entrepreneur.

I have recently met with a few companies that have made so many newbie mistakes.  Many of them and other people have asked me what book should I read about start-ups to help me build mine.   I have pointed many in the direction of Brad Feld and certainly the latest book from Ben Horowitz and recently for food and consumer products Rachel Hofstetter.   Yet it is hard to figure out many of the nuances without a supporter that can be counted as a mentor or an investor.

The mistakes can be painful and certainly costly.  Not acquiring the right customers or any customers, not having the right back-end system for ecommerce models, putting too much money in inventory that just sits there, selling to the consumer when it really should be sold directly to a business, not listening to who your customer really is, etc. etc.

Not sure where I am going with this or the answers to help more motivated entrepreneurs follow the right path because as we all know 99% is about execution.  Good ideas are in ample supply but it is about executing that makes a good idea come to life.  Executing on line has a very different set of skills and just because you think it will happen does not mean it will.  It is hard hard hard work.