Success in the online marketplace is never an assured outcome.As in the brick-and-mortar marketplace,the failure rate for online companies is high.Why do a few online companies succeed while many others fail?What does the entrepreneur—the online entrepreneur—need to know to launch a profitable online business?

Online businesses may be pure play companies(online only) or click-and-mortar companies that add online projects,such as e-procurement or selling online,as addtional market channels.

Most new businesses—brick-and-mortar,pure play,or click-and-mortar—begin in a similar manner.The process can be described by the following steps.

Step 1:Identify a consumer or business need in the marketplace.Many businesses simply begin with a good idea.A magazine article,a personal observation,an unsolved problem,a small irritation,or a friend’s suggestion may trigger an idea,and the prospective business owner sees a gap between what people want and what is available.For example,both and eBay began this way.

Step 2:Investigate the opportunity.Just because a person perceives that an opportunity exists does not mean that it is real.Perhaps the number of individuals interested in purchasing the product or service is too small.Perhaps the cost of manufacturing,marketing and distributing the product or providing the service is too large.The revenue model may be wrong,others may have tried already and failed,satisfactory substitute products may be available,and so on.For example,online grocery shopping would seem to be a wonderful opportunity:relieving busy professionals of the time-consuming and tiresome task of regular visits to a grocery sotre.Many large and small-scale online grocery ventures have been tried,but most have failed or continue to lose money because they misjudged the logistical problems associated with grocery warehousing and delivery.This is why it is so important to develop a business plan.One of the purposes of a business plan is to determine the feasibility of a business opportunity in the marketplace.

Step 3:Determine the business owner’s ability to meet the need.Assuming(假设,假定) that a realistic(实际的,现实的) business opportunity exists,does the prospective business owner have ability to convert the opportunity into success?Some personal qualities(品质,素质,质量) are important:Is the business in an industry the prospective business owner knows well?Is it something the entrepreneur loves doing?Are family and friends supportive?Business skills in staff(工作人员,管理人员,行政人员) recruitment(招收,招聘),management,negotiation(谈判,磋商,协商),marketing and financial management are required,as well as entrepreneurial attitudes such as innovation(创造,创新,革新,新思想,新方法),risk taking and being proactive(积极主动的).Many good ideas and realistic initiatives(新方案,积极性,主动性,倡议) hava failed in the execution stage because the owners or principals(主要的,本金、资本、主角) of the business lacked(缺乏,没有,短缺) sufficient(足够的,充足的) business skills to make it a,for example,seemingly had a great concept(概念,观念)(retailing ultramodern(超现代的),designer clothing) and superior(优越的) software,but it failed because of the inability(无能,无力,无能为力) of management to organize the business and manage the projects necessary to bring online before it burned throught $120 million of start-up capital.