With the UK's Internet revolution now a year old, it is perhaps time to ask what lessons have been learned by those would-be dotcom entrepreneurs and those within large companies trying to set up e-units.
At a recent meeting of the First Tuesday venture marketing group, Sonia Lo, of new "demand aggregation" specialist Ezoka, which hopes to help e-tailers fulfil customer demand, and Michael Ross, of Easyshop, offered their advice.
According to Lo, you must "find, respect and hire people with previous experience. They're absolutely critical".
She suggests hiring people with relevant industry knowledge. If you go into a new area which you're trying to revolutionise via the Internet and you don't understand the fundamentals, you're not going to get very far.
This certainly applies to the technology, hence the current search by a number of companies for chief technical officers.
"This is technology-driven at the end of the day. A good chief technical officer is worth their weight in gold and if you don't have one, it's going to be really hard going - finding money, getting a site up and running, and hiring people - until you do," says Lo.
Other advice from Lo includes:
Michael Ross joined Easyshop, one of Europe's leading underwear retailers as chief executive in September last year. Then, Easyshop was turning over about £1,000 a week, had 12 employees and 2,500 sq ft of office space. Now it has 32 people, turns over £20,000 a week and has a 10,000 sq ft warehouse.
One of Ross's key challenges was deciding whether to "hire good people or wait for fantastic ones". Easyshop gives psychometric and quick thinking tests
Some of Easyshop's biggest challenges were:
Fortunately, Ross retains a sense of humour. "One of the hardest things so far has been telling my 84-year old grandmother that her grandson, the management consultant, was now selling women's underwear."
This was first published in February 2000