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'101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home'

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[March 17, 2010]  "101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home." Susan Sweeney, Maximum Press, 2009, 316 pages.

Review by
Richard Sumrall

As unemployment levels remain high, more people are looking for alternatives to finding a job or changing their career. In her new book, "101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home," Internet marketing expert Susan Sweeney explains how you can improve your opportunities by starting your own home-based e-business.

An e-business is defined in several ways: a Web site or e-mail portal where customers place orders, request quotes or make reservations; a Web site that allows customers to make orders and submit their credit card payment online for manually processed goods and services; or a Web site that allows secure orders and initiates a complete online process of verification and delivery of goods and services. All three of these variations share a common characteristic -- their compatibility to the home business environment.

In her book, Sweeney describes how to select the best e-business model for you, how to start the business and make it work, and how to promote the e-business to ensure success. She has also collected 101 different e-business models that can help you understand the e-business concept.

"Doing Business Online"

Starting an e-business at home requires careful planning. The key decisions you have to make involve the storefront development options, the storefront features, the payment processing method and the level of e-business appropriate for you.

Every e-business should consider developing its own electronic storefront. The storefront is "the interface that a customer sees when purchasing goods or services on a Web site." This storefront can vary depending on the operational option you choose. The three options are a storefront from an application service provider, in which all of the e-business and Web site services are licensed to you by another party; purchasing storefront development software packages that help you develop your own storefront; and writing your own programming to develop your storefront.

It is crucial that your storefront contains a variety of customer and administrative features, including shopping carts, purchase notification, inventory management, mail lists, searchable product database, product images, e-mail notification, autoresponders, delivery options and technical support. This preparation helps you integrate the right storefront into your home e-business model.

According to Sweeney there are four distinct levels of the e-business model.

  • Level 1 allows interactive order-taking. At this introductory level your business can accept orders and reservations through e-mail or a Web site. This level features low startup costs, lack of inventory and ease of operation. A bed and breakfast is a good example: Visitors are encouraged to make reservations at the online storefront.

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  • Level 2, taking electronic payment, allows you to accept payments online. Businesses that sell goods or services at a set price with no inventory to track are good examples of this model. Generally the software that runs this storefront will manage the front end (what the public sees) and the back end (the behind-the-scenes support) of the e-business.

  • Level 3, with storefront selection and payment automation, contains features of levels 1 and 2. Its advanced features include a stand-alone storefront and options for receiving payment online at the time of purchase. Unlike the previously mentioned levels, inventory control is essential to insure that you have adequate supply to meet the customer‘s needs.

  • Level 4 is the total integration of the online process. It contains all of the features of the other three levels and gives you complete control over ordering, inventory, customer accounts, special offers, accounts receivable and marketing. The costs for this level can be steep, but your returns can be significant since you can provide optimum customer service and exercise efficient inventory control and marketing strategies. is considered a perfect example of an e-business at this level.

"101 Profiles of Top Internet Business Concepts"

The book‘s suggested profiles represent a broad diversity of choices to a prospective entrepreneur. In each of the concepts Sweeney gives an overview of the business, the skills needed, the startup costs, the number of employees to start, its international potential, the e-business model level, online marketing and some genuine online examples of this e-business.

"101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home" is a well-written book on a subject not always accessible to the general public. Easy to understand yet comprehensive in nature, Sweeney‘s book is convincing in its assertion that the Internet offers entrepreneurs "the golden business opportunities of our lifetime" and that "running your own e-business from home is the new American dream." This book is recommended to anyone thinking about starting their own business, creating their own employment or contemplating a career change.

[Text from file received from Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]

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