The Dabbler

by Bob Osgoodby

Many web sites of major companies came down with a resounding crash, and there are more to follow. Very few of the "deep pocket guys" are making any money with their sites, and as money tightens, they realize their pockets may not have been quite as deep as they originally thought. Their sites are being taken down in droves, and the, "techno-wizes" are falling into disfavor.

As the Economy slowed, many companies down sized their operations, and employee layoffs are on the rise. There is a general "belt tightening" at every level, and the heady expenditures of last year are being looked at with a "jaundiced eye".

So what does this mean to the small entrepreneur? Is it time to also crawl under a rock, and wait for better times? The answer to this is a resounding - NO. While the unemployment rate increased slightly to 4.2 percent, it is worth noting that the proportion of the population with jobs, at 64.5 percent, remains near a record high.

Now is probably the best time to promote your small business on the web. You will be facing less competition from the web sites that have gone south. Not only will your potential market share increase, but the sites that have been monopolizing "surfing time" will no longer be there. People will be looking other places for their information. The question should not be whether to get your own web site, but when you should get it.

Yahoo has made a major change in their policy of accepting web sites for review. While it used to take several months to get a site reviewed, they now say it will be done within 7 working days. Sounds good on the surface, but is there a catch? Sure - what used to be free, now costs $199.

A cursory examination of the results of any web engine search, reveals a lot of "garbage" up there. Many of the sites are no longer in existence, or you had to wade through a lot of "junk" to find something meaningful. This could accurately be described as the age of the "dabbler". People who got a new computer thought they could make their millions on the web. The "arm chair" entrepreneurs prevailed, and buried the serious ones with their submissions. When their free AOL account expired, they were out of business and their web site went away.

Will the new policy of Yahoo help? I think so. A lot of the "garbage" will disappear, and you will find instead ads from folks who are serious about doing business. Will the other search engines follow Yahoo's lead? I would imagine so. So what will this mean?

If you combine this thought, with that of many of the major companies abandoning their web presence, it will mean that more people will find your site. This is indeed, a golden opportunity to establish your business on the web. But you can't expect to "throw up" a web site and have the world beat a path to your door.

You must first establish a business plan. What will you market? What will it cost - who is your competition - what is the pricing for comparable products? These are all questions that should be answered before you take step one.

If your answers to the above questions are positive, get your own domain and build your web site. If you can't do it yourself, hire a qualified firm to do it. Unless you are a "dabbler, expect to spend a few thousand to get your web site up and running, register it with the search engines, get a merchant account to accept credit cards online, and begin advertising.

When you think about it, if you are serious, this is really a small expenditure to start a business. If you're not serious forget about it, and consider a different part time enterprise. You will probably make more money "flipping burgers" at your local fast food establishment, than you will for the time you spend trying to develop a "zero cost" web presence. The old adage - "you have to spend a dollar, to make a dollar, is true more than ever.

Will it take some time? Absolutely - how long depends on what you do. A couple of months might be a conservative estimate. But you can't lose heart, and like the "dabbler, try some other cockamamie scheme when you don't make your first million in 90 days.

Bob publishes the free weekly "Your Business" Newsletter Visit his Web Site at to subscribe. As a bonus, get 40,000 FREE E-Books from Larry Dotson, when you visit

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