August 03, 2006


Internet Riches: The Simple Money-Making Secrets of Online Millionaires. By Scott Fox. AMACOM. $22.

     Be skeptical – be very skeptical – of a book whose cover proclaims, “Anyone can be a millionaire with these powerful proven strategies!”  Oh, really?  And the inventors of the strategies, out of the goodness of their hearts, have decided to let anyone with $22 to spend into their club instead of adding to their own considerable wealth?  There must be a whole bunch of Warren Buffett wannabes out there.

     But of course the cover here is all hype, including the photo of a man sitting back, hands behind his head, in the driver’s seat of a snazzy convertible, presumably letting Web-based nanotechnology or Nigerian pixies drive the car.

     Internet Riches would barely be worth the time needed to discard it if the content were anything like the cover.  But – thank goodness – the book is much better than the hype with which it is being sold.  Scott Fox, an E-business consultant who is a bit too full of himself, does a fine job when he steps back and lets a variety of online entrepreneurs explain what they have done, how they did it, and what successes and setbacks they have had.

     That’s the value here: the value of experience. Internet Riches is not really very different from other books in which successful businesspeople tell their stories, inviting readers to try to emulate them but not giving any sort of precise roadmap (which would be both arrogant and impossible).  Fox explains the inherent advantages for a small business of being Web-based: lower costs, worldwide customer reach, easy and low-cost access to enterprise software, etc.  He waxes a bit too enthusiastic about such-and-such a “secret” to success – really, there are no secrets here at all – but behind the hype there is substance.  And some of Fox’s information can be eye-opening, such as his table breaking down first-year costs for a traditional retail business (a total of $35,000 to $250,000 or more) and an online business (less than $1,000).

     But it is when Fox moves aside that the book really gets interesting.  Tim Gray explains his online bridal registry service,; Genevieve Thiers talks about, which connects parents and babysitters through the Internet; Drew Curtis explains how tight targeting and a humorous perspective have brought success to, which simply provides links to entertaining snippets of Web information for bored office workers; Eileen Descallar explains how her hobbies have brought her success at a variety of sites selling custom-made T-shirts to specific niche markets; and so on.

     Readers who understand that they cannot duplicate these online entrepreneurs’ success, but can certainly learn from it, will find a lot of value, if not necessarily riches, in Internet Riches.  The key is to choose a niche rather than try to be everything to everyone; to know how to reach people in that niche; and to be willing to supply your goods or services at times when people want them – even if that means working long or weird hours.  Fox offers some useful methods of identifying the business opportunities that you personally will enjoy and be good at, and includes questions you can ask yourself to decide if you are on the right track.  He also includes suggestions on choosing a domain name, plus basic information on Web site construction, shopping carts, working with eBay, and more.  Fox’s presentation veers unpredictably from sober and clear to hyped and overdone, but the underlying solidity of the ideas here really can help anyone interested in E-commerce find a way to develop a Web-based business – though not necessarily get rich running it.

No comments:

Post a Comment